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Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Alhaurin el Grande
November 24th 2014
Published: November 25th 2014
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Flew with Ryan Air 18.00pm( for a change!) for our 47 day visit to the house in Spain, arriving at the house about 23.00ish! Quite a lot of walks lined up - our first one being on the day after we arrived. so dragged ourselves out of bed to drive to the Refugio de Juanar on the Marbella Road to meet up with the rest of the Group at the old Hunting Lodge, which is now a hotel. A pleasant enough walk in the sun to a couple of miradors overlooking Ojen and Marbella followed by a Menu Del Dia at the Venta and a good catch up with friends old and new!!

The next day we had a good clean of the house as the clouds gathered for a downpour and thunderstorm in the afternoon, before the sun came out again! Caught up with the neighbours and was sad to learn that ‘Orchard Man’ had died! No more free bags of lemons!!!

Then the rain went away as quick as it had come and we were treated to a week of glorious sun and temperatures up as high as 29C ! Bit too hot for walking but we did manage a walk at Istan (followed by another Menu del Dia!!) and also a good walk at the lakes, up to see where the vultures nest and then back along the river before climbing up through the woods to the Mirador and then a fantastic Sunday lunch of roast pork cooked with honey and rosemary! Absolutely delicious!

Missed a good show at the Salon Theatre in Fuengirola (Grease!) as it was fully booked but had a good Menu del Dia at Nabuco’s – a Spanish owned restaurant on the sea front towards Fuengirola Castle! We have managed to get tickets for ‘Two’ – a comedy, and also ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ so hoping they will both be good shows!

The walking group holiday at Salobreἢa began with an uphill walk along the track from Nerja caves towards Frigliana! I think most of us struggled a bit because of the heat but at least it was all downhill on the way back!! Stayed at The Best Western Hotel with lovely terrace views towards Salobrena. The walk on the next day was either a walk along goat tracks up and over a mountain (Chris was mad enough to do it and said it was really good but hard!!) or a walk into Salobrena – the easy option!! The third day we were going to do a walk at Otivar and after driving up through the valley full of Chirimoya trees and a hair- raising ride by coach up into the mountains, then down a track, we all disembarked to be confronted by an angry Spanish Farmer who advised that it was private land!! All back on the coach and further up the mountain into the National Park where we had a way-marked beautiful walk along a track back down to Lentegi. A good last evening with plenty of food and drink and managed to get quite a few of the Saga people up dancing with us, including 80 year young David (who had also taken quite a shine to Heidi!!) The last day we had a guided tour of Salobrena Old Town and Castle (where we also bumped into young David again!!) before a lunch at Nerja and back to Malaga.

Changed the car over, went to the theatre to see Two – a Jim Cartwright play before driving back up to Alhaurin for the night! Arrived at the house at 11.00pm, just as the neighbours were loading the car up for Kevins 1st Birthday. A boot full of food, banners, balloons and soft drinks!! A knock on the door 10 minutes later and we were invited to Kevin’s Party tomorrow ( not sure exactly where they are having it!) but as we are off to Portugal it wasn’t possible!

PORTUGAL

Left Alhaurin about 9.30am and took the A357 and then cut across at Almargen to Osuna. Joined the A92 motorway, drove around Seville (complicated but just followed the signs!!) before heading towards the Portuguese border! Here things had changed as you now have to drive through a tourist barrier to register your vehicle to pay the motorway tolls. These seem to be very cheap and was less than 5 euros to Albufeira and back! Stopped at Loule on the way – a pleasant little town – unfortunately the gypsy market they hold every Saturday had finished, but we had a wander to the castle and through the back streets before heading off to meet Richard and Laura at 5.00pm (We had also forgotten that Portugal is 1hr behind Spain so it was only 4.00pm!) Had a wander around Albufeira, checking out Richard’s favourite bars before eating a nice meal and a few drinks before bed! (And the clocks go back an hour this eve also!!)

It was Richard and Laura’s last day as they were leaving Albufeira at 4.30pm, so after checking into the Sol e Mar Hotel overlooking the beach) we decided to visit Silves! A nice castle on the hill with walls to walk around, and then a wander down past the cathedral to the old bridge on the river, before a lunch at one of the local cafes. Drove back via Guia, that didn’t look too special and then had a last drink on a terrace overlooking the beautiful beach at Albufeira before it was time for Richard and Laura to go! Had a lovely evening meal in the Restaurant ( Ageda Dom Pipas ) -next to where we ate the night before! Had a very cheap drink in the shell bar – thanks Rich!

The next day we headed to Monchique mountains and after a wander around the old square, did a lovely 7km walk, with 360 degree views around Foia. The walk began at Foia and was clearly waymarked (Trilhoa da Foia) with red and yellow stripes and after a hard downhill walk for a few km, a walk along the road (not very busy and not very far!) the track meandered slowly upwards, through the eucalyptus trees, to the start again! Saw loads of vultures on the thermals and fantastic views of the valleys before the clouds rolled in and rain threatened! Went back to Monchique and booked into Miradouro Hotel run by a Portuguese family! (Not too bad except the beds were really hard!!) Had a wander up to a derelict Convent on the hill before eating at a recommended restaurant A Charrette. I had a local dish of cabbage and sausage with lumps of stewed pork! Good job I like cabbage!!!

Had to head back towards the Spanish border today so we tried to find the road to S. Marcos de Serra! Failed and ended up on a scenic tour of the Monchique mountains until we reached Nave Redonda where we could then get back to the correct road! Up the IP 1 for a while before branching off on a road to Almodavar. Stopped to have a wander around and a coffee (apparently there is a walking trail of the town as it was once famous for cobblers!!) Drove onto Mertola which has an impressive castle and old town that we explored before driving onto Alcoutim!

Chris has always wanted to stay in a Posada so when we entered the town and saw Pousada, I thought I was in for a treat at a posh hotel!! Wrong!! It was a Youth Hostel – but as we could get our own on-suite room and a terrace overlooking the river ( as well as an outdoor swimming pool!!) all for 26 Euros, we decided to stay. It was only a 10 minute walk into the old town - that didn’t take too long to explore as the small castle was shut so we sat in a bar overlooking the Border River Guadiana and pretty Sanlucar in Spain. It was quite confusing when the church bells rang – Portugals church bells chimed 7 times for 7.00pm, whilst 30 seconds later the Spanish Bells chimed 8 times for 8.00pm!!!

No TV in the room so a very early night and up early for a drive along the river to Alcaria before joining the IC27 into Castro Marim. Huge castle that we didn’t explore as we were supermarket shopping! Eventually found our favourite supermarket Pingo Doce and stocked up before crossing the border back into Spain! Drove into Huelva but couldn’t find the historical centre and as it was 30c decided to just drive back to Malaga! Changed the cars over and back to the house where Chris discovered he had left the house keys with the old car! We had a spare so luckily we could unpack, have Chinese meal and then bed! ( Fortunately, the keys were found and collected a week later when we had to change the car contract over!!)

We had another walk with the Field Club the day after we got back and then a couple of hot, sunny, lazy days where we picked up the free newspapers from Alhaurin and sat on the roof terrace and just pottered about the town to see if there are any changes. They are renovating the square by Bar El Timon – well, widening the road and putting new steps up to the park – I’m sure its all part of the ‘BiG Plan!!’ and also Santiago Kitchen has opened again – an English fine dining restaurant up past the green church! It was also Halloween night so we wandered around the town, watching the dressed up Spanish children, rushing in to all the shops and bars with their Halloween pumpkin bucket for their sweets! All good fun!

We try to have at least a 3 mile walk every day but on the Sunday we decided to walk up to El Santo, near Pizarra! A lovely walk, albeit uphill from the Tourist Information in the town, but interesting, with lovely views of the Guadalhorce Valley and a sense of achievement at reaching El Santo!

We also had a 20km walk at Castella de la Frontera, now a very pretty cobbled village within a Fortress with a castle dating back to the 13thC. The fortress was abandoned in the 1960’s and a new town was built nearer the road and train station, the old fortress being colonised by German hippies. In 1983 the fortress was renovated and restored. It was a fairly flatish walk (for a change!!) and we saw a colony of dung beetles at work as well as a stag and four red deer!

We are leading a walk March 2015 so as we are unable to do our favourite walk at the lakes, or El Santo we decided to explore the mountain at Alhaurin to see if we could find a suitable walk! There was a 10km one way marked as we entered the pine forest so after parking up followed the waymarks up to the ‘Fuente’ and then up a lovely wooded track following the contours of the mountain! A beautiful walk, but unfortunately I didn’t realise how high we were climbing and after crossing a couple of gravel screes, vertigo kicked in – especially when I saw that the narrow track wended its way upwards over the crag with sheer drops down!! So we had to retrace our steps and then followed another track up to a Mirador of Alhaurin. Plenty more tracks to explore so we should be able to put together a walk of some sorts!

Had another lovely day out, doing a beautiful walk near Gaucin, through the cork oak trees, down through the valley and across the river several times. Saw quite a few black prize pigs foraging for the acorns as well as a snake before arriving at Cortes de Fontera Estacion for the 2hr coach journey back to Fuengirola.



All too soon it was time to leave the sun and go back to the UK. Just hoping the weather won’t be too bad!


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