Bienvenidos a Alhama de Granada


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.


Bienvenidos a Alahama de Granada!

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…

The View down the street from our house (and Savvy)

The View down the street from our house (and Savvy)

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:  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.

Moroccan photos

Moroccan photos

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!

Entry way hall

Entry way hall

The staircase

The staircase

Up, up, up it goes

Up, up, up it goes

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.

Sweet sisters in their room

Sweet sisters in their room

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!

Leslie and Mike's room

Leslie and Mike’s room

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.

The garden off of the dining room

The garden off of the dining room

Sky in a fig tree.  Anyone who knows Sky would know that she would find a tree to climb!

Sky in a fig tree. Anyone who knows Sky would know that she would find a tree to climb!

Sky and Savannah on the lower balcony overlooking the olive trees.

Sky and Savannah on the lower balcony overlooking the olive trees.

The elementary school from our balcony.

The elementary school from our balcony.

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.

Dining room with a balcony that leads to Sky and Savannah's room up the stairs on the left.

Dining room with a balcony that leads to Sky and Savannah’s room up the stairs on the left.

Kitchen, again orange cabinets.  They knew I was coming!

The kitchen, complete with orange cabinets. They knew I was coming!

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.

More later…

21 responses »

  1. You are a great writer, Dr. L. I feel as though I am there with you. What a great adventure for you all! I look forward to more posts and pictures!

  2. Thanks for sharing the awesome photos and your first week recap. Glad to hear that you guys are all settled in now. Keep up with these awesome posts.

  3. Sounds great so far! I can’t believe the orange……makes you think it’s a sign. 🙂
    We already miss you! Thanks for the update. It’s great hearing all about your experience. HUGS!!!

  4. What an amazing adventure! Thank you for sharing you trip with the Heffernan Family!
    I love Grenada and the Costa del Sol! Mike’s new job is taking him all over the world! I will make sure he touches base with you guys when he is in Spain next!


    • Hi Tracy,
      I am so glad that I had the right e-mail for you. I had tried to send this to Mike but he obviously has a new job and probably a new e-mail. We were hoping that you would come to California and didn’t hear what he decided. What is the new job?
      Leslie and Mike

  5. Sounds beautiful.I agree with Laurie that your writing and the pictures are compelling. So nice of you to share this adventure. I am so glad I got to see you all before you went so I can picture the girls lighting up the little village with their sparkle.

  6. Laurie is right. Your writing and pictures are compelling. I am so glad I saw Sky and Savannah before you left as I can just picture them lighting up the village with their energy and their smiles. Carolyn

  7. Love the house; looks so unique and European. That orange here and there is so you!! Happy for you guys. Those stairs scare me…. stay safe… but as for the spiders etc we have them in the country all the time too so its not as bad as u think. Enjoy the views and the beauty of the nature. Im so happy that you as a family get to enjoy this beautiful amazing experience. When do kids start school? Will want to hear about that…

  8. I’m so excited to be able to see your adventures! It’s just the beginning and it already looks wonderful . Can’t wait to see what the next family adventure is! Que les vayan con Dios. Tienen buen viaje!

  9. Hola guapos! So much fun to read the updates and see the pictures. What a charming “Casa Azul” you have! And the view from the balcony looks fantastic! I do miss Europe looking at your pictures … the culture and history, the authenticity of things, places and people. Quite the contrast to the Folsom suburbs. Looking forward to finding out more about the girls going to school in the village. Take care, enjoy, keep writing! Love, Katrijn P.S. Sorry about making 2 comments on the previous post. That was not my intention P.P.S. Practicing Spanish with the boys daily … one word at a time, poco a poco. P.P.P.S. Watch this TEDx video, you will love it. Some more food for thought:

    • Miss you Katrijn! It’s been a long time! Good houseboat times way back when! Glad to see you following Dr. L too! Take care~ Laurie Olinger (aka Coleman)

      • Hey Laurie! Great to reconnect with you on Leslie’s blog! Small world. Boy … those houseboat trips sure were fun and it feels like those happened a century ago. Hope all is well. I’ll see if I can find you on Facebook. Love, Katrijn.

  10. Hello team Kezmoh! Love the house and the incredible view, so beautiful….great pictures and oh my those stairs are very scary, please be careful on those maybe Mike could tweak it a little. Now that you guys have settled in now…enjoy, explore and take lots of pictures!

  11. Hi Sweet Team. I agree with Laurie O. that you’re a great writer, Leslie! Of course your mother is too, so maybe that has something to do with it. I loved seeing all the photos so now I can imagine you all in your new digs. So dear to see Sky and Savannah sharing a room. Everything looks so beautiful.
    You’d never know your house was once a barn. Glad you feel better now about the dust and spiders. Maybe a dehumidifier would take care of the damp smell on the lower level, and you’ll be all set! It’s such fun to follow along on your great adventure. You must feel so fortunate. When do the girls start school? That will be fun to hear about their experiences! Love you guys!

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