The Med

Looks exactly like you might imagine. White sand, black rocks, turquoise water and palm trees

SpainBeautiful to walk along


Beautiful to drive along


However, the diving was less than beautiful. My Mediterranean diving experience included the dreaded trifecta of ill fitting gear, rocky seas and only one dive, which isn’t enough.

The gear, dear God. Terrible. Decent gear but mostly too big and I was so overweighted that once I got off the boat I couldn’t stay on the surface even with my vest completely inflated. The waves kept crashing over my head and the current was sucking me towards the rocks as I waited for everyone to just get off the boat already so we could get under the surface. Then my mask fogged up and my fins were so big that they were falling off my feet. Truly awful. The kind of thing that makes diving a chore instead of a pleasure. I do have my own gear, of course, but I didn’t want to haul it around when I’d only use it for one day in 2 weeks. This kind of experience will make me reconsider on the next trip.

Rocky seas – current and waves on top, serious surge underneath. We went through a small cave and the visibility was so bad I didn’t want to go in and then the surge was so bad I could barely get out.  And that was the best thing we saw out there. There were no fish bigger than my hand and tons of kelp but no coral reefs (which is hilarious since that’s usually the thing I care about least but it would have been nice to see something!) plus the visibility got worse as the dive went on so even the kelp was blurry by the end, not that I could tell through my mask! Hideous.

And then after all that we only did one dive, which was all they had scheduled for that afternoon which was the only afternoon I could go. Boooo! Of course, you might ask why I’d want to go down again when it was so hellish but most of that hellishness can fixed. I can strip off some weight, use a defogger on my mask and at least know what I’m in for when we go down. Guaranteed the 2nd dive would have been better but I’ll never know.

Instead, I got the pleasure of ending the day by driving through the foothills above the sea in a convertible and arriving at a beach bar at sunset, so the day was far from wasted.

Denila Spain

These Easter Island heads got all dressed up this month

Denila Spain

I had a lovely late night and then got up early and said good bye to the sea and headed into the mountains towards Granada.


I’m not taking the bad diving personally. I assume the Mediterranean has more to offer than kelp and surge and I’ll find out when I manage to get back here.

Driving in Spain

Having driven all over the states this year, I figured it might be time to try driving in a foreign country. So far, every country I’ve been in where a rental car was involved, the driving’s all been on the “wrong” side of the road and I didn’t do any of it. Thank God. I have enough to worry about when I drive without also turning everything I know backwards and upside down.

Given that, I determined that Spain drove on the “right” side of the road by looking out the airplane window at the traffic as we landed in Madrid and heaving a sigh of relief. Note to self, might want to check that out slightly further in advance next time. Other things I might want to consider in the future include the purchase of a Tom-Tom or GPS device to which I can download maps. God bless Corey for leaving his Tom-Tom with me or I’d still be in Barcelona going around and around the roundabouts.

Even with a Tom-Tom, it’s tricky to get places. The Spaniards like to repeat names of towns, streets and plazas and half this country was built 1000 years ago so a generously sized one lane roads looks like this:

And my little Audi (Anika) is a compact car so… you can only imagine how petite the roads are when they allow parking on  both sides and someone’s driving a full sized anything. We’ve definitely parked Anika in some spaces where we couldn’t open both doors to get out and exited a few tight corners by way of 25 point turns. When there were two of us to read signs and look for stuff it was a bit easier. Now when I go down the wrong road or there’s a dead end, I have a strong temptation to just park the car and get out because the idea of reversing for a quarter mile or executing another 25 point turn seems a bit daunting. However, I’m getting really good at estimating my car size to within half an inch and so far, so good. Everyone please knock on anything wooden in your vicinity.

However, when I rented this car I forgot the cardinal rule of rental cars on vacation which is that they make you think you can do more and go further than you really should, which results in half the vacation time spent in a car.

This trip is no exception.

Also, PS: Spain is huge. It’s big for Europe but it’s also just big. The fastest legal speed is 120km, which isn’t that fast although it feels like it when it’s a two lane mountain road with constant switchbacks. Plus the fast direct toll roads carved straight through the mountains are frighteningly expensive (approximately 8 Euros per 100km). This all means that the best way to put the vacation back into the rental car experience is to ditch the toll roads, take the two lane roads, accept that everything will take forever (food service, travel times etc.) and save my mental energy for figuring out the road signs because there are a bunch I still don’t understand.

Here are the ones I recognize:

SpainTwo lane road going each direction, which is good information to know because you can’t tell this information from the size of the road or the way it’s striped down the middle.

SpainThis sign means “Technically two lanes but feel free to create a passing lane in the middle if the guy ahead of you isn’t responding when you tailgate him.” Corey figured this one out.

One of my favorites. I think it’s a cautionary tale about going too slow and/or going too fast or possibly about the dangers of driving a car that has eyes and a propeller.

And finally:

Yield to stick figures on seated lawn mowers.

Speaking of seeing the unexpected, I drove past a guy on a Vespa today who was chugging down the shoulder doing about 20km. He had a chest of drawers strapped to the seat behind him and he was smoking a cigarette and wearing shorts and sandals. I definitely yielded to him and I think he should get his own sign.