Not so hidden in Oqunquit is a beautiful coastal walk by the name of Marginal Way. There is free/metered parking around (if you can get a spot) but you will most likely have to opt for one of the many lots in the area. Prices range from five to fifteen dollars (We parked in one for five dollars). Doesn’t really matter which parking lot you choose as there are many entrances to Marginal Way. In our case, we decided to take a quick walk around Perkin’s Cove first and to start from there.
Just 15 minutes away from downtown Portland is a little gem called Fort Williams Park. After grabbing brunch at the High Roller Lobster Company, we grabbed coffee at the Speckled Axe and headed over to the park.
Fort Williams Park
The park consists of a walking path, the Portland Headlight, Fort Williams, and a few battlements. The walkway runs by the cliffs and gives an amazing view of the waves. There’s also a beautiful garden that you cut through. Even though the park is stroller friendly, we walked it all (Ava wanted to walk by herself!)
Situated at the end of the path is the Portland Headlight. Other than the lighthouse, there is a an old bell which Ava loved playing with.
After an early breakfast, we packed up our things and said goodbye to the camp.
First stop was a water cave. We got a quick and interesting lesson in how the Bedouin find water in the dessert - they look for a tree line around sandstone stacked on top of igneous rock, then they search for a cave in that area (the idea is that water filters through the sandstone into the cave). We went in for quick look, then got on our way to next location in Wadi Rum.
Canyons with Nabatean Carvings
This is a small canyon that was part of an old Nabatean trade route. Inside, the canyon walls were covered in Nabatean carvings. It was a little tricky to navigate with Ava, but with some help from the tour guide, we were able to make it in and out safely.
Last spot in Wadi Rum! Ava has an aversion to walking on sand so I had to carry her up…
A few hours later, we were at the Gulf of Aqaba, which is part of the Red Sea. We didn’t stay at the beach area too long, and went to grab a quick bite of shawarma for lunch.
A few more hours later, we made it to our last location of the day, the Dead Sea! We had to pay an entrance fee to use the private beach, but it was worth it as you get to use the resort’s facilities (pools & showers).
The Dead Sea was super salty, and while Ava was ok at first, her micro cuts started to burn. Some water also got into both our eyes, which really burned (a lot!). Luckily, there was a hose there with fresh water, which allowed us to rinse off immediately. Skin also felt amazing afterwards!
After the dead sea, our trip was wrapped up and we headed off to the Airport. Next stop, home!
This was going to be a long day with lots of driving, so our driver picked us up at 6:30am to start our day.
We hit this rest stop after 2 hours of driving to grab some breakfast and use the bathrooms. We ended up picking up some snacks as well.
Petra National Park
We got to the park and entered with our Jordan Passes. To our mistake, we didn’t opt for an official tour guide and just like at the airport, we got bombarded with unofficial guides and other services (you can have the tour guide shoo them away).
After walking 3km through a canyon, you arrive at the first building - The Treasury. This when we wished we had a tour guide because it was non-stop harassment for services from this point.
We walked through the park, admiring the buildings and eventually made it to the last portion of Petra National Park - a pathway up a mountain to see the Monastery. We were running low on time so we ended up paying for some donkey rides up to the top and back to the Treasury.
From there it was a brutal 3km walk through the canyon back to the front entrance with a sleeping Ava.
After grabbing a quick lunch outside of Petra National Park, it took another 3 hours to get to Wadi Rum. Our driver parked the car in a guest lot and we were all driven, along with our clothing, to the Bedouin camp in the back of a pickup truck, where we would spend the night.
We dropped off our gear and took a short ride to a nearby site where we could watch the sunset.
We walked back after and were served a dinner that was cooked similarly to the Pacific Islanders - on coals under the dirt. The food was delicious; it was far better than the food from the Bedouin camp in Dubai! After dinner, we showered and head to bed.
First day in Jordan and we gotta say, it was chaotic. From getting mobbed and harassed by people looking to direct you to a cab, or drive you, or hold your luggage (all for tips of course), to wasted time waiting for our Careem driver that got pulled over by police, it was not a fun experience.
After getting to the hotel, we had plans to hire a private driver to take us to Jerash but found out that the Roman ruins closed early at 6:30pm, even though the website said 8pm. We then wanted to go to see an old Roman citadel in Amman but turns out everything closed early in Jordan (despite the website’s information).
We looked at this on the brightside - this gives us some much needed R&R to prepare for the next two days. We did just that by lounging at the roof deck pool and sleeping early.
Just chilling by the water...
Our last day in the UAE! We had checked out and gotten ready to leave but then unfortunately, I realized I had left my sunglasses in the room =(. This wouldn’t have been an issue except for the fact that we had can hour and a half to get to the airport and checkin. They called housekeeping but it took too long, so they sent someone to the room and we ended up tipping the guy 10AED (he ran!). The taxi driver sped for us and the Etihad checkin was very efficient so we made it with about 30 minutes left. Jordan here we come!
We grabbed breakfast and explored the hotel a little bit. After some time, we started our adventure for the day!
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
We cabbed it over and started our walkthrough. KK had to wear an outfit that covered most of her body, which was provided free of charge. Ava was surprisingly receptive to photos, some other tourists even wanted to take photos of her!
The outside was gorgeous, the inside was as well. This is one of three wildly beautiful chandeliers!
We eventually made it to the Emirates Palace. After checking in, we were greeted with a little happy birthday setup for Kakrasna and some fresh squeezed OJ. Once we got settled down, we explored!
The Emirates Palace has multiple pools, a lazy river, and water slides! Ava is hanging out here by the kiddie pool, with the Jumeriah towers in the background.
There is a fountain area at the front of the Emirates Palace with a great view of the Jumeriah at Etihad towers, where they filmed the Fast and The Furious 6!
Jumeirah At Etihad Towers
We walked across the road to check out the towers. Initially, we had intended to go up the observatory, since it was the tallest building in Abu Dhabi, but they were closed already when we got there. Inside the hotel tower is a high end shopping area, including an Aston Martin dealership.
Qasr Al Hosn
The oldest fort in Abu Dhabi, unfortunately it was closed (even though website said otherwise). We managed to sneak a picture of the exterior plus construction before we were told that we couldn’t.
We walked over to Corniche Road, which runs parallel to the Corniche beach, and has a very spacious walking and bike path. We initially wanted to walk it all the way back to the Emirates Palace, but in the end, we lost to the 105 degree nighttime weather, and decided to cab it back.
The Emirates Palace Gold Cappuccino
The specialty item that the Emirates Palace is famous for, their gold dusted cappuccino! We decided to grab a cup before dinner. I was still in my shorts, which was not allowed but they offered me a blanket to cover my legs. It was interesting to say the least; the gold had no flavor by itself. It was almost like eating flakes of glitter.
Authentic UAE cuisine but in a nice upscale setting. Similar to the Cafe, shorts are not allowed at any of the restaurants at the Emirates Palace. I had to go back to our room and change this time.
…and that was it for our final night in Abu Dhabi. Goodbye UAE!
UAE, we’re back! We tried getting smart cards this time at immigration but they guy didn’t want to set us up 😑 Guess we’ll never get them…
Sheikh Zayed Mosque at Night
As we rode our cab to the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal, we could see the brightly lit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
There were a few great views of the mosque from the resort as well, and upon learning that we wanted to see the mosque, one of the bellhops drove us around the property and to specific viewing areas.
Unfortunately, the mosque was closed and didn’t allow anyone on the grounds. We could only admire the beauty from a distance
We ended our night after this. We needed to rest for the next day!
Once we arrived, we got driven to reception and had to sign a waiver for Ava, and then someone drove us to our rooms. We would spend the next four nights here on the island of Meedhupparu at the Adaaran Prestige Water Villas.
The Water Villas
There were only ten villas, with two rooms each. At most, during peak capacity, there would be twenty couples/families. We went during the tail end of the monsoon season, so there must of been only three to four couples. Our villa, #819, had a beautiful view of the sunset and enough coverage for privacy. #820 has a great view of the sunset as well but they are fully exposed.
At the deck, there is a lounge bed, as well as a jacuzzi and a set of stairs that leads directly into the water.
There were a few beaches on the island, but guests staying at the water villas had a private beach. Because there were only a handful of couples to begin with, it felt like having our own beach! Almost every time we were there, we were the only family…just us, the white sand, and the water.
There’s also plenty of fish in the crystal clear water. We didn’t have to go far to see fish and coral, it was all right at the beach and by the villas!
Just like the beach, the pool was virtually empty. We had it all to ourselves!
We purchased the all inclusive option, which we highly recommend. The food, especially the seafood, was excellent. We ate multiple entrees each meal, along with tons of fresh pineapple and watermelon juice. Oh, and we drank lots of alcohol as well...
The rest of the island includes the beach villas and their respective pools and beaches, a buffet restaurant, a small port for Dhoni rides, an activities center with shops, a spa, and a few beach cubs/bars. Other than the the boat ride, and a massage at the spa, we opted to stay in our private area (we had access to the beach villa facilities, but they were too crowded for our liking).
And that was it….
It was simple, relaxing, and easy. I don’t like beaches but I loved it here in the Maldives! This is probably the only beach in the world that I would do a repeat trip to. Our experience at the Adaaran Prestige Water Villas was nothing short of heavenly!
We Uber’d it to the airport and which took about 30 minutes due to morning traffic. Four hours later and we landed in Male International Airport.
After Immigration & customs, we proceeded to the service booth of our resort, Adaaran Prestige Water Villas, at E2. They sent someone to take our luggage and to help us book our seaplane tickets. After getting our tickets, we took a short bus ride to the seaplane port, where we waited in the Adaaran lounge.
Not much later, we were finally on the seaplane! We made the mistake of sitting in the first row, right behind the pilots. It was a mistake because it was a bit loud. I had to keep my hands on Ava’s ears the whole 40 minutes. Other than that mild hiccups, we didn’t mind the ride. Just being on the seaplane meant that we were almost there!
We grabbed some light lunch at a place called Zest and proceeded to walk to the Miracle Garden, which was just a block away.
After walking over in the blistering heat, we were greeted with closed signs. We had totally forgotten to check the website but it turns out that the Miracle Garden closes during the summer. Luckily for us, the Butterfly Garden was open so it didn’t feel like a wasted trip.
We were dying in the heat outside and was happy to see that the Butterfly Garden was indoors. There are four areas with different types of butterflies in each, with most of them willing to crawl onto your finger if you are gentle enough. Ava loved butterflies back home but being in close proximity to so many terrified her! I had to console her regularly until we got out.
The Frame at Zabeel Park
We were running low on cash so we Uber’d it to Zabeel park. The driver knew we wanted to go to the frame so he dropped us off at the entrance. We had to park the stroller by the ticket office and then walk a bit to get to the Frame itself. There were security checks and they normally don’t allow drinks inside but allowed us to keep it for Ava.
Inside and at the the top, windows on both sides of the “Frame” reveal Dubai. One side looks at old Dubai, while the other side overlooks new Dubai.
The coolest feature in our opinion is a section of glass flooring that appears white initially but has some sort of motion detection builtin. When you walk on it, the white layer disappears to reveal street level under you.
Ava wasn’t scared at all (probably because she was still young) and ran back and forth on the glass!
A short Uber ride took us to Al Fahidi, the historical district in old Dubai. This area represents traditional life in Dubai during the mid 19th century.
This is also where the restaurant “Local House” is located. It is one of the few places that serve camel meat. Of course, we grabbed dinner there and had a nice camel burger.
After dinner, we Uber’d it to the Burj Khalifa. Since there is no direct entrance outside, we got dropped off by the ice skating rink again and made our way to the Burj Khalifa by following the signs in the mall.
The Burj Khalifa offers two observation points: “At the Top” & “SKY”. The former is the cheaper option and allows access to the 124th and 125th floors, while the latter is the luxury (and more expensive) option and allows access to not only the 124th and 125h floors, but access to the 148th floor as well. We initially wanted to just do “At the Top” but tickets were sold out, so we ended up doing the “SKY” option.
Lesson of this story? If you’re planning to visit the Burj Khalifa, purchase tickets in advance if possible!
The Fountain Show
The fountain shows runs every half hour or so and the length of the fountain show depends on the song chosen. The show we saw was to hero by Enrique Iglesias in Spanish, and for us, it felt perfect. We caught another show while leaving and they were playing an Arabic dance song which, while still awesome, didn’t have the same magic for us.
And thats it...our last night in Dubai!
We grabbed breakfast and the hotel grabbed a cab for us. We wanted to hit multiple spots before our desert safari. The hotel was helpful as they communicated all this to the cab driver, and then off we went!
Due to the proximity of the water, the weather out here was much more humid than where our hotel was. It was also scorching at a nice 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which would explain why the beach was totally empty. Despite the allure of the white sand and turquoise waters, we didn’t stay too long either as just a few minutes out there was already very uncomfortable.
Burj Al Arab
This is the seven star resort in Dubai. Due to time constraints we did not go inside.
The Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah
One of two palm shaped islands, the best way to see the palm jumeirah is to skydive from ...unfortunately, we can’t do that with Ava (maybe in 16 years or so 😏). We decided to drive out to the Atlantis resort instead, which is located at the farthest edge of the island. You have go through an underwater tunnel to get there.
We booked this tour online via Viator and was in constant communication with company via email. The description on the website did not mention dune bashing so this is the one we picked out of numerous competitors.
We got picked up by our driver at our hotel and upon seeing Ava, he said in his words “100% she will be ok” during the dune bash, which already started to raise alarms. He also said he would take us directly to the camp if it bothers her. How did it go? Read on...
The driver told kept telling us that kids love it and that it’s not bad and that if we don’t do it, we would affect the trip for others. After some more peer pressuring, we agreed to try it out. What a mistake; the guy blasted music so he couldn’t hear us and then went on “extreme” mode. We eventually managed to get his attention and he ended up leaving us in the middle of the desert at a photo spot while he went and drove off with the other guests. They eventually came back to pick us up and then drove to a camel feeding spot. We made the best of the situation by taking some photos in the desert, and Ava enjoyed feeding the camels at least.
The camp itself was not as crowded as some of the other ones we drove by. We put our stuff down at our table and grabbed some water, then proceeded to partake in the activities of the camp.
We tried convincing Ava to get some Henna, but she refused. KK ended up getting some done on her instead.
The ride itself is maybe a minute at most. Still loads of fun for Ava though!
We didn’t have any pictures of this but it consisted of samosas for appetizers and various side dishes (i.e. rice, hummus, etc.) along with Arabic style barbecued meat. The food was overall, pretty decent, with a small desert at the end of it.
There were three performances; a guy that spins, a fire-breather, and a belly dancer. They were spaced throughout dinner. The spinning guy was a bit boring but it got Ava spinning as well. The fire-breather and belly dancing was pretty good though, and made the night go by faster.
We cabbed it to the Renaissance Hotel after landing and didn’t waste any time. It was about 9 PM but lucky for us, the Dubai Mall and everything inside was still open.
The Dubai Mall
The mall was just a short cab ride away. We got dropped off at the ice skating rink entrance with the main goal being the aquarium and underwater zoo. We figured we could explore the mall as we made our way to the aquarium.
We encountered an indoor souk (Arabic bazaar) as we made our way through the mall. We personally thought it was a bit redundant we were in a mall, but I guess this section was there for novelty reasons.
We stopped by the Mijlis cafe for some camel milk ice-cream while we were cutting through the Souk. It’s. Healthier than cow milk and you can tell from the texture (less fat)
We ended up getting the night owl tickets (after 10pm) which were 25% off for the zoo and aquarium. They closed at midnight so it gave us enough time to see both attractions.
While it was cool, it was short. I can say that it is only worth it if you purchase the attraction as a combo. By itself, the underwater aquarium is just too short and provides only a few minutes of wonder.
We had to leave the aquarium and go upstairs on the mall escalator to get to the zoo.
The underwater zoo was definitely worth it. Not only did it have more sea animals, it also included birds and crocodiles. It took us much longer to go through all the exhibits.
The Mall also has a indoor waterfalls with human sculptures!
There was a kids park that we wanted to check out but unfortunately it was closed. Ava didn’t stay too bummed because then she saw all the bright lights in out next area.
This was cool. It is a VR park - a giant arcade of sorts with nothing but VR games. They had a walking dead one with rooms built to simulate a typical building you would see in a zombie game. They also one where you played as John Wick. We didn't play any of the games as we were with Ava, but I'd recommend a try if you are ever there.
Back to the hotel
We grabbed some traditional Emirati cuisine at Milas for dinner and then cabb'ed it back to the hotel. For the first night, we got a decent amount in!
Here we go again, Ava’s off for another adventure! This time we are going to Dubai, The Maldives, Abu Dhabi and Jordan. We arrived to the airport a little late but we made it. Ava's all set and ready to go in her seat so stay tuned for more to come!
Montjuic castle offers a gorgeous view of the city and port. There is also an exhibit with a detailed history of the castle and Barcelona. There were even some antique armaments on display. The downside? I had to carry the stroller up the stairs to get up on the battlements.
The line to purchase tickets was ridiculous when we got here. Luckily, I pre-purchased my tickets online!
La Sagrada Familia
The ticket lines were already closed when we got here, so it was a good thing that we purchased tickets online. Unfortunately, I purchased them for the next day =( I had to work with their customer service people to repurchase and get a refund.
In all honesty, the peak of this attraction was the facade. While the interior and exit was beautiful, it didn't stand out the way the entrance did.
We grabbed some coffee and croissants at a cafe nearby and walked towards Casa Mila. We stopped by and took pictures outside but didn't go inside. I was not aware that you had to purchase tickets to go inside to see the light show and we were also tight on time. We walked a block down to the next and final stop of the night, Casa Batlo.
We showed them our tickets and were for the next day, and the ticket lady just let us in instead of making us repurchase, which was awesome (saved me the work of calling and fixing my mistake!)
They let you checkin your bags and stroller and provide headsets attached to devices that looked like smart phones.(self guided tour). Coolest part about those devices is the use of augmented reality for each room. I'm not an art buff by any means, so if you are interested in the design, head on to Wikipedia to read about the house.
Spain: The End
From there, it was roughly a two mile walk back to our hotel. We grabbed dinner at Senyor Parrelada and that was the end of our last night in spain. Goodbye Spain!
The Gothic district is the center of what they call Old Barcelona and while it looks 'old', some of the buildings are from the 19th and 20th centuries. If you're interested, you can read about it on Wikipedia when you're done with this post.
Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulali
While wandering the Gothic quarter, we chanced upon the Barcelona Cathedral. There was a courtyard and a nativity scene. With the sun setting outside, the lighting made everything more beautiful.
We left the courtyard and then started walking towards the Cathedral. Large and grandiose, we went in and paid our respects, then left for dinner.
Look at the ceiling!
We grabbed dinner and ended our night. Only one more night left in Spain!
Central Market & Roman Murals
The market was closed unfortunately, all we could do was take a quick peek and keep on walking.
Our Lady of the Pillar Cathedral-Basilica
We walked around the corner to the basilica, which was less than a minute away from the Central Market and the Roman Murals. Once we got to the plaza, we were greeted with a view of the front of the basilica, which stretched one end to other, across the width of he plaza.
Right across from the basilica is the Ascensor building. They charge an entrance fee but a short elevator ride to the viewing area gives you a nice view of the Zarazoga skyline. We just had to make sure not to fall while down the winding staircase!
We walked to the fortified medieval Islamic castle and got in just before they closed. Aljafería hosts an interesting history, go check it out on Wikipedia here.
The interior was absolutely gorgeous.
Plaza de Toros de Zaragoza
We ended up grabbing food at the Casa Emilio, which was only about a mile away, and then walked it back to our hotel. On the way back, we passed by a bullfighting arena. The city lamps lit up the area and made for quite a scene, so we decided to take a picture.
We had to wake up this morning nice and early because Valencia was a 6 hour drive. Right outside of the garage was a convenient store, so I picked up a few monsters and waters and went to grab the car.
I had to drive out of the garage for the GPS to pick up a signal and didn't have enough time to search for my next location. As mentioned in my last post, we were literally driving in alleyways. There were other cars and tons of pedestrians(Monday) so I had to keep moving. My plan was to eventually find my way towards a major road where I wouldn't be in an alleyway and I could pull over. I eventually arrive in what seemed like a dead end. I could see the major road, but there were these little metal poles sticking out that prevented me from getting onto the major road. A car pulled up behind me and my emotions raised. I started to get aggravated at this point. I got out the car to tell the guy to reverse, but he was a local and tells me that I can keep going. He said he would help guide me, pointing out that if I went at an angle for a right turn, I could slip past between two of the poles. He stood there to prevent pedestrians from passing and KK went outside to help guide as well. I eventually made it out with one very minor scrape. My shirt was soaked with sweat at this point. I really hate driving here...with a passion. KK got back in the car and I started to search for our next destination on the GPS. I put in for a restaurant in the college city of Murcia called El Pasaje, as Mucia was the halfway point between Granada And Valencia, breaking up the drive in half.
After a long drive, we finally arrived. I found street parking nearby and put some coins into the meter. Lunch at El Pasaje was wondeful, but we left after and didn't check anything out in Murcia as time was short and quickly started our drive out to Valencia. The hotel didn't show up on my GPS, even though I could see it on the zoomed map. I ended up putting in for Some plaza nearby instead and started the next part of our very long drive.
Once I entered the outskirts of Valencia, I tried searching for my hotel again. This time it popped up and I rerouted. It lead us to an alleyway again =(. The hotel sat on the corner of this alleyway street and a main road. I stopped right after pulling into the alleyway, getting ready to back out if I needed to. KK went inside to inquire where the parking garage was. She came back out and told me the garage should be a little further ahead. I drove up a few feet and we found the entrance. I saw the size of the entrance and I started to sweat. It was small. She pressed a button and the doors slid open. Looks like I had to drive the car into an elevator...an elevator about the same size as a hotel n a fancy hotel in the United States. I should of readjusted to get the best angle of entry, but I didn't. There was too much pedestrians walking around and I was already annoyed and aggravated, so I got impatient. We folded in the side mirrors and after some very rough guiding, we made it into the elevator with just a minor scrape. KK was hugging the wall of the elevator and pressed the button to get down. She guided me out and I parked the car. I breathed a side of relief and when I finally got out of the car. Two days in a row of this kind of driving was starting to stress me out.
We took the elevator up and I started to relax after seeing the very nice lobby. We checked in and made it to our room, fed Ava, and then we went back out shortly. We started walking to the Palace of the Marquis of Dos Aguas. Everything was closed at this point, but we were able to check out the outside for a few pictures. Then we went to the Louis Vuitton store which was just down the street. Ava and I waited outside while KK shopped. She eventually finished up, and we walked to our next location, the Valencia Cathedral. We went inside to take a few pictures, and dropped a small prayer of thanks along with a donation for our awesome vacation!
We ordered horchata and a thin bun called a Farton, both Valencia specialties from a shop called Berta's. We walked to Plaza de la Virgen and hung out for a bit to finish our little snack. Afterwards, we walked over to the Torres De Serrano and took more pictures. It was interesting because it was a giant ancient gate just sitting smack dab in the middle of a busy street.
Afterwards, we decided to grab dinner at Arrocera Valencia. We ordered our authentic paella and wanted to try the aqua de Valencia, but they were out. The paella was delicious, you can read about it here.
Next we started the walk home, keeping an out for somewhere that was open and still served the Aqua de Valencia. We eventually made it back to the hotel, not finding anywhere open. Luckily for us, we had a 24/7 bar at the hotel and placed an order, which only came in a pitcher. It was pretty damn good and Ava wanted some too (We had to politely refuse!) I finished up the pitcher cuz KK can't drink too much, and we went upstairs to finish the night.
Right before starting the drive, I had setup a go-pro to wear around my head. When I look back, I really should of setup a dash cam instead, but I did not bring the accessories for it. The idea was that because drive to Ronda was so awesome, that we figured the drive out of Ronda would be awesome as well.
After driving for awhile, we spotted a beautiful body of water, similar to Rio Guadete. We puledl off into a dirt road, and drove onto a stunning beach with glowing turquoise waters. We took pictures and enjoyed the scenery for a bit before getting back into the car. That was the last time we pulled over and the rest of the drive was pretty uneventful.
As I drove deeper into Granada, my heart sank. The majority of the streets were practically alleyways, shared by both driver and pedestrian alike. After finding my way to the hotel, we were directed to the nearest parking garage, which involved me going through more alleyways to get there. We make it to the garage eventually and park the car.
We walked back to the hotel and the first thing I noticed was that the lobby smelled like a portable toilet. I took Ava outside to get some fresh air while KK checked in. This day was not starting well at all!
We got into our room and quickly unpacked, heading out as soon as we were ready. We grabbed some gelato at a store right outside our hotel, then started heading towards the Alhambra, with Ava in the uppababy. On the way there, we walked by the St. Jerome monastery, which happened to be closed, so we kept going.
The GPS eventually took me to some old ticket center, which was 15 minutes away from the actual Alhambra. It was near a park, so we spent some time there to relax, change and feed Ava. After resting, we started walking towards the actual location of the Alhambra.
We eventually made it to downtown, Granada; there were restaurants everywhere and heavy foot traffic. We didn't need lunch because we ate Jamon and chips during the drive, so we walked past all the restaurants and towards the park entrance.
After entering, we looked at the map. The entrance to the Alhambra was at the top of a hill. There was a section with stairs but I wasn't going to lug a stroller up several flights of stairs, so we took the road meant for cars instead. After about 10 minutes, we made it to the top.
We walked towards the ticket office and the lady tells us tickets are sold out. Confused by the, we asked what she meant, not believing what we heard, and she repeated, "no more tickets for the day". We were pretty bummed and annoyed at this. I should of booked online but I didn't think it was necessary, so I was pretty upset with myself. Luckily a gentleman told us that a large portion of the Alhambra was free and that the tickets covered inside the palace and the gardens. That gave us hope.
We walked down a path that brought us by the palace walls and garden. It was a pretty idyllic walk, the only drawback being the big cobblestones that made up the road, leading to a very bumpy ride, which bothered Ava. We ended up taking her out of the stroller and carrying her instead. The road ended at a river, so we turned around and walked back up the hill. We got back to the ticket booth and started walking towards the park entrance again. From there we wandered into the free areas of the Alhambra taking pictures of anything scenic. We finished up near the entrance and proceeded to walk back home.
We didn't feel like eating out tonight, so we headed straight back towards the hotel, where there was a small takeout place. We ordered 3 paellas then grabbed more dessert at the gelato place next door, and went back to our room. The food was ok, it nothing mind blowing. We didn't expect much, so no disappointments there. The three of us relaxed and ate dinner in bed, then proceeded to end the night with the usual routine.
Woke up super excited because we were heading to Ronda, which was the reason for we decided to goto Spain. We had seen a picture of the bridge there and decided that it was our next destination. We quickly went through the morning routine and started our drive.
The drive took us on to a smaller road, where there was only one lane of traffic each direction. To pass someone, I had to wait till the opposite side was clear and then go as fast and as furious as the little VW Golf can go. Get stuck behind a slow car and it could be an annoying drive for stretches at a time.
Eventually, I had to get diesel, so I stopped at a gas station. It was a welcome break, because I was stuck behind someone slow and had gotten very frustrated. After gas, bathroom, and snacks, we got back on the road.
This was by far the most beautiful and scenic drive so far in Spain. We passed by mountains, plains, olive trees, etc. We drove by one area so beautiful that where my wife was insistent that we pull over so that she could take pictures. This was not an easy task because there were no breakdown lanes at all. Eventually I found a dirt path that I was able to drive off onto. The road eventually got very rocky so I stopped at some point and just left the car on park. We went out and enjoyed the scene of Rio Guadete.
Ava started crying so we went back to the car and changed her diaper. Fifteen minutes after driving, she started crying again. We stopped again at a viewpoint and while Kakrasna fed Ava, I went out and took some pictures.
Once she was done, I changed the gps to point to Villa Chinchilla. It was a highly rated vineyard and they offered food as well. It was close to 4pm and we were both starving. We drove up a mountain on a very rocky road, only to find out it was closed we we got there. TripAdvisor said they were open, so we were a bit dissapointed.
After giving ourselves a few minutes to sulk, we put in directions to Ronda again. The winery was near town, so it was a short drive(about 10 minutes). We made our way up the mountain that Ronda sits on, happy that we finally made it. I dropped off Kakrasna off to check in while I parked the car.
This hotel was very nice and fancy. After unpacking, we went to check out our balcony and was blown away by the view. We feed Ava some again, and left to begin our sightseeing. It was pass 4pm and no restaurants would be open; we also didn't want to waste any more sunlight, so we planned on sightseeing and picking up a sandwich at wherever we could find one.
First stop was a mirador of the mountains. A 5 minute walk brought us to a little park, where at the edge, it overlooked the bottom of the mountain. It's really hard to explain in words. Even pictures don't do it justice. The view was breathtaking.
From there we made it to the bullfighting ring, which was already closed. This is suppose to be one if the oldest in Spain. I'm not really a fan of bullfighting, but love the historical aspect. I decided that I would come back early morning to check it out.
We walked from there to the Puente Nuevo, which was absolutely packed. We took a few pictures, then kept walking towards the hiking path, which was after the first white House past the bridge. Right before we stepped onto the hiking path, we bought a sandwich to snack on. There was snow on the sloped stone steps that began the trail, so i would lead and Kakrasna would follow with Ava in the Miamilly, holding my hand. There really wasn't that much snow, it was more the lichen and moss combined with the slick rocks in the path made it slightly slippery. There were a lot of other tourists who were completely freaked out and some never made it past the first few steps before turning around.
We eventually made out way down to an overhang, which allowed for amazing pictures of the bridge. From there it continued onto a dirt path, which would lead to the other side of the bridge, at the bottom of the el tajo gorge.
There were some slightly dangerous moments, but we made it to the bottom. Ava even passed out during the hike. After a few minutes taking pictures and enjoying the view, we started the journey back up.
After making our way back up, we walked through the historic district, making our way to Plaza Duqeuessa. From there we followed along the towns medieval walls, walking towards the Puente Viejo. An interesting note was that this is the first town in Spain we've seen with snow. We noticed tourists playing with and taking pictures of themselves holding snow, treating the snow as if it were a rarity. Growing up in the New England area, this was a pretty entertaining scene.
We arrived at the Puente Viejo, which was near the old Arabic bathhouses, and took a few pictures. This area was not as hectic as the Puente Nuevo, with a lot less visitors and was much more quiet.
From there, we walked back towards the Puente Nuevo. At this point, we were pretty beat, not to mention hungry. We went to a few gift shops near the bridge, and picked up a shot glass, some jamon and wine for home. we walked back to the hotel to feed Ava, as well as drop everything off.
We didn't stay log and headed off to eat dinner at a restaurant called Ceres Grado. They opened at 8pm and we wanted to be the first people there. They were highly rated on yelp as a local spot to eat and drink, and it was noted that if you don't get there early, you won't be able to get a table inside. On the way there we stopped by El Casa de Jamon, and picked up some more Jamon as well as some potatoes chips.
After eating a very filling and very delicious meal(you can read about it here), we walked back to the hotel, stopping by a grocery market to pick up a few bottles of water. They were so cheap, that we picked up four bottles for only a dollar. I was craving fruit so I ended up buying a few oranges too. The total bill came out to a ridiculously low $1.25.
Once we made it back to our hotel, we cleaned up. We had an orange first and WOW, I swear that at that moment, it was the best orange I ever had. That ended our night and we went to bed.