After receiving a brochure from Inntravel, I’d been reading about adventure holidays in Andalucia Spain.
Then I realised Nikki’s sister and brother in law have just bought a new house there which they’re doing up.
So, a chance to catch up with family, see their new house and find some adventure.
Lyn and Vic work out of Gibraltar, so we flew there, and I was delighted to see the rock once again.
We cross the border into Spain and have lunch at La Linea.
It’s late October and the difference in weather from Chester is obvious. Warm with lots of sunshine.
From here, we jump in the car and drive to Algodonales where Lyn and Vic live.
I dont think I’ve ever driven on a motorway, with the roof down, so this was a first for me.
We arrive at their house, which is high in the mountains.
They also own a camper van (I hope to own one one day and explore the UK and Europe, once I’ve retired – see what happens).
Inside the house, there are spectacular views of the hill side and the Zahara El Gastor, a reservoir where water sports are popular.
Its late afternoon by now, so we spend the evening having a barbecue on the balcony and I get to see Saturn through a telescope.
In the morning, were heading out for adventure, but first stop off for some essential supplies.
In the UK, we normally have sandwiches when we go out walking, but for this trip, its been decided that well have picnics.
We stop at the excellent Payoyo cheese shop and purchase some sheep and goats cheese (which I’d never tasted before).
We arrive at the town of Grazalema. One of the famous white villages of the area.
It’s a sort of Chamonix of the Grazalema national park and the first point on the days mountain walk.
As you’d imagine, in a country the size of Spain, the national park is proportionally massive compared to the UK.
But before we head into the mountains, we have a stop for coffee.
This mornings amazing walk, is only about 4 miles, but starting off high, has spectacular views and scenery.
The highest point on the trail, looking back.
After we reach the top, we loop back around and get this view down the Puerto del Boyar.
With our first walk complete, its time to relax (it is a holiday after all !).
Andalucia is famous for its white villages and we were delighted to visit our 2nd one of the day, Zahara de la Sierra.
Not only that, but when we arrived, there was a medieval festival taking place.
The whole town had been transported back in time to 1483 to celebrate the Moros Y Christianos (the reconquest of the Kingdom of Granada by Castilla.
I like to be festive, so couldn’t resist joining in (when I say joining in, I dont mean costumes or any of that rubbish, I found a table and had a drink).
After breakfast on our 2nd day, It’s been decided that we’ll rent some mountain bikes and do a section of the Via Verde trail.
There are over 6000 km of trails in Spain. Originally planned as a railway that would link even the smallest village, it ground to a halt during the civil war.
But the actual route’s are mostly complete and with tunnels and viaducts make superb cycling trails.
I read once, that a patriot is someone who loves his country, and a nationalist is someone who hates everyone else’s!.
I’m neither, though I do sensibly recognise differences between European nationality like Germans who are organised etc.
I’d been told that “Spanish parking” was among the worst in the world. I can’t comment on that, but the picture above says a lot.
We arrived to pick up our bikes.
The bikes were modern, in excellent condition and they had a full workshop to effect any repairs.
Other thing I noticed was the 4wheel bicycle “things” of the kind I’d not seen since a family holiday in Rhyl when I was 10!.
We were issued with bikes, a simple map (pictured above) and to my surprise, no helmets.
I asked about tools and spare inner-tubes. They explained that the trail is fairly flat and interspersed with roads. If we have a puncture, just call them from our mobiles and they’d send someone to help.
Thankfully, not needed the whole day.
We set off and the scenery and weather, quite the nicest I’ve ever cycled in.
The route has lots of tunnels. Quite exciting and reminiscent of the Monsal trail.
There were a few cafe’s and nature exhibitions along the way. I stopped a few times, as the heat was baking hot (but that didn’t take away from the fun)
After a few hours, we stop for our picnic. A civilised affair, with red wine.
As well as tunnels, the route features some viaducts and I was able to stop and get this picture.
I was glad I took my specialist cycling clothes. It was baking hot and jeans and suchlike would have had me heading for home within an hour.
The days cycling complete, we head for home (we gave the bikes back, obviously 🙂
On the third day, an injection of culture is needed, so we head to an amazing place called Ronda.
A very popular tourist attraction, the bridge is an iconic symbol of the area.
Originally founded in the 6th century, Ronda has a population of 35000.
I’m neither geologist nor architect, but basically, Ronda was a town split between 2 sides of the El Tajo Gorge.
To make day to day living even viable, they built the spectacular Puente Nuevo bridge.
We wander around the old town. It really was a fantastic place and due to its hight, had multiple levels.
After lots of exploring, we decide to stop and have lunch.
Although the town was packed with tourists, there were a few places where you could find peace and quiet.
The Arab baths were such a place, and had a fascinating video explaining the many rooms in the baths and what they were used for.
Ronda also features a bull fighting ring – we didn’t care to visit.
Casa del rey moro was fascinating.
It had a nice garden with Peacocks, but a walkway that led down to the bottom of the Gorge.
Further down the steps, this room with amazing lighting effects.
And at the bottom, the place where people could collect water or catch a boat somewhere.
We leave Ronda and drive to a place called Setenil.
Faced with a similar problem to the people of Ronda, the people of Setenil chose an alternative and simply built their town inside the Gorge.
We walked around the town and had coffee.
This was my favourite spot. Houses had literally been built around the rocks.
We head home and in the evening have dinner in Agodonales.
Day 5 of our trip, and in the morning we visit a local Bodega.
Chinchilla wine’s had been widely recommended so we decided to go along.
They showed us the vineyard, how the wine was made and then a wine tasting session with some Tapas.
We met an interesting chap from Finland. A wine importer, he’d brought his family along for a holiday.
In the afternoon, we head for Sera de la Lijar.
You can see from the roads we drove on just how high up it was.
The top of Siera de la Lijar is popular with Paragliders.
Lyn had worked out a route for us to walk.
It was late afternoon and I was feeling a bit tired so I just sat and enjoyed the view.
Our last day, and its sadly time to head home (but adventure can be added to any scenario).
A train runs from Ronda back to La Linea near Gibraltar.
It’s a 2 hour journey. There’s a monitor showing the progress of the train, and very comfortable seats.
The telephone lines running next to the trainline have become a home for local storks.
Back at La Linea, were picked up by Lyn and head across the border to Gibraltar.
Back in Gibraltar I get a look at the famous (or infamous to the locals) Sunborn hotel and Casino.
Next to it, something I intend to do next time I’m there. The Dolphin boat, where you can go out and see Dolphins.
I saw most of Gibraltar, last time I was here, on a superbly organised tour by Lyn.
On that occasion, eccentric thing I wanted to do was a have a drink in the famous Bianca’s, a sort of expat Mecca.
But it was closed for refurbishment.
This time, it was open, and we were able to relax and meet some of the people who’ve made Gibraltar their home.
Overall, a fantastic trip and I hope this provides inspiration for anyone thinking of going there. And special thanks to Lyn and Vic for providing accommodation and acting as tour guides.