A Look Inside Our Spain Tour....
Spain is one of those countries where if you’ve been once - you know it is unlike anything else in the world yet it calls you back. And if you haven’t been, it feels like a place you already know. It’s strange, yet oddly familiar. And with Spain being one of the closest countries to visit from the Eastern seaboard of the U.S., many travelers simply overlook this country for more adventurous options in Europe, but boy…..you couldn’t be more wrong.
The truth is, I love Spain. I’ve been several times to Barcelona and Madrid and a few of the rural towns in-between and it really did always feel like a place you’ve been before. From the food, to the restaurants, cafes, narrow streets and robust of people outside in various plazas….in a way….at first glance, you may not be able to tell the difference between a Spanish street, and an Italian one - and that is entirely ok. If I told you the above photo was actually from Italy - you might believe it (It’s not) but the familiarities and cultures, at first glance, can feel eerily similar.
Spain’s architecture has been in existence for hundreds of years and from designing for a 21st metro area like Barcelona, or creating wonderfully intricate streetscapes in the more rural towns like Toledo, Ronda (and more), Spain is full of surprises and varying aspects of their culture. Madrid is entirely different than Barcelona, and Toledo is totally different than Seville or Granada….my point being, nearly every town and place in Spain is far different than the next, and every pinnacle of Spain’s culture is featured among then, which is one of the most alluring things about Spain itself.
Now, one of my favorite things in all of Europe is that Europeans spend ample amounts of time outside. Walking, eating, talking, drinking, meandering, shopping…its one of the BEST things about Europe, and to me, there is no better country than Spain at this. Spaniards know how to live their lives. From afternoon siestas (naps from 2-5) to eating dinner with family, conversing, shopping, cooking, living, laughing and loving….the Spaniards know how live with zest.
All of which rolls into the creation of this Spain trip we put together last year. This trip features a slew of incredible places to see and I wanted to detail them here in one blog for those of you thinking about going on the tour.
So, without further a due, let’s dive into each one of the place on the Spain tour with a little more info for you to ascertain from.
Our Spain tour kicks off in Madrid on October 12th, 2019 because that is when the cooler 60-70 F temperatures come into play and tourist season really subsides. Tourist season runs from May through August and September and that is when Madrid temps can be scalding and over 100 F. Not really the temps you want to be dealing with when it comes to crowds….
As it is, Madrid is the capital of Spain and has almost 3.3 million inhabitants. It is the third-largest city after London and Berlin and lies in the center of the country on the Manzanares River. Most notably, Madrid is home to two of Europe’s premier football teams, both Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, with contributes to the economic success of Madrid as a whole.
Madrid is also known as an EU hotspot for contributing global influence in politics, education, entertainment, the environment, media, fashion, science and culture… an astonishing number of universities, hotels, museums, fashion institutes, art collectives and more, Madrid is a mecca for nearly all things when it comes to Spanish commerce.
Most incredibly….Madrid was claiming to have been found in the 9th century, and through its 1,000+ years as a city state (it became the capital of Spain in 1606), Madrid has kept the classic look and feel to it through incredible architecture and recovery projects. When you walk through Madrid, you still feel the effects of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries and can see the differences between the buildings…
For the VoyEdge RX tour….we will scout out a soccer match the evening we get into Madrid and will explore the city, cafes, restaurants and more after arrival to the city.
Day Two - Welcome to Toledo. The Spanish ‘City of Swords’
Watch the above video before reading on….Toledo, Spain is an absolutely fascinating place. The Roman Empire used Toledo as the city that made their swords due to the unique strength and prowess of the blades fashioned here….carry over into the medieval times and Toledo was crafting blades for the Knights Templar in the 12th and 13th century as the crusades carried through Europe and into the middle east. Even throughout the centuries of Moorish occupation through Spain, World War 1 & 2, Toledo Spain was always producing some of the highest-quality swords in Europe and blades made from the castles and bastions were revered among soldiers….pretty wild!
Looking at Toledo know in the 21st century, although they are still making swords, there are multiple family orders still carrying over the traditions of sword-making and fighting for the display of historians and tourists alike. The practice is still in use and sword-making takes a lot of time….on tour, you will see how swords are still made today among the 1,000 year old stone buildings and will tour the castles atop Toledo before heading back to Madrid.
Toledo is also a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site (1986) as it used to be the main venue of the court of Charles V, a Holy Roman Emperor. Not only was Toledo part of the Roman Empire at one point, but it is known as the, “City of Three Cultures” due to the influence of the Christians, Muslims and Jews over the years. With a population of nearly 85,000 people, Toledo has been the primary destination for those seeking a day trip from Madrid.
For those of you going on the VoyEdge RX tour, Spain’s longest zip-line is in Toledo and crosses the Tagus River! You can read more about it here, but if you’ve ever wanted to try out a zip-line through a medieval city….now’s your chance. Read more about the actual tour here and know this is INCLUDED in the tour.
Seville, Spain is a movie makers paradise….countless films have been filmed here over the years and it is the birthplace of Tapas. Yes, fellas, you can thank Seville for that. Seville also is the final burial place of Christopher Columbus, who was originally thought to have discovered the Americas.
Seville is also the capital of the autonomous region of Spain known as, ‘Andalusia’ and is often compared as the ‘Venice’ of Spain due to its riverways and plethora of boaters and rowers. Seville boasts a population of almost 700,000 people, making it the fourth-largest city in Spain. The Old Town of Seville boasts a two-square mile area filled with three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcazar Palace, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.
The Seville Harbor is also located 50-miles from the Atlantic Ocean and is the only river port in Spain and holds the longest heat record in Europe with summer averages often being over 95 F. Seville is also known for being the center of the Baroque art revolution and was the center for a lot of Spanish trade through the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.
The VoyEdge RX Spain tour will explore all three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Spain while touring the rest of the city, and enjoy a traditional tapas & flamenco show after a training session at a box TBA in Seville. But honestly….there’s so much to do here, how could you ever get bored?
Ronda is a small city of 35,000 people that sits on top of the Sierra de las Nieves National Park and dates back to the prehistoric settlements of the Neolithic age, which was of about 12,000 years ago to 3500 BCE. There are cave paintings in and around the mountains of Ronda and the town itself prides themselves on their ancient history as a fortress overlooking the surrounding plains.
Ronda was thought to have first been settled by the Celts, who called it Arunda back in the sixth century AD. Later the Phoenicians dubbed it, ‘Acinipo’ but originally, during the time of Julius Caesar and Roman conquest, Scipio Africanus conquered the city and gave it the name of ‘Ronda’ as we know it today.
Ronda’s ancient roots have plagued it through the years. From the Napoleonic wars, to the Spanish Inquisition, Moorish Occupation and more throughout the years, this city, situated 740 meters (2,460 feet) above sea level has been the battleground of countless invasions, bastions and sieges, all of which have played into the architecture development of the city as an impenetrable base throughout the years.
Fun fact: Ronda was heavily affected by the Spanish Civil War, which led to emigration and depopulation in the early 1920’s and 1930’s. The scene in chapter 10 of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, describes the 1936 execution of Fascist sympathizers in a (fictional) village who are thrown off a cliff, is considered to be modeled on actual events of the time in Ronda. Ronda is also home to modern day bull-fighting, a sport in which Spain has prided itself on for a very long time.
Want to see how cool Ronda is for yourself? Check out this drone fly over of this incredible city.
CAMINITO DEL REY
Known as Spain's most dangerous path, or the most dangerous walkway in the world, the Caminito del Rey (The King's Little Pathway) is over 100 years old and 100 meters (350 feet) high. The perilous concrete trail winds through steep limestone cliffs near the small village of El Chorro and into a hidden valley.
I actually wrote about this Caminito del Rey hike here a long time ago in this post here and this hike STILL gives me the chills just thinking about it. I do think the name has been a little off since they reconstructed a lot of the pathways, but when it was first carved out on the cliffside….damn, it really must have been scary.
Here’s what you need to know about the hike.
El Caminito del Rey (The King's Little Path) is a walkway, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Ardales in the province of Málaga, Spain. The name derives from the original name of Camino del Rey (King's Pathway), abbreviated locally to el caminito. The walkway had fallen into disrepair and was partially closed for over a decade. After four years of extensive repairs and renovations, the walkway re-opened in 2015. It has been known in the past as the "world's most dangerous walkway" following five deaths in 1999 and 2000.
The History of it
The walkway was built to provide workers at the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls with a means to cross between them, to provide for transport of materials, and to help facilitate inspection and maintenance of the channel. The construction began in 1901 and was finished in 1905.
King Alfonso XIII crossed the walkway in 1921 for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce, and it became known by its present name. The walkway is 1 meter (3 ft) in width and rises over 100 meters (330 ft) above the river below.
The original path was constructed of concrete and rested on steel rails supported by stanchions built at approximately 45 degrees into the rock face. It deteriorated over the years, and there were numerous sections where part or all of the concrete top had collapsed. The result was large open-air gaps bridged only by narrow steel beams or other supports. Few of the original handrails existed, although a safety wire ran the length of the path. Several people lost their lives on the walkway and, after two fatal accidents in 1999 and 2000, the local government closed both entrances. Even so, in the 4 years leading up to 2013, four people died attempting to climb the gorge.
The regional government of Andalusia and the local government of Málaga agreed in June 2011 to share costs of restoration (including car parking and a museum) of €9 million. The project took approximately three years to complete. Many of the original features remained in place.
Anyways…..on day five of our VoyEdge RX tour, you’ll be traversing this incredible canyon on your own with the group. Sounds like it should be on your bucket list, anyway. Excited? Wanna know more? Watch the short doc about the canyon down below. It it WELL worth it if you are thinking about signing up.
MIKE’S MARBELLA GYM
After our Caminito del Rey hike from above, we will depart on our way to Mike’s Gym in Marbella, Spain. Mike’s Gym is an all-inclusive fitness hotel located in Southern Spain. Visit them here, or read down below for more about Mike’s Gym from Mike himself.
Before you read further, the VoyEdge RX Spain tour will be spending two nights here and visiting the seaside town of Marbella and its beautiful beaches as well. But as far as a fitness travel company goes - we have to stay at a place like this, right?
Taken from Mike’s Gym Marbella
Mikes Gym is a purpose built training facility set in the heart of Southern Spain, boasting amazing views of the beautiful coastline and breathtaking mountains. Your first stay at Mikes Gym will definitely not be your last!
Situated on a large premises at our world famous assault course, said to be the toughest in Europe, we will definitely push you to your limits! With on site accommodation for up to 40 people, we are able to accommodate full camps, half camps and even small groups that wish to come and experience a fitness holiday like no other. Other facilities include a OCR SPECIALIST COURSE, fully equipped gym, boxing ring and a brand new Weights and Lifting Room.
Between training you can take advantage of the relaxation room, use of the pool table, sunbathing by the swimming pool or using the BBQ to have a well deserved delicious meal. We guarantee that you'll never have another holiday like it!
Meet Mike - the Owner and Creator
Mike is the owner and the one responsible for these amazing facilities! Over the past 5 years, Mike and his team have been building and perfecting these purpose-built fitness facilities which enables clients to experience a workout like no other!
Having extensive experience in many different sporting and general fitness activities, Mike is a true professional and always at hand to answer any questions and make sure that you are getting the most out of your time at MIKES GYM...
Mike lives and breathes fitness and training and believes in practicing what you preach.
Whether you're a newbie or an experienced athlete Mike and his facilities will be an advantage to you and help you to achieve your goals in a friendly and extremely motivating atmosphere!
Visit us at: https://www.mikesgymmarbella.com/
granada & alhambra
Nearing the end of the tour, the VoyEdge RX group departs from Marbella and Mike’s Gym to head to the Spanish city of Granada, which sits at the bottom of the Sierra Nevada mountains. What’s wild about Granada is that it is only about an hour away from the Mediterranean Coast, but it sits at an elevation of 2,421 feet above sea level.
Another hour away from the city is the Sierra Nevada Ski Station which is a prime skiing area for the region. So, you could ski and go to the beach in the same day.
Granada has a population of nearly 275,000 people and the entire urban area is over half a million, ranking it as Spain’s 13th largest city. Granada also hosts over 2.5 million tourists a year, making it one of the most popular cities in all of Europe behind many of the major capitals.
One of the most fascinating things about Granada is the architecture, which stems from the Moorish era, of which hundreds of buildings have intricate hand-carved designs on them. The most famous building in Granada is undoubtedly the Alhambra, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site (1984) and is the most visited monument in Spain. It consists of a defensive zone known as the Alcazaba, a flower zone and the interior which used to house royalty, clerics and other important historical figures.
In the 11th century the Castle of the Alhambra was developed as a walled town which became a military stronghold that dominated the whole city. But it was in the 13th century, with the arrival of the first monarch of the Nasrid dynasty, Muhammad I of Granada (Mohammed I, 1238–1273), that the royal residence was established in the Alhambra. This marked the beginning of its heyday. The Alhambra became palace, citadel and fortress, and was the residence of the Nasrid sultans and their senior officials, including servants of the court and elite soldiers (13th–14th centuries).
In 1492 the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabela, expelled the final Moors from the city of Granada. They established permanent residency in the Alhambra, and it was here that Christopher Columbus requested royal endorsement for his westward expedition that year.
In 1527 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor demolished part of the architectural complex to build the Palace which bears his name. Although the Catholic Monarchs had already altered some rooms of the Alhambra after the conquest of the city in 1492, Charles V wanted to construct a permanent residence befitting an emperor. Around 1537 he ordered the construction of the Peinador de la Reina, or Queen's dressing room, where his wife Isabel lived, over the Tower of Abu l-Hayyay.
All in all, one of the last days of the VoyEdge RX tour, we will go and tour the Alhambra and explore the cultural significance of this incredibly ornate palace fortress before departing back to Madrid in the late afternoon.
back to madrid!
After an epic 8-days exploring through Spain and Andalusia, we return back to Madrid for one last night to explore the capital city. And if you’ve gotten this far into the blog, you might as well go over to the trip page here that has a lot less text for you to read and sign up!
We actually have a Spanish National, Bryan (shout out to Bryan) who helped us plan this tour as a whole and will be guiding it with us for the first time. We know Spain is a hot ticket item for most people and while we have a reason for doing everything we do at VoyEdge RX, we had a long discussion about it and decided that in the mid-fall would be the best time to go instead of going to Spain when everyone else goes in the summer. With the crowds, tourists, and heat, summertime just proved to be a non-option and something we wanted to stay away from doing.
Plus, look at this incredible city….wouldn’t you want to be here without the crowds? Madrid is a city of elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks such as the Buen Retiro. It’s renowned for its rich repositories of European art, including the Prado Museum’s works by Goya, Velázquez and other Spanish master…it’s the New York of Europe with all those incredible restaurants, cafes and a much better climate…I mean, just look at this sunset!
But, if you’re into Flamenco, touring incredible cities, canyoning, hiking the World’s Most Dangerous hike, and working out in fitness hotels, then we have the perfect tour for you in our upcoming Spain trip. I can tell you from my perspective…this tour gets me jazzed, and I hope it does the same for you, too.
Drop us a line, leave a comment and send your friends our way! We’re a growing community and are always looking for your help, thoughts, ideas, comments, shares and input so we can make VoyEdge RX the absolute best it can be.
See ya out there….
~ Cam OUT