Spain Oct/Nov 2018

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September 18th 2018
Published: October 8th 2018
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We flew to Spain on the 11th Sept! Boy it was hot!! Hot and humid and unlike I had ever known in Spain! Lots of thunderstorms, for the first week or so, occasionally rumbling around in the mountains - one night we had heavy rain and an amazing overhead storm about midnight - that put paid to any sleep until about 1.30am!!

But it was good to see everyone again from our various walking groups, and the walking started off relatively simple and easy because of the heat,. Although when we did a 9km undulating walk, it just about finished us off!!!

Had a few walks, eventually finding the waterfall made famous by the 1985 Timotei Shampoo advert, and also a good walk at Refugio and the Torremolinos Botanical Gardens (2.50 euros!) which is good for a couple of hours with a mini zoo, arab waterways and fountains. Did a few reccys on the Alhaurin mountain and led a walk up the Gorge de Paloma and also did a reccy with friends near Casares while watching the vultures fly around the valley. Because of the heat and humidity a lot of afternoons were spent relaxing on the roof, reading!

Oh – and the bus station that they built 2 years ago has finally opened! Lots of cleaning and sweeping and a general bustle – and then the door were open!! Just a large room inside – lots of chairs at the back – one small stand with leaflets and a man behind a counter!!!

We also went to Cartama to see the IX La Bella Jarifa and watched the local precession with Jarifa being dragged along in a wooden cage as well as the jesters, a band, belly dancers, 3 camels and a flock of geese. Very odd!! Not sure what it was all about!! Lots of good stalls though and excellent atmosphere! Wandered over to the main stage where they were hosting Mr Universe – lots of testosterone on stage!!! Saturday evening was Flamenco singers – we didn’t go on the Sunday as we went to see The Jersey Boys at the theatre in Fuengirola

The highlight of this trip to Spain was a weekend in Madrid where we met up with Chris’ sisters Candy and Jenny and Rod. Candy had flown over from San Diego to meet her son, Josh who is currently living in Valencia and the plan was to all meet up in Madrid for the weekend, Jenny & Rod flying over from the UK. We were on the super fast train from Malaga that takes 2 ½ hours and reaches speeds of up to 330km per hour! We must have been on a slow train because it only reached 299km per hour!!! Wow! It felt fast!! Walked from Atoche Train Station (huge!!) to our Airbnb that turned out to be a whole ground floor – bedroom, kitchen, lounge and bathroom! Very bijou though and I think we shared the kitchen with Hendrix and Belinda although we never saw them!! (Just heard them once come in at 7.00am!!)

Anyway, dumped our stuff, a quick chat with Hendrix and then back out to Parque El Retiro! A massive park and Im sure we only explored a small part of it. First we walked to the Fountain of the Falling Angel (1922), which represents Lucifer falling from Heaven. It is claimed that this statue is the only known public monument of the devil. It truly is an amazing park, littered with marble monuments, lots of waterways, loads of deciduous trees, ducks, fountains, statues, electric scooters, street performers, cafes and people and a surprise Palacio el Cristal – A huge, magnificent structure, built in 1887 to house exotic flowers over the winter. Walked past Palacio de Velezquez, before reaching a boating lake with a monument dedicated to Alphonso XII. The park was started in about 1556 when King Philip II of Spain enlarged the garden by creating an avenue of trees and most of the Monarchs have added to the gardens or changed them over the years, before the gardens were passed to public ownership in 1868.

Walked out of the park by the Puerta de Alcala and walked down to the Palacio de Cibeles and its fountain before walking back, past the Museo National del Prado to the Musea National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia where we met up with Candy,Jenny & Rod, and Josh!! They all wanted the see the painting by Picasso, Guernica and as they were all over 65yrs (and Josh was a student!) and Candy an ex teacher, they could all get into the museum free….so I sat on the wall and waited for them (No way was I paying 10 euros to go in!!) –I preferred to be Billy No Mates!!! Had a lovely meal in the evening and a good catch up!!

The next day we had booked onto a Free Walking Tour with the Purple Umbrellas, and walked from our AirBnB, via Puerta del Sol to Plaza Callao where we met up and did the tour! Fairly interesting, but a lot of dates and history and we skirted past a huge celebration of horses and carriages outside the Grand Palace and Cathedral. Then had a look inside the Cathedral and walked up to the Templo de Debod. This is a 2nd Century temple, given to Spain by Egypt and re-constructed in Madrid. Walked back to our AirBnB, before walking back into town to our booked Flamenco Show at 8.30pm at Tablao Las Carboneras. Excellent show with fantastic singers and dancers and recommended. Struggled finding a table for six people for a tapas meal but eventually found somewhere and got back to our AirBnB about midnight!!

Sunday we just chilled out (literally!! It was quite chilly out of the sun!!) in Retiro Park again before saying our farewells to Candy and Josh (train back to Valencia at 2.00pm) and then walked with Jenny and Rod ( They went onto the Prada Museum and flying back to UK at 6.00pm) down to the Palace de Cibeles which we were able to go inside! The observatory didn’t open again until 4.00pm but we were able to go to the 5th Floor and take pictures of the fountain!!

Caught the fast train 3.35pm back to Malaga ( it was sooo lovely to get warm again!!) and caught the bus home by 8.00pm

Back to UK on Tuesday 9th Oct so a couple of days unpacking, washing and re-packing!!

Flew back to Spain on a late evening flight (via Easy Jet for a change!!) on the 22nd October after a hectic 10 days in UK catching up with families and friends, so it meant that on the 23rd , it was a case of unpacking and then repacking for our Field Club Holiday to the Alparrajas on the 24th.

Th weather forecast for Capiliera was quite good, seeing as we were up near the snow line and the weather was unusually warm and sunny….until the rain shower on Friday afternoon!! But it was a wonderful holiday with four stunningly beautiful walks in different valleys and to tiny villages and hamlets which are connected by century old donkey tracks. Time seems to have stood still here – It truly is a beautiful part of Spain.

Chris and Tom also led a walk near Casares . It was wonderful to see the vultures flying overhead and clear views of Africa and Gibraltar. We were lucky that there was only one waterfall that we had to cross – it could have been so much worse! We later learnt that when we were back in the UK they had record rains in Spain with 396cm of rain falling in 24 hours and we saw a lot of devastation when we did a walk near Ronda, with complete roadways washed away and trees flattened.

Josh (Chris’ nephew) visited us for a weekend and we visited the lakes – the road from Ardales to the lakes has been opened with the help of a bulldozer, great piles of mud by the side of the road, and numerous landslides. The walk down past El Kiosko to the Caminito is closed (the pathway is probably washed away) so we had to go through the small tunnel to reach the Service Road up to the vultures! This was more like an obstacle course as the road had been washed away in places and new gorges and riverbeds formed. It was completely unrecognisable in places. We then drove over to Teba Castle and had a good wander around. Sunday we went into Malaga to show Josh the main sights before he got his blah blah car to Cordoba.

We also went to Alhaurin Circus with some friends – a bit pricy at 20Euros each, but it was a good entertaining show. Didn’t really understand the Spanish Clowns but the children seemed to enjoy it so I guess they were funny!!!

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