Traditional Sunday Lunch 😋

Bit of slow start after the busy day and late one the night before… 😴

Helen had booked us (last minute) into “Rocky’s Bar” for a traditional English Sunday Lunch at 1:30pm for us all – which is a 15 minute (fairly flat) walk from Capistrano Village so Paul, Sue, Dave, myself & Marcus all trundled off…

It felt really warm in the sunshine but upon arrival at the bar (because it was a favour to Helen that they’d squeezed us in) the majority of the customers were sitting outside in the sunshine 😎 but our “Reservado” table was inside which – with all the bi-fold doors open – was a bit on the chilly side 🥶

Kevin & Helen arrived and they are really good friends with the owners (which are an English family from The North) and the next minute Kevin got stuck in and was starting a fire & popping logs on – to make it a bit warmer inside… 🔥

The food was excellent & beautifully presented (see piccies of Marcus’s “Chicken Parfait” (chicken liver pate) and Dave’s mushrooms – both of which I had a taste of… 😋)

ALL offerings of meat seemed to be available and between the 7 of us, I think we had them all – I had turkey, Marcus had beef, Dave had pork belly and I saw lamb on the bone go down the other end of the table…. 

I was full so didn’t have a pud and all the ladies opted for a tipsy coffee (my first bit of alcohol as Dave & I were on lime and sodas to rest our livers !!!) and THEN Marcus & I went to try out one of the pool tables in the back…🎱

I think we had 4 or 5 games – and one of them was “Helen & I take Marcus” – and we gave him a run for his money – but ultimately still lost 😐.  The very last game was just Marcus & I and the only reason why I won was because when he potted the black –  the white went down too !!! 🍀

And the whole time we were there, there was a lady entertaining us with 🎵 “crowd pleasers” 🎵and a couple of peeps even got up to dance 🕺💃🏻

As ever – a good time was had by all – followed by a bit of a quieter evening as Paul wasn’t feeling 100%…

Burriana Beach & a Bit of a Walk (16,849 Steps !!!) 😓

We thought we’d walk Marcus into Nerja to show him the Europe de Balcon, the catholic church, the shops, etc. which is normally a 30 minute meander downhill but Paul & Sue collected us and  took us “the scenic route” via Burriana Beach.

We stopped at a high (unguarded) viewpoint & peeps went FAR too near the edge for my liking 😳 so I took a couple of snaps of THEM soaking in the view as I didn’t fancy getting that close !!!

After a bit of a lairy, gravelly path downhill 😳, we eventually got back on the flat & lunch was in full swing at all the beachfront cafes and bars on Burriana Beachfront (see the HUGE paella dish from one such establishment) and we settled on a place that was a real sun-trap 😎 & ordered various omelettes, toasties, wraps, etc. washed down with tea & coffee (to give our livers a bit of a rest !!!)

We carried on into Nerja (see photie of Marcus & Myself with King Alfonso 12th whose statue is at the end of the Balcon) & also listened to the Spanish guitar singers who were performing on the Balcon and Dave bought their CD 🎵. Then had a little wander, said a prayer & lit a candle in Parroquia El Salvador 💒.

Went into one or two shops & I tried on a few leather jackets and STILL haven’t bought one yet (I’m struggling with the collars…)

We’d done a LOT of steps by then, it was hot and the return uphill journey – via the supermarket – was a trudge 😓 so we had a little rest on the (still sunny) balcony of P&S’s place with a cup of tea and a sherry… I’d used the APP on Dave’s phone (!!!) to translate the back of the bottles when in the supermarket but I still managed to buy one that was too sweet, had a syrup-ey texture & that I won’t be having any more of (Dave and Paul still managed a second helping though !!!)

Then we put on our glad-rags (check out my new red torerita !!!), went to La Cueva, met Helen & Kevin and all had a little drinkie & chat then ended up at Paul & Sue’s for spaghetti bolognaise (made by P&S) plus garlic bread made by Marcus – and it was a good job that we weren’t in contact with anybody else too soon afterwards as there was a PLENTY of garlic 🧄  in those dishes to keep away the vampires 🧛‍♂️ !!!

And more chat, more alcohol and a music quiz from 1970’s (which managed to clear Marcus off back to The Van) ended the evening… (check out Dave’s party trick of his Mick Jagger impersonation 😂 plus the very last photo is of the OTHER Helen Miller (!!!) & Dave dancing / singing – which I don’t actually remember taking…)

Almunecar Market, Lunch & Dinner…

Friday morning back in Nerja dawned sunny 😎 and definitely a few degrees warmer than our in-land ventures of late… (see first piccie of frost on the ceiling window from our last morning in Ronda !!! 🥶)

About half an our west along the coast is a town called Almunecar which has a market on a Friday so the plan (as we had missed the 10:15am bus) was for Dave to take Paul, Sue, Marcus & myself in The Van…

It was a lovely drive, high up in the hills along the coast road but parking proved tricky so Dave dropped us all off so we could have a wander around the market as it was due to close at 2pm.  Sue tried a green padded winter coat on but in the end I finished up with it – for the bargain price of €7 !!! (… and later when the sun had gone behind the building in the square where we were having lunch I was very grateful for it !!!)

Other bargains included 5 pairs of boxers for Marcus for €5, plus a couple of pairs of trousers for him – some khaki baggy linen/cargos which he liked & wore out in the evening plus a pair of grey tracky-things which he put on in the square (after we lost the sun) and – in true Spanish-market fashion – he moaned that one leg was different to the other 😂 !!!

We were booked into “La Cueva” (The Cave Bar) to meet Helen, Kevin & friends for fish & chips in the evening so we said we’d eat less & just have a few tapas at lunchtime…  

However we ended up in a square, sitting in the sunshine at an establishment with NO tapas so I ordered a ham & cheese bagel but when it arrived it was HUGE – like a bundt !!! (cake with a hole in the middle – see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” scene !!!).   There was also chips & salad & Dave had pork steak & chips so at least we were taking it steady to leave room for the fish & chips later 😐

There was also a little old lady sitting at the table next to us who was initially very disgruntled as I think she was obviously local, had probably lived there all of her life & ALWAYS had the table that we were sitting at…. Anyway all of a sudden, she took a shine to Marcus & started smiling & chattering away in Spanish so I grabbed my phone & got her to speak into Google Translate (an APP on my phone 😂)  and she said that Marcus was handsome & looked just like her grandson who had 2 children of his own), etc.  Ah the wonders of the modern world… So they had a little photo 😊

We had another beer / vino and whilst Dave went to fetch The Van, we wandered down to the sea front past all the shops.  It’s a lovely little town (I’d go back there) but wrong time of day for the shops as it was then siesta time so they were all closed…

We came back, had tea & cake on Paul & Sue’s balcony in the beautifully warm sunshine, then I watched a Coro in The Van then we got ready & went down to La Cueva (where Dave & I shared a fish & chips !!!) and a good time was had by all 😊🍷🥘

Ronda City Gates, Arab Walls & Baths Plus Pick-Up of One Son !!!

So we had a slow-ish start to the day after getting ready & having brekky.  I had a few guest admin tasks to care of PLUS we were on the phone to the UK re the re-insuring of Pink Beach 🏝️ after the flood… (‘nuff said 😐)

To try & shake Dave’s (not brilliant) mood, we headed out about 2pm heading firstly for (yet another) locked 🔒 church 💒 – how your man up there expects us to worship when the doors are always closed is beyond me 😐

Then we trundled off to Puerta de Almocabar & Arab Walls – Ronda’s defensive walls and City Gates… (few piccies below)

We followed this with a visit to the Arab Baths – which was almost RIGHT at the bottom of the valley…

It was an interesting half hour including a 10 minute English information film.

So the baths were built – on purpose – next to the city entrance so that the peeps could be clean after travelling from afar & before entering the city (& also cleanliness for religious purposes)…

At the bottom of the ravine is water & they built the baths along with a water wheel driven by donkey which continuously collected the water in canisters and dragged them up & tipped them into a gulley which then ran into the baths.

In the baths there was a fire 🔥 fuelled by wood 🪵 which warmed the water & in the first room next to the fire all the water evaporated so it was like a steam room.

The next room was the “warm room” where peeps sat & chatted & sometimes had massages & then there was a cold room.

And they had sessions for ladies too…

There are pretty carved shapes in the roof which let in sunlight thus illuminating the place… (see piccies)

Oh and on the way back we took piccies of the bull & matador outside the bullring as we forgot yesterday !!!

We then had a fairly lairy journey 😳 through the mountains (see piccie of the chicaines on the SatNav below !!!) on the way to Malaga Airport ✈️ to collect Marcus. Even though (I thought) I’d Googled where to park, It was all a bit stressful taking the motorhome & it was too high for all the parking spaces; Marcus rang in the middle of it all and (thankfully) spotted the motorhome and came to us 😅

Marcus was STARVING & Dave was tired so dropped us off near town and Marcus & I went to the Indian (it was OPEN !!!) and he ate & I had a vino blanco 🍷 and then we hiked the half hour back to The Van parked in front of Paul & Sue’s place again at Capistrano Village & 😴…

The OTHER Ronda Valley !!!

When we came out of the bullring, we headed for the Puente Nuevo (“The New Bridge”) – which was completed after 40 years in 1793 and is the main landmark of Ronda.

It is the largest of the three bridges that span the 120 metre-deep ravine that splits the city of Ronda.

And the views from the bridge and surrounding lookout points are stunning… (see piccies below).

We then had a little look around the tat shops & decided to buy (& make !!!) one of those little signs made up of tiles (again see piccies !!!)

As it was due to be -1° overnight, we came back to The Van to enjoy a veritable feast of fresh pasta & sauce, salad, homemade potato salad & fresh bread – washed down with a vino or two 🍷

Then we cuddled up in bed and watched The Lincoln Lawyer – which is a cracking film (if you haven’t seen it – we highly recommend it !!!)

🇪🇸 Plaza de Toros de Ronda 🐂 – Bullfighting Ring !!!

So as we need to be at Malaga airport to pick up Marcus by 8:40pm on Thursday evening, we had to be making our way back down to the coast so Dave suggested a place that I thought only existed in Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 – a place called Ronda.

Dave sorted The Van (emptied dirty water & refilled with clean, etc) first thing at the Seville AutoCaravan place, we had brekky then set off for Ronda.  It wasn’t that far but Dave spotted a Van-Wash place on the way (& stopped to give it a go as he said he was embarrassed because everybody else’s van was cleaner than his !!!) so it took a couple of hours or so in total.

The Ronda AutoCaravan site was pretty central & only about 2km from all the places we wanted to visit so we had a cup of tea, planned a cycle route and then set off on the bikes.

It was pretty chilly 🥶 but still fairly sunny 😎 and we’re used to it now – layers are the only way forward !!!

First stop was Plaza de Toros de Ronda – an 18th century bullfighting ring 🐂.  It seats almost 5,000 people and the bullring itself is 66 metres in diameter & is the largest in Spain 🇪🇸 !!!  

It was an €8 entry fee each and we had the English audio guide & map which were excellent.  It talked us through the history & architecture of the building (see the Royal Box up in the stands below) as well as the evolution & art of bullfighting.  We saw where the bull pens were (which weren’t very big – I’m standing outside in the corridor on the way to the ring – and then in the one of the actual pens) & the journey the bulls made into the ring…

{ I hadn’t realised that the bull always met it’s death in the ring – and actually now feel quite sorry for the poor animals… 😞 }

And there has only ever been ONE matador death in the Ronda Bullring…

There are big boards strategically placed around the ring that the matador could hide behind (see me below in a “Chad” piccie – “Wot. No Bull ?” 😂)

There was also a museum displaying bullfighting regalia & important outfits, etc. (check out the SIZE of the hip flasks in the final piccie 😂).

It was a really interesting couple of hours that we both thoroughly enjoyed 😊

Plaza de América (AKA “The Birds” 😂) Plus MORE Tapas 😋

OK – so Dave wanted to visit La Plaza de España and I wanted to visit Plaza de América (as when we’d been on the bus the audio-lady had said the square was full of doves 🕊️) so that’s where we went next…

We could see a couple of peeps selling bird food at €1.50 a bag so I went along and bought some…

The area was already filled with doves (& pigeons) and as I approached more suddenly appeared.  By the time I had the bag of bird food in my hand, it was like a scene from Hitchcock’s “The Birds” 😂 !!!

Dave was on his bleedin’ phone (he was cross with the accountant – see below) and as I was being attacked, I kept shouting “Dave !!! DAVE !!! Please tell me you’re getting photos of this !!!”

Clearly (see below) – he did – and even though HE didn’t have any food – they settled on him too !!!

When all the food was gone (literally less than a minute later) it was all a bit calmer & the last “bird” piccie below is posed – and I was about to burst into song with 🎵 “Feed the birds, €1.50 a bag…” 🎵 but managed to contain myself 😂 !!!

With all the excitement we forgot to take any piccies of the lovely buildings in the square & got back on the bikes as we’d spotted a little bar over in the corner – where we had MORE sherry (sadly the dry stuff 😐) & tapas !!!  Pork steak in sauce, meatballs, potato salad, bread and fries – and it was bloody lovely 😋

The sherries arrived and as we waited for the food, Dave was constructing a curt reply to the accountant (suffice to say that 31st January is approaching…) and I sat there being bathed in (unexpectedly) warm sunshine (I’d taken off my fur poncho AND my fleece !!!) and took a piccie (last one below) which is simply of the 2 glasses of sherry (which were also being bathed in warm sunshine) and I took in my surroundings and – as mindfulness dictates – “live in the present” & “appreciate the small things” – I thought, “It’s not a bad life, is it ?”… 🍷 😎 ❤️

Sightseeing Bus Trip followed by La Plaza de España (“Spain Square”) 🇪🇸

Updated the blog, had showers, had a late brekky and headed off on the bikes around midday…

Whilst crossing one of the many bridges over the Guadalquivir River (that Seville is built upon) we took a selfie (first piccie below) and behind us “Torre del Oro” (The Tower of Gold or Golden Tower of Seville). Constructed in the 13th century, when ships entered Seville via the river, they could discharge their gold here PLUS the middle part was a prison… It is dodecagonal (i.e. has 12 sides originating from the Greek dodeka meaning twelve and gon – the Greek for corner – bit of triv for the day !!!)

We’d decided the best way to see the city was on a hop-on / hop-off sightseeing bus tour so we locked up the bikes, bought the 2 x 24 hour tickets (€25 each) and this included maps (with a bar code to scan which downloaded an APP (!!!) so you could see exactly where you were) plus 2 sets of earphones to plug into the side of the bus to access the audio guide…

The guy had advised us it was an hour and a quarter to do all 14 stops and that we should do the FULL tour first and THEN go back and decide what we wanted to hop on/off to see – which was good advice 👍 and he advised that the buses went every half hour…

We sat upstairs (open-top bus) at the front and didn’t take any photos as we wanted to concentrate on the audio & the map and thought we’d take photos when we went round again.

It WAS a good way to see the city and if we were there for a week, we would have got off and spent half a day at each of the 14 stops exploring – but as it was – we didn’t want to get stranded hanging about for the return bus journey so we got off at the end – grabbed our bikes and headed to La Plaza de España (“Spain Square”).  This was built in 1928 and is a huge half-circle; the buildings are accessible by four bridges over the moat (which represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain) and in the centre is the Vicente Traver fountain (see me in front with rainbow 🌈 below !!!)

There are many tiled alcoves around the plaza – each representing a different province of Spain (see Dave sat in front of Huesca).  If we thought there was detail on the cathedral – then THIS was a whole different level – truly everywhere you looked it was tiled and detailed and it was just phenomenal…

We were also fortunate to hear music so we investigated and under the main central canopy there was a guitarist, a singer & 3 ladies doing flamenco dancing 💃🏻. I was struck – whilst listening – how Arabic the music sounded and I’ve just asked Mr Google why; he never lets me down and informs me that “Spanish guitar and Flamenco come to mind when someone brings up Spanish music. Both are deeply rooted in Arabic culture and traditions.”

We watched this for a while & then heard MORE music and 2 old guys with electric-acoustic guitars & a speaker were playing Spanish traditional music – another treat… 🎵

First Evening In Sevilla 🍊

So Monday morning dawned and this guy in a high vis jacket & satchel turned up in the car park and started collecting €1 from everyone.  Dave popped out and told him that we’d already paid €5 to a guy the night before and he said it was nothing to do with him…

The previous evening (on our return from Sherry & Tapas) a guy had knocked at the door and said “Parking” (or something) and I said “OK – €1 ?” and I picked up the word “Noche” and €5 so I thought “OK – overnight charge”, gave him €5 and he gave me a keyring !!!  (See below a huge wooden circle with a flamingo and a rusty ring attached) – so I DID wonder then if I’d been “had” and I had 😂  !!!  {Oh well, he probably needed the €5 more than we did…}

Anyway with hindsight I NOW think we should have probably stayed an extra day in Jerez and done a sherry tasting tour (although the Tio Pepe Bodega was closed on Mondays but there were several others) but we’d had a nice afternoon at San Pablo the day before and then (as it was Sunday) Jerez had looked pretty desolate with it’s no-water fountains – so we decided to head off a day early to Sevilla !!!

It wasn’t far and we arrived around lunchtime in this place where it fits 100 motorhomes (and again most of the pitches were taken) but the electric is a bit dodgy – and the fridge kept reverting to gas.  Dave thought it was overloaded so when he bumped into people, he said the electric was rubbish and not to bother.  I reckon they took him at his word because now our’s is stable and powering the fridge fine 😂 !!!

Anyway after lunch I felt overwhelmingly tired and (never do this but) had a lay down and slept for about an hour so I clearly needed it.  I got up then DAVE went for a snooze !!!  So I got ready then updated the blog by which time he’d woken up, got the bikes out and we headed into Sevilla Centro – about 2km away.

Seville is a city – with 6-lane-wide roads & mad traffic but (luckily) there are a lot of cycle paths at the sides so off we trundled and I’m getting a BIT more confident on the bike and Dave doesn’t leave me SO far behind anymore…

It was still lovely in the sun but pretty cold in the shade and once in the centre we came upon the cathedral – which started life as a mosque in 1172 but is now the largest Gothic cathedral in the world !!!  It really is vast and the detail in the architecture is amazing – see photies below…

We had a cycle around then came across a little bar (with heaters) and asked for 2 medium sherries but they weren’t like the nectar we’d drunk at San Pablo the day before – these were much drier and it was a hard job but SOMEBODY had to drink them 😂 !!!

We had another little wander then locked up our bikes (to go and have dinner) and there was a little souvenir shop with these little embroidered sheer jackets hung up outside – which I NOW know are called toreritas (which in Spanish I looked up and actually means “bullfighter”) and they were only €12 (£10.50) – I tried one on and couldn’t make my mind up between the red or the white so I bought them both – bargain 🛍️ !!!

Then Dave fancied a steak so had “entrecôte” at this place (which again had heaters) and I had lasagne – and it was very average…. The most exciting thing was that I drank my first glass of red wine 🍷 in over 25 years (as I went off it in pregnancy with Holly) – as Dave had ordered a bottle and needed a bit of help !!!

Then we cycled back and it was all very vibrant – shops still open and fountains – not only with water but lit up too (see piccie) !!!

Sherry & Tapas In Jerez !!!

We bid a fond farewell to Gibraltar having decided to make our way to Jerez on Sunday.

It wasn’t far and we arrived early afternoon.

I would have like to have booked a sherry-tasting session but there didn’t seem to be any that day.  Howver whilst Googling, I found a place called Tabanco San Pablo which dates back to 1934 and had excellent reviews so we thought we’d pop that into Google Maps & set off on the bikes.

“Tabanco” traditionally was half tavern where you could have a drink or eat some tapas, but also half wine shop, as they used to sell wine in bulk as well.

We arrived and it was busy – full of locals – and we were lucky to get the last inside table.  The wooden stools were smaller than usual – like being at an infant school !  They didn’t speak English so Dave translated the menu (with an APP ON HIS PHONE !!!) and it provided some insight as to what was on the menu.

So we started off with 2 medium sherries (and they were SO drinkable – like a really nice version of Harvey’s Bristol Cream !!!) plus:-

  • Pork Cheeks
  • Meatballs
  • “Dress” Potatoes (that could have been Dave’s APP not coping too well 😂)
  • Some spicy chorizo-type sausage

The dishes arrived sporadically which is why there are individual photos of them rather than all of them at once…

We carried on with the sherries (plus Dave had a beer) and then ordered:-

  • MORE Pork Cheeks (that was Dave !!!)
  • Russian Salad
  • Dish of the Day (the waiter recommended it & we had no idea but which was sort of like a warm, tomato-ey hummus – really tasty 😋)

… and right at the end they brought us bread !!!  Which would have been nice earlier to mop up the lovely sauces that the meatballs, sausage, etc. were sitting in.

Fabulous place – would highly recommend – it was really authentic plus our waiter was lovely and looked after us really well 😊

As it was Sunday late afternoon by then, a lot of places were closed but we had a cycle round in the sunshine and there were LOTS of fountains (with no water !!!) and Dave picked 2 oranges from one of the many trees everywhere (but later tried one and said it wasn’t nice 🥵) and bibbed back to The Van to cuddle up & watch a film (The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Ryan Reynolds & Samuel L Jackson – very watchable (clearly) as neither of fell asleep – for a change !!!)