I always love taking day trips with Victor @welovemalaga when I am visiting Málaga, and this time we chose to go to Archidona after I discovered that Victor had never been there. A rare treat for me to show him something new! As Peter @svqconcierge would be arriving in town Saturday morning we decided that would be a good day for all three of us to go, though I should have done my homework better as we missed the opening time for the Virgen de Gracia convent and castle. But we went up the mountain anyhow and were treated to some spectacular views.
We also had lunch at Arxiduna Restaurant, uniquely located inside caves in the main square (also unique for being the only octagonal square in Spain). I’ll be updating their page soon. I’d let them know that I was coming back and booked a table and, well, we were treated like royalty and given a special tasting menu. But more on that later.
On the way home Victor took a detour through the beautiful Montes de Málaga, a magnificent natural park and, as always, I learned so much more about this region and its history. Victor is not only a fount of knowledge but a gifted story teller. By the time we got back to Málaga we were zonked, so Peter went to crash at his hotel and I came “home” to shower and spent a lovely evening in Netflixing. The only thing missing was Morcilla…
Peter & Victor in Plaza de la Victoria, ArchidonaRestaurante Arxiduna
This week (other than one tapas tour on Tuesday) I am on a “staycation” in Sevilla, and here’s Luna giving me a lesson in lounging. This is her favourite lounging spot in the new Casa Azahar. No doubt I’ll be spending too much time lamp hunting, but I also hope to relax before going off to Málaga next week.
It’s been a busy summer and so some “down time” is probably a good idea. I’m not actually very good at relaxing, but it’s nice having a change of routine this week, and also looking forward to seeing the sea again.
My absolutely favourite days of Semana Santa are Thursday and Friday when the women dressed in black with their magnificent lace mantillas come out in force. They are everywhere, and they are wonderful. Ostensibly they are mourning the recent death of Jesus Christ, but they are also totally into looking fabulous. I see no issue with this, though I have a preference for the more mature women who are into looking classy while they mourn (younger women doing “sexy mourning” with short tight dresses and stiletto heels leave me cold).
mantilla photo op next to my old house (on the left)
mantillas & cervecitas
Semana Santa kind of snuck up on me this year, most likely because I was away in London the week before. And by the time I got back – blam! – it was already starting to happen. I still get caught out by the “pre-Semana Santa” processions, so that means getting around town madness begins even earlier.
This year I didn’t actually make any plans to see a particular procession, other than the Borriquita on Palm Sunday. The rest of the time I was just out and about in the afternoon (usually before or after a tapas tour) and them – blam! – came across a procession. So I didn’t see any processions at night this time around.
Maybe next year I won’t do any tapas tours during Semana Santa so I can take the week to get back into it (because it does take energy and planning). I do love it, for reasons I can’t explain. I just do.
La Borriquita nazarenos returning to Salvador Church
La Borriquita paso depicts Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey
Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, El Cerro procession
handing out estampitas during the San Bernardo procession
El Cristo de la Salud, San Bernardo procession
Jesús de la Paz, Carmen Doloroso procession
My second favourite train station in Spain (after the prettily tiled Jerez station) is Atocha in Madrid, with its fabulous tropical gardens under a soaring arched ceiling. We arrived in town at 12.30, with just enough time for a quick beer before getting to our apartment in Plaza Angel.
So of course we also had to have a famous calamar butty at Bar El Brilliante, across the street from Atocha. It was Peter’s first time there and he loved it. Then we headed off to the apartment.
It was in a great location, very clean and quiet. Only one bedroom, but the sofa bed was comfy enough for the two nights Peter was there. So we were off to a good start on this year’s first Madrid Getaway.
So no more fairy lights in the orange trees… well, until next December anyhow. The Three Kings came last night and today (Epiphany / Twelfth Night) marks the end of the holiday season. But it is also BIRTHDAY EVE! And boy am I ever excited. 🙂
Tomorrow there will be cava (of course) and a special lunch has been planned (more on that later), then who knows? Very likely a nice late afternoon walk and perhaps meeting up with friends for a drink in the evening. It’ll be quite low-key and lovely. And I will be 60. Wow!
Lugo was our destination on my final full day in Galicia, a day trip suggested by Anna and Jorge @thekilomeaters after vetoing my request to go down to Rías Baixas country (home of albariño wines). I was told that this was the worst time of year to visit that area as it is virtually swamped with tourists and I would not get a genuine experience of the place. And well, when given expert advice it is always wise to take it, so off we went to Lugo.
Probably the most distinctive thing about this provincial capital is that the old centre is surrounded by over two kilometres of Roman wall. You can also walk along the top of this wall (which we did) getting some excellent views of the city. Later we walked to the Plaza Mayor and visited the Cathedral. Then it was suddenly Beer O’clock and off we went to quench our thirst and try some complimentary tapas.
complimentary tapas in Lugo
We started off at a very traditional bar Las Cinco Vigas where not only could we choose a complimentary tapa, they also kept passing around a tray of pinchos… you could effectively fill up on these but we had to move on. Next stop was Mesón de Antonio, a classic restaurant. I’m not sure what is normally given out here with your drinks as, thanks to being with Anna & Jorge, we were given the VIP treatment and an array of tasty dishes arrived at our table for us to sample, along with a complimentary bottle of godello wine.
Mesón de Alberto
We made a couple more tapa stops after this, and along the way met local resident León the cat, who was out for a walk with his flatmate. She had the huge beast out on a harness and leash, which had got tangled up in his front legs, so we stopped to help her de-tangle the gentle giant.
León and flatmate
It was a lovely day out, soaking up sun and culture and sampling some delicious food and wine. And plans were made for a return Galicia Getaway next May, optimum time for a visit to Rías Baixas. Can’t wait!
I fell in love – nay, became slightly obsessed – with the Galician “galerías”, beautiful window-encased balconies at the front of houses, meant to trap the sun (and heat) during winter months. And as luck would have it, I ended up having my very own galería for my last two nights in Santiago.
I had booked an AirBnB apartment for my stay back in June, which I knew was small, but as I wasn’t planning to actually be in the apartment a lot, I thought it would be fine as long as it had good WIFI. Which it did. But after moving in I discovered there were a few problems with the place, the worst of which were that it was not very clean (ick) and that the cheap single bed frame SQUEAKED with every movement, all night long. But hey, it was high season, and there was no way I’d find a last minute option that wouldn’t be double the price, so I decided to stay put and make the best of it.
Then one night I discovered a pool of water around the base of the toilet… wtf? It was leaking every time I flushed it (ewww). A message to the owner had her and the plumber around the next afternoon while I was out… after which they insisted there was nothing wrong, that I must have left the shower door open. WTF?? A second message to the owner had the plumber come back in the evening – and for some reason I was told I had to be there to let him in (really? I was a paying guest on holiday) but I did so and ended up having to deal with a crazy idiot who clearly knew nothing about plumbing and seemed to think it was okay to yell at me. I shall spare you the ugly details about this encounter, but suffice it to say shortly after he left the apartment owner got in touch saying she wanted to cancel out contract. Which meant I would either be out in the street the next day, or else paying through the nose for a hotel for the rest of my stay.
So I went out for a walk. Happily I was in good spirits from having enjoyed one of the best meals of my entire Galician Getaway that afternoon (more on that later) and while I was in one of the bars I’d gone to with Anna and Jorge on our Complimentary Tapas Tour I started seriously looking at my options. Eventually I found a small family run hotel that seemed to have a room free. First I checked with A & J who recommended it for what it was – hey, with a one-star hotel I wasn’t expecting the Ritz, just wanted to know if I should book. But instead of booking online I gave them a call and talked to a lovely woman who sounded like somebody’s grandmother. She informed me that there was a single room available and when I asked her if I could please have a double bed there was a pause, and then she said they could give me a nice double room for one person on the second floor, with windows overlooking the street. Well, I was in! Especially as it was 10.30 pm and I had to be out of my dread AirBnB by 11 am the following morning. So I booked the room, informed Anna & Jorge of my plans, and went home to pack.
Yes, the hotel was double what I was paying for the AirBnB, and the room was a bit “cosy”, but it had great WiFi, a nice firm comfy double bed and … MY OWN GALERÍA!!! Also, some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet running the place. From the receptionists to the cleaning woman, I felt so welcome and cannot say there were any complaints at all. I also have to say that AirBnB also came through and offered me compensation for my hellish experience, which pretty much covered the extra cost of the hotel, so I was happy. All’s well that ends well. Especially because I got to spend my final two nights in Santiago de Compostela in one of the best areas of town (in my opinion) AND WITH MY OWN GALERÍA. Happy.
Hotel Fonte de San Roque
Santiago de Compostela