Cava, Cathedrals and Caving In

We’ve been here a few weeks now, the weather has been ‘mixed’ to say the least, and just about to get wet again, so much for Temperature Tourism! So what have we been up to?! Other than drinking Cava and Cerveza, we’ve been Jo and Janet Tourista! Exploring the area more we discovered some sea caves, well we didn’t actually find them ourselves, but either way it was the start of a procession of cave encounters for us. Rincon de la Victoria, like most of the coastline here was once under water and the caves here reflect the sea comings and goings in a way we’d not seen before. We’ve seen plenty of stalactite and stalagmite caves but none like this. As though designed by the curvy Gaudi, the interior of them was smooth, sea water flow eroded, curves of stone, oval window-like views through gaps and an organic softness to the rounded edges. Also, not a drip of water on us from a marauding stalactite!

Cavers that we have become, we also enjoyed Nerja Caves, discovered by 5 blokes mooching around, in 1959 they are now a big draw. We booked a late ticket and had the caves to ourselves. What a stunning display. If it had been moodily lit, with booming music piped through, it would have felt like Dante’s Inferno. Thankfully we didn’t come across the devil or it really would have been hell. On a scale vaster than any cathedral, it’s a wonder what nature can produce. An abundance and variety of Speleotherms (yeah I didn’t know that word either!) , it was a Karstic example of a fine historical monument (no I didn’t copy that from Wiki!)

We’d never actually been able to go into Malaga Cathedral on previous trips. The iconic unfinished building from C16th nevertheless, is a landmark (as most are) The usual ornate Boroqueness abound, the numerous chapels, all very different and the incredibly ornate choir stalls, it was well worth the few euros. The ‘Eye of Providence’ (God) resting on a sunburst of golden rays in front of the stained glass windows was beautiful. Reflecting God watching over humanity through heavens clouds, it’s very unusual to see and a first for us, anywhere. Rare, because the Catholic Church abandoned the symbolism when Freemasons started to use it and the church wanted to distance itself from the supposed conspiracy theories of the day and the suggestion that it was the eye of the devil. Anyhow, it was an incredible building and insightful to be in.

What else…. The Raisin Route…. that sounds fun! What’s a raisin or grape between friends eh?! Obviously using four wheels not two we headed up and up through the hills, pink with almond blossom and rows of vines of the Moscatel variety. I’ve been wine tasting in a group for more years than I can care to remember and by the end of the evening, have always forgotten what I’ve heard but had a good time (most importantly!) In this are, its the ancestral trade, being so sunny, the vines flourish and of course, have to celebrated with numerous festivals in their honour! Anyhow, it’s a distinct sweet wine, that has to be sampled…. hic! At the highest point of the route is Comares, known for its Verdiales fortified wine and music bands of the same name. Their performances in the Axarquia region are legendary, hence the statue and mural in the square. Comares has lots of Arabic influences, being a look out point across the wide open plains.

Bet you didn’t know that Walt Disney has been to Benalmadena? No, nor did we until we stumbled upon Castillo Monumento Colomares, A New York physician had a thing about Christopher Columbus, hero worshiping him to the extent he didn’t believe he had a rightful monument, anywhere in the world. To that end, he set about building one with a couple of mates, in 1987. By 1994 he’d built what kind folks would describe as a ‘quirky’ tribute. A mix of Gothic, Mudejar and Romanesque supposedly, it tells of his arrival at Hispaniola in 1492, along side a bit of Asia (where he thought he was heading?!) and a nod to his trip sponsors, Coca Cola (sorry Isabel and Ferdinand of Castillo) Anyway, pictures are best!

North of Disneyland is Mijas Pueblo. One of the ‘white towns’ we’d not been to. We saw some leftover snow before having a wander around/past the numerous leather shops, even more leather shops and a few cafes. It’s actually known for it’s tourist donkey rides/taxi services, apparently its an important way to remember them and their role in the transport revolution… I chose the sedate one. I actually think he was on strike, something to do with pay, conditions and the cost of hay. Mijas was a pretty and well kept place and with the amount of English we heard, it felt like home. It has a bullring, still used, built in 1900 and a gorgeous, tiny chapel with a lovely shrine to the Virgen de la Pena, a decorative legend tells the story of a dove leading children to it, hidden from warring factions, hundreds of years prior.

Another classic white town is Competa, popular as an expat town so we didn’t stay long! A gorgeous almond blossom drive inland, thankfully it wasn’t as touristy, wandering the ubiquitous white narrow streets and taking coffee with locals. Surprisingly enough they have a church landmark, unusual?! Ntra Sra de la Asuncion was built in 1505 with a 37m tower in Mudejar style with its dome and colourful tiling. Internally, a low ceiling meant it felt dark and it was quite plain in comparison. The effort all seemed to be outside with a superb row of tiled story telling scenes reflecting the history of the region. We didn’t think the toy tree was reflecting anything though, other than maybe what happens if the kids are naughty in Spain?

The thrill seeking aspect of our personalities came to the fore when we took on The Caminito del Rey. Yes, it’s a hard hat wearing passage of discovery through the gorge ‘ Desfiladero de los Gaitanes’ on very narrow suspended walkways and across hanging bridges. I was strictly forbidden by the tall one to jump up and down on them like I did in Costa Rica 🙂 Anyhow, it’s not for the faint hearted but it is incredible. The whole landscape is dominated by sheer, steep slopes, deep gullies and some fab feats of engineering. Some of the old bridges are derelict, as is the old walkway beneath the new one, which I don’t think we’d have fancied to be honest. The hand rail would have only come to the tall ones knees for a start! The three rivers converge and flow through to Malaga as their early 1900’s water supply and there are ten tunnels bored through the rocks for the train. Thankfully we went very early as it became tour group busy, very glad we did it! We had the treat of a super sunrise and an owl swoop and land nearby.

At the time of writing, the weather has turned, rather than head north where it’s still wet but colder we are sticking with our tourist monika’s and are staying put! At present, there are 8 UK number plates, is it bad to giggle about outnumbering Germans, for once?! Having said that, some of the krauts are more friendly than the poms, we never learn do we, us Engerlands…. (not meaning to offend anyone obvs, I was jus thinking about food analogies as there’s pomme de terre’s here too!)

We just finished adding the photos and realised that there’s no mention of her ladyship. Before she starts scratching the furniture, I asked her for some input. She said she quite likes lounging around on the mat outside when it’s sunny and she quite likes the people who come and fuss her and bring her fish (yes, neighbours go out for fish lunches and bring her bits back!) She’s enjoying squid at the moment, new delicacy that Whiskers don’t do. On the rainy days she said she gets bored but is OK in the overall scheme of cat life, enjoying having her photo taken, she’s more about the bigger picture 🙂

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