November 2, 2012 – Nerja, Spain

Since I have not planned this trip in minute detail (unlike I usually do) we have some flexibility. Of course, we know where we will end up for the night but we look on the internet the night before departure and pick out some things that might look interesting. It makes me wonder how we used to travel with no internet and no GPS. I guess we were lugging a ton of books and maps along.

John selects the town of Nerja as a stopping point. It has the Balcony of Europe and some caves. The Balcony of Europe is popularly believed to have been coined by King Alfonso XII, who visited the area in 1885 following a disastrous earthquake and was captivated by the scene. We walk around the plaza and look at the view. It is quite spectacular.

View from the Balcony of Europe

John and Alfonso XII

We pose ourselves in various ways for pictures but a view is just a view and pretty soon we head back to the car.

John looking out to sea. What does he see?

A four-masted ship in the distance

Mary sitting on a bench in the plaza

Our next stop is the Caves of Nerja. The caves, found by some boys in 1959, consist of several galleries. The areas that have evidence of prehistoric man are closed to the public. The ones that we see are full stalactites and stalagmites. There are a lot of stairs and some treacherous footing. At home all tourist sites are so well-maintained and safe for visitors. In Europe you are more responsible for your own safety. There is no flash photography so all my pictures are pretty dark.

John with Clark and Lewis in the Nerja Caves

From Nerja we make our way toward Granada where we will see the Alhambra tomorrow. We have great hopes for our B & B. It looks pretty enough. But the bed has a plastic mattress cover on it which I abhor. We remove that and remake the bed. We try the dining room for dinner. It is the worst food we have had on the trip and that is saying something. I think I ready to go home.

Pretty room (although very green) at our B & B outside of Granada

November 1, 2012 – Ronda and Torremolinos, Spain

This morning we eat our final breakfast at the Hiphotel Sherry Park in Jerez. After seeing who stays here, I can understand the Sherry Park part but definitely not the Hiphotel part. Most of the folks who have been staying at the hotel are pensioners from England. Busloads of older ladies (we learn from an overheard conversation that they are mostly over 70) with the occasional gentleman. In fact there is one gentleman from Australian who seems to sit with a group of different ladies every morning at breakfast. The men are in high demand.

The most exciting thing at breakfast today is that I find out that there is fried cauliflower. Darn! What didn’t I try these puffs of delciousness sooner?

Although it was raining earlier, the rain has stopped and we hop in the car for our trip to Torremolinos via Ronda. Ronda has been recommended to us several times. And, seriously, you got to to help me ronda, help, help me ronda, help me get her out of my heart. (Sorry but that tune has been stuck in my head since we decided to go there.)

Ronda is situated in a very mountainous area. The GuadalevĂ­n River runs through the city, dividing it in two and carving out the steep, 100 plus meters deep El Tajo canyon upon which the city perches.

We reach the city. Once again we find an underground parking garage near the tourist information office. Passing the original bullfighting ring of Spain, we stop in for some excellent family souvenirs.

Statue of matador outside historic Ronda bullring

We walk out on the viewing platform and are dizzied by the precipitous drop. We take various pictures of the gorge, the puente nuevo (the “new bridge” built in the 18th century and the old Arab bridge at a much lower point on the river.

Looking down into the gorge at Ronda

The puente nuevo

We stop and take pictures of each other with the dramatic background. You will notice that once again I am wearing my rain jacket. It has gotten a lot of use on this trip.

John with the puente nuevo in the background

Mary not so close to the edge

We wander about the little town across the bridge. I buy a scarf. We find a quiet cafe. We are watched by a small cat who makes his living by scarfing up handouts from tourists.

Small cafe in Ronda

Small cat sitting on a chair adjoining our table hoping to become our luncheon companion

We still have a ways to go so we make our way back to the car past the statue of a bull.

The real horse seems unconcerned by the charging bull

We are staying in Torremolinos at a Japanese hotel. Tonight we will have a Japanese dinner prepared by the innkeeper and his wife. But that’s a separate post.

Japanese hotel but just a regular room

October 31, 2012 – Cadiz, Spain

Happy Halloween! There doesn’t seem to be much Halloween activity here in Jerez other than at a few bars who are trying to cash in on the American trade. We wake up to a Halloween-y kind of day, dense fog. We eat our breakfast slowly trying to see if the sun will burn off the fog. No luck. We decide to leave for Cadiz anyway. Opposite to what we are used to in the Bay Area the fog burns off as we approach the coast. By the time we get to Cadiz the sun is shining!

Cadiz has a feel to it that I would imagine you would get in South American cities or Havana in its day. It is quite tropical. We reach the city with no problem, find an underground parking facility and emerge near a tourist information center. We walk to the first large square which houses an attractive city hall.

Cadiz City Hall

We make our way to the cathedral. It’s always a good place to start. The cathedral was built in the span of over 100 years starting in 1776 on the ruins of the prior church which had burnt down in the 16th century. So what started out as baroque ended up being neo-classical in design. There are lots of pictures of saints here but they are more modern day and Spanish than my data base (old worn out piece of paper) allows for. We look about. The walls of the church do not collapse even though John is there.

Cadiz Cathedral

John in church

Next we visit the Museo de Cadiz. It is set in a very pleasant plaza. They have interesting neolithic, Phoenician and Roman artifact collections. There is also an immense statue of Trajan recovered nearby. Trajan was the first Roman Emporor born in Iberia. Upstairs there are exhibitions of painting by Spanish painters. I am a little art-ed out by this time in our trip.

Art museum plaza

Emporor Trajan

But I am never tired of trying to find a reasonable lunch. We wander into a nearby plaza and find a cafe. We order fried baby squid and clams with white wine and garlic. They are both pretty good. We entertain ourselves listening to snatched of various conversations and trying to help a German couple order what they want.

Baby squid and beer

Clams with white wine and garlic

We take a nice stroll back along the Bay of Cadiz. The plants and trees are very large and rather exotic. We find that we are actually quite a bit further away from the car than we had anticipated. We stroll by the gigantic cruise ships whose guests have clogged the streets of Cadiz today. Finally we reach our parking garage.

Mary at the esplanade along the Bay of Cadiz

Giant magnolia tree

Another day without dinner. We can’t seem to get this right.