I wrote this with 3 days until we leave Andalucia. But it’s scheduled to post as we’re on our flight to Mallorca. As of this moment we have left Andalucia and are on our way to more, different adventures. Keep in mind that we probably won’t have a steady internet connection for the next month or so.
As of this moment we have also been in Spain for 1 year (to the day). We’ve done so much we wanted to review it.
Our year summarized in 2 words:
This is maybe cheating but Jaen province has the highest concentration of castles on Earth
AND Jaen produces the most olives (and olive oil) on earth.
From our first night in Martos (what’s that smell? Olive oil factories) to seeing nothing but olives (and castles) from every mountain top – it’s hard to pin down anything else other than olives and castles. So we’ll divide it into more specific memories other than olives and castles.
Most Memorable Moments
Our experience with our realtors.
The bombona (gas) running out for the first time (and all the tile falling off our wall).
My first few days at school were the stuff of nightmares but my favorite day was probably when I refused to teach in Spanish alone so the principal shouted at me.
Swimming naked in the ocean to avoid hypothermia (which we would’ve gotten if we had kept our clothes on).
Chris helps monitor his students when a German exchange group visits his school.
We went on a nice bike ride but limped home.
And it rained everyday for 3 months, everything floods and people are washed away.
Most of our hikes were truly memorable for their own weird reasons (almost getting heat stroke, talking to a farmer, finding human bones, seeing nothing but just enjoying it).
Places We’ve Gone: ~36
Of those places almost all were in the Autonomous Community of Andalucia.
1. We take our first trip anywhere outside of Martos – to Almeria!
2. We take advantage of a “puente” (long weekend) to go to Tarifa.
3. We easily made it from there to Gibraltar.
4. For Christmas break we go to Seville for one day.
4. The next day we travel to Faro, Portugal.
6. We have an overnight sleeper train (our first one!) Which delays us in Madrid for 9 hours (because of snow). We spend our time at the Thyssen Museum.
7. For Andalucia Day we get a long weekend and head down to Granada to see the world famous Alhambra.
8. We have a long weekend and head to Almunecar.
9 – 11. My mom comes to visit and we see three new places: Malaga, Ronda and Cordoba
12-13: We visit Jerez and Cadiz
14-30-something. We have a most epic road trip through rural Andalucia.
Provinces seen in Andalucia: 7 (out of 8)
National Parks Seen: 3
Subbetica, Cazorla, and Magina
Bad Experiences had in Jaen City: Every.
- We’re get our TIE cards to stay legally. It was a battle and a half.
- We go back to extend our visa and get in a shouting match.
- We get stranded by the bus and killed an hour there
- We go to visit the castle. The tour guide is out sick so we can’t see it.
Castles Seen: 22
- Malaga’s Alcazaba
- Malaga Castillo de Gibralfaro
- Castle of Martos
- Castle of La Peña (Martos)
- Castle of Torredonjimeno
- Castle of Torredelcampo
- Castle of Jaen
- Almeria’s Alcazaba
- Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno in Tarifa
- Gibraltar’s “Moorish Castle”
- Almuñecar’s Castillo
- The Alhambra of Granada
- Seville’s Alcazaba
- Jerez’s Alcazar
- Cadiz’s Castillo de Santa Catalina
- Cordoba’s Alcazar
- Alcala la Real’s Castle
- Almodovar del Rio’s Castle
- Castle of Baños de la Encina
- Castle of Zuheros
- Castle del Berrueco
- Castle of Belmez
Towers Seen: 6
- Guadalmesi Tower in Tarifa
- Torre de la Muña
- Torre Olvidada
- Torreon de Cuadros (Magina National Park)
- Molino del Cubo
Museums Visited: 22
- Museum of Almeria
- Museum of Malaga
- Gibraltar Museum
- Seville- Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla (worst one)
- Faro -Museu Municipal de Faro
- The Lisbon Story Center
- Lisbon Roman Amphitheater and Museuem
- Lisbon Pantheon
- Lisbon National Archaeology Museum
- Coach Museum Lisbon
- Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (one of our favorites)
- National Museum of Costume Lisbon
- Beer Museum Lisbon
- Cordoba – Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
- Museum of Jaen
- Martos Tower Museum
- Santa Elena – Museum of the Battle of las Navas de Tolosa
- Museo Arqueológico de Jerez
- Cadiz – Yacimiento Arqueológico Gadir
- Cadiz Roman Amphitheater
- Museum of Cádiz
- Madrid -Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza
New Foods Discovered: Many
Here’s our top 10 favorites
- Eggplants and Molasses (Favorite!)
- Salmorejo – favorite (no recipe online yet!) thickened, cold tomato soup with garlic.
- Canary Stew – aka 3 Meat 3 Carbs: garbanzo beans, potatoes and chorizo, chicken and beef
- Patatas a la Tiza – something we like at a local restaurant(called “La Tiza”) They take gyro meat and put it on top of french fries with a tatziki sauce.
- Toastada – hated it at first, love it now. Fresh tomatoes on a piece of bread. Add olive oil and salt to your liking. MMMMMMmmmm.
- Artichoke egg n’ pine nuts – with jamon to make a rich broth
- Tortilla aka Spanish Omelette
- Grandma Birthday “Cake” (just pudding with cookies)
- Sherry/Jerez – which you can mix into weird drinks if you want
- Chicken and Dumplings – Andrajos con Pollo
Hikes hiked: 14
1. Climb La Peña this is just the little mountain in our town (with a castle on it).
2. We hike to Guadalmesi in Tarifa. This is probably our favorite hike we took all year as it was so surprising. We thought we were just taking a coastal walk but ended up seeing loads of abandoned ruins and military outposts we didn’t know would be there.
3. We hike across the Sierra Nevadas from Baes de Granada to Granada.
4. We hike around 5 places you can still see aqueducts in Almunecar
5. We celebrate our 10 year of knowing each-other anniversary hiking La Grana.
6. We hike Los Baños de Agua Hedionda. An old abandoned spa hotel.
7. We hike to El Cortijo del Alamillo an abandoned farmhouse/factory.
8. We hike to the Salt Mines of San Jose. They’re still making salt but no one is mining it.
9. We take a short hike to the Puente Medieval – a medieval bridge.
10. We wake up before the sun is up to climb the biggest mountain in our province. El Pico – “The Peak.”
11. We hiked to a fortified Mill. On the way we found human bones leaking out of a cemetery which was morbid and fascinating.
12. We have a very epic way-too-long hike to an abandoned city, ancient mill and really banging castle.
13. Cazorla 18 Miles and 18 Waterfalls
14. We try to see a castle, mill and buried treasure site. We see none. But not for lack of trying.
It’s been a year
- 5,306 photos taken
- 34 buses ridden
- 14 trains taken
- 3 taxis used
So with that we say goodbye to Andalucia and hello to the Balearic Islands.