As you may have noticed – it’s a little tricky to update the blog with sweet baby James around, so I’m playing major catch-up on trips to Spain, Germany, Austria, the US, and the UK!
Back in July, we spent 10 days traveling throughout Málaga, Seville, Gijón, and Mallorca, Spain. As I’ve mentioned, to maximize our dollars and time in Europe, we routinely tack on days to existing work trips and decided to do no differently when Bobby had to spend several days on the Iberian Peninsula this summer.
It was admittedly quite ambitious (we had gotten overly confident after success in Lugano and Piedmont) but fortunately we had a great team going in! James’ “Aunt” C met us in Seville and James finally got to meet his Aunt J who came to Geneva for a few days before we flew out to his first day on the beach in Málaga. She was as always, game for anything, and since she is already a Geneva pro, we mostly took it easy in our beloved Parc La Grange.
James’ first flight was a success! We fed him on takeoff and landing just in case his little ears might pop but he seemed relatively nonplussed by the whole thing- just got a little bored toward the end in cramped seating!
We flew directly to Málaga, Picasso’s hometown, on Spain’s famed Costa Del Sol and had a wonderful Airbnb with gorgeous ocean views and a delightful host. James dipped his toes in his first big body of water, technically the Alboran Sea (the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean) and it was probably a little too chilly for him! As I mentioned on our previous visit to Spain, we ate as much ham and croquettes as were available! While perhaps I shouldn’t have been, I was really surprised in general by how hands-on Spaniards were with James – routinely approaching us to chat and tickle and it caught me off guard after feeling so anonymous in Geneva with the far more private and reserved Swiss!
Next, we took a train (we’ve gotten a bit spoiled by Swiss trains but this one ran very efficiently) to truly beautiful Seville. We had lunch along the streets in Santa Cruz with the most gorgeous sangria we have ever sipped. Our Airbnb in Seville was also fantastic – really modern finishes in a great part of the Old Town.
The showstopper in Seville is their Cathedral – the resting place of Christopher Columbus and the largest Gothic structure in the world. Following the Christian conquest of Spain, removing the Moorish Abbadib dynasty, the cathedral was rebuilt on the site of a mosque (sort of like Budapest) in the 1400s. Rumor says that when the plans were drawn up, church elders stated, “Hagamos una iglesia tan hermosa y tan grandiosa que los que la vieren labrada nos tengan por locos.” (“Let us build a church so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it finished will think we are mad.”) In part, it was built to show off the prosperity Seville had accumulated, but also as a triumph of Christianity over Islam. Some of the Moorish touches are most obvious in the still standing Giralda belltower – previously the mosque’s minaret (the name of a tower used for a Muslim call to prayer.)
We next toured around the Real Alcazar palace, one of the oldest European palaces still in use. As it was built on the remains of a Abbadid fortress, it also features Moorish design and architecture elements – really gorgeous colors. Most recently it was home to the kingdom of Dorne in Game of Thrones – as you may recall, we like to spend summers hitting their shooting locations!
Later that afternoon, we also got to watch the US Women win the World Cup (yes, this is how delayed my posting has become) in of course, an Irish bar! We rubbed it in James’ face that he can never actually sing “Born in the USA” upon celebratory occasions. 😉
From Seville, we flew to the Asturias region for the work portion of our trip, and stayed right on the beach in Gijón at the Abba Playa hotel. While dad was at work, James and I spent the days taking in all the colors while walking the beautiful San Lorenzo beach, watching surf camps, and dipping our toes into his second big body of water, the Atlantic! We waved to our friends on the other side, knowing we would see them all for his first pilgrimage home soon! 🇺🇸
We also climbed the hill of the Santa Catalina Headlands and saw the Elogio del Horizonte art installation – the cement looking structure below!
The Asturias region (where Gijón is located) is home to famous Spanish cider (sidra) and the best place to try it is the boisterously fun tapas spot Tierra Astur, which has several locations throughout the area. The food was delicious but the difficulty with Spain really is the late night dinners – which I lamented while pregnant, and loathed even more with a four month old starting a sleep regression.
Last, we flew to Mallorca (also spelled Majorca!), the hometown of tennis star Rafael Nadal. It was a larger island than I thought and you definitely need to rent a car while visiting. We stayed at the Marriott Son Antem. While it was great to have kitchen, laundry, and outdoor space – it is definitely a golf resort and not a perfect place for quick access to the beaches.
On our first afternoon we drove into the city of Palma to visit the Old Town and saw the exterior of the surprisingly massive Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (also built on the site of a mosque, #becausespain) and famous architect Gaudi spent some time working on it allegedly before a contractor dispute. It’s hard to take a photo of the scale from the ground but driving by we were in awe of its size.
We naturally also enjoyed a happy hour with sangria for the first time made with cava (Spanish sparkling wine) before resting up back at our place for our beach weekend.
Over the course of two days we visited the quieter beaches of Cala Pi and Cala Santanyi. They are very different from what we are used to in the US – as opposed to large swathes of sand for miles, they are really more like small alcoves carved into the coast. Cala Pi has a seaside beach bar and restaurant and Cala Santanyi has a little spot to grab beers before a long walk down the stairs. It was really gorgeous to see in person. James enjoyed the Mallorca beach the best as the water was the warmest!
It was a truly memorable week – Spain continues to be one of our favorites with its affordability and wonderful hosts, it’s truly hard to find a friendlier group in all of Europe (alright, maybe they tie with the Greeks!)
In the spirit of full transparency though – while our actual “activity” itinerary was incredibly light, it was a challenge running around while handling some of the oft-dreaded “four month monster” fussiness. Fortunately, our generally smiley cutie hung in there and we took a short break from travel before getting right back at it in Munich and Salzburg!
As always we feel incredibly lucky to get to share so many places with our sweet baby, even if he might not remember them – everything we see now somehow seems a bit more beautiful with him alongside us. We’ve had a few relaxing weekends in Geneva (with one overnight in Burgundy, France) and we head to Gstaad, Switzerland this weekend by train to celebrate six months of James!
THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING! AS ALWAYS follow along on instagram & CHECK OUT THE TRAVEL TRACKER FOR OUR ARCHIVE OF PLACES VISITED SO FAR!