Saturday, 21 November 2015

Andalucia 2015

 Marbella and the Paseo

The last time we had been in the Andalucia (in English spelled with an S) was in 2002 when we came to visit Malaga and Marbella so when Manjeet and Almu gave us as a present a card which we could use to spend 5 nights in any Parador Hotel in Spain, we could not resist the temptation to revisit. In February we tried to book the Paradores in the region in the popular holiday periods with no success, so in the end decided to book well ahead around my birthday in November and successfully managed to reserve the spectacular hotels in Ronda and Gibralfaro in Malaga. To make it a more significant period, our friends John and Loli very generously let us have their house in Marbella for a few days.

Chateau Farrell
This is where we arrived first and so began our Andalucian adventure. In a few days we spent time in many great places such as Cadiz, Marbella, Malaga and one of the most beautiful and popular ´white´ towns - Mijas. The day we decided to go to Cadiz was listed in the weather forecasts as thunderstorms and windy. They were not wrong - the most frightening of storms followed us around all day and even the drive back to Marbella was lit up with lightening and thunder virtually overhead.

Cadiz o Gades
However there were enough breaks in the rain for us to walk around everywhere and to see the more well known areas of the old part of Cadiz. These included the central shopping streets and the old mosque and theater now a cultural center (and built on a site where the construction is recorded from 2000 years or more ago), and of course the 500 years old trees which can be found on the South western side of Cadiz overlooking the Atlantic, and the famous but more recent statue of Simon Bolivar looking (with a hand pointing) in the direction of Venezuela with which (as many of you know) we share more than a little.

Puerto Banus

A day spent around Marbella and long walks on the seaside paseo followed and then we spent a few hours rediscovering Mijas up in the mountains with spectacular views. The house of our friends was a delightful place which we named ´Chateau Farrell´and the weather began to improve but the water in the pool and in the Mediterranean sea which was just a few meters down a few stairs was cold so even though we had packed our swimming gear, it was not exposed to water. The beaches in the South were nice but not as good as our own beach at home, the sand being a dirty grey colour and the beach less than clean. We also looked up Marisol´s cousin Lucia who lives in Marbella with Bruno and daughter Eva (not forgetting a very active dog called Neska).


Soon it was time to say goodbye to Marbella and we headed for the first of our Parador stays at Ronda. The drive up the mountain follows a really mind boggling (literally) road, during which I had to admit that I began to feel somewhat queasy. 

 With Liliana and Carlos
The spectacular bridge and the Parador next to it in Ronda

The Parador is built at the tip of a spectacular gorge with a monumental bridge. Needless to say the views all around are spectacular. Our friends Carlos and Liliana who recently moved to Ronda from England wined and dined us and showed us around.  If Cadiz is an old city then as Carlos disclosed that Ronda is even older.


With Amalia and JuanJo

Then we drove east to Malaga and the Gibralfaro Parador on top of a hill. Equally spectacular views in a different environment by the sea. The whole of Malaga was at our feet literally, and we could enjoy the view from our own balcony. Here too we had long time friends in JuanJo and Amalia who made a lot of time for us and showed us around Malaga.  We also got to meet their son Pedro and his family and remembered old times when as a 5 year old he was friends with our own Anil in Venezuela. Anil would call him ´Perdo´ and his dad (JuanJo )was ´Parde de Perdo´!

Anil and Pedro in Venezuela - 1985ish
Pedro 2015

The next day they took us for a day long drive through  the mountain range that heads east, and contains beautiful towns and lovely scenery. 

We ended up late in the afternoon in Frigiliana as the sun was setting. We called up our friend Pelayo on the off chance that he and his wife Brigitte were at their holiday home in this place but found that they were in Madrid. But he revealed the whereabout of their home and that it was across the road from a bar called ´La Alegria del Barrio´. We followed instructions and soon found the bar and Pelayo´s house.

With the owner of the bar Alegria del Barrio

Later we drove into Nerja, also a very pretty town, where JuanJo knew of an Indian restaurant. A long walk later four very tired and thirsty travellers shuffled into the restaurant called Haveli and ordered up some familiar (at least to me) dishes from the menu from a Bengali lady who ran the restaurant. Although the decor was not inspiring and in general Bengali cooking is not my favourite, the food that arrived at our table was fabulous, perhaps because we were starving.
The only photo from Nerja (we were getting tired!)

A short drive later we were back at the hotel and ready to pack our bags for the flight back north and home. An action packed few days, marvellous experiences and views, looking up old friends and enjoying sunny and warm climate.
I could get used to this! ;-)