We discovered what may be the most enjoyable way to travel as we were heading from Barcelona to Granada, Spain. Night trains are usually available for longer journeys and in our case, we found one but all of the regular seats were booked in advance. We chose the last remaining option which was a room in the TrenHotel. The cost was double, but we got our own room with beds, a closet and sink! To top it all off, we had access to the dining car of the train, had cold beverages in the evening and breakfast early in the morning watching the Spanish countryside fly by. This is as close to the Polar Express as we’ve been. So much fun! Neither of us were terribly excited when our 9 hour train ride came to an end.

Granada was a connection to our final destination of Nerja, Spain. We’ve read great things about Nerja and checked into a hostal in the center of town. Nerja is situated right on the Mediterranean coast and is best known for it’s beaches and famous views from the “Balcon de Europa”, a vantage point and one time defensive tower in the center of town. After so much moving around, this was the perfect place to settle in for a while.

The beaches here are great, with sand like fine gravel in most places. The water is clear when not windy. The wind however, brings out kite surfers which is always amazing to witness. Some of our favorite beaches back right up to cliffs and Nerja has plenty of these.

One cultural experience we’ve thoroughly enjoyed here occurs at Ayo’s. Ayo has been making paella for over 30 years under a grape vine covered trellis right on the beach. It’s all you can eat for 6 Euros. He prepares the paella in giant cast iron pans and feeds hundreds of people everyday. This is quite amazing to witness. The sangria ain’t so bad either!

Nerja also backs right up to a beautiful section of the Sierra Nevada mountains which can be hiked to from the center of town. We enjoyed the concept of having both beaches and mountains so close and decided to drop by a real estate office and inquire about a monthly apartment rental. After a little searching, we found an amazing top floor apartment with wrap around balconies facing both the mountains and the beach! Sunrise from the mountainside balcony, sunsets from the seaside balcony. And this time, we have a full kitchen! We went ahead and paid rent for 3 weeks and did a dance in honor of our good fortune. Abby does a wicked “Walk like an Egyptian” while I cut air splits.

Nerja has since been a dream.