Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Little Moorish. The Wheelers On Holiday. Jerez To Valencia

Imagine two weeks between races, in Southern Spain with the most important person in your world....
I have been looking forward to this. Emily and I hadn't been away on holiday together (aside from her joining me at Indy, for MotoGP) for over two years. So for her to join me for both last races of the season, AND have a holiday touring in Spain in between WSBK at Portimao and MotoGP at Valencia was a true blessing and something that we both had been looking forward to ever since we started planning the trip. In so much as Emily didn't take hardly any vacation in 2008 just to make sure she had enough to cover her for the time we were aboard (the US is not terribly generous on leave so three weeks vacation is almost considered abandoning your job...).

Emily kept a sort of "rolling blog" on her Facebook page here and here which will go into greater depth. But here it is in some sort of order...and some other odd pictures.

We left Portimao and drove to Faro airport where we dropped off the rental car. At Faro airport we ate some of those tasty Portuguese egg/caramel pastries whilst we waited for our shuttle. The shuttle would drive us from the airport to Hertz Rent-a-Car in Huelva, just across the border in Spain (the reason being it would cost us nearly €700 to drop the rental car at our final destination at Valencia and so the shuttle was a lot cheaper). Whereupon we picked up another stunning German rental car, a BMW Series 3 diesel (much to my surprise actually). From there we drove roughly 2.5 hours to the house I stayed at during the GP earlier in the year in Jerez. Now I can enjoy some time in Jerez with Emily at a location that was super convenient.This would be our base to visit towns such as Seville, Cordoba and other towns nearby.The Tuesday after we arrived from Portugal, we pretty much took it easy. I really needed a day to just breathe, and we woke late and pretty much just walked about Jerez during the day. Wednesday, we took a trip to Cadiz and with Emily as my guide we walked around the town, and the old town, ate fried fish, Emily commandeered my Canon G9 and we just had a blast.The next day we would go to Cordoba. Did I mentioned we're going to move here? Anyways, we visited the Alcazar and the coolest of places I have ever been to in my life, the Mezquita. What can I say, one of the most amazing places to visit, just walk around and realise what the Moors brought to Europe (and the world) via Spain. To think, they brought, toothpaste, alcohol, eating meals in courses, and their culture added so much to how we live today.The next day we went to Seville. It's almost too much for words. The history, the cathedral, the minaret, just walking round, looking up. Over the next few days, we'd go to Tio Pepe in Jerez to take a tour of the "bodega", my second trip, and Emily's first. We'll worth the small fee, but make sure to buy the little extra for the tapas at the end of the tour. It's a nice way to finish off the day. Before leaving Jerez we'd visit one of the signature "white-washed" hill towns that are part of the landscape in the region.We'd visit Arcos de la Frontera, a stunningly beautiful town on a hillside not too far from Jerez (and coincidentally not too far from the race track either...).On the Monday, we'd be up early and leave for Granada, the last major castle of our trip. We'd be staying in the Alhambra Palace Hotel which is literally a 10 minute walk away from the Alhambra itself. What struck me is how "high up the mountain" this place is. Something like 1800 feet above sea level, and with mountains behind, the Sierra Nevada's, it almost does really feel like California!After a lovely walk and self guided tour around the Alhambra, lunch at an outdoor restaurant (along with feral cats circulating for "snacks"). We rounded off with a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant we headed off to bed. On the Tuesday morning we had to check out by noon and we'd be on our way to Valencia, for the final leg of our trip, that would end with the last round of MotoGP. As I mentioned above, if you go to Emily's Facebook links above, you'll see a chronological, and just more logical, reportage of the trip.Next, we arrive in Valencia and wind down the year.

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