Parador Paradise in Spain
Maria T. Olia
Aiguablava Parador, Costa Brava
My family travels to
Maybe our family -- my husband and I, our sons (ages 18, 16 and 15), and daughter (11) -- did need some beach time. But why just go to the beach when you can immerse yourself in another culture?
I knew just the place. My grandfather had retired to a villa near Malaga,
As we drove down the long private drive lined with palm trees, we came upon a group of low-rise hacienda buildings just steps from the
Paradors (paradores, in Spanish) are a diverse collection of more than 90 luxury hotels run by the Spanish government.
As a quasi-government/public enterprise, parador hotels enjoy privileged locations throughout
The vast majority of our fellow guests were Spanish families. Well-traveled Europeans have long known about the charms of paradors, and there were some British and German guests too, but surprisingly we were the only American family.
You won't find Spanish paradors in
PARADOR MALAGA GOLF
The Malaga parador stay was also affordable. We paid
Each room had a balcony with a seating area and views of the Mediterranean, the pool and the gardens. Our rooms were European beach chic -- modern dark wood furniture, high-end white linens and a plasma television. The travertine marble-fitted bathroom was stocked with lots of pampering "smellies."
Dining on regional cuisine is a big part of the parador experience. On the terrace, we enjoyed the prix-fixe lunch (
Every afternoon my kids had their beach time. For families with American sensibilities, know that going topless is commonplace in
DAY TRIPS: GARDENS, FORTRESSES AND CAVES
Of course, I couldn't just let my family stay at the beach every day. A visit to the Alhambra, an hour's drive to the north, was the highlight of our trip. Here we explored the medieval Islamic complex and its preserved palaces, gardens and fortresses.
The gardens of the Generalife, or Summer Palace, are stunning. Surrounded by a series of perfectly manicured cypress hedges, my daughter said, "It's like The Secret Garden." The reflecting pools, fountains and flowers made a great backdrop for family photos. My kids have never seen a tower that they didn't want to climb. From the turret of the Alcazaba (fortress), there were wonderful views of the city of Granada below and the
The Alhambra is the most visited site in
A day trip to the Nerja Caves promised active fun for my brood. About a 30-minute drive from Malaga, this series of naturally formed limestone caverns are the largest in
Malaga is a charming Spanish city that also has a lively nightlife. The old town area near the cathedral is a pedestrian-only thoroughfare that is perfect for wandering.
IF YOU GO
You can book a parador stay through the official parador Website (www.parador.es). You can also call the Spanish Parador Central booking office in
Iberia flies direct to
Tapas are small dishes of appetizers that are a great dinner option for kids that like to graze. At Klick Wine (10 Calle Sanchez Pastor) we ordered 15 different tapas, among them Manchego cheese and Iberian ham, a smoked salmon blini and even fried goat-cheese balls.
The Spanish fishing villages of my youth still exist. Near the parador, a half dozen "Chiringuitos," or beach restaurants, line the seaside promenade. At Restaurante Playa los Alamos (Paseo Maritimo los Alamos, tel.+34-952-05-11-22) my husband and I had Fritura Malaguena, an assortment of fried fish with bones, tails and eyes -- a catch of the day. And for my not-so-adventurous kids? They got orders of fried calamari all around.
Recent Vacation Ideas & Travel Destinations
- Best Singapore Dining Experiences
- With Air Security Travelers Are Flying Blind
- Can't-Miss Holiday Gifts For the Traveler in Your Life
- It's Holiday Travel Time. You Heard It Here First
- Top Tips for Smart Shopping in Europe
- Take the Long Way Home
- Frequent Flyers Need a Government Bailout
- Is This the Future for Frequent Flyers
(c) 2009 Maria T. Olia
World-renowned chefs with an extraordinary passion for food, share that passion. They make great cooking easier than you ever imagined. Each feature includes both an expert tip and an easy recipe - exactly what you need to transform your home cooking from acceptable to delectable.
Recipes Click Here
Movie Reviews, commentary and more. Plus Trailers from movies currently in theaters and available on DVD.
Movie Reviews Click Here