540-541: El Torcal – An Andalusia MUST do.

540 – Friday 18th NOVEMBER 2016:  Wow and double WOW!

First of all, thank you Margaret for spotting my date errors … we are in November but I was dating posts October!  Age?  Alcohol?  

Now, I was driving (J here) up to the Sierra El Torcal mountains, thankfully… This enabled me to NOT look at the extremely sheer drops off to the passenger side!  Narrow roads, plenty of sharp bends – Jez (and us) coped very well indeed – and as we saw on the road to Vesuvius – the roads got much wider as we approached our car/van parking destination, due to the expectation of bus loads of tourists.  This may be the case in high season, but even in November, there were good number of cars and coaches.

The photos give a good indication of the beauty to come for our walking tours.  Our afternoon perambulation was only a couple of hours long and – the “Wow” factor came out immediately. Best mountains we have seen since the Dolomiti in northern Italy over a year ago! “Wow after wow” around every corner, again and again. We almost ran out of superlatives – when did an Irishman run out of words?…

Some beers and wine, peaceful evening (do we have any other kind?) – and I continued learning by heart the rest of “The lake Isle of Inisfree” poem by W  B Yeats – my all time favourite.  Only one verse left… “I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore”.

Lovely quiet parking (free) for the night with only a small number of neighbouring vans for company.  K had read that overnighting here was OK, but being British, she went and checked.  ‘But of course’ was the warm answer … just keep inside one bus bay.

 

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The route up was pretty spectacular … I (K) was able to ooh and aah – J was too focussed on getting around the bends and not over the side of the road!

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And this was where we were headed – that limestone ridge.

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What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Leisure by William Henry Davies

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A well deserved beer.

451 – Saturday 19th November 2016:  Down and Up and Antequera

AM – we set off for what we planned to be a 4 hour El Torcal walk – letting Oscar free of his lead as we had done the previous afternoon…  we quickly encountered a Spanish family who told us that dogs must be kept on leads at all time while walking in National Parks – we hadn’t seen any signs but they told us there are poisonous snakes around and other wild animals and it is the local law – so no chances to be taken there.  A pity because we curtailed our walk to about 2.5 hours instead – the scenery was just as spectacular, but different so the yesterday afternoon… as we were quickly through the limestone escarpment and the views opened up and fell away from us.

We will definitely be back to El Torcal – and we recommend it to anyone visiting the south of Espana.  It really is a MUST SEE, but only receives a paragraph in each of our guide books.

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The morning sun on the rocks by our car park.

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J was up in time to catch the sun rise.

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And off we go again.

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Meet the locals.  We’d heard their bells last night in our car park.

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Ephemeral mist over the distant hills.

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A restored shepherd’s  hut.

After lunch we drove a short way to Antequera to a free van parking last at Antequera – with services – brand new – lots of other motorhomes – on a fairly busy street but still quiet at night time – other than the barking dog, which was finally strangled  / shot by a neighbour at 2.20 a.m.

We wandered around and quickly found a …. bar.  Then another and another and had a dish each for supper.  Antequera we liked.  Not touristy, sensible prices … again some fine buildings and fabulous views.

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Plaza del Toros – now the museum – dedicated to bullfighting.  Sadly shut.

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Waiting for wine number 1.

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Supping wine number 2.

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C16th Arco de los Gigantes…  

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…The way into the castle and church plaza with views.  And wine number 3 and 4!

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Wandering around, we found the outside of the castle walls.  Punters had paid to walk along part of them, but knowing how dogs would not have been allowed, we did not even attempt entry … wonder how few visitors discover this view of the walls though.

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