Basic Updates: Oliphant and Nerja

IMG_1663Another five weeks flown by. How does this happen? The last month and a half has been a sunny blur of tapas, classes, excursions and Spanish. I’ll work my way through everything eventually.

First things first: I’ve officially received my first freelance paycheck! $100 to be spent on my upcoming long weekend in London, if not on souvenirs for my sisters and friends. The full story about Oliphant – an interior design and jewelry store – can be found here. Its sister piece – a list of the storeowner’s favorite spring selections – is also available.

Second, a heads up that my next few posts are about things that have happened between today and spring break (which started on March 20th). A lot to say about dressing European, recommendations for restaurants and accommodations throughout Spain, Italy, and France, and various lists of favorite things thus far.

That being said…let’s start with Nerja. At the beginning of our time in Spain, Jake and I took a long weekend together on the southern coast. We stayed in Hostal Plaza Contarero – a small, family-owned hostel that gave us one of the best and least expensive accommodations I have ever experienced. Our private room ended up being about 75 euro for three nights (with its own bathroom, cleaning service, tea and coffee, etc). A 3 minute walk from the bus station, a 10 minute walk to Balcón de Europa, and a 7-minute drive to the caves. On top of the budget-friendly price and ideal location, owners Tanya and Pepe were wonderful. They gave us the most romantic room available with a perfect view of our street (see below), restaurant recommendations, and made sure that we were no less than thrilled with our stay. I can’t recommend them enough.

If any of my readers are taking this advice seriously, I also need to emphasize the following recommendations for restaurants: La Taberna and Pinocchio. The former is a traditional Spanish restaurant with great service and even better sangria; the latter a romantic italian joint with some of the only real pesto I’ve seen in the country. Both provide menus for English and French speakers.

Dinner at Pinocchio

Finally, make sure to make the caves of Nerja a priority during your hypothetical vacation. At first, I was hesitant. Cold, dark, damp caves? When I could be at the beach or sipping margaritas? No, thanks. But Jake convinced me and I immediately withdrew my qualms.

The caves are a natural piece of artwork, adapted into an annual concert hall and attraction. In addition to being a natural piece of artwork carved by elements and time, they are especially moving in their exhibition of music from prior years’ “Festival of Music and Dance.” I was lucky enough to experience Strauss’ “Emperor’s Waltz” – a piece I find to be cathartically soothing and simultaneously exciting, so my prior bad mood was squashed. Tickets for the live concert are difficult to obtain, but information can be found here.

Another post to come later with wardrobe selections for the semester (how to blend in), and eventually some favorites from Florence and Paris.

Stay beautiful.

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