Spain - Winter 2015 / 2016

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April 14th 2016
Published: April 14th 2016
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20th Sept 2015 – Oct 21st 2015

In between all our other travels and also after putting our UK house on the market we went to Spain for about a month to catch some sun and lead a walk up to El Santo. It’s one of our favourite walks, even though its uphill, but the path wends its way through pine trees, through a cleft in the rock, past a cave before reaching the track at the top that runs along the ridge of the mountain with 360 degree views. About 16 people joined us and it made for a very enjoyable walk.

It was also Feria time in Fuengirola so we went to see the procession along the streets with some friends. Apart from that we didn’t do too much other than enjoy the sunshine and walk (to compensate for over eating on the cruises!!) Did another of our favourite walks, up to see the gorge and the vultures at El Chorro and also climbed El Hacho at Alora.

January 16 – April 16

We had a short two week break from the middle of January to 6th Feb – just to get some much needed sun and to escape the dreary weather in the UK! We didn’t do too much except walk, socialise and sit in the sun reading, but we will remember the trip for ‘The Day the Earth Moved’ – well for Chris anyway! I somehow slept through the biggest earthquake that Spain had experienced in 60 years – 6.3 on the Richter scale! Quite a few stories from various friends of pictures rattling, beds shaking and apparently it continued for a minute or so and woke quite a few people up!

We also experienced a huge thunderstorm one evening that went on for about 4 hours – some quite spectacular lightening! But by the next day it was blue sky and sun again! On the closest Sunday to the end of January they also have the ‘Day of the Almonds’ at Guaro. The day starts with a long circular 9km walk starting at 10.00am, or a shorter 4km family linear walk starting at 11.00am. You can register online for the walk (if you have an NIE number) or complete a form on the day of the walk !

There were about 200 walkers, and the walk started by leading out of the village and down into a valley to cross the river and then a long steep upward climb out of the valley, which ensured that all the walkers were spread out over 1km!! A gentle slope took us back down to the river and then another steep climb back up to the village! Beautiful 360 degree views of the Sierra de las Nieves and valleys along with the almond blossom and wild lavender but quite a hard walk! At the end of the walk, ‘almond soup’ is supposed to be provided to all Walkers – free of charge !!. However, there was no sign of soup when we returned, and when we asked we were told that they had made 200 litres of soup, but it had been boiled too long and fermented, so soup was off! Literally!!! We also had a beautiful walk up near El Burgo (turn right, through the village- km7) called ‘Lomo de Perro’ and was accompanied by a very sweet natured dog for about 10kms ­– it was quite heartbreaking because as we left the car park to drive home he was chasing the cars along the road……

We returned to Spain on the 7th March 2016 after selling our house in the UK and with the intention of emigrating …… Wales!! Our offer has been accepted on a 2 bed bungalow in the outskirts of Newport so we are over here, with no return flight booked until we are ready to exchange contracts!! It was beautiful weather and we did some lovely walks, including Mr Hendersons Railway walk near Ronda. We were supposed to be leading a walk but because this year has been warmer than usual there is an increase in the number of processionary caterpillars around. Several people experienced problems with caterpillar hairs causing itchy rashes (including Chris!) and it was decided to keep the Clubs walks away from the pine trees that the caterpillars are so fond of!! A wise decision as these pesky creatures can cause lung problems and eye problems and can be quite dangerous.

The Bus Station that they started building last September seems to have come to a halt!! We were hoping it may have been completed by easter but this was not to be the case! Que sera sera!

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.

My sister also visited – its only taken her 15years to get here….and the first day she was here it rained! Still, we took the opportunity to do some geo-caching and fortunately the other three days were hot and sunny so we had good visits to Malaga, the Lakes and Marbella, calling in at Monda on the way back to find a Geocache!!

Our last night, with Tracie, we thought we would go to the new restaurant – La Petit Chloe – the prices seemed quite reasonable – around 9 euros. Chris chose beef and chicken croquettes, Tracie had a pork dish with apple, wrapped in puff pastry and I thought I would just have an Angus Beef steak , priced at 9 euros, or so I thought.

Now, this is where a little bit of Spanish lets you down! I understood that they didn’t have any Angus Beef, and they showed me some different large joints of beef. What I didn’t realise is that instead of just having a slice off of the joint cooked medium rare, I would literally get the whole joint – quite raw!! – a ”Tomahawk steak” !! It appeared on the biggest plate I had ever seen, and was served with some pastry tower covered in edible lace and green stuff ( was it meant to be a palm tree?) and a sort of potato/pastry flower with cream cheese.

I had to send it back to be cooked a bit more, but the whole meal was not very satisfactory at all – especially when the bill came and the steak was 49 euros!!! We did have a good belly laugh at it though, and the piece of steak I took home was quite delicious after I had sliced it up and fried it!!

Also met up with some friends we had met on the Mauritius Cruise, who happened to be skiing in Granada! Had a lovely wander around the centre of Granada, finding parts we hadn’t seen before, before a Menu del Dia in Plaza Nuevo.

All too soon it was time to go – flight booked for Wed April 13th – hopefully to exchange contracts on our house sale!

May 3rd – May 11th

House sale was dragging on so we decided to go back to Spain to a) have a weeks sun and b) go to a friends Birthday weekend in Velez de Benaudalla, c) go on Sandra and Mikes walk from Monda to Istan that was an excellent 20km walk and gave us chance to catch up with people.

Sun didn’t happen – it was a dreadful week weather-wise with cloud, drizzle and heavy downpours, along with claps of thunder!

Fortunately it didn’t put the dampers on Frank’s birthday weekend, and we all met up for ‘ drinks on the terrace’ at 12.30 on the Friday, followed by a lovely meal in the local restaurant, where Frank’s brother flew in from the Bahamas as a surprise visit!! The whole weekend had been planned with military precision, and after a game of boules, we drove to Salobrena on the coast for “Sundowners” - eating tapas and drinking at a beach bar, watching the sun go down. Back to Velez to meet up again in a local bar for yet more drinks and tapas!

Saturday’s plan was either a walk around Granada or the Cahorros Gorge walk. Chris opted for the cultural walk round Granada, and I opted for the walk, that included several hanging, wooden plank bridges and shuffling along a narrow walkway a few feet above the river. It was a really fantastic walk, about 7km altogether. The gorge opened up into scrubland and after walking up to the top, past many yellow orchids, we followed the road back to the restaurant to meet up with the Granada group, for another meal.

Chris enjoyed his Granada walk , taking in the magnificent Cathedral, the narrow winding streets of the Moorish gypsy quarter (Albaicin) and a rural museum. He also saw a convoy procession of caravans parading through the City before setting off to the El Rocio pilgrimage and romeria, over 300 km away south of Seville (been there twice in 2010 and 2012 – see blog)

In the evening it was warm enough that we were able to eat, after the speeches, on the terrace with a lovely view of the castle – slightly disappointing we didn’t see any snow – but at least it wasn’t raining! The evening was finished off by a local flamenco show back at the Hotel.

On the Sunday, it was drizzling a little for our guided walk around Velez de Benaudalla and visit to the castle but we were rewarded after climbing to the top of the castle, with amazings views of the village in the sun! A walk past the old lavadero and onto the Nazari Gardens, a moorish inspired garden, growing flowers and vegetables and steep paths that descended down into the dripping caves that littered the cliff.

Another meal, this time in the house as unfortunately the rain had now set in for the afternoon, followed by some free time, and then more socialising in the evening before everyone drifted away , flying back to the UK on various flights.

We left on Monday morning, after a visit to the local market and coffee – went through some heavy rain at Malaga, before arriving back at the house.

Another birthday celebration of Brian’s 79 th at Asian Bing, a Chinese fusion restaurant in Fuengirola on Tuesday night, before flying home late Wednesday evening!

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