Sunday, August 31, 2014

Not the Ending I Was Expecting

We left La Zubia on Thursday evening.  But not before we did these three things:

1.)  Said good-bye to these fine people.  Abuela fed us something delicious from her kitchen every few days.  Abuelo came each evening to water the planters and hose off the tiled patio.

Our favourite Spanish neighbours.

2.)  Watched the 6th stage of Vuelta a Españaa multi-stage cycling race similar to the Tour de France.  We walked into downtown La Zubia to cheer the cyclists on as they sped by in 37 degree heat.

I do not know how these athletes race in the blistering heat.

3.)  Took one final swim in the pool.

We loved bobbing around the pool.

At 8:00pm we drove to Malaga.  We stayed overnight at a hotel, getting only 4 hours of sleep.  The first of our three flights left at 7:00am the following morning.  

Our flight from Malaga to Paris was uneventful.

Our flight from Paris to Amsterdam was uneventful.

Our flight from Amsterdam to Vancouver was eventful. 

We boarded the airplane and quickly found our seats.  I was carrying a very large Moroccan ceramic platter in my shoulder bag.  While the bag fit under the seat on the first two airplanes, it did not fit under the seat on the third.  I stood up and turned to give Joe my bag to stow in the overhead bin.  

And that's when it happened.  My body turned toward the aisle but my foot and knee didn't.  I heard a loud POP and instantly felt a pain on the outside of my knee.  I abruptly sat down.

Joe finished storing our carry-on luggage and sat down beside me.  

"I think I've hurt my knee."

Joe called one of the flight attendants over to explain the situation.  The KLM crew was at once caring and helpful.  Bags of ice were brought to me on the hour.  They kept checking in with me to see if I was okay.

It wasn't until I needed to use the washroom that I discovered how painful my knee actually was.  I stood up and tried to walk.  My knee wasn't having any of it.  I could not straighten my leg or touch my foot to the floor.  So I sat back down and held my bladder for the remaining 9 hours.

Seven hours into the flight I told Joe there was no way I could walk off the plane.  He called an attendant over and asked if a wheelchair could be waiting for me when the plane landed in Vancouver.

The plane landed, all the passengers disembarked and there I sat.  Joe grabbed our 2 carry-on suitcases, his backpack, along with my bag containing the platter from Morocco and headed down the aisle.  I had to get myself from row 27 to the front of the airplane.  I grabbed each armrest and hopped on my good leg.  What a gong show.

And there, waiting at the airplane door was a wheelchair!  Not only a wheelchair, but the entire crew had gathered to make sure I was okay.  HOW EMBARRASSING!

I plunked myself in the chair and this tiny woman grabbed the handles.  "Honey," I said.  "You are going to push me up the ramp?"  And with that she turned the chair around and pulled me all the way into the terminal.

And where was Joe throughout all of this you may ask?  He was front and centre taking photos to document the ordeal.

So many helping hands.

I also got to ride in one of those big goofy golf carts. 

And the icing on the cake?  Joe and I got to bypass hundreds of people and went directly to the head of the line at the customs and immigration booth.

Me and my fellow passengers going for a ride at YVR.

This was not the way I envisioned my trip ending.  But thank goodness it happened at the end of our vacation and not the beginning.

And there was even more good news!  I went directly to the emergency ward when we arrived in Squamish and the good doctor told me it was only a very severe sprain.  No torn ligaments.  No surgery needed.

I am taking Advil, resting, hobbling along with the help of a cane and a set of crutches.

I will be fine.  Just fine.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

¡Adios Granada!

We are leaving town today.

Yesterday was our last full day in La Zubia and Granada.  We had a very lazy morning, began packing our bags and spent the afternoon bobbing around the pool on foam noodles.

 La Granada

In the evening, we drove in to the city to meet up with our Grenadine friend Manuela.  We met up for tapas and beer and to see her one last time before we left for Canada.

Joe's final meal of jamon iberico.

We strolled around the streets of Granada.  She was a wonderful tour guide.

Fuente toro.

Good-bye, Manuela!  It was lovely to meet you.  I hope to see you again.

Afterwards, Joe and I went to see the Palacios Nazaries inside Alhambra one more time.  This time in the dark.  It was eerie and beautiful.

And now I am sad.

Our amazing vacation is over.

As you may know, returning to reality is not a favourite activity of mine.

This summer will be one for the books.  I do not know how we will ever top this experience.

This last photo perfectly sums up our summer holiday.


¡Hasta luego La Zubia y Granada!  We will be back.  Insha'Allah.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

La Zubia y Granada (Part Two)

Well my friends, the countdown is on.  We only have 2 more days in this amazing part of the world.  I will be sad to say good-bye.  Here are a few more photos of our experiences in La Zubia, Granada and the south of Spain.

We took a drive to the city of Jaén, the olive oil capital of southern Spain.  The olive tree orchards reminded me of a chenille bedspread!

On our way to Jaén, many stretches of the highway were under construction.  But not to worry!  This roadside flagger had it handled.

 As you all know, Joe has a serious love affair going on with his beloved jamon iberico.  We stopped for lunch in the village of Baéz and this is what he ordered.  Toasted bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, pan-fried wild mushrooms, jamon iberico with grated manchego cheese on top. 

Joe is considering joining the food importing business when he returns to Canada.  If only to be re-united with his Iberian ham.

 We have the BEST neighbours!  Our exchange family's parents live right next door.  Every evening they come over to water the planters and hose down the tiled patio.  We chat with each other.  They speak in Spanish, we speak in English.  They can't understand us and we can't understand them.  But with lots of hand gestures and the help of Google Translate, Joe and I can sometimes get the gist of what they're saying.  Sometimes.

Not only do the neighbours water the planters, but every few days Maria lowers food down for us.  Bags containing tomatoes, peppers, soups and stews all find their way into our appreciative outstretched hands.  Gracias Maria!

Alhambra is undoubtedly the jewel in Granada's crown but the rest of the city is also beautiful.

 The streets are shaded to keep cars and pedestrians cool in the summer heat.

 This underground parkade was built around an excavated 2,000 year old Roman wall.

 Granada is blessed with many pedestrian walkways.

 I love how the mirrored windows in this building reflect the trees and the sky.

 We popped into a side chapel of Granada's cathedral only to stumble upon a wedding in progress!  We, along with other tourists, were surprised to be guests.  I wonder how many vacation photos these newlyweds are in?

 Many beautiful buildings and lamps line Granada's streets.

So many pretty streetscapes. 

 Arab shops in the Albacín neighbourhood.

Plaza Nueva.

Our home exchange family graciously offered us tickets to see a futbol match.  What fun!

We joined the throngs of Granada C.F. supporters for pre-game beer and tapas.

Many fans greeted the team bus.  Joe was no exception.

As the stadium filled up, I marveled at the beauty of the setting.

 Number One fan.

 The passionately chanting, cheering and singing fans were as enjoyable to watch as the soccer game.

Number Two fan.

But it is the people we meet who truly make our travels memorable.  It is such a pleasure to be included in the lives of the locals.  We met this fine family at the beginning of our stay in La Zubia in July.  Last night they invited us to their town for beer and tapas.  And quite a party broke out!  Their friends and family joined our table.  We drank, we ate, we laughed until the wee hours of the morning!

Gracias Manuela and Juan for inviting us to your home.

We plan to squeeze every last drop of Spanish goodness out of the next 48 hours.  Tonight we are returning to Alhambra at 10:30pm to revel in its night-time magic.  Tomorrow afternoon we are watching the 6th stage of La Vuelta (Spain's premier cycling race) here in La Zubia.  

We have a lot to cram into these last two days.  But we can do it.  I have no doubt about that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Before we leave for Canada on Friday, we decided to go down to the beach and take one last kick at Salobreña's can.  We spent three lovely days in that little Mediterranean town.  We are so grateful to our home exchange family for letting us use their beach condo ( THREE TIMES!) as part of the deal.

On Monday we took a drive to another beach town down the coast, Nerja.  It was gorgeous!  I just may have discovered where I am going to retire.

Good morning Nerja!

 The Balcony of Europe.

The Balcony of Europe.

After our standard breakfast of beer and jamon, we wandered around the old town before heading to the beaches.  Every second shop had the owner's dog sitting in the doorway.  It was so ADORABLE!

This gentleman was selling fruits and vegetables from his living room which opened directly onto the street.  We bought a basket of blackberries and asked to snap a quick photo before we went on our way.

Direct marketing.

Nerja is blessed with a multitude of beaches along its coastline.  Every cove is filled with sun worshippers and swimmers.

Playa Calahonda.

Playa Carabeo.

Playa Carabeíllo.

Our destination: Playa Burriana.

Mediterranean lifeguard.

Everyone loves the beach.

We didn't bring our swimsuits with us so Joe jumped in the sea wearing his gonchies.

They take their paella seriously around here.

Beach lovers.

Before we left Nerja, we visited the cave just north of town.  The 'Cueva de Nerja' was eerie and spooky and altogether SPECTACULAR!  Mother Nature is one amazing woman.  

There is no WiFi at the condo in Salobreña, but there is at the beach!  Technology continues to blow my mind.

Joe checks facebook while sitting on the beach in Salobreña.

Before we left Salobreña for the final time, we stopped in at our favourite roasted chicken joint, El AS del Pollo, to say good-bye to the proprietor.  We bought many, many meals from this lady over the past 3 visits.  She is an excellent cook and funny as hell.

This woman was so interesting!  She was born in Italy, raised in Brazil, is a criminal lawyer by trade, lived for a while in Germany and France, lived in England for 28 years where she met and married her husband and they retired to Salobreña where they run a restaurant.

And before we knew it, it was time to leave.  A HUGE thank you to our home exchange family for letting us stay in their lovely condo.  We really appreciate your generosity.

Hasta luego Salobreña!  Until next time.  (Fingers crossed.)