Antequera and El Torcal

A little further east through the mountains (on very good roads it has to be said) we arrived in Humilladero for visiting Antequera and El Torcal, both situated a little way south of our chosen site (La Sierracilla – which was lovely despite some reviews almost putting us off..)

Humilladero itself appears to be a fairly new town, laid out largely in grids, with lots of plots that have not yet been built upon – great for a run!  However, click on the link above to discover a little more about the town (something we failed to do during our visit 😦 )

What we did discover a little of was the recreation area located behind the campsite.  We walked a little way in but if we had carried on we would, apparently, have scaled the mountain behind and had a good view of the Laguna de Fuente de Piedra.  This was somewhere that we did manage to find 🙂

A couple pitched up next to us had cycled there the previous day but we chose to take the little car for the short (about 4 miles) trip to the lake which is famed for it’s flamingos.

There are miles of walks around the lakes, and we set off to our right, walking about a mile before we got frustrated at our inability to get close to any flamingos… We could certainly hear them.  And we could see them in the distance, but there was no way of getting closer to the water.  In frustration we turned around and headed back to the visitor centre, at which point Calv refused to walk anymore, so I headed off in the other direction by myself and phoning him 5 mins later to tell him I had found flamingos 🙂

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Definitely worth a visit 🙂  On leaving the visitor centre we drove some way further around the lake stopping off at various viewing points along the way (there are lots of these areas).  Unfortunately we didn’t come across anywhere where we could see the flamingos any better than we already had.  Overall we were a little disappointed if I’m honest.

This area is big on olives and olive harvesting (with lots of factories presumably producing olive oil).  We saw a lot of harvesting going on which was fascinating – we watched the process of laying a massive sheet around the trees (using a tractor, you wouldn’t have been able to do it by hand), and the ‘shaking’ machines that clamp the tree and, well, shake it!

On the way home we were in search of a supermarket and google maps was telling us that we would find one in the village of La Fuente de Piedra (The Stone Fountain).  This proved to be incorrect, but we did find a lovely little village centre where we sat for lunch in the sun.  Again bordered by another olive processing factory (there are so many in the area).

We also visited Antequera and it’s Dolmens.  Antequera itself is far bigger than I imagined but, apart from finding a Mercadona (there was more than 1, + Lidls etc.) we  only visited the old town.  We actually approached from the south having tried to visit El Torcal on our 2nd day.  Being a Sunday there was no parking in the visitor centre car park, and we were directed to park at the bottom of the hill and take a bus up (there was, of course, a fee for this).  We smelled a scam (it turns out we were wrong, but there are several parking scams operating in Spain) so decided to return another day.

On the way back to Antequera we stopped in a recreation area and headed off for a walk to take in the scenery.  Calv was a little reserved and eventually, after about 10 mins, said to me ‘have you left things in the car’?  Which I had.  He was a bit concerned for some reason so we headed back.  All was okay though.  We carried on to Antequera, making our way through the old town (I think you could probably say we were lost) and eventually finding somewhere to park on Calle Fresca.

We wandered around finding the minimal remains of the old castle and then eventually finding the main plaza, Mirador Plaza de Santa Maria, on which stands the Colegiata de Santa Maria la Mayor and Alcazaba.  After a bit of indecision we decided to visit the alcazaba (we have visited a fair number of alcazabas…) but it was worth it, with lots to see 🙂  The majority of the complex has been pretty much rebuilt, although there is a photo below that includes a small section of wall that appears to be original.

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Once again tired and ready for a relaxing evening in the van we headed back to the car.  Where we were both surprised to find that we hadn’t locked our doors….  Very strange.  When we arrived back at the van and went in the boot for something we found that the parcel shelf had been pulled out.  Now we knew that someone had broken into the car (we then realised that they’d used a screwdriver on the passenger door, as we had a little trouble using the key in this side).

However, all’s well that ends well, as we had taken absolutely everything with us when we parked up (after Calv’s ‘feeling’ earlier when we were out for our walk), so the rotten b*****s got nothing 🙂  Small victories and all that!

On our way to El Torcal the next day we went via the Dolmens of Antequera, which are ancient burial mounds which are free to visit (although you must get a ticket first..!)  There are 3 to visit – Menga, Viera and El Romeral.  These monuments are UNESCO world heritage sites, and will take up maybe 45 minutes of your day (including the drive between them).  Still, worth a look 🙂

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Finally though we made it the best visit (one of the best of our whole trip to Spain), El Torcal – a landscape of limestone rock formations through which there are several trails to walk.  We had done the right thing in wearing our walking boots; the walk, of course, takes you through the formations and there are many areas never touched by the sun and so the mud never dries out!  We did see a lady walking barefoot – she’d obviously worn completely inappropriate footwear and was with a much younger man; I thought maybe her son, Calv disagreed…!!  Either way seeing here walking through this terrain barefoot made me cringe – it wasn’t always an easy walk and the mud itself (I don’t like mud) would have given me nightmares (yes, I have nightmares about mud 😦 )

We also spotted an ibex on top of one of the formations – it waited patiently whilst we scrabbled for cameras, but moved the minute we had them!  Of course 🙂

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There were many other trails to walk and we will almost definitely return next time we’re in Spain 🙂

Next stop back to the coast at Cala de Mijas to meet up with Steve and Denise for a couple of days (they were still at Cabopino).  I promise to be better at getting this blog up-to-date – please bear with me!!

 

 

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Algodonales – a paragliders dream

On leaving the coast behind in El Puerto de Santa Maria and heading back into the mountains, we were going to head to a site in Olvera, but at the last minute I spotted a free motorhome service area shortly before Olvera in a little town called Algodonales, about 20 miles north of Ronda.  Not only free but with electricity included – seemed too good to be true?  It wasn’t!  We ended up staying 4 nights 🙂

Once parked up we became aware of lots of music that seemed to emanate from the town itself, which was about a 10 minute walk away.  We also spotted a number of walkers heading that way; so we decided that we should head into town ourselves.  It’s quite a steep climb past chickens, building yards, lemon & orange groves and numerous streams.

The noise escalated as we neared the main square, where we found a finishing tunnel and an announcer with a microphone welcoming runners (and walkers) back on finishing the Viboras Trail (a run/hike up into the mountains and back – see below).

  • The route of the Algodonales Víboras Trail (which translates literally as “Cotton Snakes Trail) is a homage by us to one of the most testing routes in Andalusia. At 16 km in length and 916 meters of accumulated ascent, this route is a level three, and is a speciality trip that can only be accessed by club members.       https://xcmag.com/travel-guide/guide-to-algodonales-spain/

We sat at a bar (very busy but we still managed to sit after a few minutes) and enjoyed a drink while watching these amazing people returning from their latest challenge 🙂

On the way back to the van we could see a white town in the distance.  We thought we might cycle there in the morning, but then we looked on Google maps and saw how far it actually was!  Back at the motorhome area the paragliders, that we’d spotted jumping off the mountain when we first arrived, Continue reading “Algodonales – a paragliders dream”

Delights on our Doorstep – Days out from Cabopino

Staying at Cabopino Camping? Here are some ideas for days out and what to find in the surrounding area.

This is my last post from our time at Cabopino and I’m aiming to mop up all the places that didn’t merit individual posts.  So this post is just a bit of a mash up 🙂

I have dealt with the following days out already (click to go directly to the relevant post):-

Malaga

Banos de la Hedionda

Embalse de la Concepcion

Ronda

Camino del Rey  (also our 1st visit was covered back in 2017)

Gibraltar (from our visit in 2017)

Many people also visit Antequera and El Torcal from here, but we actually stayed near there instead so this will be recorded in a later post.

But this wasn’t all we did (of course not – we were at Cabopino for over 6 weeks this time!)  There follows a short summary of all other days out during our time there.

Benalmadena

I visited Benalmadena years ago with my boys (staying in the Flatotel which was perfect for us at the time).  Whilst we were there that time we visited the theme park, Tivoli World (I was never going to get away with not going was I with 2 young boys in tow!)

This time though we were determined to go up the mountain in the cable car.  We tried twice….  The 1st time we got to Benalmadena before realising that the weather wasn’t as warm there as back at Cabopino, and would, of course, be cooler still at the top of the mountain – plus neither of us had bought any sort of warm top with us.  So we had to abort.  The trip wasn’t a complete wash-out though – we sat and had a drink in a cafe and found a cheap perfume shop where Calv managed to buy me a birthday present 🙂

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A month later we finally found the time to return to head up the cable car.  This time it was much warmer but we went fully ready for all eventualities – except for the fact that the day before we arrived it had closed for a month (as, apparently, it does every year…)  We are completely useless and really must be better prepared. Continue reading “Delights on our Doorstep – Days out from Cabopino”

Caminito del Rey – a return visit

When Sam came to visit we knew we had to give him an experience to remember, so we scheduled our return visit to Camino del Rey to coincide with his visit and my birthday (18th December).  We didn’t have much notice – he sent me a text on Saturday to say ‘do you fancy a visitor’ and arrived on Monday!

The weather wasn’t as kind to us this time, just in that it was rather cloudy with the odd sunny spell.  But we did need our tops most of the time we were walking.

As we approached the gorge this time we could see lots of soldiers in evidence.  It seems there were some exercises going on in the area.  I have to say they didn’t look very professional at all; a bit sloppy!

As we got closer, and the road got narrower we started to see signs of the recent bad weather, with parts of the road washed away. Continue reading “Caminito del Rey – a return visit”

Campsite Reviews aimed at motorhomers.

Honest 1st hand campsite reviews from the perspective of motorhomers with a fairly large unit (and often towing a small car). Currently covers sites in the UK, Spain, France and Portugal – hopefully in the future we will be adding sites in Germany, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Switzerland and beyond!

Hi to all you motorhomers out there (and caravaners, but being motorhomers ourselves we know what they need :); well we know what we want/need and suspect many will have similar wants)…

Back in the UK having spent 10 weeks at the beginning of 2017 travelling through Spain and Portugal, and having visited France a couple of times, we thought some campsite reviews would be in order.  We visited 20 sites this year in Spain and Portugal so please bear with me as I get my thoughts down!

Knowing what’s important to us we are going to use a set format to complete, with key questions (access, pitch, facilities etc.) + the description set up under ‘The good, The bad and The ugly’.

Before I start I should say that I have already done a couple reviews which aren’t under this format but all that I write from now on will be.

Please feel free to comment with your own views of any campsites I review that you have also visited – it’s quite possible we’ll have differing views!

Just a bit of background information on our set-up then:-

We are Mandi and Calvin and we have a 2011 Bessacarr E769, 8.56m long and 2.3m wide.  We have been using the ACSI book for our travels on our last 2 European trips, and have found it invaluable (although we have had to resort to the internet a couple of times).

We have also invested in an Aguri SatNav for this trip (the one we had previously, from a different manufacturer, proved to be completely useless!!)

And, of course, if you find the campsite reviews helpful you might enjoy our blog cataloguing our travels!

I will be adding to these whenever we travel 🙂

Happy travelling 🙂

Jump straight to relevant reviews below – separate pages created for each country – simply click below for relevant list (most recent trip is shown first):-

SPAIN

FRANCE

 

Ronda – a little Gem high up in the Mountains

A visit to a renowned white town high in the mountains above Marbella. Steeped in history and with unbelievable views.

On arriving at Cabopino we knew that one of the first things we wanted to do was visit Ronda, as we had run out of time with the hire car during our trip in 2017.

This time, of course, we have the little car with us, so a few days after arriving we set off in the sunshine on our daytrip up into the mountains.

Our climb started behind Marbella so we passed some lovely looking complexes on the way, as well as a good number of villas hidden away behind high gates.

It’s quite a long way to Ronda, winding up and up and up, and round and round and round the various mountains!  There are several viewpoints but we left those for the way back.  It’s a very good road all the way, though that doesn’t mean I enjoyed the mountain road anymore than I usually do!

We parked up on the road just before the gates of the old town, completely by accident! So we chose to head in this way – leaving the area of town opposite the gates for another time.

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Our first discovery was the Iglesia del Espiritu Santo (Church of the Holy Spirit).  Fairly unassuming from the outside it’s a different story inside Continue reading “Ronda – a little Gem high up in the Mountains”

Malaga – an Under-appreciated City?

Perhaps you’ve not considered a visit to Malaga, beyond the airport that is! The city though is well worth a visit and should be on everybody’s itinerary 🙂

Although we spent 3 weeks at Cabopino back in 2017, only about 30 miles away from Malaga, and I flew into Malaga with the kids when they were younger (we were staying in Benalmadena), I have never actually been TO Malaga itself.

The perfect opportunity presented itself just before christmas when my son came to visit us during our latest stay at Cabopino, aided by the fact that we have brought the car with us this time 🙂

When we picked Sam up from the airport it was getting on for lunchtime and a little late for a day exploring the city, so we saved our visit for when we dropped him off a few days later.  This was on 20th December 2018 – the ‘Day of the Drones’.  And Sam was due to fly into Gatwick.  However he was advised to turn up and we watched him go through to security with no problems, so felt confident in leaving the airport and heading into the city.

With no particular plan (or clue to be honest) we headed towards the marina, as we felt this is always a good place to start.  Thinking we were really close and could walk from a spot near the beach we parked up and had a wander along the boulevard.  What a lovely first impression!  A wide tree-lined boulevard teeming with parakeets, a dedicated cycle path, ‘boris-bikes (although it appears you need to have registered in order to use them), several outdoor gyms (they’re everywhere in Spain – we suspect EU funding is involved) and chiringuitos galore 🙂

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Seafront Promenade, Malaga
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Seafront, Malaga

However, on checking google maps we found we were still about 3 miles away from the marina (and also the alcazar and castle), so back in the car we headed further into the city.

We parked easily in Parking Muelle Uno, an underground parking lot located centrally for the marina and the alcazar, cathedral, bull-ring and castle.  At just over 4Euros for the first hour and a little over 2Euros thereafter we were pleasantly surprised at the cost (only because it was so central to what we wanted to see and the main attractions – we normally balk at paying to park!)  (Just as an observation I hate the way the charges are shown in Spanish car-parks – they’re not per hour, they’re per minute and will have different rates for the 1st 15 or 30 minutes, the next 15 or 30 and so on – hugely confusing..)

We emerged into the sunshine beside the Centre Pompidou, an art gallery whose facade is a multi-coloured cube – a good landmark to head for when you’re looking for your car-park at the end of the day!  Beyond this was the shopping area by the marina of Muelle Uno – a fabulous choice of shops, restaurants, cafes and stalls awaits you – or simply a nice stroll admiring the boats and the water and the general ambience.

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Muelle Uno, Malaga

After a quick bite to eat (I won’t tell you where as it’s embarrassing…) we crossed the busy road behind the car park, headed through the gardens and then started making our way up towards the castle (the Gibralfaro – a remnant of Moorish rule)  perched high up on the hill and overlooking the city.  Continue reading “Malaga – an Under-appreciated City?”