Part 1: Gemma, Gareth, Mum and Dad
Night Location: Granada, Spain
Mumisode of the Day: Mum had a great day with her mummified expletives. There were at least three "Oh, mercys," a few "Great Scots," and even a "Hector McGregor," amongst others. It started with the drive through the tunnels of Gibraltar; it was amplified when she saw Dad jump off a seat; it peaked as we headed down a dirt track outside of Ronda, and continued as Mum leant over the gorge at Ronda. We lost count completely during the climb in Granada, but it was definitely a day of exclamation.
Another brilliant sunrise over the Rock of Gibraltar. It is so nice to see the shadows shorten, the sky change colour and the sun hit the houses one by one. After packing the car we drove through several of Gibraltar's tunnels out to the Europa Point. There was a slight detour as Gareth and Gemma tried to find the 100 tonne gun unsuccessfully and with a lot of stair climbing. The point, complete with school and light house, is just gorgeous. There is something so wonderful about cliffs meeting the sea; it definitely makes for a great photo.
The stop of the transit day was Ronda. Although it was only 100km from Gibraltar, it took a significant period of time to reach as the road winds through the mountains. It really is a motorbike road, and there are bikes everywhere. We saw quite a few leaning deep into the corners and the steep landscape makes the roar even more impressive as they go flying past.
Ronda is a small town high in the hills of Spain. It was one of the final strongholds of the Moorish kings and as you approach you can definitely appreciate why. It is built up on a natural rocky ledge and would have been so easy to defend. Ronda is also famous for its bridge that spans the narrow gorge between the old section of town and the newer section. The architect of the bridge fell to his death while looking at his completed bridge. We weren't leaning out too far when we saw it, that's for sure. We did a quick tour of Ronda's museum which gave a brief history of the town and surrounding area. The museum is placed in a beautiful Moorish style mansion and the gardens with views down the cliff are just beautiful.
The hotel in Granada had advised us to park the car in a large parking station and catch a taxi into the Arabic quarter of Granada where we were staying. This proved to be a very sensible suggestion when we saw where we were staying. The hotel itself is over 400 years old and is a converted mansion. There is a large internal courtyard with a balcony where you can sit and have refreshments in large wing-back chairs. It would be such a fantastic place to escape the heat of the day.
Granada sits at the bottom of the Sierra Nevada mountains that are capped with snow. They make such a beautiful backdrop to the city and the famous Alhambra. Dad took Mum and Gemma on a walking adventure up, up and a little more up to get a view of the Alhambra at sunset. It was stunning. Just wish that we had the skills/equipment to catch it. Lots of pictures are being taken with the mind!
After a quick dinner, Gareth, Mum and Gemma went to experience the Arabic baths. We have become quite big fans of thermal baths after our experience in Budapest so were quite keen to explore these. Inside, the baths are just a maze with tunnels connecting change rooms with a tea room, cold bath, hot bath, warm bath, sauna, hot stone and massage area. Each of us had booked a 30 minute massage that was just heavenly, especially after today's mountain climb. It was quite amusing removing swimmer top in an open area, but totally worth it. The baths were so relaxing; we could have stayed there a lot longer but our session was at 10pm as it was! The Spanish really are just getting started at this time. Emerging from the bath house, we didn't waste any time getting back to the hotel in the icy night air, and everyone was ready for a great sleep.
Part 2 - Amber and David
Night location: London, England
Today we had planned to take a day trip with a tour company to see Bath, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle. We were up before sunrise, had a quick breakfast and boarded the shuttle bus that had come to transport us to Victoria Station. Upon arrival, we were directed to the information desk to pick up our tickets as we only had the booking reference number, only to find out that we had been booked on the wrong tour. David explained that we didn't want to go on the other tour so we were instructed to wait until the bus was loaded to see if there were any available seats left on the tour we had booked. There weren't, so we accepted a full refund and sat in the station feeling sorry for ourselves. It was truly disappointing as we had booked the tour days beforehand and had been really looking forward to it.
Twemtu minutes later we had a new plan. We decided that a matinee performance of a show would be nice so we headed to Leicester Square and one of the many half price ticket booths. Fifteen minutes later we had two tickets to an evening performance of Chicago. After this, with a short trip on a red double decker bus and a walk via Drury Lane, we arrived at 'Laduree' (our Parisian patisserie) in Covent Garden were we had a delightful morning tea. David ordered an orange and chocolate ganache tart and I ordered my traditional raspberry and passion fruit cream tart, which we ate with a side of orange and cinnamon tea. This certainly made up for our disappointing start to the day.
From here we wandered the streets looking in various shops until we found Jermyn Street, the hub of men's fashion. We sourced the business shirt shops that David was interested in and planned to return tomorrow. Some more walking through arcades and before we knew it we were on Old Bond Street, that becomes New Bond Street soon after. This street is incredible. Essentially exclusive brand names line the street from start to finish. I have never seen such a condensed collection of brands before. Feeling somewhat underdressed we boarded a bus and drove through Mayfair. London is like a virtual Monopoly board, although obviously it is the other way around!
Before the show, we stumbled across a fine dining Mexican restaurant that turned out to be the best Mexican food either of us has ever had. The guacamole was made fresh for us at our table and overall we both had outstanding meals. So much so, we have made a booking for five people for the 27th of December!
Chicago was spectacular. The music from the band was particularly brilliant. So, all in all, we had a very good day!