Mom's European adventure tracing her Spanish roots plus with Bunny, Bearli, & Co.
Bunny & Bearli catch some sun at the Alhambra.
In the 22 years I have lived outside of America my mom has come to visit me three times, all three of which while I was living in Switzerland, on this her third visit we made a purposeful trip to trace our Spanish roots. In a whirlwind mom arrived one day, we took a turn around Lugano gazing at the lake and the next day we flew off to Spain.
Spain seems to be our place for 2018, at least the first half. This visit in May was our third of the year. What started as a casual reconnaissance to see if it is a country we would be willing to live in, became a series of meaningful adventures. In January, you read about Seville and Malaga, where we celebrated our wedding anniversary on our first trip together to this amazing country. In March, Barcelona for an adventure that was a dream family holiday for me. Now, in May we returned to Andalusia, this time on a journey to trace my maternal roots, fulfilling a long time wish of my mother, to see where her grandfather was born – my Poppa whose kitchen I recalled in OFF Topic post this month, FOOD: How I (re)found my voice
To round out our party, Kenan joined us again from Denmark, his photos give life to this post. New feature, click here for a Quick list of places to eat and stay.
Arriving the day before us, he did some photographic hiking, where he caught the juxtaposition of this city perfectly.
We landed in Malaga in time to return to Mason Mariano, to be equally impressed as we were in January. We repeated the idea to stay in the bar area and sample various tapas, divine. A full on first meal in Spain for mom.
Photos feature the delights offered to us at Mason Mariano.
Next day we had a small tour of this lovely city, mainly a walk in the cathedral square complete with a Spanish breakfast at La Taberna del Obispo.
We passed this place a dozen times, and while it looked like a tourist trap, it wound up being the best breakfast we had the whole trip. Simple sammys’, jamon on lovely bread with terrific olive oil, egg dishes, and fabulous coffee.
Just after noon, we set out for Granada. Until just a week before we had been unable to get tickets for the Alhambra, and thanks to the advice of the proprietor of our Airbnb, we did get tickets and a guide. For this and many reasons we strongly suggest the place we stayed Apartamentos Mirador Alhambra. Lara and Pradip are amazing hosts, the location is ideal in the Albaicín, and the view from the rooftop is magic. Every morning I was up there for QiGong and meditation, and every evening we convened up there for a beverage and a recap of our day. We will return to Granada and this is the place we will stay.
The photo featured here in the middle is the view from the rooftop at the Mirador, the rest from inside the Alhambra itself, superstar Kenan.
A tip for Alhambra tickets. It is no longer possible to buy them the day of, and it is true that they are sold out up to 3-4 months in advance. What is also true, if there are no tickets for the date you are going to be in Granada, go to Granada anyway, it is beautiful and there are other things to do. PLUS, go to the official site every day, twice, and check your dates. Have the passport numbers, and full names of all the people in your party and be ready to purchase at any time. Each day, when tickets are “returned” they become available on this site. Buy the Alhambra general ticket for 14.00 Euros.
Then contact to be your guide, Cristina Pedrosa. If you are unable to get tickets, Cristina can as well take you on a tour of the areas where tickets are not required, specifically; The Palace of Charles V, the door of Wine, the door of Justice, the Church of the Alhambra, the hammam, the tombs of the Catholic Monarchs, the remains of the palace of the Abencerrajes, the UNESCO plaque, and the fountain of Washington Irving. Cristina did bilingual studies to Guide, with emphasis on Information and Tourist Assistance. Her information is spot on and she is kind and generous, mom was not feeling well that day and Cristina managed to maximize our tour and give mom the time to hang out and even a cool resting spot when we went a bit afar. Being a tourist guide in such a place could leave someone quite indifferent and harried, Cristina was calm, kind, and thorough, we highly recommend her.
With millions of photos of this UNESCO site available on the web, I offer you some personal touches thanks to Kenan.
Eating in Granada is not so obvious. It is teeming with places to eat, and equally teeming with tourists, a bit like Rome or Venice. Between references and our collective nose, we found a few places to suggest:
Trillo. One day we made our way up and up in the Albaicín and stumbled upon this gem of a place. We arrived around 16.30 and it was rocking with 2 parties, one of about 25 and another of 10 or so. Lively, laughing, fun. As well there were 3-4 tables of couples enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and view. The service was Spanish, unhurried and relaxed. The food was delicious, an excellent value. We sat nearly 2 hours and enjoyed enormously.
Puerta del carmen. Elegant dining with fine cuisine. Mom was a bit under the weather that day, and given the prices, she did pick the right day to not eat much. That said everything was delicious if not a bit pretentious and super rich. Bearli is pictured here with artichokes topped with foie gras! Bunny a bit under the weather herself (new hat a bit big and heavy, what we do for beauty), did enjoy the cevice despite her fatigue. Kenan had the fillet atop artichokes, you see the artichoke pattern here, and mom managed some grilled vegetables.
Los diamantes. A hopping tapas place, where one stands up and enjoys fried fish tapas was suggested by our hosts, and while we never got there, it looked like worth checking out and we will do so when we return.
Antigua Bodega Castaneda Super Spanish, stand up bustle, tapas and wine (+ vermouth). I stumbled upon this place while having an evening on my own and wow was I bowled over. Serious Spanish energy, buzzing like mad, with bartenders whizzing about 5 glasses at a time. It seemed that in Granada, you order a drink and a tapa comes with it, plus there is an extensive list of tapas to order from. Standing at the bar I had one of those blissful moments ofbeing exactly where I wanted to be in that exact moment, totally present to the chaos and life around me.
In general, the street behind the Plaza Nueva is an ethnic Pandora’s box, lovely at night with Syrian, Turkish, Pakistani, Persian, and Spanish fare on offer. The plaza itself is a great place for breakfast. While the churros and chocolate did not overwhelm me, nor the coffee, the atmosphere did. Sitting on the square we had a special treat; spectacular women clad in their flamenco gear prancing about in preparation for a special holiday. We gazed at them with our churros, taking photos only in our minds.