Posted in Spain

18th – 25th February, Cáceres to Manfragüe National Park

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Heading still further north we had a drive around a few places, we took a walk by a dam where the low water line was clearly visible, then alongside high, rocky cliffs where griffin and back vultures soared on the thermals. The rocks had a wonderful lime green lichen growing on them which literally mace the rocks sparkle.

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Continuing through varied countryside we passed a wonderful sight of pink blossom in an almond groove, olive trees which had been trimmed for the next season and many varying shades of soil colour. The countryside is cultivated yet wild as the road signs warned us about passing Linx, again we never got to see any of them.

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We settled at Cáceres in a campsite for a bit of luxury, that is we had a dedicated wet-room for each pitch! The site was spacious with large pitches, chairs and a table for that essential evening drink whilst watching the azure winged magpies. The first night I heard a tawny owl calling which made a lovely change from barking dogs! Having driven for miles over 5 hours the day before, we dedicated this day to rest and relaxation, so the awning was rolled out and the side added at the back for a wind break, next the sun lounger were dusted down and that was it folks for the rest of the day. I might add that I had already done a huge pile of washing which dried easily in the February sun, cleaned Bessie inside and done her windows, so I’d earned a rest. Chris fired up the BBQ for lunch which was enjoyed with a bottle of the ‘’ole grape jus’, more lounging and a fabulous sunset to end the day.

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Riding on a bus into the old town next day we looked forward to exploring the narrow streets behind the city wall. Having visited the Information centre with a wooden model of Cáceres, we passed under the huge stone archway into the old town, we found a wonderful brick vaulted room under the tower, then climbed up so we looked out over the main square at the tiny figures below.

 

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We visited Santa Iglesia de Concatedral de Santa Maria (not a full cathedral, but consecrated in 1957, sharing the function of being a bishops seat with another cathedral), it has a beautiful natural cedar and pine wood, un-gilded altar piece which showed wonderful craftsmanship. There was a ribbed and vaulted ceiling with subtle decoration which I found most beautiful and at the opposite end of the nave was a huge organ with gilding work over the top.

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Climbing a long twisted, spiral stone stairway up the tower, I reminded myself why I had vowed never to do this again, however, too late I eventually arrived at the top. As I was looking around for a suitable photographic opportunity, one of the huge bells clanged most deafeningly, thankfully my expletives were drowned in the sound of the bells, which were hung on all four sides of the tower. As is usual in all the Spanish towns we have visited, there are numerous churches and cathedrals, many attractive buildings within the town and fine views from all the towers and walls. Lunch was enjoyed in the square, looking up at the tower with the bells and watching the white storks which occupy many tall buildings.

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After all the culture in the town, next day we escaped to the hills around the campsite for a bit of a wind-down, some nature and great views. Gaining height to the rocky outcrop we stood, breathlessly looking out over many square miles of countryside far below us and the Griffin and Black vultures circling above us.

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As we walked through the Holm Oaks and scrub bushes dotted between the rocks, many wild flowers could be seen, dwarf narcissus only 4 inches high, tiny purple flowers as big as my finger nail and about half an inch tall, a delicate creamy white early flowering broom and lots of lichens on the rocks.

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At the highest point we found interesting modern artwork painted on the rocks, impressions of an ancient people which looked so fitting in the landscape. Far away down the track was our destination, Cáceres town nestled below the hilltop.

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Moving ever northward on our route home, we visited Manfragüe National Park, home to much wildlife and birds. Temperatures are seriously deteriorating although the sun is nice and warm between 10.30 and 5pm. Our camping pitch overlooks a field of horses and the trees are full of beautiful azure winged magpies which are happy to come a feed very close when we put bread or cereals down for them. Waking up to frost outside was not ideal, however, it did have a beautiful benefit, a dripping tap caused water to splash out over the surrounding grass making these miniature crystal sculptures.

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By chance we had been told of the Bird Watching Fair which fitted in with our dates as we drove up Extremadura midway up western Spain. Free busses had been laid on by the Bird Fair and it picked up outside the campsite, so we went in the afternoon to book ourselves on a couple of free trips.

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Walking around in the beautiful and remote site during a lovely sunny afternoon was very relaxing as we watched the small crowds making their way around the telescopes, binoculars and camera lenses. The first trip was a bus ride around to see different areas within part of the vast National Park. We watched Griffin vultures circling, visited a large reservoir where there were black vultures, red deer and we also watched an otter catching fish and taking them back to the shore to eat. Further on we passed an area of rocks with areas of yellow and white making great reflections in the water below. There were many Griffin vultures on their nests high on the rocky gorges, hard to spot until you realised that the white areas were below each nest, it was in fact their poo squirted out over the rocks! After that we spotted many nests and lots of vultures, it was a good introduction to the area and the resident birds.

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After a relaxing night in near silence without hearing any barking dogs, we caught the bus again for the 15 minute journey and had a good look at the tourism tent collecting much information for future trips. The crowds were bigger being Saturday, many looking at the expensive telescopes which we only gave a few cursory glances to, then a photography competition where we spent more time looking at excellent images, all of birds from various countries in different styles. The following day we had booked a 4×4 trip and saw so much countryside and small farmsteads, a dry and dusty landscape desperate for rain, half empty reservoirs with water way below the vegetation line and pools with little water for the livestock, mainly cattle and sheep.

 

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Even the birds were scarce and we could only add golden plover to our list for Spain, now standing at 153 species over 12 months (actually 4.5 months in total that we have spent here). I spotted 6 Great Bustards, the same species that was reintroduced to Salisbury Plain, they were quite distant walking around near cattle feeding troughs and soon disappeared down a gully.

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On returning to the Fair we heard the sound of drums and noticed ‘huge birds’ coming over the ridge by the exhibition marquees, standing 12 feet tall in black, red, blue and white plumage and a massive dragonfly with orange and green eyes. Powered by people, all on stilts, they made their way slowly up hill and down over the grass to the main area of activity, attracting crowds all busy with cameras and mobile phones getting photographs. It was a lovely end to the Bird Fair before being transported back to the campsite.

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Posted in Spain

12th – 17th February, Birds, Caves and Forts

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From the south coast at Conil we wanted to go to Doñana National Park a short hop of 60 miles, however there are no direct roads as its a massive wetland and I had to drive nearly to Seville and down the other side to El Ricío a distance of approximately 150 miles. Miles of beautiful countryside to look at as we passed by, dark ominous clouds yielded a fine drizzle just enough to wash the windscreen and then it was gone. Sun out again showing up the brilliant yellow of the Burmuda buttercups that are on any patch of wasteland and also under a lot of olive groves.

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Walking into the town of El Ricío it was quite different, like a TV set for a western with sand roads, verandas on the houses at the front, wooden rails everywhere for tying up horses and picturesque but empty looking buildings. The town is the centre for the largest pilgrimage in Spain with many pilgrims making their way by horse or horse drawn carriage and of course some in modern vehicles. Dating back to the 13th Century after a few ‘miracles’ happened in the town and nearby at Almonte in 1653, a shrine was built and regular religious days were held. From that beginning there are now 95 Brotherhoods or Hermandades who come from all over Spain to gather together in the annual celebration.

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A considerable amount of this town is made up of empty buildings with the fronts having tiled shrines and religious pictures to represent the brotherhood, having the name of the town or city name above the door. These are where the people stay for maybe a week out of a whole year, they maintain the buildings and have them cleaned but most of the year the area is a ghost town. The colourful festivities go on for 3 days and ends up with a statue of the Virgen del Ricío being carried through the streets and back to her shrine in the beautiful white Hermitage, accompanied by music, dancing and fireworks.

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In complete contrast to all this, we had come here to experience Doñana National Park and we walked alongside the large lake that is situated on the edge of El Ricío, complete with many flamingos and spoonbills, glossy ibis, various ducks, black tailed godwits, coots and some snipe.

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Further along we took to a woodland setting on a boardwalk between tall pine trees casting a pool of shadow on the grass beneath. Native bushes, cork oak and gorse were further out away from the tree cover and we watched white storks circling on thermals and others on their large nests of messy twigs situated on top of pylons. The birds ‘clack’ their beaks together rapidly when their mate arrives at the nest to reaffirm bonding, this can be heard all over the reserve.

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After walking around all the natural habitats we could find we had lunch over looking the lake. Apart from the birdlife which we obviously enjoy, the highlight of was when two ladies in Spanish flamenco style dresses came riding side saddle up to the bar for drinks. Now you don’t get that in many places!

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Joining a group of people on an enormous green bus, high up on all terrain tyres, we set off deep into the Park. Travelling along slowly, binoculars in hand, our guide told us about what we were seeing, speaking both in Spanish and good English; she had worked at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire five years earlier for a whole year. We learned that the Iberian Linx had been seen the day before and everyone was hopeful for our trip. They feed mainly on rabbit which have been decimated by disease, efforts are being made using old tree stumps to give protected areas for the rabbits to encourage breeding and therefore food supply. We passed by areas of water with herons, ibis, black tailed godwits and more ducks, saw lots of buzzards sitting on fence posts, a large herd of red deer but sadly no Linx.

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Moving on next day via smaller roads on a scenic route through the hills it was beautiful and relaxing. Our picnic spot enroute was overlooking a valley with an amber coloured river far below, it had picnic tables set out below the pine trees with low bushes and purple heather.

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Arriving in Aracena we found a free area to park in the town looking over the rooftops to the remains of a castle. It is a pretty little town with a wide main street with church in the centre, lots of shops selling Jamon, for which this area is famous and bars along one side. With lots to see and do here we bought a combined ticket to visit the Caves, the Jamón Museum and the Castle for just €12 per adult.

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The caves are called Gruta de las Maravillas which means cave of wonders and have been open to the public since 1914. They are situated 50 meters under the hill that the castle sits on top of, consisting of limestone which has been eroded by carbonic acid over thousands of years into spectacular formations. The tours last 45 minutes and the caves are spread over three levels with a lovely warm temperature between 16° – 19°C all year and a humidity of 98%. There is water running through some of the caves which supplied the town until the end of the last century, beautiful pools with reflections and ripples as drops run off the rocks. We had a very good audio guide in English to tell us about everything we were seeing, it was well worth the money to see it.

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The Museo del Jamón a really interesting place to find out how the local delicacy that we love so much is produced. The Iberican pig is a traditional breed but also other pigs of the area are also used, they are reared slowly outside and in autumn and winter they eat acorns from the three types of oak trees of the area. These and the herbs during natural foraging give the meat its lovely flavour. Curing takes months and/or years as some producers age the product to deepen the flavours.

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Lastly we visited the castle ruins, well we walked up to and around the outside as there was no one around to let us in. As it was a ruin we could guess there would be broken down walls, arrow slots, and may be a collapsed tower, anyway, the views from up on the hill were wonderful. The Castle Priory is Gothic and Mudejar and was built in the 13th century and 15th century. It has three asiles of the same height and a vaulted ceiling wi5h an elaborate and detailed altar piece.

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Entrance gate to Castle area

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We are gradually moving north up through Extremadura and stopped off at Badajoz with another great free parking overlooking the bridge and park. Walking through the remnants of the fort end of the bridge we read how it used to protect the city from any Portuguese attack, now long out of commission it is just a few walls before walking across to the city itself. Views of the city park spread below us, many facilities from jogging tracks, outdoor gym, dog park, children’s play area and refreshment booths, it was a lovely relaxing facility with a long walk alongside the river.

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We had spotted a hill top tower or two and walls so we went to investigate what turned out to be the Citadel, which was a stronghold for the Moors for four centuries. We walked the old city walls with various towers in between, climbing the steps for magnificent views over the surrounding city, bridges and river. Ancient archology had been unearthed and in the museum amount lots of artefacts were a couple of lovely mosaics.

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Looking down from the walls we spotted Plaza Alta which is a very colourful and distinctive former market square, the red and white section is mainly privately owned and looked very photogenic, while bars and restaurants reside at the other end.

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There were many beautiful buildings including the City Hall, built in Neoclassical style with its distinct yellow and white colouring, the Edificio la Giralda with its red and white exterior and the lovely white Convento de las Adoratrices, among many more interesting places to see.

 

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The view from Bessie on returning from our day out was a most spectacular, the old pedestrian bridge in front of us was lit up and there were beautiful reflections on the water.

 

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Posted in Spain

7th – 11th February, Jerez & Cadiz

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After the hustle and bustle of Gibraltar, we headed out in a westerly direction quickly leaving all the built up areas behind and were soon seeing more changes in the landscape. The hills were more undulating and everything was so much greener, we even started to see cattle and sheep which we never saw in eastern Spain. Stretching into the distance the far distant hill looked blue above the fields, now occasionally we saw beautiful brown cattle and small herds of long legged sheep. The Autovia is seldom busy so I have plenty of time to gaze about, the fluffy clouds looked beautiful in the sunshine, we pass weird road signs and at one point, had to stop on a slip road leaving the Autovia for road works. It would never happen in the UK where the traffic backs up onto our motorway while a workman sits on the barriers, no Health & Safety or road cones here, eventually I drove over the rubble and carried on.

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Travelling west for 75 miles (120 km) we got to Conil de la Frontera, a well appointed site with large sunny pitches, just a short walk away was miles of wide sandy beaches and the town centre. Pre-dinner drinks were enjoyed with Trudy and David who we had met on a previous site, lots of chatting, swapping notes, hints and tips and a good laugh together, and then Chris and I enjoyed the Quiz Night in the bar and his team came 3rd with a small money prize too!

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Using a hire car we visited Jarez about an hour away to see the Foundation of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art and the beautiful horses. Entering through the main gates of the Recreo de Las Cadenas Palace, the semi circle entrance has a gatehouse at either side decorated with chains which give the Palace its name, Palace of the Chains. Beautiful gardens with a high fountain, exotic plants and trees stretches up to the front of the Palace.

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To the left is the Picadero (indoor arena) built in traditional Andalusian style with the deep yellow colours of the area combined with white similar to the regional houses. Outside are the stables looking out over the exercise with training rings and in one corner is a ‘horse walker’. This is a large circular area with a central pole holding five large gates, surrounded by fencing. Horses are exercised, five at a time with one between each gate, the centre rotates mechanically, keeping the horses walking, changing direction after 5 minutes or so.

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The Picadero can seat 1,600 spectators and it was here we watched the white stallions perform their equestrian ballet to classical Spanish music with the riders in 18th century costumes of grey, black and white. A single horse entered first and the rider demonstrated many skills based on cattle herding including pirouettes, changes of rhythm from standing to a gallop in seconds. We also saw very complex movements based on classical dressage where 10 horses and riders showed their skills, control and hours of training while they criss-crossed the arena, weaving in between each other and constantly changing direction. Horses also showed how they could obey commands when being worked ‘in-hand’ with various movements including, trotting on the spot, rearing on command and huge leaps into the air. Carriage driving was also demonstrated with two teams of four horses harnessed to carriages performing twists and tight turns together. It was very good watching the highly trained horses and riders, I just wish we had been allowed to take photographs but sadly not. I did get a few outside the arena before it started while they were training and afterwards while they cooled the carriage horses down.

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After watching the horses, we looked at the harness rooms where there were displays of harness and tools used for making it, craftsmen were there to demonstrate their skills.

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A few rooms were open at the palace which was designed by the architect Charles Garnier, he also designed the Paris Opera House. The entrance hall had a smart black and white tiled floor and curved marble staircase with ornate wrought iron work balustrade, there were only three rooms being displayed, with high and very detailed painted ceilings, decorative doors and mouldings and fine chandeliers.

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Walking through the streets later on, we located Jarez Cathedral up two flights of steps with bricks set in a herringbone pattern. The front was beautifully symmetrical in appearance with two towers positioned close together, the central large main door edged with elaborate carving each side had a four sectioned window edged in blue above. Two round windows on either side above additional doors had stone arches above at roof height with turrets on top of the towers.

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Inside was beautiful with lovely feature architecture in the nave and transepts, the feature stonework being slightly darker than the mortar between creating an unusuail and pleasing subtle tone throughout the cathedral. The nave had a lovely circular dome letting in light and there were elaborate columns with much carving and detail beneath, high arches supporting the vaulted ceiling led to the main altar with decorative stained glass window above.

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We took a coach trip to Cadiz to see the costumes of people dressing up for the Carnival and experience the buzz of excitement surrounding it. Thousands of people came from a huge area, it was so colourful with whole families and groups enjoying themselves with music and picnics or meals in the bars. Situated next to the sea enabled us to walk along the sea wall where loads of people were soaking up the sun and having a break from the clouds, it was quite picturesque with the sea sparkling below a and the beaches in the distance. We never got to see the main parade but still enjoyed our experience.

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Walking back to the coach park, we could admire the long elegant bridge called La Pepa Bridge crosses the Bay of Cadiz from Cadiz to Puerto Real. It has two vertical pylons 180 meters tall and the road is 69 meters from the surface of the water, it carries 40,000 vehicles per day over a distance of 5 km. As the darkness began to fall, so the colours of the sky and waters changed, and lights appearing on the bridge added the finishing touches to a lovely day.

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Posted in Spain

2nd – 6th February, West towards Gibraltar

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Leaving all we have experienced behind us, we moved into unknown territory as we travelled west using the Autovia to quickly skirt Malaga and Marbella. As we travelled west the countryside began to change, the hills became less craggy and more undulating like a carpet of cloth dropped into gentle folds. Colours also changed, no doubt benefiting from more rain; green made much more of an impact with grass becoming more apparent and even a few fields appeared on the slopes of the hills. There were few olive trees around now, more mixed woodland in small groups, gorse and a rough scrub of bushes on the poor and stony soils.

Mandie and Mal, our friends from Salisbury, moved to La Duquesa nearly two years ago and we had arranged to meet up with each other. A wonderful free parking area (on Park4Night.com), close to the sea wall and beach made an excellent camping stop for a couple of nights. We could wake up to watch the skies changing colour and the yellow legged gulls, sandwich terns and a lonely grey plover walking of over the rocks in front of us.

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Making our way along the promenade to a small marina we sipped a cooling beer in the sunshine and shelter of a bar while watching the ‘boats-a-bobbing’ on the water.

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Later that evening our time was taken with a good gossip, catching up with each other’s lives over a drink or two, before moving to a bar with music, more drinks and dancing ‘til late, and a good time was had by all. After lunch next day and hearing more about life in Spain, it was time for goodbyes, but we’ll return again in the future.

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Gibraltar was only a short drive away and we could stop overnight on a marina with many other motorhomes for just €12 a night, and waking up to lovely views of numerous yachts.

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Gibraltar is home to 30,000 people, its 426 meters high at the highest point and is only 2.5 square miles in area mainly made up of limestone. We took a taxi minibus trip up ‘the rock’ to see the views, the apes, the spectacular cave and an interesting tunnel museum.

20180206_094816.jpgThe day was clear, blue skies with fluffy white clouds making it ideal to see the panoramic views of the Spanish coastline and the mountains of Morocco only 24 kilometers away. From higher up with clear views of the airport runway that we had crossed to get ‘onto the rock’, we saw one old plane, some sports grounds and a large graveyard – the airport noise won’t disturb them!

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Panoramic photo from high up so the runway appears curved which of course it isn’t!

Further up we stopped at the Pillar of Hercules, this is the name given to the promontories between Spain and Morocco. In the north is the Rock of Gibraltar and in the south there is Calpe Mons, there is a sculpture that has been built with two pillars with a world map between them. It was incredibly windy with such great views, but a really ‘bad hair day’.

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Being driven higher up a single width, rough tarmac road, the views get even better and the steep sides are becoming more and more nerve wracking. I can hardly bear it when our driver stops to point something out, I’m holding on and leaning in towards the rock edges as if it makes me any safer!
Thankfully we reached the next point to get out and walked into the most stunning caves I have ever seen, even better than the last ones in Nerja. The spectacular St Michael’s Cave, which is in fact a series of many linked caves, was in Victorian times used for recreation with concerts, picnics and parties taking place. Archaeology experts found evidence of human activity from historic times including axes, arrow heads and pottery. It was also prepared for use as a hospital in World War II but it was never used for this purpose. The caves are so high and there were numerous intricate formations with so much detail that they looked like they had been carved. Soft music and a light show made a real spectacle of the massive shapes and cast shadows too making the details all the more fascinating. These photos do not do it justice, but I cannot load my video which shows it in more a more subtle way.

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Progressing still higher up the super scary road, along a ridge with huge drops either side, I couldn’t believe it when the driver switched off the engine, thankfully he left the vehicle in gear – I was desperate to get out.  Of course people come to this great rock to see the Barbary Apes that live here in five separate troops. They have no fear of people who photograph them every day, however, you are advised not to carry any food. We saw one man have his sunglasses snatched, but being inedible, they were soon retrieved.

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Our last port of call was the Great Seige Tunnels which are located high up inside the ‘Rock’.  Passages we dug by hand out of the limestone using no more than long iron chisels, which were struck and rotated after each blow causing the chisel to break into and follow the natural strata of the rock. The tunnels are as solid and secure as when they were constructed 200 years ago. Such hot and dusty work nearly made the men suffocated so tunnels were made to the outside walls to let fresh air in. They soon realised that these holes made excellent positions for canons to fire on the enemy and rope screens were hung in front of the canon to stop dust and debris coming back in again.

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Descending to ground level and back on our feet we had a quick look around the town itself, saw a nice church perched on the edge of a road, British telephone and post boxes and loads of duty free goods.

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Not interested in shopping we treated ourselves to a Morrocan chicken tagine with a glass of wine in a pub full of interesting historic items. Returning to Bessie for the night it was very strange to have to walk across the airport runway without an official in sight. There was a beautiful sunset at the end of a lovely, but cold and windy day. We really had a good day on Gibralter and saw some amazing sights.

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Posted in Spain

25th Jan -1st February, Onward to Nerja

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Stopping for a few days at a very pretty and green oasis in Castillo de Baños, we enjoyed the homely and atmosphere of this beachside location. Some trees in leaf, some bare letting the sun in, flowers around the pitches and good facilities. It was incredibly windy and the sea thundered onto the rocks below the site. It was possible to have a pitch looking straight out to sea but the strong winds would have pummelled into Bessie and I wouldn’t have had a wink of sleep. We had a more sheltered location a few yards back and enjoyed quieter nights although we could hear the sea crashing every night. We walked in each direction, the village had a promenade, a little white chuch overlooking the sea, had free tapas in various bars and consequently needed no evening meal on two occasions! There were some beautiful sunsets over the hills behind and the dramatic clouds enhanced them considerably.

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Moving on and after an uneventful drive across the south coast of Spain, we tried to avoid continually commenting about the ‘endless plastic landscape’ that are the greenhouses producing our cheap food.  How wonderful it was to arrive back in Nerja, this is a pretty coastal town with the Balcon de Europa jutting out towards the Mediterranean giving wide views of the beaches and mountains behind. The winds were very strong and the palm-lined Balcon was taking a battering, a few hardly souls struggled into the wind to take photos and dashed back to the relative shelter between the buildings. There are now resident Monk Parakeets in the palm trees and they can easily be heard and seen while rearranging their nesting material or occasionally flying around.

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Took Bessie up to Frigiliana for a morning, the ‘picture postcard’ village is high up in the hills, and as it is winter there was plenty of space to turn and park alongside the lower road. Unfortunately the sky was grey, not cold but not good for taking photographs, too much white sky!

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The village is full of cobbled streets, very narrow and with many steps so our legs got a good workout. We watched two mules carrying building materials, (crossbred horse and donkey), they are the only way of transporting things around these streets as they are strong, fit between the buildings and crucially can climb steps!

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Shop owners spill their goods out into the street, in corners and along railings making it a colourful and interesting place to wonder around, which we did for a few hours. Many restaurants and bars all have terraces overlooking the tremendous views over the rooftops of the rest of the village, down the valley all the way to the sea in the distance. Frigiliana really is a perfect example of a ‘pueblo blanco or white village.

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On a beautiful sunny day we enjoyed an hour long walk started on Burriana beach, up steep steps at the eastern end, followed the track and then continued past the Capistrano Urbanization and uphill to the road. We turned right and followed the directions up to the Caves of Nerja noting the abandoned brick building of the sugar mill, peering into the greenhouses at cucumbers and tomatoes, passing a field of huge cauliflowers, and others with potatoes and broad beans. The caves were found by a local group of friends who discovered them in 1959 when they went through a narrow opening. During the exploration of the caves human skeletons were found as some places in the within the caves were used as burial chambers. One of the skeletons plus other artifacts are on display at the Nerja Museum. The caverns were inhabited until the Bronze Age and occupied seasonally by both humans and cave hyenas, many animal and fish bones, seeds, nuts and snails were found together with primitive tools. Cave paintings in a part of the cave not on show to the general public show farming was taking place at the time of occupation.

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There are two main caverns to be seen and the temperature inside the cave system is a steady 19 Celsius (66 Fahrenheit) and dry, quite unlike the caves I have been inside in the UK which are cold wet places, this made our time inside a pleasant and unhurried experience. We were accompanied by a guide but in addition each person had an audio device and as we arrived at various formations, our he activated the relevant section of information. The formations inside were so numerous, huge curtains with many folds draped from the roof, stalactites and stalagmites were everywhere with many that had joined to form columns. The main cavern is called The Hall of Cataclysm and is 100 meters long with a colossal central, multi facetted formation over 32 meters high and 13 x 7 meters at the base, the largest in the world. Earthquakes many thousands of years ago destroyed some of the formations which lie haphazardly broken on the floor, and such is the time scale that has passed by, new stalagmites have been formed again.

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We walked back downhill visiting the village of Maro for lunch at a bar overlooking the hillside to the sea. This small village has an attractive white church, bouganvilla covered pergola on its balcon, small bars and restaurants and quiet streets to wonder around.

 

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20180202_214622.jpgBack on our free, seafront location next morning, from the comfort of our sofa we could watch the sunrise, it was quite beautiful as it rose right between the palm trees.

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Our time in beautiful Nerja was enhanced by meeting up with Malcolm on a couple of occasions, sadly not seeing Jacqui who was busy with family back in England. We tried a couple of different tapas bars on our last night with Nick and Steph also joining us, a happy little band of five Brits chatting and laughing together for a few hours, eating our way through several delicious tapas and drinking the local vino and cerveza, and very good they are too!

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