Despite having learnt Spanish for at least six years of my secondary school life, I didn't set foot on Spanish soil until last month.
Unfortunately for me, said foot was then promptly broken shortly after arrival. Whilst getting ready for a wedding. With half an hour to go. And only one pair of wedding-appropriate shoes (pointy silver slingback heels) in my Ryanair hand luggage (I'll be damned if the bastards are going to get any more money out of me!)
The result was a rather painful ~12 hours at the Westin Palace Plaza Hotel (unfortunately not where we were staying - and I still maintain that if we'd stayed there, this would never have happened), with lots of champagne-fuelled dancing which ultimately culminated in me, sitting crumpled at the side of the dance floor, with a fancy bag of ice pressed against my toe.
(I mean, let's face it, my toe was probably going to be alright had I not insisted on dancing on it in pointy heels.)
Hence the crutches for the remainder of the roadtrip:
Sadly, we were only in Madrid for another day before heading off on the rest of our Spanish adventures. When I wasn't limping about, trying to co-ordinate my crutch-extended arms and legs, I was being pushed around the Reina Sofia gallery in a wheelchair.
For some reason, being gently pushed around in a wheelchair actually made me feel pretty travelsick so I took to racing around the rooms on my own, enjoying hurtling down the ramps and seeing how much speed I could gain along the wide, stone corridors of the gallery (#sensible).
Unfortunately this meant that my arms were pretty knackered by the time we left the Reina Sofia so crutching around Madrid became a huge effort that afternoon! I also didn't really take any photos as my hands were too busy with crutches and wheelchairs to hold a camera, boo.
Luckily by the time we hit the Alhambra in Granada, I'd managed to get a good rhythm going and was able to juggle movement with taking photos...
...but the Alhambra deserves another post all of its own.
First up, our Spanish roadtrip!
As we snaked down from Madrid to the South, we stopped off for lunch at Casa Pepe, a bustling roadside bar and restaurant in the Desenaperros area.
Having left the cosmopolitan restaurateurs of Madrid, this was the first time during our trip around Spain when we realised that Spanish portion sizes are HUGE. We ordered some manchego to start as well as two portions of an interesting sounding aubergine, pepper and fish dish.
Not only were we also given complimentary manchego and olive oil (before the manchego we'd actually ordered arrived) but when the first aubergine-pepper-fish starter arrived, we assumed that the two portions had been combined into one plate.
Nope. Another giant plate was hot on its heels.
For my main, I had the salt cod with fries and red pepper salsa (I can't think of any other way to describe it) and this too was huge and delicious. We were all absolutely stuffed by the time we left. I didn't get any photos of the food as I hadn't planned on blogging it but when I looked down into the glass at my post-dinner liqueur (no idea what the waiter gave me, there was very little verbal communication between us), I couldn't not take a photo of the beautiful colours!
And the (by now, predictably) huge glass of post-dinner liquor. More alcohol than coffee. Excellent.
Our next stop the following day involved an accidental invasion of "Andalucia's best nudist beach". I saw and learnt way more than I expected to that day, especially when I went for a swim up and down the bay with my goggles on... I only wanted to see the fish!! :(
After the midday sun had well and truly chased us into the tiniest sliver of shadow, we spent a lazy few hours in a beachside shack where we ate a fantastic squid ink paella that filled us up and sent us into another fit of drowsiness for the afternoon.
But it was beautiful and the Alhambra (post coming soon) more than made up for it!
We had a delicious lunch at an organic restaurant in a piazza close to the cathedral just before our drive down to Malaga.
Where our top-floor apartment had a rather striking view that made me feel as though I were in somewhere in South America. The song of the cicadas boomed all around us. It just about made up for the fact that there wasn't a lift to the top floor. Just about. (Again, crutches and this holiday really did not mix).
We strolled/I limped down into the city centre to watch the sunset bathe the buildings in gold and followed the sounds of voices and music to see a procession pass by.
The streets were absolutely crammed with people and the procession meant that we couldn't pass over to the other side of town so we wandered the alleys and streets until we came across Turquesa, a lovely little restaurant serving delicious (and manageable) tapas with a great selection of beers.
Angela showed us all that after living in the UK for a few months, she already knew how to pour a good beer. Unlike some people..
After a long and lazy dinner of sharing plates (including lots and lots of patatas bravas and asparagus), we went for a final amble around the city to see it lit up in all of its glory.
Passing many a hen- and stag-do, we slipped through the streets and stood beneath the immense cathedral as it began to toll 11pm. The sonorous rolling of the bells seemed to pass through us in waves and rooted us to the spot.
An incredible end to our mad dash around Spain.
So there you have it - a whirlwind tour of our whirlwind tour! I'm looking forward to going back to Spain with both feet intact! And tell me - where should I visit next time?