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About Me

Found 3 results

  1. It was another bright sunny day when we woke up in El Chorro this morning. After breakfast in the hotel we went out for a final stroll around the village to enjoy the views. We stopped for a quick coffee at a nearby cafe before walking back to our hotel (the big tall building in the photo below) and checking out. There were some beautiful views as we drove along the road out of El Chorro. In particular, we could see the bridge and part of the pathway of the Caminito del Rey which we had been walking on yesterday Looking at the pathway from here made it seem quite scary, although this bit hadn't felt scary at all when we were on it yesterday! Our first destination for today was the village of Setenil de las Bodegas, around 35 miles from El Chorro. We arrived and found a parking space by the side of the road on our second attempt. The first attempt involved us parking on what looked like a normal street, then having a man approach us and tell us we owed him €2! It seemed like some sort of racket so we didn't want to pay it, but we also didn't want to not pay it and leave the car there in case something happened to it. Luckily the second space we found didn't come with any strings attached First impressions of Setenil were that it looked really pretty. Setenil is one of Andalusia's so-called "pueblos blancos" (white towns) so we were expecting to see lots of little whitewashed houses. What makes Setenil unique among the white towns, however, is the fact that there are several streets here where the houses are literally built into the rock. The town is located along a narrow river gorge and in places the rock even overhangs the street Looking down from up on high where we'd parked, the village almost didn't look real! It must be very strange living in a house like this. Setenil is quite a well-known village and so even on a weekday in November, the main street was pretty busy. I can imagine it's even busier in the summer, with lots of people making day trips to visit it. This street isn't pedestrianised either, so it was a bit chaotic at times with cars and vans coming in different directions. Once we branched off onto some side streets, everything got a lot quieter though. Even away from the attraction of the main street, the village was really attractive with its bright white houses. We found that there were other, quieter residential streets with houses built into the rock too. There weren't many other tourists who made it as far as this one The town is built on a hill so we had to walk up some pretty steep slopes before we came to the main square. It was really pretty here though - well worth the climb We found yet more houses built into the side of the rock. Before we knew it we had reached the outskirts of the town, so we needed to turn around and head back towards the centre. Soon we were nearly back at the main street, which seemed a little quieter than it had when we first arrived. After one last look at the view, we got back in the car to head towards our second stop of the day - Olvera. Olvera was only 10 miles down the road from Setenil, so not the longest of drives. We managed to find a parking space on the outskirts of town and were soon walking towards the centre. Like all the towns in this part of the world Olvera is built on a hill so we had a bit of climbing to do. The views were amazing though We were walking towards the main church, which is set at the top of the town near the castle. There's a large terrace in front of the church with great views down to the lower town. We also had a good view of the castle, which dates from the 13th century. It was certainly in a good strategic position on this big rock! The countryside around Olvera looked really beautiful too. There's more greenery in this part of Spain than I expected. We still had a lot of miles to cover today, so soon it was time to climb back down towards the car. Our next stop, around 20 miles away, was the small village of Zahara de la Sierra. Zahara is in a really lovely location, overlooking a small reservoir. This town has fortifications too - we saw a small castle overlooking the reservoir... ...and a larger tower right on top of the hill. Zahara was the easiest village to park in, but we found a space right at the bottom of the hill the town is built on, so we had a bit of a walk upwards towards the centre. Before long we came to this little white tower. From here we could see up towards the castle... ...and down towards the rest of the town. Zahara's main square was just around the corner from here. There was a terrace in front of the square, from where we could look down on the reservoir. As you can probably tell from the photo, the sun was a bit bright today The square itself was lovely too. All the restaurants and cafes seemed to be centred around here, so it seemed like a good place to get lunch. Nowhere seemed to have menus out which always makes life more difficult, but we found a restaurant where we could get the menu by scanning a QR code on the table. The food took quite a long time to come, but when it did it was delicious Tim had chicken with roquefort and I had garlic chicken, which was absolutely beautiful. We may not have eaten the free olives we were given though It was a really lovely place to sit and eat and the weather is just about still warm enough to sit outside (though we did see multiple Spanish people wearing coats!) From Zahara, our route led us through the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. Some of the scenery here was really spectacular and we stopped at multiple viewpoints to enjoy it. Again, I've found that this part of Spain doesn't look as barren as I had expected. There are a lot of olive trees everywhere, which I guess explains why we keep getting free olives with our drinks From this particular viewpoint we could see down to the reservoir by Zahara, as well as the winding mountain road that we'd just travelled on. The route continued to wind through the mountains... ...until eventually we ended up in the village of Grazalema itself. We didn't get out of the car to properly explore this village, although we did manage to find somewhere to stock up on petrol nearby. The road continued to be really scenic as we drove from Grazalema towards Arcos de la Frontera. In some places it was really green... ...while in others it was quite rocky. We didn't have time to properly explore Arcos de la Frontera, because we wanted to try and get to our accommodation before dark. It looks like a fascinating town though, perched on the top of an enormous ridge. Another place where you wouldn't be able to live if you had vertigo I think! From Arcos de la Frontera we had another 35 miles or so to our ultimate destination for the evening, El Puerto de Santa Maria. I had initially been hoping to stay in the nearby town of Cadiz, but it seemed absolutely impossible to find decent accommodation there which included parking. El Puerto de Santa Maria is more of a beach resort, but close enough to Cadiz that we'll be able to visit for a day trip without too much difficulty The place we're staying in seems pretty spacious, with a large living/dining area... ...kitchen... ...and choice between two different bedrooms. There's definitely plenty of space, which is good because we're staying here for three nights
  2. It was a bright sunny morning when we woke up in El Chorro this morning. I'd set the alarm for 07.30 so that we could be at breakfast in the hotel when it opened. The hotel had a rather wide range of breakfast hours, serving from 8am all the way up until midday. The breakfast selection was one of those which would probably have been great in the old days as a buffet, when you could look at things before deciding whether you wanted to try them, but was less good these days when you have to order everything from a waiter. I ordered scrambled eggs and ended up with a portion that looked like it contained at least four eggs, so at least it was going to keep me full for a while! I'd chosen to stay in this particular hotel in El Chorro because we had booked to do what promised to be a very spectacular walk today: El Caminito del Rey. This is a linear walk which ends in El Chorro, so the first step was that we needed to catch a bus to the walk's start point. I'd struggled to find exact timetables for this bus online, but was hoping there was going to be one at 09.30. We could literally see the bus stop from our bedroom window in the hotel, so we didn't have far to go! The bus duly turned up as expected and we had a short drive of around 20 minutes to the start point of the walk in Ardales. The bus tickets were only €1.55 each, which was good value. It was only possible to pay with cash though, so a good job I'd brought Euros. The bus deposited us at the side of the road, from where we had a walk of 1.5km to the official starting point. Luckily the entire 1.5km wasn't through this rather dark tunnel! As soon as we emerged from the tunnel we had some great views of the rocky landscape around El Chorro. We weren't yet sure though whether we were actually going to be able to get the views we really wanted to see. For reasons that will become clear once you see the photos, the Caminito del Rey walk is closed when the weather becomes wet or windy. I'd had a text message yesterday saying that there was a risk of closure due to wind today, so until we got to the ticket office I wasn't sure whether we were going to have to retrace our steps back to the road. But it turned out we were in luck! While we had heard some gusts of wind during the night, it wasn't enough to close the path and when we arrived at the official starting point we had our tickets scanned and were handed our helmets. Yep, that's right, this is a walk where you have to wear a helmet (I think there's a small chance of falling rocks!) We had been slightly worried as to whether Tim was going to be able to fit the helmet onto his head, but luckily it just about worked I'd booked the tickets online a couple of weeks in advance and we had a slot for 10.45. A limited number of people are allowed onto the route at any one time so that it doesn't become too crowded. It's a really popular attraction and the tickets sell out unbelievably quickly. I'd been online the day the November dates were released and just about managed to buy tickets for the date I wanted. Now that we'd arrived, the views didn't disappoint The Caminito del Rey is a famous walkway, built along the sides of a narrow gorge outside El Chorro. It was constructed at the start of the twentieth century as a route for workers building a hydroelectric plant at El Chorro to transport materials. It gets its name from the fact that in 1921, King Alfonso XIII walked along the route as part of the inauguration of the nearby dam. The original pathway fell into disrepair in later decades and was notorious for being an extremely dangerous route. Around ten years ago the local regional government decided to put some money into restoring it and turning the route into a tourist attraction. Today's pathway is extremely safe, with new wooden boards and a sturdy fence all the way around the edge. Although it looks scary in some of the photos, it was really easy to walk on and I was relieved to find that I didn't have vertigo After an initial series of wooden walkways high above the gorge, the path began to descend. The views back up towards where we'd been were spectacular After this the path continued at a lower level for a while. We walked through a forest with great views down towards the river. The path was quite wide here which was good; a lot of the tickets for the route are sold as guided tours, so it enabled us to overtake a few large tour groups The path never felt overly crowded though. And the views of the countryside were amazing. I've been really pleasantly surprised by how beautiful this part of Spain is. Definitely not what I would have expected to find a short drive away from Malaga As we walked through the trees we caught sight of the next set of wooden walkways on the side of the gorge. The gorge is really spectacular here. We attempted a selfie but only managed to get our heads and no view It's forbidden to bring selfie sticks, umbrellas and large backpacks on the walk to prevent people causing a blockage on the path. The train line to Malaga runs along the opposite side of the gorge. As we walked we saw a train appear on one side of the rocks... ...before travelling through the mountain and emerging on the other side. We also realised that we could see the original historical pathway a few metres below the modern pathway that we were walking on. It must have been a very scary route to take to work! Today's pathway with it's big fence definitely felt a lot safer And I was very grateful for the fence with drops like this! Eventually we turned a corner and saw what I'd read was the scariest part of the walk - the bridge across the gorge. The bridge sways a bit in the breeze, which is why the route is closed if the weather becomes too windy. We attempted another selfie, with somewhat limited success There were a few more corners to walk around before it was our turn to cross the bridge. The drops were incredible here! And the views of the old pathway were slightly terrifying Then we were crossing the bridge. It did sway a little bit, but it was sturdier than I'd expected Once we'd walked a bit further on and could look back on it we really got a sense of how amazing it was. From here we started to climb downwards via a series of steps. We could just make out a rainbow in the water spurting out from under the bridge Soon we could look back towards the tiny pathway clinging on to the side of the gorge. We now just had an easy pathway of around 1.5km back towards El Chorro. It was hard not to keep turning around and looking back to where we'd been, though. We even managed a slightly more successful selfie at one point This is definitely one of the most exciting and adventurous walks we've ever done The beauty of staying in El Chorro was that we could actually now see our hotel in the distance behind us. We went back for a late lunch of steak and chips in the hotel restaurant, followed by a rest and an afternoon stroll around El Chorro. It's been a really great day and I'm so pleased the weather cooperated with our plans today
  3. The weather wasn't forecast to be great today, but when we woke up in Malaga this morning it still felt pretty warm. We were checking out of our apartment today and heading off on the next stage of our trip, but before we did so we planned to visit the Cafeteria Esperanto, in the hope that it would be open and we'd be able to get some breakfast. Luckily it was and we were able to able to enjoy coffee and churros while sitting outside - all for the bargain price of €3.50 Once we'd finished breakfast we headed back to the apartment, where we packed up our things and set off in our mint-green hire car towards the small town of Ronda. Ronda is located inland, about 65 miles from Malaga, and from the pictures I'd seen online it looked like a really beautiful place. The first part of our journey was quite speedy, leaving Malaga by what seemed like a motorway, but as we got closer towards Ronda we began travelling on winding roads through the Sierra de las Nieves natural park. The further we travelled the worse the weather became and when we eventually arrived in Ronda around midday it was decidedly damp! We parked the car and began walking towards the centre of town, through some pretty gardens. These led us to a viewpoint from where we got our first glimpse of the town. Ronda is situated at the top of the El Tajo gorge. The gorge actually divides the town in half and is spanned by a couple of bridges, which we were hoping to see later in the day. It looks like quite a precarious location for a town! Even though today was a bit misty, we had some great views of the surrounding countryside. I particularly liked this window in the rock. Walking further towards the town, we came to Ronda's bull ring. Next to here was another viewpoint with a bandstand. From here we could see a bit more of the town It turned out that we weren't far away from the centre now and we soon got our first glimpse of Puente Nuevo. Construction of this bridge across the gorge started in 1759 and took 34 years to complete. The town's main road now runs across the bridge. We crossed it to see the view in the opposite direction. I would not want to live in a house with a drop like this outside my window!! From a viewing platform on this side of the road we could see Puente Viejo, the old bridge. This one was built in 1616 and today is only accessible for pedestrians. We were hungry by this point so found a small restaurant with a very affordable "menu of the day". For €12.50 each, we had a starter of spaghetti bolognese (which was large enough to be a main meal in its own right!), a main course (Tim had a Spanish stew, I went with chicken schnitzel) and a pudding of chocolate mousse, with a free drink and bread thrown in too. It seemed like very good value After lunch we had another walk around Ronda, crossing over the new bridge again... ...and admiring some of the town's churches. We were trying to find our way down to the old bridge, but the first path we tried was closed off. We eventually found an alternative route, climbing down some of the steep little streets in the old town. It had stopped raining by this point but the rain had made the pavements quite wet and slippery so the walk was a bit of a challenge at times! Eventually we made it down to the old bridge The gorge is narrower here, so it's not as wide as the newer bridge. We had some great views from here back up towards the town and could even see the river Guadalevín down at the bottom of the gorge. We also found a really pretty walkway to take us back up to the main town; a series of steps interspersed with viewing platforms, which was much easier to climb back up than the narrow streets would have been. Apparently the gorge is 120 metres deep here. It was certainly enough to give me vertigo if I looked down at it for too long. I can't imagine what it's like living in these houses! Soon we were back up to the level of the main town. We strolled back to the car the way we had come, enjoying the views back towards Ronda. The weather had cleared up a bit now so we had some clearer views of the surrounding countryside too. It seems like a really pretty part of Spain. I had no idea the countryside around Malaga was so mountainous until I started researching this trip. We are staying in a hotel in a town called El Chorro tonight, which was about an hour's drive away from Ronda. The views continued to be beautiful as we made our way through the mountains. There's a limit to how fast our tiny little car will go uphill, though We made it to El Chorro without any difficulty and checked in to the hotel. The room is a little bit unusual - we've got a nice living area... ...and an equally nice bedroom... ...but the two are linked by this very steep and narrow spiral staircase! Not one to attempt after a couple of glasses of wine, I think We've got some great views of the mountains from our windows though
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