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Spain 2024 – Part 2 – Antequera – Seville – Granada

The journey to Malaga starts with a five-hour drive from Torrevieja. We leave from the starting point in two cars, but each car chooses its own route. I drive on the highway, where the kilometers roll by unnoticed. I’m with Nicolas and Andy. On the way, we enter Guadix. We see houses built into the rocks, rather small mounds. A real hobbit town. The town is surrounded by mountains, the furthest ones are covered with snow caps. We don’t stay in town much, we eat the snacks we brought with us and move on.

– On the way we stop in the middle of nowhere
– Here’s a close-up of the house, this one had a small shop for tourists
– Snow hats in the distance
– Guadix from a bird’s eye view

Two more hours and we will reach our new accommodation near Malaga. Villa in the mountains. We arrive at the villa first, choose the rooms where we will sleep. At 30-minute intervals the others arrive. Andrey crew arrives first, together with John (Jānis) and Marina. Andrey arrived in Malaga a few days before, while John and Marina joined the day before. Dana, Alexander and Kathy arrive soon after.

– Down the hill and our villa is here
– The view from the villa is magnificent
– The last rays of the sun color the cliff opposite the villa

Check out the villa’s rooms. Meanwhile, it’s getting dark outside, which means it’s time for dinner. Plans for the next day are still vague, but they will be made after dinner and Kathy photo report of the day. We have a TV here in the villa to watch the pictures together. I should mention that the villa is very spacious. With a pool and a view of the mountains.

Dinner at the big table. Everyone hungry and thirsty. Slowly we disperse to our rooms and go to bed. Unusually for Riga, the room is dark, completely dark.

The first morning in the villa is here. A bustle in the kitchen. Pancakes are cooking. The sun is high. We eat outside by the pool. A plan is in the making to go to the local walking trail (El Torcal de Antequera), which is literally behind the hill we can see from the house. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the trail as the road is around the hill on a narrow and winding road.

– The car looks like it’s just parked on the side of the road, but in reality, without help and a few stones under the wheels, there was no room.

The trail is under three kilometers, but with many obstacles and rocks. There is no space to park at the end, so we have to look on the side of the road where we can park so that all four tires are out of the way, because buses come along this narrow road. We find space for three cars and are ready to go.

We start the trail in the opposite direction as it goes round to the roundabout, but we start it from the other side. We slowly move forward and take pictures of the surroundings. In the middle of the trail we decide to change the route. The four of us deviate from the trail and go straight to the villa, through the mountains. It wasn’t difficult, but about two hours on a steep and rocky sort of trail, but more off-road. We are home by mid-afternoon. The others stay on the trail proper and go to the shop after the trail. As the sun disappears behind the hill, the villa is surrounded by shade. Everyone arrives home. Dinner time is approaching.

– Rocks, stones and beautiful views
– Travelers take their first steps into the myriad twists and turns
– The village at the bottom of the hill, which we have to pass through on our way to the villa
– We are close to the other side of the hill, but the visible meadows are not as close as one might think
– Bird’s eye view of the trail
– Night shot of the villa

The day before today, as the sun hid behind the mountains and darkness fell, we roughly decided on today’s plans. Morning starts early compared to other days. Kathy has gone on a photo hunt. Morning rituals, breakfast and a rough plan for the night are confirmed. We head towards a small village to see the local castle (Iznájar) and the surrounding area. The day is hot.

The village of white buildings is in a beautiful location. We enjoy the views and the buildings. Ice cream suits the hot weather. We put this idea into practice in a local café. Not everything works in the village because it is siesta time. After cooling down we discuss what to do next. Without thinking much, we go to the bat cave. It is next to the village of Zuheros. From the top of the hill you can see numerous plantations with symmetrically arranged trees.

– Not only the castle (Castillo de Iznájar), but the surrounding area is magnificent
– Blue pots can be seen in some places at the foot of the castle
– The village and the castle are by the water, in the distance there is a road leading to the next village
– When we arrive at the car park, we see that it is also used by tractors

There are only two hours a day to visit the caves, but we knew that in advance, so we arrived around the time of the visit. Tickets, a tour of the area, photos and we were waiting at the entrance to the cave to conquer the cave with a guide. 700 steps, half down, half up. A human skeleton, said to be about 7000 years old, has been found in the cave. The cave used to be home to around 20,000 bats, but now there are only around 200. There are two groups, one Spanish-speaking and the other us, accompanied by a guide. Several stops in the cave and stories from the guide until we are out. The exit is at a different point, but actually next to the entrance. Even the Romans used the cave to store food. The last activity of the cave is that the guide leaves us on a small platform, climbs up himself and turns off the light. We experience real darkness, so that we can see nothing.

No less fascinating are the surroundings and the views of nature that you can see from the top of the mountain. The aforementioned Zuheros, the tree plantations and the mountains. We stop on the way down to take some photos. We head home. On the way, shop, home, dinner, photo report and sleep for the next day’s outing. It promises to be the longest ride yet. Apart from the crossing from Torrevieja. Light fades, darkness and sleep comes.

– Zuheros
– The cave has a constant temperature of around 10 degrees throughout the year
– Last rays of sun on the way to the villa

Saturday starts early and with surprises. In the morning, I sprained my back. It hurts, but only if I bend. In the car, not much disturbance at the wheel.

Like ants, everyone eats or doesn’t eat breakfast. And we’re ready to go. Alexander and Nikolas stay at home. We drive two cars.

Something like fog covers the sky. It takes about two hours. We arrive in Seville around lunchtime. The next task is to find parking, which is not easy this time, because the Spanish football league final is taking place in the city today and the streets are full of people. We spend more than an hour looking for parking. We drive through huge crowds of people. A little further away from the desired sights, but parking is found.

– Here are some of the streets where you had to slowly roll through in a car

Let’s explore the city. It’s a big city and a few hours won’t be enough time to see everything, but we’re heading towards Spanish Square. Along the way, parks, architecture and football fans on every corner. Tickets for the palace are available, the visit starts at 18:30. A few bends and we’re in the Spanish Square. Grand size. People look like the aforementioned morning ants. On each side someone is taking photos and immortalizing the surroundings and themselves. It will be difficult to fit all this beauty into one photo, because you have to turn your head to get the scale.

– The first ice creams
– These carriages run everywhere in the city
– Spanish Square
– Horse-drawn carriages also in the park
– If you don’t like horse-drawn carriages, you can take a little ride with boats

When we arrived in Seville, our cars split up, but we all met again in Spanish Square. We walked around the park some more and looked for a place for lunch. Drinks, food and further plans lead to the palace (Royal Alcázar of Seville). It takes at least two leisurely hours to see it, and we walk through it in just over an hour. The entrance ticket is relatively expensive compared to the tickets we bought on other days. Here it costs 14.5 euros (adult ticket, there are discounts for children and students).

– Peacocks living in the castle Park
– The castle has its own hedge maze
– Gorgeous views around every corner
– On the way to the cars, we stop for a bachata dance

It starts to get dark, around 20:00. We go to our cars to go home. On the way, we fill up with petrol, have another go at the site, which we cancel when we realize that there are no free parking spaces nearby. The two-hour drive home can begin. We drive in the dark, so the journey is slightly longer than it was in the morning. The highway, the small mountain roads and the gate of our villa. We have arrived. Dinner has already been cooked by Nikolas. He is our regular Italian chef. Thank you very much for your willingness to cook. Let’s eat. One last activity of the evening, namely the photo review, I didn’t wait for the end and fell asleep on the sofa. The picture show ends and everyone scatters to their rooms to get some sleep. Everyone is tired.

It’s the calmest day of the week. Sunday. Not everyone gets up for breakfast. A very leisurely morning. At the breakfast table we make a plan for the day. Ready to go. We go to the wolf park, which is on the way to Álora, the small village of the day’s plan. The wolf park is only accessible by guided walk, every 90 minutes, so you don’t get to see it. A few photos and we move on to the planned village. The village is at the top of a hill, with a view of the mountainous surroundings, but today it’s still hazy, so you can’t see far. The surroundings are quiet. On Sundays almost everything is closed. Before heading home to laze by the pool for the rest of the day, we pop into Antequera to pick up some food and cakes for the next day’s birthday girl, Marina. The villa, the pool and the peaceful Sunday continue. Sunday ends as leisurely as it began.

– Poppies at the wolf park
– The Wolf Park statue
– We don’t see big wolves, but the youngest ones have been seen
– The tower you can see is Alora Castle, the view from below is more spectacular. The journey up is through very narrow and steep streets
– Shot from the top of the castle
– Ice cream break in Alora
– Alora Castle from above

The week starts with a further outing. Dana and Alexandra leave earliest, as Dana is going skiing in Granada. The others get up later. Small breakfast. We drive to Granada to see the city. We want to see Granada’s most popular tourist attraction, the Alhambra, but we can only do this partly because the most interesting places are pay-entry and tickets have to be bought very early. Cheap tickets are available at least a month in advance, or even two months. John and I have already been to the Alhambra, so the other sights will just add to the Granada experience. Opposite the Alhambra is a popular spot from which you can see it from a distance.

– Before we leave for Granada, we eat a celebration cake because today is Marina’s birthday

On arrival in Granada, we have lunch. The dish I chose had a peculiar taste, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. I had similar feedback from the rest of the group. Next, we walk a bit around the town and the shops. Souvenirs and other stuff. Time passes very quickly. In Granada we meet Marina’s sister who has been living here for more than 10 years. We all walk a little more together. Unbelievably, it is evening and we have another meal in Granada. It’s getting cooler and darker, time to go back to the villa. Outside, the wind is blowing, which will be heard all night. One more day and some of the travelers will return to Latvia, including me.

– Snow and ski slopes at Granda
– Alhambra
– It’s getting dark fast, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty around you

It’s the last day. We spend the first part of the day leisurely walking around the villa. One car went on a reconnaissance trip of Ronda. In the afternoon we will all go to the Caminito del Rey (Little King’s Road), where we will meet up.

Those coming from the villa will arrive at the trail at a leisurely pace and punctually on time. The walk is timed as it is guided. The first time I walked this trail two years ago, I walked it without a guide, then there was no pace or set time. Our English-speaking guide is delayed at the trailhead, but this is to our advantage as the Ronde riders are delayed and trot along at a brisk pace to the trailhead. Everything according to plan. The guide is here. All group members present. We are all given helmets and a short safety briefing on the trail.

– You can still enjoy the views of the surrounding area before starting the trail
– The last tunnel and trailhead will be here

The trail is worth walking with or without a guide. Twice, in fact. Because with a guide you will have a faster pace and won’t be able to enjoy all the desired viewpoints at your own pace, but without a guide you will miss interesting facts about the trail itself and its history.

The weather is treating us. There was a strong breeze the night before and it was still there in the morning, but around the time of the trail the wind calmed down. We can enjoy the views.

If you want to hurry, it is better to leave the car at the destination and take the bus to the trailhead, but take your time, as most people do, and leave the car at one of the three parking places, walk out and take the bus down. I would recommend the leisurely option, as well as seeing the additional trail from the trailhead café to the official trailhead the first time. You can of course skip it as it is not the main part of the trail and the trail itself is very easy to follow, but the extra section has more ups and downs.

– The trail features many historic trail sections and structures
– Fun and historical facts from our guide

– It might seem like a house in the middle of nowhere, but this stretch of road was originally used by a lot of locals because it was the shortest path. The house was home to a family of 11 children. They raised goats, had their own business and all those who used the path were customers.
– Some more facts and charming views
– There are railway tracks along the trail, as you can see, one train was running just as we were walking
– The last bends and the trail will be over
– The last bridge connecting the path between the cliffs
– The new trail with the fence, the historic trail below it, which was the most dangerous trail in Europe
– A look back at the trail
– View from the last bridge

After finishing the guided tour along the trail, we continue to the bus stop, which is at least one kilometer further, as at the beginning, from the car to the starting point, if the easier part is chosen. John and I hurry on ahead, as I have to drop off the rental car in Malaga tonight, which is an hour’s drive away. The rest of the group catches up with us as we board the bus, we didn’t go anywhere further. We all drive together to the trailhead, to the cars. One car home. Two to Malaga.

– Another bridge for the railway, because it doesn’t do zigzags, only straights

The ride is smooth, but this time the navigation works with surprises. It gives incorrect directions, but we make it to the point. Two minutes and the car is back, because I had the rental company’s insurance and there is nothing extra to do or wait for.

We wait some more and the second car is there. Me, John, Alexander and Dana. We are on our way to our last night in the villa. The first crew that went to the villa has cooked dinner. Last meal together. Conversations. Photo recap. Stacking of belongings. Time for a little nap. About two hours of sleep.

– Last steps into warmth as Sweden will only be 10 degrees

Outside, the sky is starry. Me, John, Andy and Alexander as the driver, driving to the airport. Andy stays at the airport because he will be flying later. Goodbye. John and I are ready to fly to Latvia via Sweden. The few hours of sleep are doing their work. It takes four hours to fly to Sweden, the first three in sleep mode. The airport in Sweden is not big, but the signs are a bit chaotic, as the screens do not yet show the gate, only the terminal, which is not on the signs. Everything is found. A half-empty and big plane flies us to Riga. Home.

Read more: 1. part

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