March 23, 2015: Arriving in Andalucia

Dominica was up and showering around three thirty.  I managed to not get out of bed until pretty much four.  Everything was already packed and ready to go so it was just a matter of getting dressed and running out the door.  We were all still completely exhausted after the last two days but at least we had some sleep.  The lack of sleep plus the exercise plus the jetlag really add up.

The walk back to the airport was not bad although it was up hill the whole way.  We were pretty warm and tired by the time that we got to the gate to enter the airport.  The girls were enjoying being pushed in strollers and not needing to have actually woken up to get to the airport this morning.

Checkin was not too bad today.  We got through the lines and were all set in about half an hour.  The walk through Dublin airport was really long, unnecessarily so, and I hate that they make you walk through a shopping mall instead of normal corridors.  On our long walk I ended up having all of our tickets fall out of my pockets which sucked just a little bit.  Dominica was more concerned than me.  I know that they will just reprint them.  I ran back through the airport and found only one of them.  It is what it is.

Our wait this morning was not all that long.  Maybe an hour before we were boarding.  The flight from Dublin to Madrid is just two hours and fifteen minutes.  Very nice and short.

Like before, the girls sat with me, this time with Liesl by the window and Luciana on the aisle.  Dominica sat across from us on her own with two teenagers.  The girls mostly slept again, so the flight was very easy and short.

Touching down in Madrid, it was raining, which is surprising considering how little rain Spain gets.  And it was very cold.  Around forty degrees!

We were very nervous that our luggage was not all going to make it, our whole flight had been so complex between coming from Orlando and dealing with the full day layover in Dublin and having to gate check the strollers.  But everything made it, no issues at all.

After getting all of our luggage back we had to figure out how to get to the Madrid Atoche train station in order to get the Renfe high speed train to Malaga on the southern coast.  We stopped and bought train tickets first.  We could have make the 12:35 train but felt that we were cutting it too close to gamble on so we got the 2:35 train instead so that we would have some time to kill and not be worried that we could not make it.

We tried to get a taxi but we were too many people with too much luggage to fit into a normal taxi – taxis are not minivans in Spain, they are rather small and we had problems fitting into a Mazda 3 when it was just us.  With a taxi you have a driver too!  So this was going to be a problem.  Luckily I was able to pull off a rather complex conversation with the taxi manager in Spanish and we got things figured out.  Dominica was very impressed as she had no idea what was going on the whole time.  We managed to get a larger taxi that we just fit into.  It ended up working out great.

We got to Atoche and spent some time looking for food.  With all of the luggage even little things like getting a sandwich turn into a painful, stressful affair.  We put in a lot of time trying to figure out food.  Then finally went through security and waiting there until the train arrived and we were able to board.

With Renfe high speed rail you get assigned seats.  We got three seats, because Luciana is free and does not get her own seat, at a table which was nice.  Loading onto the train was terrible though, it was packed and there was no room to board or put our luggage.  It was a huge effort and very hard to deal with.  But we got it done.

The train ride was at up to 300 kilometres per hour and stopped just once in Cordoba and goes from Madrid to Malaga in a bit under three hours.  A very nice trip with minimal stress.  The girls played the whole way as they had a table and could sit together.  It was a bit of an effort to keep them quiet.  Dominica managed to nap.

The ride went through some amazing countryside.  Many mountains and plains.  And we got to see two castles!  It rained the entire way.  I was happy that it stopped in Cordoba so that we at least got to see that briefly.  We got to see dozens of little white washed towns along the way.  They are amazing.  Open green countryside and mountains dotted with little white villages.  So cute.  And one of them is going to be ours for a time!

Once we arrived at the Malaga train station we had to find restrooms and that ended up being way more effort than it should have been.  It might have taken us as much as thirty minutes to find them!  What a pain.

We thought that we were going to have to take a taxi over to Malaga airport where our rental car was waiting for us but we lucked out and there was a local rail system that went right there.  So we just used that and it only cost a few Euros to get there and only took a few minutes.  It was great.

Once at the airport we had to walk a bit but getting the car, which we rented from FireFly, went really well.  We ended up getting an Opel Corso which worked out perfectly and all of our stuff fit!  We were so thankful.  We’ve been nervous about that for a full day now.

So this is showtime – two hours of driving, at night, in Andalucia in a new, five speed rental car in Spain.  I have never driven in Spain before and this is a new car and at night and we are exhausted.  Talk about adding a challenge to the end of a long trip!!

The drive out of Malaga ended up being really good.  I had to drive in first gear for a really, really long time in the airport which was a rather challenging introduction to a new car but it was fine.  Once we hit the streets the driving was pretty easy.  Navigation was a bit challenging as Dominica was not really prepared to be navigating around Malaga but I mostly knew what to do and we did not make any wrong turns.  We got out of town and onto the highway pretty easily.

Most of the drive along the Mediterranean coast was beautiful and pretty easy with a surprising amount of traffic on the highway.  No issues on the drive although we would have liked to have had a place to stop and get water or something but saw no such opportunity.

Once we turned north towards Orgiva the road immediately became narrow and began to hug a mountain range which meant mile after mile of tight turns and poor visibility and slow speeds.  It was long and stressful driving.

We eventually came to Orgiva, the large village at the base of our hill.  I had seen the lights from a little ways away of a larger village in a valley and a small town far up on a hill and joked to Dominica that that was probably what Orgiva and Cañar looked like and after a minute decided that that looked so much like how I felt that it should look that that must be it; and I was correct.

The entrance into Orgiva was over a narrow bridge over the river.  Driving through Orgiva was very challenging at night and without the GPS we would have been unable to find our way through.  The twists and turns were very confusing and just figuring out how the lights worked was quite difficult.

Once out of Orgiva we were onto the tiny road of twenty three switchbacks going high up the hillside.  That drive was extremely difficult, although nothing compared to our 2012 Italian Alps drive, and Dominica was suitably impressed by my driving prowess.  The Sierra Nevadas are a rather significant mountain range.

Once we got up the hill we had to figure out what to do with the car in town.  The streets are incredibly narrow and only a few of them can be driven down.  We drove in as far as we felt safe, then Dominica scouted on foot to figure out if I could safely drive into the square.  It turned out that I could so we drove into Plaza Santa Ana and parked the car by the fountain.

We met our direct next door neighbour an arrival.  He was hanging out by the fountain.  We introduced ourselves and asked him if he could help us to find out house.  He was unable to, however, so Dominica had to call our renters to figure out which house was ours.

We got into the house without much trouble.  The neighbour that keeps the keys came over and let us in and showed us how the keys work.  We quickly unloaded the car and got Luciana into the bathroom as she was having an emergency but did a great job holding it until we were into the house.

The village was very dark so we did not get to see very much of it but the bits that we did see were very cute and we are quite excited to be living here for the next season.  Orgiva was very beautiful too, what little of it we got to see as we drove through.

The house is amazing.  Three full floors inside and another full floor outside.  Dominica and my master suite is in the basement which stays relatively cool all year round as it is made of stone and underground.  It is a large suite with a good sized bed, television, couch, open space and an en suite half bath.  You access the basement by way of a circular stairway.

The main floor which is a few steps up from the plaza has the lounge which is a very good size, much larger than I had anticipated, with two couches a chair and the main television (a very small CRT with satellite.)  It also has the open center of the house where the house all comes together.  And the girls’ bedroom is there as well with two small beds in it.  They liked their room immediately.

Up the stairs from the main floor is the floor with the kitchen and fireplace, the main bathroom with shower and bath and what is to us the guest bedroom which has a full sized bed in it.  We have no use for that room unless people are visiting us so very handy should anyone do that – they have their own room on their own floor with the bathroom right next door.  We actually can handle several guests at once since there are two couches in the lounge plus room to sleep on the floor and the lounge has its own door so it remains private.  And the guest bedroom sleeps two.  We are shocked at how large the house actually is.

From the kitchen you can go out onto a kitchen level terrace which is a little bit like a dining room and overlooks the plaza towards the church.  There are stairs leading up to an enormous terrace on top of the kitchen, the fourth floor basically, that has a large table and set of chairs plus two lounge chairs for tanning.  We did not go up there tonight as it is late, for us, and we are just exhausted.  We just wanted to get in, get settled and get to bed.  Tomorrow we will explore the house.

We got onto the Internet and posted some quick updates.  The wifi in the house is okay, our mobile reception is excellent.  T-Mobile works fantastic everywhere in the house and around the area.  We are very thankful for that!

It was about nine o’clock when we got settled in.  Not very late, especially in Spain, but we were worn out.  Days of traveling and very little sleep is taking its toll on us all.

We got the girls to bed and went to bed ourselves.  By the time we had done everything it was actually just after midnight when we got off to sleep.  We did not even bother to shower, we were so tired.

The house is extremely cold.  There is no heat except for the kitchen fireplace and a local little electric radiator (very British) in the girls’ room and in the lounge.  So those rooms are a little bit warm, probably in the high sixties, but the bulk of the house is in the high forties!  Our bedroom in the basement is positively freezing.

The whole region has been extremely cold recently but the cold is supposed to be ending in a few days.  We should have about three days of very cold (fifties and below) and by late in the week we should be seeing high sixties and low seventies outside – more like the Spain that we expect.

The Catholic church is just two buildings away from us so we can clearly hear the bells ring every hour with the hour ring (number of bells to count out the hour) and then a single bell on the half.  No need for a watch in this town!