Going to Spain at the end of March is a wonderful idea – it’s nice and warm there, not hot, just pleasantly warm – and there aren’t too many other tourists. We left our house at 5 am in slushy snow on the 25th of March and flew into Málaga, stood in line for forever to pick up our rental car and drove it to the little house we had reserved in the village of El Borge, about 45 minutes from the airport.
On the way, we stopped at a discount supermarket for juice and a snack. Too tired to do any actual shopping, we did note the price of red wine:
After stopping to get money out in the neighbouring village (El Borge doesn’t have an ATM), we got to our little home for the next week – it was €150 for the week, much less than a hotel, plus it had a kitchen. The entrance is the little porch on the left (because we were so tired by then, these pictures were actually taken as we were leaving).
Our bedroom with a crib for Sprocket.
With really high ceilings – the building is very thick plastered brick with a wood ceiling and supports. It was very cool inside even when it was very hot outside.
The other room which didn’t really get used except to change Sprocket and to store stuff.
The living room. Spanish TV is even worse than Dutch TV.
The inner courtyard – behind the wooden fence is a well, which we were assured still works and is OK, but which we didn’t use since there was running water and all.
Because it’s a hill town, houses are built at all sorts of levels. These neighbours’ entrance was on the street above but they looked into our courtyard – the door goes back into our kitchen – note the hanging plastic strips which keep the flies out.
More neighbours above. This door goes into our bathroom.
Our bathroom, complete with washing machine.
After a wee siesta and dinner garnered from the local supermarket, which took some creative skills since the supermarket really didn’t carry very much, we went for a walk to check out the little town and to put Sprocket to sleep. Here’s Dutch Boy.
And me with sleeping Sprocket.
Wednesday, March 26
This was our beach day. We drove down to Torre del Mar and set up on a fairly deserted beach. It was Sprocket’s first experience with weather warm enough to wear minimal clothing and he seemed quite happy about it. It was pretty windy so a bit of a challenge to keep him covered.
Sprocket and Dutch Boy having a chat.
The beach. We’d actually almost parked, but then decided to see if there was a better place, driving to that point before deciding there wasn’t and coming back to pretty much the same place as we’d almost parked the first time.
Our little family.
Me and Sprocket watching the water. We did take him down to it, but he wasn’t too impressed. It’s pretty cold water.
Showing how impressed he is.
Back home after dinner. Dutch Boy tried Spanish beer, which isn’t that good. I went for the red wine, a better choice.
Thursday, March 27
We took Sprocket off to his 4th country, a new one for both of us too: Gibraltar. After wandering through the central shopping street (looks just like Old Blighty, except warmer), eating in a British pub (we asked the waitress what brought her there and she said the weather and good weed) and buying stuff at the Marks and Spencer (yay for jeans that fit!), we drove up the rock. The views were phenomenal.
And there were monkeys! Barbary apes to be exact. Despite the signs everywhere promising penalties for those who feed them, this cheeky bugger evidently expected something. He climbed on the hood of each approaching car and looked hopeful. He climbed off ours when the next car came.
Our car (a Hyundai Getz, a powerless little thing), Dutch Boy and an ape. Sprocket’s sleeping in the car, so no baby and ape pictures.
But I thought this little guy sort of looked like him.
A good dining view.
Getting down from here was quite a nerve-wracking drive through extremely narrow twisting one way streets with no direction signs and no map, but we eventually got out of the centre. After getting gas (much cheaper in Gibraltar), we crossed back into Spain and I fed Sprocket under the Rock.
Friday, March 28
After the long drive to Gibraltar, Friday was for staying in El Borge and doing nothing except wandering around. The street in the middle of the picture is ours – you can see the porch.
Looking out of the village to the neighbouring one.
The church near the top.
And, somewhat randomly, there’s a bird park in El Borge with a selection of fairly normal and some exotic birds. There’s this guy:
And then ostriches of all things.
Including a white one.
Dutch Boy and Sprocket checking it all out.
Me and Sprocket on the bridge.
Closer up – Sprocket contemplating escape.
More El Borge.
Dutch Boy taking a work call while Sprocket sleeps.
Saturday, March 29
This day was for roads that made us wish we were on our bikes, not a powerless little car. We took this particular road, quite a long way of getting from El Borge to Málaga, because it was marked in green for scenicness.
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And because we’re map geeks and we were curious about this:
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It certainly was scenic. Absolutely breath taking actually.
And absolutely perfect if we’d been on bikes – newly paved, twisty and almost no traffic.
Quite a nice place for a Sprocket meal.
The view from El Mirador, overlooking Málaga, just after those twisty bits, which turned out to involve tunnels under the road we’d just been on. Unfortunately no good shots of that possible and no room to stop anyway. We had lunch in that restaurant.
More of that beautiful road.
Sprocket in the restaurant, wearing his “Mysterioso predicts that I will be a flamenco dancer” in honour of being in Spain.
But our destination of the day was Ronda, and to get there we took another scenic road:
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This one was obviously the local equivalent of the Sea to Sky in Vancouver, complete with view-watching tourists and packs of motorcyclists enjoying the curves. This sign makes that clear.
Some of the scenicness.
We got to Ronda in the early evening and, after finding parking (now bikes really would have been good), managed to make it to the famous bridge just before sunset. The view from the bridge.
The bridge itself, spanning a very deep ravine.
Fancy hotels on the edge of the ravine.
The bridge again.
The view on the other side.
Farmland at twilight.
A scenic overlook as the sun goes down.
Ronda, just after sunset.
After dark we wandered around some more, before having dinner at the ridiculously early hour of 9:30 before the long drive back to El Borge. Despite Spain having a reputation for good food, we still hadn’t managed to have any luck with restaurants, the best review for them all so far being “meh”.
Sunday, March 30
Everything being closed on Sunday, we spent the day doing nothing in El Borge again, which is actually quite a lovely way to spend it. Dutch Boy pushing the stroller up the steep road.
The bird park again.
Another lovely little street.
Monday, March 31
Our last full day in Spain, we decided to go to Granada and visit Alhambra. One of the drawbacks of El Borge was that we couldn’t find internet and so we couldn’t get tickets ahead of time since we couldn’t connect to the ticket numbers we had on the phone either. But we headed off anyway, over another scenic mountain road.
That headed up through that pass in the rocks.
On the other side it was lusher and we could see the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas.
Lots of agriculture.
When we got to the Alhambra, there were still tickets for the last Palace tour available, but someone in the family (ie, not me) bought tickets from the wrong machine and by the time we noticed the Palace tickets were sold out so we only got to see the gardens. There was still a lot of scenic goodness, and this means were just going to have to go back, since the ticketed parts are the best. But this is what we got to see. An inner amphitheatre – never did figure out its history.
A former bathhouse.
The outside of that amphitheatre.
Granada from the Alcazaba (the fort bit in the front).
The inner complex of the Alcazaba. See Dutch Boy giving Sprocket a diaper change for scale.
Granada from the top of the Alcazaba.
The Sierra Nevadas.
With the inner courtyard.
We almost didn’t go to the Generalife, but it turned out to be the prettiest bit we could get into. The gardens were lovely.
As were the carved walls.
And the views.
And more beauty.
We got through there just before closing and dark and then drove into Granada, where, after a misadventure in a Mexican restaurant – the first time I’ve ever walked out of a restaurant for insulting service and bad food actually – we actually managed to have some yummy tapas and other food in the centre before another long, late drive back to El Borge.
Monday, April 1
Unfortunately, no joke, it was our last day. Here’s Dutch Boy by the car, packed to the gills, mostly with Sprocket’s stuff (we had one bag – he had one plus his stroller and car seat) as we leave El Borge.
It was a late flight back, so we spent some time in Málaga. Unfortunately it was during siesta, so we couldn’t buy souvenirs/gifts as we’d wanted. We did manage to have decent food again. Figures our luck would change as we were leaving. But it was a lovely, lovely trip and we definitely want to go back to Spain again and again.