Talk about neglect! It has been over 5 months and i have not posted on my blog site. My apologies to my readers ( if there are any!). Not to say that I have not been busy, on the contrary, the new years resolution was to travel every month and that has been achieved so far. It is hard not to achieve that one when you work in the travel industry.
Every year I take a trip with my creator. We went back and forth deciding where to go. Pacific coastal drive was on our agenda till Trump messed up our plans by simply “being”. Right now I am sitting in my favourite place in the world, my living room, looking out at the pouring rain, drinking a cup of original and pure Kangra tea and gearing up to put my thoughts in words.
This trip was simply AMAZING and wouldn’t have been as easy as it ended up being if it were not for my loving in-laws. They were kind enough to set us up and lend us their lovely home in Nerja. Now, nothing was planned… I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, the rest depended on how well my mum would take to cities. Turns out, I realized very soon, that tourists infested towns/cities and clicking pic of the same old touristic joints wasn’t something that mum was interested in. It made it way simpler for me to hence plan out our itinerary and see the beautiful villages of Andalusia and share them with someone I dearly love.
First stop : Nerja and Frigliana
Nerja, pronounced – Ner-kha NOT Ner-ha but ‘kha’ ( k and h are pronounced together, if that makes sense.) 68 kms east of Malaga lies this amazing little resort town of Nerja. This was our starting point for all the subsequent trips we took. There are plenty of places and areas of interest in Nerja itself, that I’ll leave for you to explore. The Balcon De Europa is a must if you are visiting Nerja. The views are incredible and it gives you a great sense of where you are and what King Franco experienced. We decided to go pay the – cueva de nerja ( caves of Nerja) a quick visit. Cueva de Nerja, a nearby cavern with unusual stalactites and stalagmites, hosts popular summertime concerts. It’s also known for its paleolithic paintings, viewable by guided tour. The entry fee was €10 per head. Since the tourist season is yet to start, there was no problem as far as gaining access to the caves was concerned. No flocking of eager tourists, no rush in any way.
The afternoon was spent exploring the beautiful little village of Frigliana or ” the white village” which is at a distance of less than 20 km from Nerja. The quarter is made up of steep cobbled alleyways winding past white houses resplendent with flowers.
Capileira is the highest of the 3 villages in the Poqueira Valley with the back drop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Only at a distance of 80 km from Nerja, a must visit for those who are in love with nature and hiking. Known as the Santorini of Spain, this place is the perfect spot to visit if you wish to be taken aback by the dramatic setting and fascinated by the beautiful labyrinth of narrow whitewashed streets, splashed with colour by geraniums, and wide open to spectacular views down the gorge and up to the snowy peaks of Sierra Nevada.
Alora and Ronda
111 km west of Nerja lies the quaint little hilly town of Alora. Easily accessible by hourly train service from the city center in Malaga ( only 40 kms west of it), this makes for a good day trip for all my Flight Attendant friends who wish to explore a new place, and get their dose of daily exercise in. The climb into the village is pretty steep and the walk up to the Alora castle is beautiful. From the castle you’ll be able to admire the beauty of village with the mountains in the back drop.
The cliff hanging footpath Camino de Rey is located at El Chorro in the municipal district of Alora. Continue another 75 km and you will reach the birthplace of modern bullfighting and the oldest town in Spain- Ronda. The most conspicuous feature of Ronda is its location on a big sandstone hill that is cut in two by the El Tajo gorge, in which the Guadalevin rivers runs some 120 m below. The views of the gorge and the surrounding countryside are breathtaking, and worth the visit in itself. Hiking down into the gorge is very much possible, make sure to have the right gear and right camera equipment.
Iznajar and Almodovar del Rio
140 km North of Nerja likes the lakeside gem of Iznajar. Meandering streets of this flowery village will lead you to its 8th century castle next to its 16th century church. On your walk up to the castle you can stop by the Patio de las Comedias and enjoy a cup of cafe frappe while over looking the picturesque landscapes below. What was really enthralling was the orange trees lining the streets in all these little villages that we visited. Not only did they add colour and character to the beauty of these villages, but also provided a weary traveler some much-needed Vit C along the way.
Further north of Iznajar, some 125 km away, past the historic and the touristy town of Cordoba lies this round castle of Muslim origin in the town of Almodovar del Rio. Built by the Arabs in the 8th century, this castle underwent a lot of wear and tear and finally was restored to its current condition ( while maintaining its original integrity and look) under the architectural direction of Adolfo Fernandes Casanova. The only reason I remember his name is due to the mention of Adolf(o) and Casanova together, bridged by good ol’ Fernandes. The entry fee to the Castillo is €8, giving you access to the priceless view of the town below.
Baeza and Udeba ( 10 km distance between the two towns)
227 km to the north of Nerja, in the Jaen province of Spain lies the “Olive oil capital” town of Baeza (UNESCO). We happened to be there on the day of the celebration of Semana Santa. The Holy Week of Baeza was declared Fiesta of Tourist Interest in 1980 and of National Tourist Interest of Andalusia in 1997. We were lucky to arrive right on time to witness this first hand, and to capture the inspiration behind the garb made popular by the KKK ( for all the wrong reasons!). The Cathedral of Baeza is also an essential attraction as is the Town Hall, which was declared a national monument. Both these towns reflect Renaissance style that visitors could believe they are somewhere in Italy.
Out of the 8 provinces of Andalusia, we were able to explore and drive around 4, covering the provinces of Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Jaen and I have to attest that not only were we smitten by the varied landscapes of these regions we drove through, but the most that stood out was the hospitality of its people and their friendly approach and openness, making it one of my favourite places to visit over and over again. This love affair isn’t over, it just started 🙂