We just took off from Nerja and said goodbye to our simple, quite apartment on Calle Málaga right in the heart of town.
Some quick things to note:
We really enjoyed this slow section of our trip! Amanda and I did a lot of the planning, talking, dreaming, etc. that we wanted to come on this epic journey for. Together we talked about tons of stuff from where we want to come home to, what we want to do for work, what we’d like our lives to be like in the future (including a fun night discussing “what is our life like when we’re 65”), and more! I know we’re planning nerds, but that’s what we do :)
Amanda did yoga every single day in Nerja to complete her goal and made serious improvement. She’s basically the queen of yoga now.
I accomplished my goal and swam 1500m in the ocean in middle/back of the pack time for an average olympic length triathlon. I had never swam for exercise in the ocean before and couldn’t swim more than a lap or two without having to stop and gasp for air, but with a lot of coaching and getting beat up by waves I did 1500m in 38 minutes, which I’m happy with for a starting point!
We made two sets of good friends that stayed in our building. Mark and Morgan are a young adventurous couple from Arkansas that remind us a ton of our friends Quinn and Zach back home. Paul and Barbara are a super nice, interesting, and hilarious couple from Rugby, England who retired early and are traveling indefinitely on a budget now. We met up with Paul and Barbara again in Málaga where we are now as I write this. We learned a lot already from both sets of friends and plan to keep in touch!
We’ll miss Nerja and the quiet, peaceful days at the beach and fun nights enjoying tapas, but we’re ready for the next adventure! I feel reinvigorated after the time there and can’t wait to not only explore more on the trip, but also to attack setting up our new life in the states when the time comes.
Sam made his way down to Nerja for four days to join us for Thanksgiving! It was super nice seeing him again and having another friend to celebrate the holidays with.
Despite only having a tiny kitchen with a two burner stove and microwave (ovens are hard to find in Europe!) we pulled off a delicious Thanksgiving feast.
I’d say Amanda was the heart, soul, and brains of the operation. We made, in this order, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, green beans, turkey, stuffing, gravy, and a salad! Quite the feast and a fun way to spend our first Thanksgiving as a married couple! Check out a 1 minute time lapse of how it came together.
We’re really thankful to not only have the opportunity to be on this trip around the world with each other, but also for the fun, supportive friends and family we get to stay in touch with and miss as we’re away.
Another rented car and another beautiful trip! We took a day trip to Ronda which is the quintessential white hillside town in Andalusia.
We didn’t fall in love with the town, it’s pretty touristy and doesn’t have a ton to offer.
BUT – Ronda is split in two (the new Spanish part and the old Moorish part) by an amazingly deep river gorge with the bridges connecting the town. It’s really dramatic and picturesque. Amanda and I hiked down into the bottom of the gorge on a wandering “trail” with old ruins to explore scattered along the way. At the bottom we climbed down a rope and tree to a swimming hole between two big waterfalls. This part was incredible.
We took a fascinating, adventurous and gorgeous trip back to Granada and the Sierra Nevadas of Spain. Just like last time we really enjoyed Granada. There is so much unique culture in one place. Amanda and I agree it’s our #1 recommended spot to visit in Spain and it’s one of my favorite cities in Europe to visit.
It’s only about 1 hour in a tiny blue car to Granada from our house in Nerja! It’s fun to jam on the freeway and look down to see the speedometer at 130 (km/hr that is). Then, after marveling as we walk through the Alhambra, exploring the many caves of Sacramonte, watching the sunset with a beer in hand from a cave bar, and enjoying the odd but delicious tea, silly hookah bar, colorful knick knack markets, and African food of the Albaycin, we continued on to the mountains!
It’s a 40 minute drive in a red lining little car in 2nd gear up to the ski resort of the Spanish Sierra Nevadas. It’s way up there and it’s an amazing view from the top! We took a great hike up to we think around 12,000 feet.
Then… We decided to take the long way home. That means a curvy, dirt road filled, trip about 5 hours down, around, up and over the mountains and then back to Nerja. It was worth every bit. Gorgeous and way too much fun.
We saw a huge damn, a fake stag on a rock off a dirt road that tricked us for too long, the most amazing fall colors I’ve ever seen, and interesting geology similar to a mini grand canyon at times.
Amanda and I have been living in Nerja, Spain for two and a half weeks now. It’s been amazing. It was the slow down we needed after about a month and a half of pretty fast paced travel. This experience of “living” in another country is also what we both have looked forward to the most on our trip.
Since we’ve settled down in our apartment for the month of November it’s been a lot of laying on the beach, swimming, yoga, tapas, cooking dinners in, reading, working and learning in our quiet apartment, and workouts on our roofdeck or at the beach. I’m sure this doesn’t sound bad to anyone but it’s our ideal way to spend time :) A balanced life between physical health, learning, fun together, and experiencing a unique culture.
Being way more productive than the Spanish
Amanda is keeping in touch with her clients and is even keeping some of them on track from afar by sending them fitness plans. She is also working on a new fitness certification, doing an online course to become and EXOS Performance Specialist. She’s learning a lot of fitness knowledge she can apply with her clients. I’m often her test subject for odd movements and tests! She works on it about an hour a day watching videos, taking notes and moving into pretty hilarious poses with her headphones in (she’s even doing one right now while I write this on the tablet!)
If that isn’t enough Amanda is also taking a 2 hour Spanish course five days per week. She’s making a ton of improvement and is getting around Nerja with her Spanish just fine!
I’m keeping busy working 10 to 15 hours a week contracting with Aquila. It’s interesting work with a familiar team so I’m happy doing it. It’s also a nice way to fund our travels. I’m still pushing some on Spectafy and I’m actually going to a conference in Barcelona Wednesday about Smart Cities to meet with some interesting people.
For fun I’m also researching more and more about self driving cars (I think that’s going to happen sooner rather than later and will be a primary method of transportation for a few decades). I got a couple little microprocessors and I’m getting them talking to each other and reading sensors for a fun project I’m tinkering on.
Besides that Amanda and I both made challenges for the month that we’re doing a darn good job sticking with. She is doing an hour of yoga every day and I’m swimming in the ocean every day. I can’t swim very well so I think Amanda comes to the beach with me for amusement and to make sure I don’t drown (the warm sun probably doesn’t hurt).
Getting familiar with the community
We really like a lot of the Spanish culture. It’s a fantastic place to vacation or live for a while.
Amanda has her favorite fruteria (super fresh fruit and veggies here, TONS of agriculture), panaderia (bakery), supermercado, tienda de zumo (juice/smoothie shop), and much more! I have my favorite cafe for WiFi, green tea, and sometimes toast with tomato and olive oil (local staple) or bacon sandwiches (yum!).
We have our favorite tapas spots (Redondo, La Puntilla, El Pulguilla, El Chispa, La Marina – roughly in that order). We’ve become regulars at some of them! You just can’t beat mingling with super friendly locals over 1.40€ drinks that each come with free snacks about half the size of a typical American appetizer. Our favorite tapas are paella, chorizo, pil pil, carne con tomate, grilled squid (Amanda likes this, I’m not that into that one), and prawns grilled with the shell on (my go to when Amanda gets gnarly squid).
The Spanish schedule has taken some getting used to, but we’re doing it! Wake up around 8, don’t go to bed before 11:30, have two small breakfasts, a big lunch around 2, tapas around 7 and dinner about 9pm.
We’re having an unbelievable time here, really enjoying our time together and our time to better ourselves all while soaking in a new culture. The best part… we still have 2 weeks here and then… well, who knows! :)
A night in our Nerja apartment making Cioppino! We bought fresh muscles, clams, shrimp, and swordfish from the market and made this delicious dinner! Served with some fresh whole-grain bread (“pan integral” en español) from the bakery around the corner – yum!
We have now been in Nerja, Spain for just over a week! Nerja is a beautiful beach town on the coast of Southern Spain. We decided to rent an apartment and stay here for just over a month. We are one week in and loving it!
Saturday we went for a hike up the Rio Chillar – it was SO COOL! Eric and I agreed that it was one of the coolest hikes we’ve ever been on. You hike up the river! It starts as a really wide river-bed with just a stream of water. The river gets narrower and the water flow increases until you are hiking completely upstream, climbing up small waterfalls and wading in the water. After about 6 miles up the Chillar, we hiked up a pretty hidden trail that leads to an aqueduct. Then you hike on the aqueduct for about 5 miles before a 1 mile steep decent back to the river. Including the walk to the trailhead – we traveled about 15 miles! (Thus the all you can eat Brazilian restaurant for dinner haha :) 6 sides and 10 different types of meat that they bring to your table on skewers!)
Here are some pictures from our amazing time on the Rio Chillar!
Granada is an amazingly diverse and fascinating city. It’s definitely the city in Spain I’d recommend visiting the most from where I’ve been.
We only spent two days here, but we’re planning on going back soon as it’s only a short bus trip from Nerja where we are now.
The Moors from north Africa ruled much of Spain for a really long time, especially the southern region of Andalusia. Granada was a capital and cultural center of the Moors in Spain and one of the last strongholds before the Spanish pushed Moorish control (and Muslim religion) out of Spain in the reconquest ending in 1492 (A familiar year and a good one for Spain for a few reasons).
In downtown Granada there are five main areas:
1) The Alhambra is a massive and intricate castle on the hillside taking up a big chunk of the city center. This was the Islamic palace when the Moors ruled from about 700 until 1500. It’s incredible. We weren’t able to go inside as tickets sell out months in advance, but we’re hoping to get in next time we go.
2) Albayzin – the Islamic region with lots of cool architecture, colors, winding alleys meant to make it hard to push the Muslims out by authorities, and delicious food.
3) Sacromonte – the gypsy part of town built in white caves into the hills above the city with fantastic views, supposedly the best flamenco around, and really cool houses!
4) Realejo – Jewish part of town with lots of residential areas we didn’t explore much (yet).
5) New Town – there is a main street and pretty much once you cross it everything gets “new” which means something like less than 300-400 years old :) The majority is a nice modern city with all the usual including some cool parks.
Having all of this existing seemingly at peace in one city is awesome. Oh, and the Serra Nevadas are really big mountains covered in snow looming over town to the southwest. Highly recommended.
The Basque region! The northeast part of Spain is known as Basque country. It’s a beautiful region know for it’s “amazing” food (more on that below), dramatic coastline, and they have their own language! Everybody also speaks Spanish, but it was quite confusing looking at signs, menus etc. when they were written in Basque but we thought we were looking at Spanish haha.
First we went to Bilbao (picture above) – it was a cool city! Bigger than we expected and surrounded by green hills. After 2 days there, we ventured via bus to San Sebastian: a cute beach town!
Both places are famous for their pintxos. Going out for Pintxos – like tapas – is a fun experience where you hop from bar to bar and pick small things to eat. The interesting thing is although the concept and experience is super fun – the food, in general, is not good – I mean worse than microwaved bagel bites. There are exceptions! We did find two places that were great! They were recommended to us by our airbnb host. I definitely think you need to get recomendations in order to try the world renowned and highly saught after pintxos. These good spots were fantastic! You have to make it to La Cepa and La Cuchara de San Telmo. Because if you don’t, the rest are just cold, fried foods, all stacked on a piece of bread. We were both so confused… these are the talked about pintxos?? Haha :) I guess we are more the german brats and pretzels type rather than the squid ink croquette and french fry and mayonnaise sandwich type.
Regardless of the interesting food experience we had a great time in both of these cities! We did some swimming and hiking in San Sebastian, explored the awesome cobblestone old town areas, and had our fair share of “vino tinto” (red wine). Here are some pics!