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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back 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.
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!