Friday, 13 December 2013

Another Sojurn in Andalucia. Part One. Nerja and Beyond.

I am a little shocked to see how long it is since my last post. But when you are enjoying Spain, and more importantly Andalucia, some things take second place to normal activities. 
Again basing ourselves in Nerja (Malaga) we settled in at the Marinas de Nerja Aparthotel on another all-inclusive deal with Saga, the over 50's holiday company. From our balcony,  with its wonderful picture postcard view framed by palm trees waving in the breeze, we had the benefit of the late afternoon sun and the most amazing sunsets.

Exploring Nerja once again was like coming home as we re-visited old haunts. This time we also went right into the centre of town to the wonderful Plaza Cantarero which is shaded by orange trees laden down with ripening oranges. The huge tree in the centre, sheltering the seats beneath its boughs, provided a welcome rest. The little Urban blue bus had once again brought us the short distance into town from where we strolled down the shady main street. From the tranquil plaza, as we rested in the early morning sunshine, we were soothed by a tinkling fountain which poured its water into a huge bowl. One of the main shopping streets, the Calle Pintada runs off this plaza right down to the Balcon de Europa. Strolling downhill from this direction we came across many shops which we hadn't seen when exploring from the other end. The good thing is that the shops are individual and not part of a chain - apart from the two supermarkets that is.

The houses which huddle together down the narrow streets have wonderful carved doors and wrought iron grilles over the windows. My husband explained that on of the guides had once said that the grilles were so that a young man could court his lady love - who was inside - without touching her and thus keep to tradition and convention.
From Calle Pintada many narrow streets cut across to Calle Arminta Fernandiz (which also leads up to the centre of town near the plaza); it was impossible not to take a peek and see what was around the inviting corners. Where they meet on their way to the Balcon de Europa there is a wonderful cafe tucked away in a corner. Venture through the door, make your way past the bar and enter the seating area where you can enjoy a wonderful sheltered view through the railings down to the beach (playa) as you sip a cold drink. Further on, a small archway leads to steps which wend their way down to the Playa Calahonda  far below. More about Nerja here.
Our included trips once again took us to the Lecrin Valley and Almunecar in glorious sunshine. 
Malaga and Granada were the other two included trips. Having been to both before we again looked forward to re-visiting.

Malaga.

It was a cold day in Malaga. Previously we had gone to see the Christmas Lights in the evening. Today, Malaga presented a different face. Firstly, we were taken down to the harbour to the ferry posts. The harbour was deepened some years ago to allow cruise ships to come in. Around the harbour were many cafes and shops - many were closed for the winter or simply not open so early in the morning (11 o'clock) but we found a nice kiosk near the steps and lift which served us with a warming drink. Many steps lead down to the harbour-side. There is a glass lift but we were
warned that it could be temperamental and that we used it at our peril. We took a chance as the many steps were hard for us both, and descended safely!
Back on the coach, we soon reached our dropping off point at the Cathedral. Malaga was in the last stages of preparing for the Christmas Lights switch-on before the bank holiday weekend in early December for Constitution Day and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. ( We saw these in 2008)
Our guide had helpfully given us all a map so that we could plot our own routes. By now it was nearing 'our' lunchtime. Unfortunately, the first cafe we went to were still serving breakfast and the kitchen didn't open until one o'clock - quarter to two. We rounded a corner and found a small cafe which served us  lovely pizza. So all was well.
Wrapped up in warm winter coats - you have to plan for all weathers even though there is a lot of sunshine in winter - we sauntered along the pedestrianised streets looking into shops as we went before finding a small park near the Cathedral to rest out of the wind as we waited for the coach pick-up time.
My husband was really pleased to see all the scooters parked up along the  surrounding streets. With all shapes and sizes, makes and models, he said it was better that the Bike Show in the UK!

Granada

This was our third visit to Granada. Again it was good to visit somewhere familiar. This time our guide and driver had a treat in store. Providing us with a map each our guide explained where we were to go and where all the major landmarks were. The coach wended its way along the main streets on a panoramic tour of the city. Not having seen this side of Granada before, we really appreciated this as we craned our necks to look at the fabulous building which reared into the sky. The different architecture was wonderful, as were the huge variety of wrought iron balconies and grilles which covered the windows. We were dropped off by the main park which was a short distance from the shopping centre and that wonderful store El Corte Ingles. As we had explored the city before on both previous occasions, including the market which spans many very old and narrow streets,
we rather boringly - to some - decided to stay put in this wonderful store and explore all there was on offer. Besides, I was on the lookout for a pair of soft Spanish leather gloves with a fur cuff, and a leather belt if possible. I also wanted a lace mat for my dining table at home. I found the gloves but not a belt of lace mat. 
In fact nowhere could I find a lace mat anywhere which is not really surprising as leather is the main industry.

I actually started this post whilst in Spain but didn't finish as other delights intervened. Not least a return to Ronda and an unexpected visit to Cordoba, both of which I will tell you about in Part Two of Another Sojurn in Andalucia.

(You can read more on Andalucia in ORANGES: A Journey.)

Rosalie xx