We booked 4 nights in Malaga followed by hiring a car for 6 days with intention of traveling around Andalucia, Southern Spain and Portugal. The scenery and historic buildings were so interesting that we stayed within a 200 km radius of Malaga.
Every night following the pre-booked Malaga accommodation we stayed at accommodation which had WiFi and had a pool. The WiFi was so that we could book the following night’s accommodation.
The rental car company could not provide the car we had ordered and supplied a smaller higher cc car, which was very handy when we had to travel through the narrow streets of numerous villages we visited.
The GPS we took was invaluable as we would not have found the exits out of the 1,000s of roundabouts we drove through, nor would we have got to planned destinations easily [if at all]. Although we did go on some interesting roads as the GPS maps were out of date. My Windows phone provided an alternative map to when the GPS went flat as the car power lead was not charging. The phone keyboard translator also helped when ordering food and there was no English alternative on the menu and waiter/waitress could not speak English or buying food in the supermarket eg pate de higado de cerdo means pork liver pate. These were in self-opening cans together with cans of olives and toasted bread made great lunch meals when we were far from anywhere.
– Andalucia has very dry climate, hilly/mountainous interior. Warm evenings
– The cities/towns along the coast, beaches are full of people sitting by the beach. During the day foreigners sunbathing. In the warm evenings, young locals would sit on the beach to socialise until the sunset.
– Beer and wine is cheap. Tapas are served with every drink. People are drinking and eating tapas any time of the day
– Locals eat their dinner after 8:30pm. Each meal is accompanied by 3/4 slices of bread or a couple of buns plus a pile or packet of hard small cracker type of bread.
– Shops and business close from 2 to 4pm. Cafes and restaurants seem to stay open. Shops open again after 4pm. Closing sometime in the evening.
– Locals would often be seen walking around the villages/towns from 6pm onwards. Older groups sitting in cafes drinking together before leaving for home about 8pm
– There were lots of tourists with most seeming to be speaking Spanish.
Malaga [4 days]
Arrived in Malaga midnight staying at Las Vegas hotel on Paseo de Sanche which was 2.2km from central Malaga, across the road from the beach. The following morning, since the day was lovely and warm although a little windy, we decided to follow the multitudes to the beach. There were a lot of white skinned and some topless bathers there on the beach in the morning. I attempted a swim but it was far too cold. Only got in up to my knees and decided that the hotel pool was more inviting. This was the first and last time we attempted to swim in the sea although we did swim most days in the various hotel pools we stayed in.
The following few days were spent walking into central historic Malaga visiting the Castillo de Gibralfaro, Picasso House and museum, lunch eating tapas and drinking beer [for Dave] and sangria [for me], walking around narrow older streets looking at the old churches, cathedral and other buildings, then the wider modern shopping streets, back to the hotel for swims in the pool. Dinners were spent in restaurants handy to the hotel. We found a lovely one that was only 2 building away which only had locals in, called La Traberna. The food and wine was great. We went twice to this restaurant and one meal consisted of; 2x beers, 2x summerwine [sangria without the orange slice and straw], 1x bottle of Verdejo wine, 1x large salad, 1x squid fried, 1x beans & partridge, 1x hard cheese slices, 2x bread basket. E53.70. A middle aged couple sitting on bar stools behind me but in full view of Dave, provided him with demonstration on how to have sex in a public place.
The temperature at 8:30pm was pleasant and as per the electronic street sign was 34C. During the days it was hotter reaching 40C, although it did not feel so draining as it would in Auckland due to the low humidity.
Castillo de Gibralfaro is old Moorish fort that towers over the city. There were views over the city, out to sea and up to the inland hills. We walked around the top of the old walls looking at the views and old walls. Not much of anything else to see in relation to old building.
The Picasso House was the original house that Picasso was born into and spent his very early years. Although he never came back to live in Malaga, as he never wanted to live in a country controlled by a fascist, his daughter-in-law and her son gave/lent the Picasso museum 200 works. This exhibition was also interesting and there were so many etchings/drawings to see that we both had got sore legs from all the walking.
Drive from Malaga to Ronda
We caught the Malaga airport bus to the airport to pick up a rental car. With much walking around the found the Goldcar rental company on -1 floor of carpark building and with a long wait in line to get the paper work completed including taking a $100 for insurance excessive cover, we were on the road.
Using the GPS we put in the name of various white villages that sounded interesting as per the guide book we had purchased in London. This book was invaluable to give us ideas what was worth seeing and had maps of all the area. Marco Polo – Andalucia.
Drive took us from Malaga via [see the pictures]
- Pizzara – first GPS point
- Valle de Adbalajis – first white village in a valley with majestic steep barren mountains looming above where we sat on the side of the road to have canned olives, pate, bread and cheese. Put Teba into the GPS and this took us across the base of a steep mountain range – windy, narrow, tarsealed road. Very dry, hash environment, sheer rock faces, cacti, occasional white ‘farm’ house and lots of olive trees.
- El Caminito de Rey – steep cliffs over a river where a bridge was built across linking cliff to cliff and a walk way snaking around one cliff leading to lees of an incline. These were built to provide workers at the hydroelectric power plants connection between Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls. Construction began in 1901 and was finished in 1905. It is now to dangerous to walk on but is impressive.
- Pantanio del Chorro — Guadalhorce Dam and reservoir. Large reservoir high above steep gorges below. Great views below
- Teba – lost in the narrow streets of this old white village which had numerous dead end and one way streets.
- GPS complained constantly as we took sudden turns down/up. Village built on high cliffs therefore could not just drive out. Spent about ½ hour driving in circles.
- Almargen – white village
- Canete la Real
- Montecorto – stayed the night in family hotel which had a lovely pool, once the kids got out. We were the only guests. Hostal Venia La Vega.
Visited Ronda which was perched on high steeps hills and has an old bridge across a deep ravine to connect the old city to the new city. This bridge was built in the 18th century. The old city was first settled in 6th Century BC while the new city is not so new, as it was started in the 16th Century. The drops from the city to the plateau below are 165 metres. The bull ring was built in 1785 and is the oldest in Spain. We wandered around for 2 hours looking at this old fortress city.
Then on to Cueva de la Pileta with the guidance of the GPS which took past the entry of the entry to the caves which wanted to go to. We turned and found the road, parked and walked up the side of the hill to find that the last group was being processed to go into the cave before the 2pm stop work. The limit set for the cave is 25 people and lucky for us, there must have been less than 23 people there. We did not want to sit around until 4pm to wait for the next sessions. The caves have cave drawings dating that have been carbon dated back 27,000 years. To think this is about 108,000 generations and we may only know 5 generations over our live times. These drawings are attempting to be preserved by having no direct lighting, no photographs allowed, 25 people at a time and no touch the walls. This last was not adhered too by the person in front of us who was for ever trying balance himself by touching every surface.
Then another windy road, on to Algercias. The GPS took us the old main road – A369 which had hardly any cars. We were in no rush therefore it did not matter.
We stayed in Hostal outside between Algercias and Tarifa, which is part of chain called Alberque Interjoven. This was quite cheap at 54E per night including breakfast but basic. Had a lovely 25m pool but there was no TV [who cared],no towel/soap etc unless you asked and a very basic breakfast. We did not seem to be charged for towels.
A drive to Tarifa which is the closest point to Africa which is just across the water and seemed close enough to swim too. Africa is closer to Europe than Auckland CBD is to Waiheke Island.
After a lovely sunset across the Atlantic while sitting on a beach wall, we found a car park closer to the centre and wandered around until we found a café to have diner in. Another great local meal sitting outside watching the locals and tourist going about their business which is a lovely way to spend a warm evening.
Woke to the sound of cow bells which seemed just outside out window. By the time we got up, I could not find what they were even though I could still hear them in the distance and there was not much vegetation to hide amongst.
Off to Gibraltar. We had heard that the queues to get into Gibraltar can be horrendous but when we arrived at 10am there was no queue at all. With the help of the GPS again, we navigated our around the one way streets to find ourselves at Europa Point with views across the strait to Algercias and to Africa.
Gibraltar continues to be a British colony much to the annoyance of the Spanish. Both pounds and euro are accepted as currency.
Again we got confused amongst the narrow one way streets (some so narrow that there was no room to pass a parked motorbike – you could not have driven a camper-van up most roads)) trying to get to drive up the rock into the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. After a discussion and with me saying which road to take before we passed it and Dave following directions we found the entry and paid the fee, took the road that snaked up and across the Gibraltar rock face. We parked the car with difficulty and visited some St Michaels’s caves which were fully lit up and very commercialised compared to Cueva de la Pileta.
The Gibraltar monkeys were interesting and for ever hopeful of being feed. There are signs everywhere telling people not to feed them and the only people I saw feeding them were 2 of the staff. One was feeding a monkey a peanut and another giving an apple core to a monkey with a young baby.
The Great Siege tunnels built in the 18th century were also interesting. The views were fantastic in all directions including across La Linea [the city next to Gibraltar] into the hills of Spain.
Driving out of Gibraltar there was again no queues which helped mainly due to cars been stopped crossing as the road leads across an airfield and a plane had taken off.
That night was spend at another Alberque Interjoven in Jerez de la Frontera , with another lovely pool. Cost E36 per night and we stayed two nights.
Cadiz and Jerez
Monday – we drove to Cadiz for a look at the old part of the city. Took about ½ an hour – 40km. Cadiz is large city on a narrow slice of land surrounded by land. It is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in Spain and one of the oldest in southwestern Europe. Since we had limited time and did not know quite what to do, we used the Hop On Hop Off bus, that seems to be in every major city in the world. There were well preserved parts of the old city wall, Cathedral, old town hall etc
This took us around to all the major tourist attractions. We hoped off after on circuit and decided to have lunch before going on a walking tour attached to the bus tour. After wandering around the central square and side streets for a while we found a place to eat. The meal of a selection of the local delicacy of fried fish and wine took us past the time to meet for the walking tour, therefore missed out on that. Not too concerned as the day was nice to spend sitting eating and drinking.
Drove back to Jerez and had a welcome swim in the pool. Jerez is famous for its fortified wine which we call sherry, and has many bodegas [storage houses where sherry is aged] which have guided tours. Sherry is the Anglicisation of the Jerez. We decided that we needed to check one of these bodegas out including a tasting and went to Tio Pepe which is central town area. We drove and tried to pay at the pay and display and could not understand why the coins were not being accepted. After asking a family wandering by who also could not read Spanish and local couple who could not speak English other than free we figured parking was free in the evenings. Tio Pepe ran tours at various times of the day and this was the only bodegas we could find that had a tour after 2pm. Tour groups were divided into groups depending on language and we were driven around in a small imitation train to look at the various storage buildings and contents. The tasting consisted of 3 glasses of sherry. We then purchased 6 more glasses lining them in up in order of sweetness. Some were quiet nice, especially the drier less sweet ones. Due to the amount of alcohol consumed we wandered around the streets for a while before Dave attempted to drive back to the hostal.
Dinner again in a café overlooking the street watching the locals and tourists filling their time in. Many an old lady out meeting their friends and having a drink or two with tapas, before catching the bus home.
Off to Real Escuela Andaluza de Art Ecuestre – The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art which holds 18th century style shows. Luckily there was a show that fitted in with our timing as we had to start travelling back towards Malaga in order to catch the plane on Thursday back to London.
The show was excellent. There are no photos of the actual performance as photography was not permitted. There were also a museum of horse drawn carriages and we could walk through some of the horse stables to view the horse here. I did feel that these horse we in a confined area and could not do much other than stand or lying down all day. Felt a bit sorry for them. No wonder they do some fantastic horse performances and exercises – maybe it is only time they get any exercise.
In the afternoon we drove 170km to Antequera to stay two nights in a five star hotel called Paseo Garcia del Oimo at 125E a night. The sheets we extra nice and we could not hear the couple in the next room enjoying themselves.
On the road to Antequera we saw; fields of sunflowers with their heads hanging low and dry, fields recently harvested, rolling hills with scrubby trees, white villages perched on the side of steep cliffs, gumtrees, road built between hills then covered over with dirt to create tunnels, hundreds of acres of olive tree plantations, wind farms with over 50 turbines in a row.
That night we walked into Antequera to look at shops and to go dinner. Got lost amongst the narrow streets and finally found our way back to the hotel. By this time too tired to go back to café part of town therefore went to small café in the back streets. We had lovely meal including wine for 12E.
Antequera – Wednesday
We drove a few kilometres out of town to visit El Torcal de Antequera, which is park with limestone formations.
This park is on the top of the mountain range that we had previously seen when we had left Malaga the previous week. The views of the limestone and beyond we fantastic. Dave and I did the long walking circuit of 3km which in places would have been challenging for some. No NZ OSH here, thank goodness otherwise you would never get to see anything much.
Lots of pictures to view, including one of a mountain goat perched high on a rock face watching.
Back to the hotel to soak in the pool. Lovely….
Out for the last dinner of a bottle of wine and tapas. The streets were full of locals – couples who must have just started dating tentatively holding hands, couples walking with their children, a limping mother and her 5yr daughter – the mother picking up cigarette butts and daughter looking embarrassed, old couples holding hands etc
Drove to Malaga airport to return the rental car, now with a scratch down its side. We were not sure where this came from and luckily we had decided to take extra cover out otherwise we would have had to pay the first 600E.
It would have been very difficult to do this trip without a GPS and the phone as standby, due to numerous roads and roundabouts we had to negotiate, and places we had to find.
On to London to see Josh and Will.