Going to the south of Spain and time for a football (soccer) roadtrip!
June 4th, 2010 by Jeff

After our time in Madrid, Kris, Jack, Phoebe, Tessa, Kate, and I all piled into the minivan Kris had rented and made our way south. Our destination was a townhouse near the beach just outside of Malaga, in the small town of Benalmadena. As Kate mentioned in her previous post, everyone in the Wells clan, especially me – since I do the majority of the packing and unpacking, were very excited about being able to have a home base from which to explore the south of Spain. Somewhere that would enable us to be able to pack just a small day bag for our travels out to see the sights of Cordoba, Seville, Granada and any other quaint town we might stumble upon.

t girls

Everyone but me, outside of the oldtown overlooking the city.

The trip down to the townhouse was fairly uneventful.  We were supposed to arrive in the early evening to meet the caretakers of the townhouse to get the keys. We were already running a little late, since we stopped in Toledo for a little lunch and a quick tour of the town.  It was a cool old city, but a little packed in with tourists.  We  had a little lunch and made time for a few pictures.

Jack in Toledo

Jack performing the Bell tradition of statue mimicking

We finally turned off the freeway into Benalmadena about and hour late, thinking we would find the place quickly. Unfortunately, the final directions I had written down were a little off (and the signage in the area wasn’t helping any). We had turned into the right neighborhood, but the map posted on the wall of the neighborhood didn’t show the street we were looking for. We ended up driving around for another 15 minutes before finally turning on the computer and fortunately having the google map still in the cache. Seeing we were in the correct neighborhood we followed our newly rediscovered map. Confidently we drove up a steep hill in anticipation of cresting the top and driving onto the final street where the townhouse was located. We all could do nothing but burst into laughter as we crested the hill into an empty construction lot, with no hope of driving through it to any street. Once we regained our composure, I turned the car around and tried from the other direction, fortunately that worked and we were able to find our new accommodation. However, the caretakers were out for the evening, so we just made sure we knew where to get back to and went out for a delicious Spanish meal of fried squid, fried and grilled grouper and an American style cheeseburger. We returned later to the house after dinner to meet the caretakers and get the keys.

Sunrise in Belamadena

Sunrise from the deck of the Benalmadena townhouse. Not too shabby!

As our gracious hosts had told us, the house was great. Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a spacious living room and dining room and a well appointed kitchen. After nine months of constantly moving and not having our own space, we were finally able to settle in somewhere. We quickly figured out the neighborhood and where we needed to go for things like groceries, and internet. Kate ran into some of the neighbors (French who spoke English) and discovered a local soccer team that were willing to take the girls in for soccer training on Saturdays. Both Kate and I started an exercise regime to try and work off some of the good food we had been eating. Things in Spain were looking pretty good!

Our next big adventure was to get Jack to see a professional soccer game, European style. Krissy had done all the research, she had checked Yahoo sports and found a game being played in the nearby city, Almeria – a three hour drive away- that was to be played at 11:00 AM on Easter morning. Tessa and I signed on to make the trip with them (Kate and Phoebe took a pass) and the four of us all got up bright and early to get on the road by 7:00 to be sure we could get there on time and get tickets. The drive ended up taking a little longer than planned, due to some construction and since we really didn’t know exactly where we were going once we got to Almeria. Fortunately we had allowed enough time. We ended up meeting two young guys, and using our basic knowledge of the Spanish language, got them to understand we needed directions to the soccer stadium. They graciously said/motioned “Follow us, we’ll take you there”. We assumed they were going to the game too, but they weren’t. They did get us close enough to see the stadium, pointed us in the right direction and waved goodbye. As we drove up to the stadium, ready to cheer for the local team, our hearts sank…nobody was there (maybe that’s why they weren’t going to the game)!

Now what do we do? We needed a recovery plan. This is an old city. Who cares if it is Easter in a majority Catholic country where everything is shut down for the holiday (and for four hours after lunch). This city has some unique history; we saw a castle on the way in; there must be something we can see……right? We headed for the nearest tourist information office to see if it was open and if there was anything we could do in this town, since we were here anyway. We soon discover, Kris had actually gotten the information for the game correct…if we were going to watch the game in the USA in the eastern time zone. The game was schedule for 5 PM Spain time. Now it was noon and we had five hours to kill. Fortunately for us, the main fort (or Alcazaba) was open for the day and there was a open restaurant nearby. We grabbed a bite to eat and made our way to the fort for some sightseeing. We all enjoyed the seeing the Alcazaba which was originally built in the 11th century by the Muslims who then ruled the area. It was perched high above the city and gave us panoramic views of the coast and inland areas. Jack and Tessa really enjoyed climbing all the ramparts and seeing the cannons and large doors. There was also a great garden that still used the basic channels, reservoir and wells established when the area was first built.

After we finished exploring the Alcazaba it was time to make our way back to the stadium for the soccer match. This time we knew exactly where to go and made it to the stadium easily. We had plenty of time to get tickets and got good seats right down on the field katy-corner from the goal.

Soccer Match

Front row seats, go Almeria!

Soccer Match2

Jack, Kris and Tessa pose before the match.

The game was great! We saw a beautiful header goal for the home team and cheered them on through the first half. The onlyl thing missing from the full soccer experience was the beer (the only served NA beer, whats up with that!)  We decided to leave at half time since Kate and Phoebe were expecting us back at 5:00 PM, it was already 6:00 PM and we knew we had at least a three hour drive ahead of us. We got back just before 9:00. Just in time to keep Kate from going into complete nervous breakdown with visions of us lost in Spain or in some accident on the side of the road.

In the end it all worked out fine with all of us getting to see a game and a little of the city at the same time. Kate forgave us for coming home so late and said she was really glad she was not along for the ride and the “extended” visit.

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