Abandoning the usual gentle pace on country roads, I just wanted to get around Malaga so chose to use the Autovía as white fog shrouded the surroundings from view. An hour into the drive, gradually glimpses of the scenery appeared as the day warmed up and the air around us cleared, revealing hills and countryside to our left with the sea far away on the opposite side. We had spent many night on free Aires and needed to charge the toothbrushes and electrical devices again, so opted for a few nights at a campsite in Torre del Mar. Being right on the edge of the town enabled us to walk on tracks beside the fields planted with brassicas of some description. Sparrows, goldfinches and serins were everywhere feeding on the weed seeds, giving us bright flashes of colour as they flew to the bushes when we passed by. Wild flowers including a beautiful Morning Glory lined the fences and ditches, a stream with tall bamboo type rushes and lush green surroundings gave views of egret, mallard and moorhen, while the loud call of Cettis warbler exploded from the depths of the reeds as we came out onto the beach.
In the other direction there were many attractions of restaurants and bars alongside the beach. Ignoring numerous high rise apartments, we chose to admire the 12 meter wide promenade with the patterns made up of white, black and red stone, all so clean and litter free. Alongside that was a dedicated cycle path of red tarmac used by all wheeled vehicles from mobility scooters, electric bikes, children’s electric cars and roller-skaters. Added to this was lovely wide garden with meandering pathway, benches under palm trees with colourful flowers and a bandstand where we saw an exercise class taking place.
Children had a dedicated and well equipped play areas while adults were not left out, having outdoor gym equipment, tennis courts and nets for volley ball on the beach. Bars and restaurants were spaced along the promenade, the smell of fresh sardines, cooked on a stick by olive wood fires tempted us a couple of times with a refreshing beer on the beach.
Torre del Mar has several interesting buildings that we saw. The lighthouse in Torre del Mar was built in 1826 and stands at 26 meters tall. To accommodate the growing town it has been moved several times and the iconic and elegant, blue and white lighthouse is situated on the promenade where the beam can be seen 13 nautical miles out to sea. A shorter stone lighthouse stands next to it which had undergone a recent restoration.
For something a bit different we visited a renovated sugar mill building, now an exhibition centre, addionally three tall, brick chimneys originally part of the sugar extraction business still stand nearby. Information boards, partly in English, told something of the industry history in the area and there were photographs of Torre del Mar showing the development during the last 30 years. It has grown considerably from a small, sparsely populated, beach-side town, having fishing and the remnants of the old sugar mill industries, into a significantly built up, tourist attracting ‘hot-spot’. There were models of local buildings, churches, farms and the river in central position within the exhibition and some of the details were amazing.
On the top floor was an unusual museum; it shows a Frenchman’s collection of over 2,000 ‘irons’ some dating to the 16th century. There were flat irons, coal heated irons, gas and electric irons; in fact I couldn’t believe the number of styles and transformation this humble, household gadget had been through. The display had irons from all over the world with various decorative additions on the metalwork and the style of handles. One exhibit was a cylindrical container that held hot embers, with cradles to hold multiple irons around its circumference, this enable teams of ladies to iron vast quantities of cloth/clothing with continuous hot irons – quite ingenious for the era. There were also some of the first ‘powered washing machines’ which looked like half a wine barrel with the ‘old style dolly’ suspended on a lid, this in turn was powered by a belt driven by a small motor on the floor beside it. If you had all the mod-cons, there was also a powered mangle to squeeze out the excess water. I feel so lucky to live in a modern world of labour saving machines.
Calhetta is located about an hours walk along the promenade with a harbour of fishing boats and a few pleasure boats. It didn’t seem as busy as Torre del Mar, more laid back in this low-season with only a couple of small bars open; we didn’t walk into the town itself but contented ourselves with a picnic lunch on the wide sandy beach watching the gulls.
Along the coast a short drive away is Nerja, a place we know quite well having been several times and it is always a pleasure to return to. Luck was on our side to get parking next to Burriana Beach with views straight over the sand and sea. Soon we were relaxing on our sun loungers in warm sunshine for a while before meeting up with a friend, Malcolm, and we caught up with each other’s news over lunch.
Plans made to meet up again were thwarted by a sudden change in the weather; grey, very cool and thoroughly wet. We used the day to travel, the first 2 hours in horizontal lashing rain with the headlights on and wipers on fast mode. A brief pause for lunch an onward again as we broke through into sunshine at last with views opening up in front of us. After endless plastic greenhouses the landscape changed eventually and took on a green hue as vegetation covered the ground among the rocks. Mountains in the distance added scale to the panorama of fields, crops of artichokes with their grey spiky leaves and acres of cauliflowers being harvested by teams of pickers, all bent double and swiftly filling the large plastic crates. Olive and orange trees lined up in rows took up swathes of the fertile, flat lands between the low, stone farm houses, while fruit trees of some variety were protected from birds and insects inside large net greenhouses.
After a drive of 220 miles we arrived in Bolnuevo, near Mazarrón for our final week, we wasted no time in relaxing as this was also a return site for us. A walk west through the small town soon lead us to the wonderful, naturally eroded sand sculptures, their shapes and colours against the blue sky meant that I couldn’t resist taking photographs again.
A longer walk to Mazarrón, via the beach, rocky islands and two harbours was most enjoyable after three days of little activity. The day warmed up considerably making it very pleasant to stand around looking at the array of boats from simple fishing vessels and sailing yachts to rich boys toys; the large plastic looking motor cruisers covered in cushions and chrome.
By the harbour we has a two course Menú del Día of wonderful fish and seafood accompanied by a glass of wine each for the princely sum of €13 a head, after which we walked more leisurely back beside the sea to relax on a nearly deserted beach; we didn’t eat another thing until the following day!
Away from the coast we walked on the tracks and fields around the village of Bolnuevo with the idea of spotting a few birds. Rows of tattered, plastic sheeted greenhouses which had seen better days, situated adjacent to the next generation of rigid plastic panel greenhouses bursting at the seams with tomatoes. Further into our walk we found two tractors with very high-tec machinery; firstly preparing the ground into ridged rows four at a time, then the next tractor laid irrigation pipe into each row and put holes in ready for the plants to be dropped into. Finally we found a field where the process was complete and the plants growing in this optimum climate, plenty of sun and constant irrigation. A short while later we eventually found a small lake with some pochard and a few white headed ducks, new for our list this trip and now standing at 106 species. A paella cooked on our BBQ and enjoyed alfresco was a welcome feast after our lengthy walk.
After 7 nights in Bolnuevo it was time to move to our final destination for a single night at Villajoyosa, a beautiful site with views of a mountain and range of hills. As usual we set off to explore setting off downhill to a harbour and wide sandy beach, we will get walking trail leaflets from the tourist office when we come back.
This is our longest trip yet, travelling through France, Portugal and across Spain; in 11 weeks I have driven a total of 3,126 miles, we have walked 254 miles, seen many wonderful places including lovely countryside, beautiful cities and many deserted beaches. So now it is time for Christmas with family and friends after our flight back to UK tomorrow. We will return and continue travelling in Spain at the beginning of January 2019 …..