A freedom-oriented lifestyle blog

Category: Spain

Nomads on family vacation – Lanzarote

Our journey North would bring us all the way to Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands along the coast of Africa’s horn, but belonging to Spain. This time we would not be alone traveling.

We met up with Ulrika’s family in Sweden so we could go on a family vacation together. The last time we did such a thing was in 2017 when Ulrika’s sister Rebecca was expecting Filip and Ulrika’s family met up with us in Indonesia (Bali, Gili Air, Lombok and then Bali again).

This time we had two more people with us, Othilia and Filip, and it was lovely for them to spend so much time together. There will be a lot of pictures of them below!

Vår resa norr skulle ta oss hela vägen till Lanzarote, en av Kanarieöarna längs med Afrikas horn, men tillhörande Spanien. Den här gången skulle vi inte resa ensamma.

Vi mötte upp med Ulrikas familj i Sverige så att vi kunde åka på familjesemester tillsammans. Förra gången vi gjorde något sådant var 2017 när Ulrikas syster Rebecca väntade Filip och Ulrikas familj träffade oss i Indonesien (Bali, Gili Air, Lombok och sedan Bali igen).

Den här gången hade vi ytterligare två personer med oss, Othilia och Filip, och det var underbart för dem att spendera så mycket tid tillsammans. Det kommer finnas en hel del bilder på dem nedan!

With a family spread out in the world, Ulrika’s mother managed to gather all her children and grandchildren for a vacation together on Lanzarote with the focus on these two – Filip and Othilia.
The flight down to the Canary Islands went so smooth with the young ones. There were a lot of families with small children on this flight so imagine the noise level. However, Filip and Othilia were so calm and happy so they even got praise from our flight chair neighbors for handling the 6 hour flight so well.
This family vacation was all about letting our kids play in and around water. So they did! It will be a lot of pool pictures below.
The first evening enjoying the sunset. It was so magical. Especially for the family members that had been in Sweden during November, not many hours of sun in that month.
Othilia and Filip loved to run around on the beach and walk next to the ocean.
Here is Othilia running down to the beach. She is not as fast as Filip, that is why we haven’t any pictures from him running around.
The sunsets are beautiful on Lanzarote.
Another sunset on this island formed from volcanic activity.
We usually don’t live like this while we are traveling. Traveling for us is a life style. This was a vacation 🙂
Lots of play and swimming in the pool during the days.
Mormor (maternal grandma) is a crocodile!
It was a hotel designed for families with young kids so Filip and Othilia had plenty of things to do there.
Not only water play was on our daily activity plan.
Pontus were up taking his morning walk and managed to capture the view in the morning as well.
Othilia developed tremendously during this week. She was a bit reserved playing in the water in the beginning of the week.
A few days later she had mastered the arm puffs and was now swimming and turning in the water and even dared to jump from the stairs into our arms. Filip, on the other hand, is a fish in the water and can remain in the water for hours if allowed.
Here is Othilia jumping in the water. Brave girl!
We had an amazing sunset one evening from the boardwalk in Puerto del Carmen.
Ulrika managed to capture four planets in one picture. From the top: Saturn, Venus, Jupiter and Tellus. The planets were almost aligned in the sky.
Ulrika’s brother Niklas and his girlfriend Caroline were with us! Niklas had just come home from Mali so he was freezing here on Lanzarote. We did have lovely weather the week we where here though, he was just used to much warmer weather!
The hotel also had a children’s pool that was played in as well. Filip wanted to be in the deeper pool so he was often climbing out of there.
Othilia got tired of all the play during the days. She slept really well on a sunbed next to the children’s pool.
Filip and Othilia tried going into the ocean one afternoon, but Othilia was not a fan of the waves.
Our last evening on our family vacation on Lanzarote and we went back to the restaurant we all liked the most – Royal in Puerto del Carmen. One didn’t want to be in any pictures so that is why we have a blob sitting at the table 🙂
The week went so fast and soon it was time for Othilia’s second flight in her life. It went as smooth as the first flight so we are now not concerned taking Othilia on longer flights.
Back in Sweden and now it was time for Christmas celebrations with our families – Othilia’s second Christmas in her life! Thanks Louise and Marika for lending us a few suitcases!

The pink salt lake, and goodbye Torrevieja!

There is a large pink salt lake just outside the centre of Torrevieja, and we thought that it would be nice to spend a day exploring that part of Torrevieja before we left this place. The pink lake is one of the largest salt lakes in Europe, and people come here to roll in mud and making their own outdoor SPA. It is supposedly very  healthy to take a bath here. However, we did not jump into the lake, especially not after Pontus felt nauseous and dizzy from going near the shore. We heard afterwards that the pink lake is a great source of mosquitoes and that the city of Torrevieja sprays the lake with mosquitoe-killing chemicals a few times a year. So it was probably that Pontus could sense.

The last days in Torrevieja we spent with Pia and Benke going to a market and eating dinner together, and then it was time for us to travel north.

Det finns en stor rosa saltsjö precis utanför Torreviejas centrum och vi tyckte att det skulle vara trevligt att spendera en dag med att utforska den delen av Torrevieja innan vi lämnade denna plats. Den rosa sjön är en av de största saltsjöarna i Europa och människor kommer hit för att rulla i leran och göra sitt eget utomhus-spa. Det sägs vara väldigt hälsosamt att ta ett bad här. Vi hoppade dock inte i sjön, särskilt inte efter att Pontus kände sig illamående och yr av att gå nära strandkanten. Vi hörde efteråt att den rosa sjön är en stor källa till mygg och att staden Torrevieja sprutar ned sjön några gånger per år med mygg-dödande kemikalier. Så det var nog förmodligen det Pontus kunde känna.

De sista dagarna i Torrevieja spenderade vi med Pia och Benke på en marknad och åt mat tillsammans innan det var dags för oss att resa norrut.

The pink lake is pink from pigments produced by a salt-loving bacteria, the Halobacterium bacteria which can sustain itself in extremely salty environments.The pink color is also caused by an algae, Dunadiella Salina. The Flamingos, which stay here parts of the year, turn bright pink because they eat the Artemia Salina brine shrimp, which feed on the bacteria in the lake.

We did not take the common way to the pink lake and its shores, instead we walked through wasteland and got a nice post-apocalyptic game feeling.

When water evaporate in the pink lake, the salt level reaches 300g per litre and crystallisation of salt happens. The salt crystals sink to the bottom and can then be collected and sold.

There are salt boats getting filled in the harbor of Torrevieja and, according to Wikipedia, most of the salt boats are going to Netherlands and Sweden.

Most boats in the Marina of Torrevieja are, however, sail boats.

Walking is easy here in Torrevieja and we can imagine the crowds here in Torrevieja during high season.

The beaches were almost empty now in February.

Except for a few daring people. This is what our conception of life is all about – people helping people without force or threat of violence.

Everything else is mafia-like. Talking about the mafia, apparently Torrevieja had one mafia too and this was the place where unwanted people met the fishes. The local police had to fish up a number of bodys here during the active years of the mafia.

There are a lot of Scandinavian restaurants, and they even have a street named Sweden where you can find Ulrika’s least favorite Danish dish “smörrebröd”.

One of our favorite restaurants in Torrevieja “Salt and Pepper”, serves Greek food and they have live music on Saturdays combining the Greek and Spanish influences. We got to listen to the Greek/Spanish version of O’ sole mio.

We had never tried Churros before even though we have spent a good amount of time in Latin America, so we felt we needed to try it at least once here in Spain. It was to sweet for us, so we will leave the tasting experience to this one time.

We found Mega Man next to a construction site here in Torrevieja, they are building a lot here, mostly condos.

Ulrikas appetite had come back so we mostly cooked our own food, and went out eating if we got company by Pia and Benke. Here is Pontus with our local fruit and vegetable provider.

Pia and Benke took us to a popular market for tourists and it was here we found the bag-in-box wine on tap. We had to take a picture of this, imagine if you could find this kind of trucks on local markets in Sweden. In Sweden you are not even allowed to sell alcohol from your own wine yard, everything has to go through the state monopoly.

Last night in Torrevieja and we ate dinner with Pia and Benke, saying good bye for this time in a Norwegian restaurant with an American 50’s interior.

The next morning Benke drives us to the train station in Alicante just when the sun was about to rise. Next stop Barcelona!

Nomads needing a dentist and wanting Swedish food

Being a nomad means that we are truly responsible for ourselves so when an old tooth filling fell away and a suspected hole, we knew that we needed to find a dentist for Pontus. This is not a problem if you are in a country with a functional market of private dentists and lucky for us we were in Torrevieja. Ulrikas sister’s in-laws live here so they could recommend a dentist to us.

Pia and Benke have been awesome helping us with everything from accommodation and dentist to where we could do a week 12-pregnancy check up and where we could find a supermarket to buy Swedish food. Torrevieja has a large expat community with British, Russian, Swedish and Norwegian people, so there are shops with country-specific items and services.

Att vara nomader betyder att vi verkligen är ansvariga för oss själva, så när en gammal tandfyllning föll bort och ett misstänkt hål dök upp visste vi att vi behövde hitta en tandläkare till Pontus. Detta är inte ett problem om du är i ett land med en funktionell marknad för privata tandläkare och tur för oss var vi i Torrevieja (Spanien). Ulrikas systers svärföräldrar bor här så att de kunde rekommendera en tandläkare till oss.

Pia och Benke har verkligen varit supersnälla och hjälpt oss med allt från boende och tandläkare till var vi kunde göra en vecka 12-graviditetskontroll och vart vi kunde hitta en mataffär för att köpa svensk mat. Torrevieja har ett stort expat community med brittiska, ryska, svenska och norska människor, så här kan man hitta affärer med landspecifika saker och tjänster.

It was easy to get a dentist appointment and a Swedish-speaking dentist was even offered here at Punta Prima Dental Clinic. As suspected, Pontus needed to repair an old filling and take care of a new hole, so two visits were needed to be booked. The price for two visits, examination, x-rays, fixing an old filling+a new hole, and cleaning of teeth was 197 Euro.

Ulrika also got to a price quotation for dental braces. The staff was nice and caring here and we can recommend Punta Prima Dental Clinic if you want to fix your teeths while staying in Torrevieja.

Costablanca supermarket in Punta Prima is the place to go if you want liver pâté (leverpastej), pickled herring (inlagd sill ) blood pudding (blodpudding) and licorice (lakrits).

The treats we brought home the first time around. Liver pâté and blood pudding are great when you are pregnant and in need of eating more iron.

The liver pâté was eaten so fast so we had to go back for more and this time we bought even more treats.

This is a proper lunch we haven’t had in a long time, blood pudding and pickled herring.

Meeting up with Filip in Torrevieja

Ulrika’s newest family member Filip jumped on an airplane for the first time in his life to visit his best auntie (moster). He brought his mother as well, Ulrika’s sister Rebecca, and we had a lovely week in Torrevieja (Spain) together. Be prepared for cute baby pictures!

Ulrikas nyaste familjemedlem Filip hoppade på ett flyg för första gången i sitt liv för att besöka sin bästa moster. Han tog med sig sin mamma, Ulrikas syster Rebecca, och vi hade en underbar vecka i Torrevieja (Spanien) tillsammans. Var beredd på söta bebisbilder!

This little guy and his mother were the reason we ended up in Spain in the first place. Filip’s first travel abroad at 3.5 months and he came to visit his aunt, uncle and his grandparents (farmor and farfar).

Ulrika and her sister enjoying lunch at La Marina. The first week in Torrevieja was all about hanging out with Ulrika’s sister and nephew.

Selfie-time, most pictures in this blog post will include family members!

We spent our days walking around in Torrevieja and enjoying the sun. We got a lovely view of Torrevieja from the pier in the marina that stretch out 2 km from the coast.

The pier acts like a huge wave breaker for the marina, and protects the ships from nasty weather.

We were fortunate with the weather. It was still cold during the evenings, but warm during most days.

Torrevieja is surrounded by beaches and we actually saw a few people swim in the sea.

Ulrika snuggled with Filip as much as she could during their week together.

Rebecca, Filip ad Ulrika went to Centro Comercial Zenia Boulevard, a big shopping mall 8 km south of Torrevieja. They have a lot of well-known stores and a great play ground for children.

Rebecca loves to visit pharmacies when she is out travelling to see how they work and what products they have. She is a pharmacist herself so that’s why! We love the Spanish pharmacies- they can write prescriptions for you and take several blood tests, like glucose etc. Many pharmacies had a blood pressure machine and we took our blood pressure for 1 Euro per person. Also, it is to a pharmacy you go if you want to weigh your child and measure their height. No need to book appointments here.

Rebecca cooked dinner for us one night and we did a full Swedish taco night with Santa Maria products.

Grandpa (Farfar) fixed a baby chair for Filip so he could join us at the table.

Filip’s grandma and grandpa (farmor och farfar) live here in Torrevieja so they took us to their favorite places to eat. Filip had other ways to eat, so he got some peace and quiet under Rebecca’s poncho. Spanish people and drunk foreigners can get quite loud in small restaurants.

Two of Ulrika’s favorite persons in the world.

Torrevieja’s Carneval was going on so we went to see an incredible street show with people of all ages.

They wore incredible designs with a lot of detail. We only had a mobile phone, so the pictures aren’t so great.

One week with family goes fast, so we said good bye to Rebecca and Filip for this time. We stayed in Torrevieja, because it was time for Ulrika to do the week 12 routine check up.

See you soon Filip!

Malaga and the birthplace of Picasso

It was time for us to visit Spain again and this time we came to Malaga on the famous Costa del Sol coast line. We have been to Northern Spain/Catalonia before, but we’ve have never been in the Southern parts before. Ulrika had a rough couple of weeks in Athens, being pregnant and vomiting, so warmer weather was high priority for her and cheap flight tickets made us go to Malaga. It turned out that we had arrived to Pablo Picasso’s birthplace.

Det var dags för oss att besöka Spanien igen och den här gången kom vi till Malaga på den kända Costa del Sol-kustlinjen. Vi har varit i norra Spanien/Katalonien innan, men vi har aldrig varit i södra delarna tidigare. Ulrika hade ett antal tuffa veckor i Aten, med graviditet och kräkningar, så varmare väder var hög prioritet för henne och billiga flygbiljetter gjorde att vi tog oss till Malaga. Väl där så visade det sig att vi hade kommit till Pablo Picassos födelsestad.

The weather was the major reason why we came to Southern Spain. There was almost down to 0 degrees Celsius during the nights in Athens, so adding 10 degrees to our environment was exactly what Ulrika needed.

We really loved the infrastructure in Costa del Sol. We lived in Torremolinos, a small town south of Malaga, and it took 25 minutes to get in to the city center. The train passed the airport so it was super easy to get from the airport cheaply and it went down all the way to Fuengirola.

We wanted to see Malaga so we used the train to get in to the city center.

Malaga is green and smells lovely from all the flowers in the parks and from the flower shops we passed on our way to our first mission of the day.

Pablo Picasso was born on 25th of October 1881 in Malaga, so that is why you can find a Picasso museum here today. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but we took one sneak picture.

And it was on the only paintings we liked. We did enjoy Picasso’s early work , like the paintings in the picture, and his lithographs, but the rest, his cubism period and sculptures were rubbish. If it was an exhibition created by a five-year old we would have been impressed, now when it was a full-grown man’s paintings on display, a man who had proven he could paint, it was ridiculous. We felt that we where walking around in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen, because we can’t understand how people not can see how bad it is.

The Cathedral of Málaga, built between 1528 and 1782, was our next visit. We do enjoy walking around in religious buildings to look at the architecture and paintings inside, but we avoid being inside them if there is some kind of ceremony going on. Lucky for us, there was nothing going on here while we were around.

The inside of the Malaga Cathedral was beautiful.

We found interesting sculptures as well.

The Cathedral’s organ was very impressive.

We continued walking and found another church that reminded us of a similar church built in Antigua in Guatemala.

It was also in Antigua where we took Spanish private lessons, so we find it easy to be in Spain, because we understand what people say, we can read most of the signs and we can make ourselves understood when speaking Spanish, even though we lack the grammar skills.  Our adventures in Antigua can be read about here, here and here.

Mount Gibralfaro, a 130 meter high foothill, was our afternoon adventure. We got a great view over Malaga and there is a castle on top of the hill that we wanted to visit.

The view over Malaga! You could see from Malaga’s town hall all the way to to airport, which is near the mountains in the distance.

We also got a good look on Plaza de toros de La Malagueta, where they hold bullfights in September every year.

Gibralfaro has been the site of fortification since 770 BC and the whole top of the hill is closed off by a big wall. Normally, there is an entrance fee to get in, but if you come after 2 pm on a Sunday it is free to just walk in and explore the grounds.

We took the way down the hill with a lot of gardens planted around the pathway, it was beautiful even though we walked here in the middle of the winter.

We walked back to our train following the harbor promenade.

At this time in the pregnancy Ulrika always got nauseous later during the day, so we had to get back to our place before it got so bad that she had to vomit.

The nausea got better here in Spain, so Ulrika could actually eat food during the day. One of the first full lunches she could enjoy after a few weeks of feeling crappy.

Torremolinos was where we were hanging out most of our days.

We started to take long walks up and down the promenade. It was awesome to be able to activate my body again.

No swimming for us here though.

Our favorite place was La Batería Park, where we would take our morning runs to.

There is an observation tower standing in the corner of the park and we got a great view over Torremolinos from there.

Beautiful view of the park and the Sierra de Mijas mountain range.

The skyline of Torremolinos from the observation tower.

A Cañon Schneider stands next to the observation tower.

Then it was time to go North to meet up family, and the Journey from Malaga to Alicante took us really close to two National parks, the Sierra de Huétor Natural Park was on our North side.

An the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which is covered with snow right now. It was a strange, but familiar sight, before coming back to the Spanish coast and 20 degrees Celsius.

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