Exploring Andalucia with the Olds

6 to 14 November 2016

Anyone who knows my parents knows that they love to travel. (Wanderlust is very definitely hereditary.) So this year has been a very frustrating one as they have been constrained from traveling far from home by the trials of Mum’s surgery, hospital appointments and treatment. By November, however, the worst was over and they were able to make an escape to join us for an Andalucian adventure.

Before we left Gibraltar I was able to give them a tour of the Upper Rock where, at the top of the cable car, we had some close encounters with the monkeys

and were awestruck by the beauty of St Michaels Caves.

After seriously testing Mum’s stamina on the long climb down we had a well earned and very British cream tea.

Crossing the border into Spain, with a stop on the way in Estepona for a wonderful lunch with Jackie, we headed inland and up to our home for the week near Antequera.

Walnut Farm lived up to its name and we were greeted with a large bowl of delicious home grown walnuts.

Antequera was a beautiful old town whose streets we explored – after Dad and Stefan had consulted their respective navigational devices!

Views from the town are dominated by Lovers’ Rock, a rock which looks just like the face of a giant who has laid down in the landscape and named after the Romeo and Juliet of the area, a Moorish princess and Christian soldier who, forbidden from being together, leapt to their deaths from the top. The lovers are celebrated in a beautiful statue in the town.

We explored the Moorish Alcazaba with its views across the town, the surrounding hills and Lovers’ Rock.

One day we drove up and up and up to 1336m and the limestone landscape of El Torcal. We took the easy route but it was a rocky clamber amongst the dramatic pillars.

We had some close encounters with the native ibex, watching them nimbly climb sheer faces to narrow perches.

It was a little cold up the hills. One day we had to scrape ice off the car. So we headed down to sea level again for a warmer day out in Malaga where we wandered around the sea front and picnicked on the beach before searching for art at the Pompidou Centre and the Picasso Museum.

Leaving a palaced-out Stefan at the farm, Mum, Dad and I drove up to Granada. Before hitting the Alhambra we had a walk around the old city with views back to the vast palace complex.

Inside the Alhambra the summer palace delivered a water feature beautifully reflecting the arches.

From its high perch we were able to look down at all the palaces and towers below.

We wandered through streets and into ancient nooks including the Arab bath house.

Inside the Nasrid Palace we found more intricate plasterwork and ceilings and the Courtyard of the Lions.

Up at the top of the oldest tower of the original citadel Dad got his view of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada.

We did some exploring closer to the farm with a walk locally through the olive groves. We bought a big bottle of the local oil at a roadside stall.

On our walk we were adopted by a local dog who accompanied us all the way. Dad and Stefan had to walk him back home and lift him over the fence so he could not follow them back again!

With Mum and Dad taking a day trip to Ronda on the train, Stefan and I headed into the hills climbing up for views over the pine forests. In the middle of nowhere we managed to receive a Skype call from Richard back at home and so Stefan sat down on the nearest rock and had a good catch up!

We found a 9th century church hewn into the rock – burial place of a Christian convert turned local Robin Hood.

On our way back down we caught sight of the extremely vertiginous Camino del Rey which clings to the sheer walls of the El Gurro gorge. We stopped for a lucky dip tapas lunch in Valle de Abdalajis in the shadow of another enormous limestone crag.

On our last day in Antequera we visited the Dolmens, two prehistoric burial chambers built with inconceivable slabs of rock engineered into place in 2500 BC.

We left Mum and Dad to continue their travels on to Cordoba and Seville and returned home to Pintail, stopping on the way at the olive oil museum to see how our oil might have been made. It seems that techniques have not changed a great deal since Roman times.

Thank you Mum and Dad for a brilliant week, getting us away from the sea for a while and into the heart of Andalucia.

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