Notes of a traveller

Alan Dodds – photographer (among other things)

Notes of a traveller

The South of Spain, a trip through history

Posted on Tuesday, November 21st, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Malaga, Spain

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!

Street scene in Malaga, Spain

Our first apartment is at the bottom of these stairs. Luckily, we don’t have to climb down them with our suitcases. Our car is also at the bottom of the stairs!

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.

costa-del-sol, Malaga, Spain

The spotted hills show the extent of the development here. However, the mountain backdrop is stunning!
restaurant on the costa del sol, Malaga, Spain

Just as we had imagined … an open air cafe on the beach for lunch!
house on the coast of the costa del sol spain

We admire this house on a cliff overlooking the sea only to find it is empty … another rich persons holiday home, perhaps.

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.

shop in Malaga, Spain

We quickly notice the lack of big shops, especially supermarkets. This means there are lots of little shops, even in the middle of the old centre.
Street art in Malaga, Spain

Jacqui and the street art in the “who’s the most colourful” competition
Pedestrian street in Malaga, Spain

We enjoy the streets in the old part of town, especially the architecture.
Leather shop in Malaga, Spain

Leather shops smell very leathery!
wiring  on a house in Malaga, Spain

When the buildings are old, the only place for all that wiring is on the outside.
Cathedral in Malaga, Spain

At the end of this shiny marble street the spire of the cathedral rises.
school children in Malaga, Spain

Children pose for their school photo in front of the cathedral
Spanish flags in Malaga, Spain

Many buildings are adorned with Spanish flags in reaction to the separatist moves in Catalonia.
Roman amphetheatre in Malaga, Spain

Yup! Looks like the Romans were here too …
Burger king in Malaga, Spain

Man hurries away with burger fix!
Plaza de la Merced in Plaza de la Merced

Along one side of the Plaza de la Merced is our favoured row of cafes.
Picasso statue in Plaza de la Merced Malaga Spain

Picasso sits unconcerned amid the selfie blitz.

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!

Pitres in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

From the car park in Atalbeitar, the town of Pitres sits up on the “main road”
Atalbeitar La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

The evening light throws our shadows on the wall as we take in the prospect of several days in this beautiful village.
Cats in Atalbeitar La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

We meet the guardians of the village post box on our way in.
Atalbeitar La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

The village of Atalbeitar with Pitres above, viewed from the path to Busquistar.
Walking trail in Atalbeitar La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

We are ignoring the car. It is great to be walking in the mountains once more – reminders of happy days in Nepal!
Busquistar in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

The village of Busquistar. I passed through this village in 1973 – it has been much developed since then, but still looks wonderful.
Pot plants in Busquistar La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Pots, pots and more pots …
Mill in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

In the middle of the trail, the detritus of an old mill, once essential to the village way of life.
Stone work in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

On the path outside the mill, a beautiful example of decorative stone work.
Mill in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Some bits are disappearing among the plants.

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.

Cafe in Atalbeitar La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

In Atalbeitar young couple run a sort of cafe and offer meals for donation a couple of nights a week.
Reticulation in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Along the trails there are many reticulation channels developed over centuries.
Bar in Portugos La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

We eat a simple bocadillo lunch in a bar in Portugos after following the trail to the town up the hill.
Chestnuts in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

It’s chestnut season and ancient tress drop their offerings onto the trail.

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.

Atalbeiter in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

The entrance to The Granary at the end of a vine covered tunnel.
Atalbeitar in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Inside it is comfortable and cosy with a view through the windows to the mountains.
Ceiling construction in Atalbeitar La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

The construction of the ceiling uses a centuries old technique where timbers support slabs of slate which in turn support the roof covering.
Roof in La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

We can sit on the roof in the sun and look at the mountains on the other side of the valley.
Smoking chimney in Atalbeitar La Taha, Sierra Nevada, Spain

The smoke is a reminder that, although the days are sunny, the nights are cold!

Granada, Spain

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.

Church of San Gil and Santa Ana Granada Spain

Church of San Gil and Santa Ana in the afternoon sun
Plaza Nueva Granada Spain

The Plaza Nueva and Carrera del Darro run along the Rio Darro and border the old arab quarter, Albaicin
Plaza Nuevo Granada Spain

Beautiful artwork for sale on the pavements of the plaza.
Albaicin Granada Spain

An alleyway in the old arab quarter … watch out for the pickpockets!
Granada Spain

There’s history here … slowly crumbling away.
Shop in Granada Spain

Ah well … it takes all types … probably wouldn’t fit in the hand baggage though.
Alhambra Granada Spain

The Alhambra dominates the skyline from the bank of the Rio Darro.
Albaicin Granada Spain

Up the hill we go into the Arab Quarter
Mirador San Nicolás Granada Spain

At the top of the hill we reach the Mirador San Nicolás for a view of the Alhambra and the Snow covered mountains beyond
Mirador San Nicolás Granada Spain

The Mirador San Nicolás is in full swing
Mirador San Nicolás Granada Spain

Working the markets is a family affair it seems.
Pots in Granada Spain

Pots, pots and more pots … and some wire!
Stonework in Granada Spain

The stonework is quite stunning.
Tea shop in Granada Spain

They seem to be really into tea here …
Doors of the Catedral de Granada Spain

The doors of the Catedral de Granada are firmly closed against intruders … unless you pay, of course.
Arabic Decoration in Granada Spain

Intricate decoration bears witness to a Muslim history.
Catedral de Granada Spain

Catedral de Granada, Muslim at the front, Catholic behind.
Granada Spain

Jacqui puffs up the hill back to the car, alongside running water

Cordoba Spain

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.

Courtyard in Cordoba Spain

Our apartment is off this enchanting courtyard.

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.

Andalusian horse centre Cordoba Spain

Carriages in the Andalusian horse centre
Andalusian horse centre Cordoba Spain

Archways in the Andalusian horse centre
Andelusian horse in Cordoba Spain

One of the beautiful Andelusian white horses
Entrance to the Jardines Del Alcazar Cordoba Spain

This guy at the entrance to the Jardines Del Alcazar is there in case you try and dodge the entrance fee.
Puente Romano in Cordoba Spain

Looks like the Romans were here too … the Puente Romano bridge.
Carriage drivers Cordoba Spain.

How annoying would it be when everyone wants you in their selfies but don’t bother to get in your carriage for a ride.
Art class in Cordoba Spain

Concentration now begins …
Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

Decoration on the outside wall of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.
Statue in Cordoba Spain

I feel soooo sad standing here all day on my own 🙁
Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

Outside the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
Outside the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba Spain

Every where we go in Spain there are orange trees planted in the streets.
Fans in Cordoba Spain

I’m not really much of a fan!
Jewish quarter Cordoba Spain

Into the streets of the old Jewish Quarter.
Walls of the old city Cordoba Spain

These outside city walls are quite impressive.
Cordoba Spain

Ours is the last one on the left.

Sentenil, Spain

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.

Olive Orchards in Andalusia Spain

On both the journey from Granada to Cordobe and this one to Ronda, we pass through endless olive plantations.
The built-in-the-rock houses of Sentenil Spain

The built-in-the-rock houses of Sentenil
Sentenil Spain

Through the tunnel under the rock
Houses in Sentenil Spain

Even on this side they are built into the rock
Sentenil Spain

The steep and narrow streets of Sentenil
Sentenil Spain

Rock houses on both sides of the valley

Ronda Spain

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.

Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Socorro Ronda Spain

Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Socorro in the Plaza Del Socorro
Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Socorro Ronda Spain

Inside the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Socorro. Here mother and child take a central place in the alter.
Parroquia Santa María la Mayor, Ronda Spain

Parroquia Santa María la Mayor on the Plaza Duquesa de Parcent.
Parroquia Santa María la Mayor on the Plaza Duquesa de Parcent Ronda Spain

Again … costs money to get in, but the brickwork in the entrance alcove is exquisite
Parroquia Santa María la Mayor, Ronda Spain

Our apartment is right behind the Parroquia Santa María la Mayor
Calle González Campos in Ronda Spain

And this is our apartment on the Calle González Campos
Small bridge in Ronda Spain

There are other bridges across that gap.
Puente Nuevo Ronda Spain

The main game in town, the Puente Nuevo is a pretty amazing structure, sitting as it does between high (hopefully stable) cliffs
Puente Nuevo Ronda Spain

Note the campervan at the bottom … great place to camp for a couple of days!
Puente Neuvo Ronda Spain

The Puente Neuvo (the new bridge) in Ronda, impressive with it’s night lights on.

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.

The alps in Switzerland Europe.

To cross the Alps in dayslight on a clear day is something special indeed! A fitting end to our adventure.

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



13 responses to “The South of Spain, a trip through history”

  1. Danielle says:

    Thanks Alan for sharing your trip with us all. Your photos are always great! I particularly enjoyed reading your reflective ending comment. Lots of love to you both.

  2. Tony / Beryl D says:

    And it all ends where we’ve had many enjoyable holidays ‘Spain ‘, what a journey. I’m sure you’re looking forward to seeing the family but the memories you’ve stored in those heads of yours.
    Incidentally, your photos are better than mine from same area, but there, you are a pro.!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks for including us in your blog, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
    Tony and Beryl.
    And, belated birthday greetings Alan. Was this what it was all about?

  3. Domi Cohen says:

    Reading your blog requires a special ceremony. The time, the mood, the comfort have to be just right. One doesn’t throw oneself into it without reverence. Then comes a long moment of savouring the adventures and the pictures. One can let the sun warm the back while watching the cats. Or one can grab a woolly scarf against the polar wind admiring the grandeur of the Magellan straight. One dreams…

    Love the turquoise pants, Jacki!
    Couldn’t find the camper van – and I “biggened” the pic a lot! Or is it the red dot?

    Oh, its finished. I am going to miss it…. See you both very soon on the river.

  4. Ian Gawler says:

    Thanks Alan, it has been a delight following this journey – seeing new parts of the world through your own particular lens – and great photography.
    Blessings to you and Jacqui

  5. Brian says:

    A fabulous piece Alan, complimented by wonderful photography. Really enjoyable to absorb oneself in beautiful Spain.

  6. Helen says:

    Wonderful! What a planet! Look forward to catching up with you both soon 💕🌸

  7. Cathy Howe says:

    Lovely to read about your travels, and to see the photos illustrating it. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Jac says:

    The photos are just inspiring and delicious Alan -I swear I had to ‘pop’ my ears from the aircraft air pressure, I was so ‘into’ the journey with u both 😄

    Gratitude and love, as always – gosh the Spain ‘kick’ at the end was spirit-soaring – love that bridge and accomms! 🙏😘

  9. Michael Bobrowicz says:

    Yes thank you to both of you

  10. Christina McGuinness says:

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Yes, what a wonderful, beautiful and precious world. Thanks for the adventure. I’m sure you know how much I enjoyed it! cheers and love to you both…Christina & Richard.
    PS For the 21st…HBA!

  11. Lynn ayiotis says:

    Thank you for sharing you holiday with us. Enjoyed as always. X

  12. Vicki says:

    We loved reading your blog, thank you. We have spent two wonderful holidays in Spain and especially enjoyed ‘revisiting’ with you! You’ve made us want to pack a bag and head there again.

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