We arrived in Malaga a week ago today. We escaped the busy Malaga highways and drove into the beautiful Andalusian countryside. It is a patchwork of olive trees and brown fields. We drove from the Mediterranean Sea up a very winding road to Alhama which lies at 3000 feet. We had to make a couple of nausea stops but we all made it without losing our lunch.
The mapquest directions that we had printed seemed pretty simple but it was a bit of a challenge to find La Casa Azul. The calles are not marked as clearly as we are used to. We drove up and down very narrow streets dodging dogs until we all but stumbled upon our address. Of course we were looking for a BLUE (azul) house. There are no blue houses in this town and I am not sure if there are any in Andalusia.
It still says Casa Azul…
David, our Englishman owner met us at the door. He tells us that he originally painted the house blue but was eventually told that there is an ordinance that states that all houses must be white or some shade close to white. For fear of a fine he chose a light yellow. He explained that the building is at least 100 years old. It was once a barn with animals. 7 years ago he bought the place and renovated it. He is a photographer and lives in another village called Periana about an hour away. He lives in an old mill where he hosts groups from around the world for photography tours/classes. His website is interesting. If you are interested: davidwatermanphotography.com. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Northern Africa and was once in the special forces for the English Army as a paratrooper! His travels influenced his design and decor of the house. There is a beautiful Moroccan influence throughout the house. Many of his Moroccan photographs decorate the walls.
The downside? Unfortunately once a barn…well you know the rest. The first floor is technically a bit underground. This is great because these rooms stay really cool. On the other hand it does have a bit of a basement smell. We are airing everything out so hopefully that will improve.
The entryway leads to an impressive courtyard with a skylight 4 floors above. There is an architecturally interesting but somewhat dangerous staircase that winds around the 4 walls. It is reminiscent of the moving staircase at Hogwarts. Our stairs don’t move but they have that feel. It does make me really glad that Sky and Savannah aren’t toddlers!
There are 4 bedrooms. Sky and Savvy have been sleeping in the larger of the 2 on the 2nd floor. They have pushed the 2 twin beds together so that they are close.
We have the larger of the 2 bedrooms on the 3rd floor. I had looked at the pictures of the Casa Azul so many times on the internet that I often feel like I am walking through the pictures; it feels so familiar. Here is our room, imagine, it came with an orange comforter!
This leaves 2 very tiny extra bedrooms each with the Spanish version of a “twin”. Let’s just say that Europeans are generally smaller than Americans so their single size beds are pretty small. We are still hoping for visitors so if there isn’t enough bed space there is a really sweet little hotel nearby. The host is a retired Flamenco singer, Paco. We stayed with him the first time we came to Alhama.
The view here is incredible! There are balconies on each floor. The dining room on the first floor leads to a lovely garden flourishing with very healthy grape vines, a mulberry tree and a fig tree.
We look out over beautiful olive groves . The olives are ubiquitous. We read that there are over 100 million olive trees in Andalusia!
To our left we can see the school Sky and Savannah will attend. It is called Conde de Tendilla. It is 1/4 mile from us by the road. Unfortunately there is a very high, sharp cliff off the balcony so it isn’t possible to just drop down into the olive grove.
We are pretty sure that no one has lived here for quite some time. There was a layer of dust covering everything and the spiders had pretty much taken over. When we arrived we were too tired to notice it, but by the next day we realized that if we wanted to live here we had a huge job ahead of us. Our first morning we set out in search of food down the hill into town. With our bellies full of tostada con tomate we started back up the hill to our house. On the way home we stopped and bought a vacuum! Who would have thought that would have been our first big purchase in our new town? We have spent many, many hours cleaning this week. It was not how we imagined our first week in Spain but a week later we are feeling much more comfortable and at home.