Our Grand Adventure to Spain

We left Durango on Monday morning and didn’t get to Martos (our new home) until 7 pm on Thursday. This involved a …

9 hour drive to Denver (then spending the night)

9 hour flight to London (not Heathrow but the crappy low-cost-carrier Gatwick one)

3 hour layover there

2 hour 45 minute flight to Malaga (then spending the night)

4 hour bus ride to Martos

24 hour and 45 minutes total transit actually-moving time. In terms of spending the night and time differences we really have been at it for four days.

The Flight

We flew with Norwegian Airlines which is a low cost carrier (LCC). LCCs are great because you can get a flight for $1 sometimes but this is because of hidden fees and advertising. We’ve flown other LCCs before and they can be tricky. Personally we never had any problems with them, though, because we’re good rule-followers. If any LCC says “the limit is 10kg” or “your bag will not be bigger than 30 cm” they mean it. You also won’t get anything complementary – you can’t choose your seat, eat a meal, or have a bag – unless you buy it.

Norwegian wasn’t a dollar, sadly. But for $499 per person we were able to fly one-way from Denver-Gatwick then Gatwick-Malaga. We also did the plus plan which included food and seats, and we bought an extra bag. If we hadn’t done this we could’ve gotten it for $50 less per person. Also without a 3rd bag ($90) we could’ve flown for $404 each.

So we got it for cheap and would recommend an LCC if you follow the rules. Did we follow the rules? No. Did we get lucky? Yes, yes we did. Norwegian is a new airline in Denver, the employees weren’t even trained yet. So the nice lady at the front desk didn’t weigh our carry on bags. Were there limits on the carry ons?! Of course there were! It’s an LCC! So we had overweight carry-ons (because of computers and important documents we had to have) but didn’t get caught. Lucky, lucky.

On board there was minimal space but it’s no different than United or Delta. The on-board entertainment was pretty great. There was a good movie selection and a fun trivia game where you could challenge other people on board.

Chris is enthralled with the movies

Dinner came and people started to get jealous. Fortunately (for them) it wasn’t anything to write home about. Literally boiled unseasoned chicken breast on a bed of salty rice and some boiled veggies on the side. The star was a shredded carrot, raisin and mayo salad and, of course, the brownie. A couple hours before landing we got a bagel sandwich.

Brownie, carrot salad, cup for coffee later, boiled chicken.

We caught this great sunset somewhere over Canada.

Plane Sunset


Imagine our surprise as we landed and saw almost nothing. No Tower, no London Eye, not even lights. Just fields. We were not in London at all. It was still called “London Gatwick Airport” even though it was 30 miles from the actual city.

Besides not being near London, the airport was a trashy horrible place. And extremely confusing. The terminal we arrived in had two options, go through customs or go to the north terminal via a bus that only comes if you call for it. The screen for the North terminal didn’t show our flight, so we walked back the way we came and found a hidden hallway to our terminal. We had our passports and tickets re-scanned then went back through security. Finally we were in this atrocious airport that was more mall than transportation hub. There was a sign that mercifully said “Quiet Area” where some people were sleeping. We went there and it wasn’t quiet at all but at least we had somewhere to sit (as in not shop) for the 3 hours.


Our first impression of Spain was that it was very arid and muted. The view from the plane was not one of green forests or fields but red-ish orange dirt with rows upon rows upon rows of olive trees. It looked like New Mexico or even the Sonoran Desert of actual Mexico. This surprised us. When we landed a poor four year old British girl behind us actually asked “Mummy, why is it so sunny?” Seems that everyone had some expectation violation.

Malaga was also a strange airport. We got through customs in a few minutes. Our passports were barely looked at then stamped. Seems not-great for the security of 23 countries- but okay! We waited for our bags until the carousel stopped moving. Oh great. We thought all three bags had been lost or that maybe we had had to pick them up back in London. Another small sign said “International Flight Belts 30-34” whatever that means. So we went to those belts and sure enough that’s where all the non-EU countries bags go. We had to enter a secure area and then talk to customs to get out with our bags. Never seen another airport do this.

We had to take a train from the airport to downtown. We had 3 bags at 44 lbs each and 4 carry-ons (one bag and one personal item) slightly over 20 lbs together. So each person had the pleasure of wearing 2 backpacks for a total of 64 lbs, while carrying a personal item, and we took turns pushing/pulling the 44lb wheel-y bag. It was our choice to carry so much but boy are we glad we’re done. 64 lbs on your back/front (wearing one backpack in the front) sometimes makes it feel like you’re being crushed.

We made it to our hotel. By now we hadn’t slept for about 22 hours. It was only 2 pm and we had to stay up until a reasonable bedtime. We showered then walked around the city. We saw a Roman amphitheater, a huge church and some other stuff that I seriously don’t remember and don’t have any pictures of. We just coasted through the city, sleep deprived and in awe. My watch said we walked 10,000 steps or 4.8 miles so we must have seen some things.

The church

Roman ruins

We were too …. weird (?) to want to go to a restaurant. We didn’t feel like fumbling, pointing and making mistakes at a real restaurant. And we really didn’t feel like going to a tourist restaurant and getting touristy food. So we went to a Turkish restaurant (like what we always used to eat in Germany). I ordered fish and chips and I got a fully fried fish – like scales and bones and eyes thrown into a deep fryer (no breading).

The remains…

So it was technically fish and chips but not what I had thought. I’m amazed I was able to separate the bones from the food in the state we were in.

We couldn’t make it to a reasonable hour. We passed out with the TV on at 7 pm. We made it 29 hours without sleep but couldn’t fight it any longer. At 2 am we were wide awake having gotten a very full 7 hours of sleep. Damn. Determined to fall back asleep we stayed in bed. And made the very critical mistake of drifting back off to sleep at 6 and waking up at 11. Double damn. That, my friends, is how you lose the jet lag fight.

Another way to lose the jet lag fight is to eat at random times – not at proper local-time eating times. Which we did all that next day. Upon waking up we went to a cafe. We got these fantastic open faced sandwiches. We had wanted to try jamon (a dry cured ham leg they just rip bits off of and serve). I ordered an iberian jamon sandwich. It was a bunch of fresh crushed tomatoes on the bread with jamon over the top. Yum. Chris got a goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, honey and bacon mix on bread. Awesome.

Welcome back to Europe, stomachs!

Then we didn’t eat for the rest of the day. We had to catch our bus at 3. So we hauled the 64 lb back-front packs on a murderous 10 minute walk in the heat to the bus stop. The bus was the best. We saw so many wonderful things and it was a great introduction to Andalucia. We saw olive groves, crumbling old farm homes, quaint little cities, and castles up the wazoo.

We arrived in Martos at 7. We waited until 8 for our Airbnb host to get a break from work and get us the key. We hauled the bags for the last time .2 horrible miles to his place. We showered and went to the store for dinner – which we ate at 9:45pm. So no food for 7 hours – then ate at a dumb time. Dumb dumb dumb.

Our host, Lee, got off of work at this time so when he made it back to his house he opened some wine and we visited until 12:45. We didn’t get to bed until 1:30 am.

Sit rep:

Jet lag: Not great

Awe of Spain: Unfathomable

Martos: Fantastic

Dehydration: So much

Thinking clearly: Not. Forgive all the mistakes in this post.

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