Showing posts with label Vacation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vacation. Show all posts

Friday, July 11, 2014

One last day in Spain

There’s so much to see in Andalucia that we could have easily spent our last day exploring Malaga, spelunking through sea caves, or returning to Granada. But the guidebook’s review of Sevilla was so enthralling that we decided to make the longer drive to and from this historic city. Also, I was pretty sick with a bronchitis type bug, so Erik enjoyed the scenic countryside while I napped. When we arrived, we instantly fell in love with the city’s easy-going grandeur and soaked in a few of its most renowned destinations.

We started out at the Alcázar, another royal palace with Moorish roots followed by Christian renovations. Like the Alhambra, it was constructed around serene courtyards, stunning tile work, water features, and gracious gardens.

 

The massive Cathedral of St. Mary was our next stop.

Its gargantuan proportions reduced us tourists to tiny ants along the floor.

I could have sat in its charming orange grove courtyard all afternoon (plus I had a fever) and the tower views were spectacular!

Then we meandered through the university to the lovely Plaza de España. Despite its grand expanse, it welcomed us with a relaxed family atmosphere as kids played and paddle boats plodded by.

Then we walked along the river, enjoyed a peaceful dinner,

Had a déjà vu sculpture moment, and suddenly it was time to drive back to Malaga for our flight home.

There was still so much to see, but truly, the treasures of Andalucia could never compete with these two little wonders. What a joy to return home to their sweetness! And what fun it would be to bring them along to explore more of Spain one day.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Splendid Spain, part 2

I’m back to continue the tale of our February trip to Andalucia. After Colleen and Ryan’s exquisite wedding, we spent a relaxing day exploring the nearby Mediterranean beach towns.

Our first stop was Nerja, an upscale vacation town known for its “Balcon de Europa”. The expanse of blue-green seas, rugged cliffs topped by white-washed homes, and tropical vegetation were just as impressive as their delectable ice cream!

Then we followed the coastal road east past the occasional ancient fortification or tile-roofed beach house.

We soon arrived at Almuñecar, where more gorgeous coastline mixed with Roman, Moorish, and Christian ruins from the town’s colorful history.

Our final coastal stop was Salobreña and we arrived just as the setting sun bathed the stone walls in a golden glow and tinted the distant Sierras purple.

I loved the narrow cobbled streets that wound up to the castle, though their compatibility with modern transportation is questionable. We were grateful for Aunt Marian’s legendary driving skills, she just folded in the mirrors and forged ahead as the ‘street’ got narrower and narrower until we reached the top!

The next morning we bid farewell to the Palacete, (where we stayed for the week and the wedding was held) but not without taking a few more pics and a  video to document the rustic mountain road that takes you there. Minimal medieval-era guardrails separate traffic from steep drop-offs and you never know when a group of goats or bicycles might be hiding around the next hairpin turn. But when you finally arrive, the location is well worth a few heart palpitations. The Palacete dates back to 1492 and is set atop terraces of avocado trees,

Overlooking the sleepy town of Otivar.

And don’t get me started on the sumptuously grand yet comfortable interior, and the picture-perfect grounds! To have the private run of such a paradise felt like an extended daydream of a royal family vacationing at their country chateau.

I’ll be back soon with the final Spain installment, our whirlwind tour of Sevilla!.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Skipping off to Spain (back in February)

On our own, I don’t think we would have ever decided to leave the kids for 9 days and jet off for Europe. But when my sister announced that her wedding would be a European destination event, of course we were going. And once you travel so far, shouldn’t you stay a day or two to take in the sights? So that left us with an extended trip to Southern Spain, highlighted by Colleen and Ryan’s beautiful wedding!

Our first day we toured the Alhambra, an enchanting palace unlike any other royal dwelling I’d seen. The Moorish architecture was bright and white-washed, welcoming nature inside with reflecting pools, gardens, and bright inner courtyards resplendent in lacy white and gold tile. Despite their grandeur, when you actually consider living inside them, other European castles tend toward gloomy and confining, but the Alhambra felt dreamily idyllic, albeit on a grand scale. Even the chilly damp day couldn’t make it dreary.

The next day we drove out to Ronda, a darling town stunningly situated on either side of a plunging gorge. Terraced buildings, winding cobbled streets, and glorious views over the peaceful countryside punctuated every turn. We ate lunch at a restaurant looking across the fields, ancient bridge, and waterfall. Never have I dined with such a captivating vista and there was such a surreal magic to the almost-empty, spotless town that I felt as if we were walking from set to set of a Disney fairytale.

Day 3 was spent back at our home base near Otivar in the giddy excitement of wedding preparations! We selected flowers at a local market,

Enjoyed a joyfully anticipatory rehearsal dinner, and prepared the grounds for the big day.

All the guests stayed at the exquisite Palacete de Cazules, and the wedding was held in the private yellow-stuccoed chapel on its grounds. It was the perfect size for the gathering and so authentically Spanish-countryside-destination-wedding inside.

Colleen did a gorgeous job crafting her own bouquet,

And I loved the way she and my parents and brothers displayed local fruits amidst flowers on the table for the reception in the main house of the Palacete.

Then we retired to the regal bedrooms to dress for the occasion.

Finally, we simply walked across the courtyard to the romantic chapel for the lovely ceremony, reverently performed by an Anglican priest.

The tropical grounds were lush even in February with a brilliant overlook of the valley toward the town of Otivar. Perfect for photos and appetizers!

Dinner was delicious, followed by dancing, the requisite Ferry family serenade, a touching slideshow, and other spectacles!

So much gracious glamour and simple elegance, just right for my beautiful sister who epitomizes both! We’re so happy for you Colleen and Ryan and wish you endless joy and blessings in your new marriage!!

{I’ll be back soon with part 2 of our Spain trip, where we visit the Andalucian coast, Sevilla, and say goodbye to the Palacete! Until then you can find all our wedding week pics here.}

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Paradise à la lake

Really, what prettier beach is there on a New England lake? Each year we all look forward to a week at Erik’s parents’ lovely lake house for a sweet time of rest and relaxation for me and Erik, and jubilant play on the beach with much-missed relatives for the kids!

This year, my highlights included kitchen renovation planning with Dad via sand diagrams on the beach,

Darling beach ensembles for the Ellabelle,

A little friendly competition playing a new board game with Erik and his brothers,

Motoring around the lake spying bald eagles from Dad’s boat,

Sweet cuddles with our super-happy vacation-loving kids,

Seeing my hardworking hubbie get some time to relax,

Sunrise walks to the dock with delicious coffee made ready by Mom,

And sunset ones too,

And lots of time off while grandparents and uncles played with our kiddos! Erik and I even were able to continue our tradition of an overnight getaway to the coast, this year visiting Portsmouth, NH.

The kids of course have their own list of lake favorites, but I’ll save those and their cutie-pie pics for another post, hopefully tomorrow!