Continuing our travels from Rio to the east (well, a bit north too), we thought that a visit to the South of Spain would be a good way to finish off our little adventure. Jacqui has long spoken of such a visit, having spent several months in Barcelona when she was a young thing – besides which, she has been working hard on her Spanish for the last year or so! Shame to waste all that effort.
The flight from Rio is a long one, going as it does, via Frankfurt. After a nights stopover in a hotel near the airport in Frankfurt we arrive in Malaga on the south coast of Spain and the centre of the Costa del Sol. Interesting that we from the “Sunshine Coast” in Queensland should be on the “Sunshine Coast” in Spain.
First thing is to pick up a hire car for the two weeks we are here. Then comes a hairy drive on the wrong side of the road, sitting on the wrong side of the car … first on a motorway with cars racing past and then diving into the chaotic and very narrow streets of Malaga to find our first AirBnB apartment. Phew!
Along the Costa del Sol
We have two days here and since the first full day is a Sunday, we decide to take a run along the coast to see what’s what. It is a beautiful warm, sunny day and we feel glad to be here. The Costa del Sol has long been the target of the Brits and other northern Europeans who want some sunshine and sangria. As a result the coast is very developed and must be very crowded in the main tourist season.
Into Malaga we go
Our apartment is an easy walk into the centre of the old part of Malaga, so we spend most of the day wandering round it’s streets, both broad and narrow, admiring the buildings and with Jacqui fossicking in the shops while I watch the passers by. We stroll, not feeling in a hurry to do anything much. It is very pedestrian friendly with it’s large plazas and narrow streets full of shops. And lots of cafes in which to while away the time and take in the feeling of this Spanish city.
Atalbeitar, Sierra Nevada, Spain.
It is time to get away from the coast and out of the city. We have chosen an AirBnB in one of the so called “white towns”; this one at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. As we drive up into the mountains, the roads get steadily narrower and increasingly winding.
The road down to Atalbeitar is a particularly steep and narrow drop … a flock of sheep doesn’t help matters … but we arrive safely in the car park on the edge of this small village. There are no cars permitted inside the village, although the streets are too narrow anyway. The mountain views are spectacular … the air fresh after the city. Our little hearts sing with pleasure … just what we were hoping for.
We already feel that we have moved back in time to a slower, more peaceful, age. However, the conveniences of electricity and the internet make sure that we don’t get too carried away!
It turns out that Atalbeitar has an interesting mix of old and new residents. Young people have moved here from all over the world to live a simpler life among the older folk who remembers days past.
We are staying in an apartment called “The Granary” and it is indeed a very well renovated granary … really comfortable and quite charming. We needed to come well stocked with food since the nearest shop of any sort is a 45 minute walk away … unless of course, we want to resort to using the car, which would be unthinkable really.
After four nights in the Granary (we wish for more) we are heading back down the winding mountain roads to the main A44 and on to Granada. We have booked an apartment in the old part of Granada so must park the car for the time we are there and walk the rest of the way. We park outside the Alhambra, that mighty citadel that dominates the skyline and eventually find our way downhill to our destination.
Having settled into the apartment we go walking in the late afternoon and then look for a place to eat. After enjoying food-on-tap for the whole of our cruise, we are just getting used to having to go out and look for it.
Today we are off to Cordoba, another of the historical cities on our whistle stop tour of the south of Spain. Once again we have rented an apartment, this time inside the turreted walls of the old city.
We walk along the vehicle free streets and through an archway come across the home of the famous Andalusian horses. It is Tuesday, and the performances are only on Wednesday to Sunday. However, we can watch them practicing for €5 so we buy some tickets for later. In the meantime, we peruse the collection of carriages and contemplate what life might have been like when these were the main form of transport … mostly for the well heeled.
Our next stop is Ronda, but we take a diversion to the small settlement of Sentenil, well known for it’s rock enclosed houses, at the suggestion of someone we met along the way.
Our last stop on this little trip around the south of Spain is in Ronda. We’ve seen lots of pics of that famous bridge … now for the real thing!
Once again, we have rented what has turned out to be a very comfortable and spacious apartment right behind the Parroquia Santa María la Mayor in the old part of the city. Our GPS (affectionally known as Mavis) led us straight to the apartment. Unfortunately, the famous bridge was closed for repaires and the aforesaid apartment was somewhere on the other side.
I haven’t yet worked out how to say to Mavis … “Look Mavis, that bridge is closed. Please find us a way round to the other side without crossing it”. We turn back and she gives us a few “do a U turn where possible”‘s just to cheer us up before we cancel that route to keep her quiet.
Into the centre of town, buy a map and then decide we need Mavis to think we are going somewhere else to get us on the other side of town and off we go to who knows where. Once we are who knows where, we then try the original route again, and hey presto she delivers us straight to the right place without having to cross the bridge. All is well and we settle in.
Our little tour of Spain comes to an end. We drive back down to Malaga and get on a plane which will take us for a short break in Bangkok before we return to Australia.
We really enjoyed the South of Spain. It is really easy to travel around, the people are friendly and it’s not too expensive. The old towns are steeped in history most of the details of which bypassed us. We enjoyed the FEEL of Spain and will certainly come again some day.
The cruise was also amazing because we were taken to see places that would be difficult for us to see in any other way, and in a great deal of comfort to boot! All in all we have had an amazing journey and have appreciated every step of the way.
Our trip is at it’s close and we are looking forward to being at home in Noosa. We have learned to appreciate even more the country we live in, with it’s crazy politics and crazy people … the collective black sheep of the world who ended up in our beautiful country. I really hope we don’t waste the enormous resources we have in both the people of Australia and our unique environment, but instead use them to create the best possible world it can be for everyone.
May those motivated by greed and hatred not prevail; may those motivated by kindness and generosity help us learn to live in peace with each other and with the amazing planet we are privileged to live on.
May you all be well and happy