Spain - Easter in Andalucia

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April 28th 2014
Published: April 29th 2014
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Tues 18th March -
It was lovely to, at last, catch up with Bjorg who we had met in 2011 in China, and nearly got together with in Norway last year on our cruise! We could only give her a taste of Andalucia in the four days she had here, but we really enjoyed showing her around and had a lot of fun together! I hope she enjoyed sharing Chris’ 55% Anis that he bought in Rute last year – it was certainly an evening to be remembered!!
We have lost our English Sky TV programmes, as we knew we would, as Sky has ‘so said’ turned the transmitter off! We still have some odd English channels we are able to watch, including Sky news, but after buying a new digital ariel and a new digital TV we are now able to also watch Spanish TV! Decided to buy a 10 Euro Pay as You Go Sim Card from the Vodafone shop so at least we can get 500mb Internet for a month! Works out about 45 mins a day internet so with free wifi at the Library and the Black Horse we should be ok!
After all the glorious sunshine of the last two weeks we had heavy rain overnight on the 28th March that left a covering of snow on the mountains and also at El Torcal! Very unusual for this time of year but the forecast looks good though so hoping it was a small blip!
It was also good to get back to the Field Club, catch up with friends and get some more walking in – did a lovely walk in the spring sunshine from El Burgo through the National Park on a burro track to Yunquero with fantastic clear 360 degree views and beautiful wild orchids. Also, another walk at Alora to the summit of Monte Hacho (with an extra jaunt out to the Iron Cross situated on a craggy precipice accessed via a narrow path with sheer drops!! I was just about ok....until a snake slithered across the path! Not sure who was the most scared!!) But we had some wonderful views across the Guadalhorce valley to Alhaurin, and we could also see the sea at Malaga! Since the overnight rain, all the flowers have now bloomed and there were loads of wild bee orchids, lavender, rosemary, etc creating a blaze of colour and the smells of the herbs, with the pine trees............. oh wish I could bottle it! It’s just so clean and fresh!
Went to the Teatro in Fuengirola, for the first time, to watch a highly recommended production of Whistle down the Wind! It was a very professional performance with superb singing and amazing sound effects and we really enjoyed it. There is a performance of Fawlty Towers in a few weeks time so we are hoping to go to that as well! We stay in our Campervan in a small Car Park by the Castle, along with all the other Vans so it feels like a mini holiday!! We also met up with Gill and Derek in Fuengirola before Fawlty Towers and had a really impressive Menu Del Dia at Nabuco’s....a Spanish owned sea-front cafe/restaurant near the Hotel les Pyramides, towards the castle! Highly recommended!
Had a wonderful week when Laura, Ryan and grand-daughter came over for a weeks holiday! I think she enjoyed her 6th Birthday Party ‘on the roof’ (“will I fall off?” she asked in the UK!!) complete with Princess cake, sparklers, balloons and a paddling pool. She seemed completely enthralled with the Palm Sunday Malaga Processions and happily watched it for 2hrs!! Because the weather was so good we were able to spend a lot of time on the beach but we did visit Mijas, Torremolinos and Fuengirola Biopark (Expensive at 17.50 euros! We had got vouchers for money off at the Tourist Information at Fuengirola but they were out of date!! ) Anyway, the show at midday is amazing – you sit there completely unsure what to expect and then birds start flying above your head, otters, porcupine, armadillos and a deer appear, run around and walk right past the audience to their exit! So although its expensive its definitely worth it!! ) Also went on the catamaran from Marbella to Puerta Banus and Ryan enjoyed his stint as Captain of the ‘Pink Flamingo’ near Fuengirola Castle!!!
We are lucky to be here at Easter! It’s a huge event in Spain – well Andalucia anyway. We started off at midday, with the Palm Sunday Procession in Malaga, where we watched two of the Churches and their Trono’s (Thrones). Each Trono weights about 5 tons and is carried/ swayed by 260 people from their church, to the Cathedral, and we think it then goes back to their Church! Every Church in Malaga has its own Trono and the Processions carry on throughout Easter week into the early hours of the morning! Its all televised around the clock so alleviates the need to travel to Malaga to watch them all!!!!! (Whew!!!!) However we went into central Malaga on Friday evening to watch the sombre processions and experience the atmosphere! Found an excellent place to watch from – just on the corner of the Puente de La Aurora and Sta Isabel, where we were able to see the Processions parade along Sta Isabel and also look down on the Processions parading along Carreteria! Got the metro train back to the Van at Plaza Mayor about midnight and got home by 1.00am!!
On Easter Thursday we watched the Alhaurin Procession which was excellent. The various bands started at 17.30pm from the Plaza de la Legion and ended up at the Green Church where there were a few speeches and anthems whilst they brought the Trono out from the Church. We ate from 19.00-20.00pm and when we got back the Procession was in full swing with lots of bands, weapon throwing routines, marching displays as well as the obligatory hooded people and loads of children dressed up in miniature hoods. It continued until about 21.30pm – the finale, of course, being the Trono. What we didn’t realise is that there was another load of processions after this continuing until 01.00am!!!
We had decided that we would watch the local Alhaurin Easter Sunday Parades that were supposed to start around midday......but it was a complete wash-out!! The predicted rain had been forecast and we had a quick wander up to the Purple Church where there was a church service going on and a few people hanging around with umbrellas......but as we know...The Spanish ‘don’t do rain’ so any processions there would have been, were cancelled! We contented ourselves with watching the Alhaurin Friday evening events on TV. Very impressive and worth seeing! With hindsight we may have done better going into Malaga on Thursday and watching the Passion Plays in Alhaurin on the Friday!
Easter Monday also rained although it’s just a normal day in Spain! But the sun was shining again on the Tuesday and so we decided to go to Ronda and take the route over the mountains via Yunquera and El Burgo! Fantastic views and spectacular scenery and we also stopped at a new mirador for a meander around the circular walkway! Checked into El Sur Campsite, just outside Ronda, before driving into the train station to get tickets for the mountain rail trip down to Algeciras tomorrow. I think they must have had a ‘tourist train’ in the past but now it’s all operated by RENFE. Drove back to the campsite and walked 1.5km into Ronda, walking around the old city walls before taking the footpath down the track to the Arab Baths. These are excellently preserved and a short film explains how it all worked ie water from the river is extracted by means of a donkey turning a wheel to raise the water in jars, that pour into a channel. This water then runs underneath a huge oven/fire and creates steam in one room, the next room is just pleasantly warm and then they have cold pools in the third room.
From here we walked to see the Roman Bridge before climbing up the steps to the start of the gorge and views of the river ending up at Calle de la Mina, that runs into Calle Virgen de los Remedios and the beautiful centre and church! Had a quick walk around the old town before walking across the bridge and to another mirador, and then walked back to the campsite. We had a meal in the restaurant as it was recommended but the food was just warm....very nice...but not hot!
23rd April 2014 - Had to get up fairly early as the train left Ronda at 09.18am and we were concerned about parking, although as it turned out there was plenty of parking on the main road outside the station. The train left on time and did a huge loop before wending its curly way, following the river, down the mountain to the coast, past gorges, castles and villages that are scattered in the high valleys. A few tunnels and a couple of glimpses of griffin vultures soaring near Gaucin, as well as storks making their nests on the rows of electricity pylons! Arrived in Algeciras about 11.00am – not very special at first glance but we did find out it was 220 Euros return to take the Campervan to Cueta and I also got my mobile topped up so hopefully now have 500mb of internet again.
The return train was at 11.45 arriving back in Ronda about 13.31pm where we decided to drive further into Ronda and parked in the car-park before Plaza de la Merced, which was the only non-underground car-park we could find!! It was 2.40 euros per hour but we were only planning on a couple of hours as we wanted to do the walk we had seen from the top yesterday, that took you down to the old ramparts and also down to the bottom of the gorge underneath the bridge! The path started off as pebbled steps but soon became a narrow footpath, but it was easily do-able despite a few moments of vertigo where there was no fencing!!
Took the A397 road back down the coast to San Pedro and then drove to the Feria ground in La Cala where we free-camped overnight, as there is a 9km Field Club walk tomorrow starting in Elvira at 10.30am with some wonderful sea views as far as Gibraltar!!
We also did our own walk up to El Santo at Pizzara. Its a lovely walk, a winding, meandering upward trail through pine woods, through a rocky cleft, past a picnic cave area and even though its about 2 or 3 kms to reach the summit, the fantastic 360 degree views at the top, make it well worth the climb.

All too soon it seems its time to start driving home, and after saying our farewells to everyone with promises to see them in the autumn we plan to leave on Friday 2nd May 2014, after the final 14km walk on Wednesday! We have a two/three week drive back – our first stop being the Three Crosses Festival and Patios in Cordoba.

Just a PS about the walk which was fantastic! A coach ride up through the valley from Velez-Malaga to the gap between the mountains in then wañled the downhill track from Zafarraya to Alcaucin with wonderful views the whole way! The coach had a blow out on the way back, (fortunately near Fuengirola - but another 4km walk back to the Van!) so our holiday certainly ended on a Bang!!!

19th March – 26th March 2016 - We are in Spain for Easter again this year and the week kicked off with the usual Palm Sunday processions that we watched in Malaga. We also went to Malaga on the Wednesday evening to watch El Rico. This is a procession and part of an annual tradition that dates back to 1759 where the Jesus el Rico brotherhood releases a prisoner from prison. This year’s prisoner was a 26 year old woman who was jailed for robbery with violence and not due to be released until November 17. It all happened in the Plaza de Obispo with a couple of tronos and the usual bands etc before the procession around the town.

Thursday we just watched the local processions around Alhaurin, which includes the Easter story as part of the procession – Jesus shackled and beaten by Roman guards, Mary Magdalen, marching bands etc..

On Good Friday, we went to see El Paso de Riogordo– the famous traditional Passion Play of the re-enactment of the last few days of Christ, with a cast of 500 people from the village. It took us a while to get there as we mistakenly took the new motorway from Malaga and had to cut back across country via Colmenar to reach Riogordo. Tickets are 8 euros (5 euros for children and pensioners – we qualified !!) and can be bought outside the theatre on the day. The local website says tickets can be bought at the Ayuntamiento (Town hall from 1.30 pm).

We arrived about 1.45pm and caught the end of the local processions at the Church. There was a very moving flamenco song sung by a man on a balcony overlooking the Church while the Trono (Throne) was being lifted high in the air before entering the Church.

The open air theatre is located at the top of the village, with seating for 6000 people – the stage consisting of four separate stages set over a rocky hillside. The play, in Spanish, started at 4.30pm and lasted for about 3hrs but is excellently performed with donkeys , horses and sheep as part of the cast! There was also a dog, obviously very attached to the donkey, who accompanied the donkey wherever she was led!!

Easter Sunday we stayed local and watched the 40minute procession by the Purple Church that started at 13.00.

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