Morella’s castle is atop a mountain in the middle of a valley. It can be described as a three layer cake!! The clay and stone store water which enabled inhabitants to live through long sieges. Water filtering through the mountain created caves which have been used since prehistoric times. Dating as far back as 714AD, the castle has been home to kings and been fought over throughout history. All the neighbours of the general district had to pay taxes for the walls of the town & castle which needed constant repair due to wars and natural disasters. Our free camping “Aire” was overlooking the village and castle. That evening as we sipped a wine & enjoyed the sunset, the lights gradually illuminate the walls & castle: magical!! The afternoon was spent exploring up to the top of the castle!! Views panoramic!! See the old bullring in the photo – not in use here any longer.
They still have bull fights in Spain. They get a full house apparently – despite Animal Liberation concerns!!. The bull always comes off second-best. Rather watch one in Portugal – they don’t kill the bull there!!.
We stopped en-route at Sant Mateu (Saint Matthew) – a remote, typical, small village. They were celebrating their patron saint’s day and colourful blue flags hung from the homes. Bev had a photo opp with the King and Queen!!
Driving inland once more with the camera clicking non-stop through the most amazing scenery. We drive past the spectacular Sierra Nevada snow-capped mountains and past Granada. The olive groves soon become evident as far as the eye can see. This region is Spain’s olive growing capital.
Eating tapas, devouring two bowls of delicious local green olives, underneath lemon trees at a local village restaurant was a highlight. No tourists here!! Local farmers come into the village, park their tractors out the front and meet their friends for drinks. It was Friday evening too – so that bought more people out we think. This was the village of Villanueva de Algaidas.
Continuing on, we head back to the coast through mountain tunnels and road projects that make some Australian ones look like boy-scout projects and very overpriced. One road approaching Malaga was four lanes each way through tunnels and over viaducts. Instead of going up to the top of the mountain range then down into the valley – several times – they drew a line about half way up. We went through the mountain then across the top of the valley (200m up) on a viaduct to the next tunnel, etc. The tunnels were from 500m to 1.3km long: as were the viaducts. This particular road was a Toll Road – it cost €3.25, saved at least half an hour and was worth it – just for the engineering spectacle!! The speed limit is 120 in Spain on the AutoPistas and AutoVias – but in the tunnels it goes down to 100 kmh. There is a series of roads that are tolled in Spain. Not always worth it as usually there is another road going in the same direction. Our GPS has three options – Always Avoid, Use Tolls or Avoid if Possible. We use the third option. Costs a bit, but Bruce appreciates just rolling along on well-maintained roads at 100 (the legal motorhome limit in Spain) – rather than up and down the gears, in and out of towns, etc. So we end up doing a bit of both. The toll roads are well signposted and can easily be avoided if that is your preference.
In Spain, everything closes between 1 & 4pm or 2 & 5pm – including the tourist information offices. Visiting at these times can look like a “ghost town”. The only life is in the bars/cafes/restaurants. By about 5, shops open again and at 7pm – people are everywhere!! The Spaniards eat dinner late, well after 9pm because in summer it is too hot before then – so they do it all year round.!! We have been adapting to this new lifestyle. Today, Sunday, no shops are open – not even supermarkets. Cafes, bars and restaurants, convenience stores only – oh, and souvenir shops!!.
Saturday 3rd May, we collect Pummy (Sabrina’s mum), Neil (Sab’s brother) and Asher (Pummy’s friend) from Malaga Airport (Aeropuerto). Celebrations begin with strawberries and cherries in Bruce at the airport, before driving down to Calahonda for a week in Pummy’s beautiful Leila Playa Club resort/apartment.
Having a “holiday” from our “holiday”?? – How lucky we are!!
Day bus excursions to small mountain-top, white-washed towns, treks along the beach, workouts at the gym & sparkling pool, dancing at night. Yes, it was hard to take. Casares, Estepona & Mijas are the typical Spanish villages that we visited. Let’s get the contract for selling white paint in Spain!! These white washed Andalucian villages were so fresh in appearance with spectacular views of the coast. Historic bull-fighting rings, donkey taxis, flamenco dancing, beautiful small churches, trumpet trees in flower & brightly coloured gerberas adorning the walls of the laneways all made for an interesting and enjoyable experience. Did I forget shopping?? …. Oh well! We did manage to squeeze a bit of retail therapy in too!! Vibrant coloured ceramics are a hallmark of the area – but Mark pointed out that Bruce is already full!! … Ugh!!
The resort ran Spanish Lessons for beginners. They were very handy. We have been practising when we go out. The Spanish still smile when we ask for something, but they get the message – and we often get our answer in English!! The weather every day has been perfect. Not too hot yet – and no rain.
Our favourite meals have consisted mainly of TAPAS. They are very small servings of interesting “entrée” style food. Each venue will have its own list of Tapas – you might get two or three each for a light meal – accompanied by a bottle of house red wine (Vino tinto de la casa, por favor!). At one bar, this cost as little as €12.50 for Bev and Mark in the country – whilst in the tourist areas on the coast it would be at least €23 for two.
The night before our visitors departed back to rainy London, we ventured into Fuengirola discovering a typical Spanish restaurant tucked away in a bougainvillea covered courtyard. We celebrated our wonderful week together over a delicious meal & of course…. vino tinto de la casa!!!
As Bev writes this, Bruce, Bev and Mark are sitting under green leafy trees in the shade at our camping park in Fuengirola (or funky gorilla as the English call it.) Right over the road is Mark’s favorite bar!!!
We have added another page to the site. It shows a map with layers of the places we have stayed. Click here to see it – or from the menu above.