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Our European Adventure 2018

A 6 month trip on a shoestring
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  • Day0

    Miami Hiccups

    May 1, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 75 °F

    Things don’t always go as planned! We left Phoenix on May 1 on time, 8:45 a.m. and landed in Miami. Our expected layover before our connecting flight to Madrid was to be 2 ½ hours. However, they had mechanical problems which weren’t getting repaired in time, so a different plane was being readied. That too took too long, and the crew had to be switched out due to the length of time they’d already been on duty. They kept announcing delays in start time, until at midnight they cancelled the flight.Read more

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  • Day1

    5/2-Detours, Lost Bags, and More

    May 2, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 75 °F

    Our flight was rescheduled for this morning, and we had to go backwards: Miami to Dallas to Madrid. Rescheduling took about 3 hours. We were given vouchers for a hotel, shuttle, and meals, but we didn’t get to the hotel until 4 a.m. Then when we got there, we found out that the shuttle driver had left our carry-on bag on the curb as he was reshuffling the bags in the van. And it was the bag with our 6 month supply of medications! Dean called the shuttle service and they didn’t have it, so suggested that it was probably at lost and found. He then contacted our auto lease company to tell them we’d be a day late. I contacted our Airbnb host to let him know too; but we couldn’t connect to the hotel’s WiFi in our room, so had to go to the business center in the lobby. Then the computer didn’t recognize me and I forgot my password, so I had to change it. We finally slept from 5:30-7:30 (and no sleeping clothes or grooming stuff since they were all in the same carry-on), then got up to get ready to be picked up by the shuttle at 9:00 for the return to the airport. It was hard to eat breakfast as our stomachs were upset! The hotel was very nice and we wished we could have been there longer.

    We did find our missing carry-on bag at lost and found. The lady was so nice and sympathetic! Then we checked in, and the rest of the trip went smoothly, but we were tired and had stomach aches, so it was hard to enjoy it.
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  • Day2

    Arrival in Madrid, at last!

    May 3, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    May 3, 2018
    We finally arrived in Madrid at 9:00 a.m. In Madrid we couldn't find the location for the shuttle to our leased vehicle company. A lady at the taxi counter took pity on us and called the number we had, and another driver was sent out. Our leased vehicle is a stick shift Renault. It was a little crazy driving it when so tired! And the GPS had to keep recalculating, with all our wrong turns around the neighborhood we are staying in. The Airbnb host is very nice and helpful. We still have to get a SIM card for the phone so we can use it here. But we are too tired to go out today! In spite of the hiccups, we were lucky we didn’t lose our meds permanently. And we’ve learned some more travel lessons! And tomorrow is another day!Read more

  • Day3

    A stop in Guadamur

    May 4, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌬 50 °F

    Before leaving Madrid, we spent a good part of the morning looking for a shopping center where we could exchange money, buy a SIM card, and get diesel for the car. Then we said good bye to our host, who told us we were his personal heroes! We decided by that remark, we must be a little crazy!

    We drove around with the GPS lady having to recalculate over and over until we got our errands done. Finally left Madrid and drove to a town named Guadamur, an arts community near Toledo. We were impressed with how all the buildings are being rehabbed. We checked in with our host, a French photographer who lives in a very nice condo with a view of a castle from the front door (see photo). He showed us some of his photos, particularly one of Machu Pichu that he photo-shopped to remove all the people that are usually there, then printed it on a large canvas for his living room. It was impressive. So far, both of our Airbnb hosts have been very nice to visit with.Read more

  • Day3

    Afternoon in Toledo, Spain

    May 4, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 72 °F

    After moving our luggage in, we went to Toledo for the late afternoon light that is so beautiful there. The streets are very hilly and wind all over, so it’s common to get lost. We made it to the cathedral at the top of the hill, and back down again, but ended up a ways from the bridge we needed to cross to get back to the car. We met a wonderful Irishman who, instead of giving us directions, gave us a ride! He has lived in Toledo for 10 years, and buys apartments to rehab and resell. Dinner that evening included paella, the national dish of Spain, including rice, seafood, chicken, and vegetables, seasoned with saffron. Mmm!Read more

  • Day4

    Miles of Olive Groves to Marbesa

    May 5, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 61 °F

    After bidding our host good-bye, we drove to the southern coast. It was a beautiful drive of about 6 hours, and we saw olive groves the whole way! The land changed from slightly hilly to more hilly and then mountainous as we neared the coast. Some of those olive trees are a long ways up the mountainsides. We can’t figure out how they are harvested! We also saw lots of flowers, including multitudes of red poppies!Read more

  • Day4

    Costa del Sol, Marbesa, Spain

    May 5, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 66 °F

    We finally reached our timeshare exchange in Marbesa. We have a condo on the third floor so we can see the Mediterranean Sea from our balcony! Thank goodness there is an elevator! We enjoyed dinner and a Spanish wine on the balcony, celebrating our gladness to stay in one place for a week. We are still learning how to take a selfie--it takes both of us!Read more

  • Day5

    A Walk in the Neighborhood

    May 6, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 70 °F

    A walk in the neighborhood and on the beach was very relaxing. This is the perfect time to visit the Costa del Sol, as there are no crowds and it’s warm but not hot. A few people are lying on the beach. There is a large campground nearby and many people are there for the weekend, but it looks like their setups are long-term. The neighborhoods have a lot of rehabbing and new construction which Dean enjoys, and has a running commentary of opinions, of course.

    We are having fun trying to figure out the labels in the supermarkets. Sometimes we actually find what we are looking for, but we have made some mistakes. When buying fruits and vegetables, we found out that we need to weigh them ourselves and put a sticker on them. A lot of the tourists are English or Dutch, and are helpful.

    We wanted to try tapas so we went to a recommended bar, after driving the wrong direction again! The tapas are a quarter-sized portion of foods, usually served around happy hour—we had Spanish ham and cheese, seafood salad, a sausage cooked in wine, and chicken roll stuffed with spinach, sherry, and raisin filling, wrapped in ham. Dried ham is very popular in Spain.

    WiFi access is disappointing. It is not available in our room; we have to go to the restaurant next to the office.
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  • Day6

    Errands and Flamenco, Marbesa

    May 7, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 66 °F

    We found a shopping center and bought some things we needed, a cooler and freezer packs, and conditioning shampoo. It was hard to find the combination, but then I saw 2X1 on the label and figured out that was it—there was only one choice. We could not find peanut butter even though it is a big store similar to Walmart. We found a casino and exchanged currency, even though, surprisingly, the gaming area was closed.

    In the evening we went to an Italian restaurant in our complex, and enjoyed a Flamenco show. We were in the front row, and saw the dancer up close. She invited Dean to come and dance with her and of course he said YES! We are surprised that our body clocks are similar to the Spaniards’ already. Breakfast around 9:00, lunch around 2:00, and dinner around 8:00. (They actually eat dinner around 9:00 but that’s way too late for us!)
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  • Day7

    Rock of Gibraltar

    May 8, 2018 in Gibraltar ⋅ ☀️ 64 °F

    It has been 1 week since we left Phoenix! Today we drove to Gibraltar, one of the highlights we really wanted to see while in the Costa del Sol. It is only about 1½ - 2 hours’ drive, and a very scenic one, with mountains all the way along the Mediterranean coastline. Traffic is very heavy going across the border, so we parked on the Spanish side, took photos of our first view, and walked across airport runway.

    The runway is used by everyone: pedestrians, motorized traffic, and airplanes. When a plane is due to land, the gates close, and a street sweeper clears the runway. Then the plane lands and taxis back over the runway to the airport. Pilots have to have special clearance for this airport because the runway is so short and there are a lot of cross winds. If a pilot doesn’t make the landing in two tries, s/he has to fly to the airport at Malaga to land. It was a weird feeling to walk across the runway to go between the border and the town.
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