{October 17, 2008}   Spain at a (very long) glance.

Originally Posted June 6, 2007

After twenty-four hours of travel (and a maze of four airports) Mom, Tracye, Nina (Tracye’s mom) and I finally arrived in Malaga.  We headed to our rental car, whipped out the directions had provided us from the airport to the hotel, and proceeded to get lost for two hours.  The upside of this was that mom and Nina got to flirt with two hot Spanish cops (the benefits of being a MILF).  The downside was when Tracye backed up in a one way street in full view of another cop…who strangely didn’t seem to care…welcome to the world of Spanish driving.

Once we found our hotel, checked in, and freshened up we headed to a neighborhood restaurant (the only thing open that we could find on a Sunday afternoon) for some much needed beer and food.  Our barely-there Spanish (the few words that were the same in Mexican Spanish and Spain Spanish) worked wonders.

We explored the town a bit on foot that afternoon and found that it was quite beautiful (even though we were dragging from not having slept in 30+ hours).  Around seven pm we headed out to a pub hoping that several beers would help us stay awake until a suitable time.  They did – and how.  A bit tipsy, we stumbled back to our hotel around nine.  The mom’s bunked together (early risers and all) and Tracye and I headed to our room under the (completely wrong) assumption that we would have a quick nap and head back out to see what kind of nightlife we could discover.  Yeah.  We woke up the next morning when our moms knocked on the bedroom door bearing café con leche (I’m now in a support group for withdrawal from said delicious beverage)

After breakfast we walked around Malaga a bit longer – exploring the harbor area, gardens and old town.  You can see my photos from Malaga at:

Around noon, we left Malaga and headed for Ronda (about 1.5 hours inland).  This time, we only got lost for a half hour or so.  Thank (insert deity of choice here) Tracye has an overdeveloped sense of direction.  I was, of course, useless.

We arrived in Ronda and it was one of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen.  We walked around for a while, had some café con leche (Tracye and I) and sangria (the mom’s – now you know where we got our tendencies to drink), and decided to stay the night.  After inquiring at a few hotels, we found one that suited us, deposited our luggage and continued to explore the town.  Ronda has a beautiful (and famous) triple-arched bridge overlooking a deep gorge.  We thought it would be a good idea to hike down it (at 7 pm).  It was.  What a beautiful evening.  The view was incredible.  The hike back up at 9 (still daylight) was killer – but worth every minute.  After that, we figured we owed our body some more beer and went in search of an appropriate place to indulge.  As we bar-hopped we learned that a rum and coke (mom’s drink of choice) in Spain is 3/4 of a Tom Collins glass filled with rum and a tiny bottle of coke on the side.  Needless to say we were all tipsy again.

When Tracye and I got back to our room, we noticed an orange tree outside our balcony.  What would be better than for one drunk girl (Tracye) to climb over the balcony and pick an orange while the other drunk girl (yours truly) holds onto her waistband?  Well, I’ll tell you – had the orange been edible, that would have been better.  We popped our bravely (brave = stupid) gotten orange segments into our mouths only to spit them directly back into our hands – sour!

The next day we did a bit of shopping, had a bit of breakfast (the daughters bringing the mom’s coffee this time) and headed out.  You can see my photos from Ronda at:

Our next stop was Tarifa.

To give you a bit of background – this trip started because my friend from university, Nicole, lives in Spain and was getting married in Tarifa.  As such, Tarifa was our ultimate destination.  We would use Tarifa as our jumping off point for several adventures.  It is a busy little surfing town located on the very bottom tip of Spain – white sandy beaches, blue as blue can be ocean, surfers, pizzerias, cafés, tourist shops, over-priced imported surf wear from California and yet somehow it is still utterly charming.

We actually didn’t get lost this time.  Now, that doesn’t mean that we went the way Mapquest said.  It just means that we didn’t get lost.  This drive wound us down some incredibly beautiful mountains – I think the vastness of the view kept us all from getting carsick on those curvy roads (that and Tracye’s award-winning driving).  Just as we reach the bottom of the mountains what do we see on the horizon but the beautifully blue Mediterranean.  We drove along the coast for a bit and arrived in Tarifa.

The first day we checked in to our spaciously basic room (4 single beds and a bathroom – no frills, no phone, but two cans of bug spray), changed into our swimsuits and headed across the street to check out the beach.  Brrrrr.  Did I mention Tarifa is the windsurfing capitol of the world?  Well – windy it is.  The beach is quite enjoyable when wearing a sweater (or a wetsuit as all of the kite surfers were sporting), but not the place to lie in a bikini and soak up the sun.  It was, however, intensely beautiful.

Some highlights from Tarifa were a two hour horseback ride through the mountains and the beach, many an alcohol-fueled conversation at the hotel bar, an afternoon or two in the sun by the pool drowsing and enjoying life, a forbidden poolside picnic, hilarity with the adorable children in the neighboring cabana, countless cups of café con leche, topless sunbathing “pin-up” photos by the pool…ask Tracye or I for more details on any of this.

You can see my photos of Tarifa (no, not the pin-up photos) at:

On Wednesday we headed into Gibraltar.  From the internet, we thought we needed to take a ferry to get there.  So, we went to the port and drove around looking for it.  After a bit, we stopped at a bar and Tracye and her mom went in to ask.  It made the day of the all male clientele of the bar.  We headed further down the road, took the Gibraltar exit and lo and behold suddenly we were driving through passport control – ah ha!  You can drive to Gibraltar.  We arrived just in the nick of time to meet Nicole for lunch and a stroll.  It was lovely to see her (it had been six years).  We decided to come back on Saturday afternoon so that we could do a tour of the Rock and see the monkeys.  It was just amazing.  I now know why monkeys so fascinate men.  I think I took at least 50 monkey photos, but don’t worry, I didn’t post them all.  Check out my Gibraltar photos at:

Friday had us heading to the harbor in Tarifa to catch a ferry to Tanger, Morocco.  Here are some photos from the ferry journey (35 minutes in open water, eyes drinking in the sea):

We arrived in Tanger, Morocco a bit windblown, not quite knowing what to expect, but every one of us eager for an adventure.  We declined to take the first tour offered to us – something just didn’t feel right about the guide.  Then we met “Jim” – a sweet Moroccan guide who was incredibly knowledgeable about the city and who won me over when he stopped and bought a triangle of cheese about two seconds after I squealed “kitty!” when I saw a stray in the street.  I know, I know, I’m a sucker for kitties.  He doubled my faith in him when he yelled across the square for the showmen to put the cobra away so that we could walk past after learning of my “big fear” – quite the gentleman.  We explored the old town, rug shops, and an apothecary and then had lunch in a typical restaurant.  It was, by far, the best food we had during the entire trip.  You can see my photos from Tanger at:

Saturday night, mom and I headed over to Nicole’s wedding where I finally met her husband.  He was one of the warmest, loveliest men I have ever met.  Well done, Nicole.  We ate, drank, danced and made new friends (the hottest guy at the party spent about an hour hitting on mom) until midnight when we headed back to the hotel to pack for our 6 am departure the next day.  Twenty-four hours later had us arriving, grumpy and bedraggled into Atlanta where my dad (prince of men that he is) met us with a cooler full of beer in the car.

Sorry that was so long.  I still feel like I barely gave the highlights, but I’m sure you’ll all be hearing stories for months.  We had a really wonderful time and I missed all of you guys.


P.S. These are just a few photos. I have around 300 good ones, so if you want more, ask and I will bore you to death, I am sure.


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