A Casa in Nerja
02.10.2008 21 °C
Front of our house for a week; we had the "first" floor
Getting to Nerja, we were thrilled with how "Casa Charlotte," and our first-floor apartment in it, looked. It's probably the nicest self-caterng accomodation we've stayed in, even nicer than Goa. The welcome from Frans and Nuttee, the owners, was very warm. It included Frans taking us across the street for a welcome drink and some tapas! We ate on the patio. It's been between 17 and 23, and non-stop sun, since we left Madrid. Costa de Sol!
View from a bedroom balcony
Nerja is a pretty little city perched above the Mediterranean, with streets that slope down to its beaches. The streets have a variety of cobblestone patterns. The squares and traffic circles all have either fountains or sculptures. Parking is free, and the idea seems to be: find a spot anywhere, then get out and walk. It's all about pedestrians. We're about four blocks from the water, with a view (from the rooftop patio) of both the mountains and the sea. The first evening we watched the sun go down from what's called "The Balcony of Europe," not too far from our "casa."
Another view from our balcony. Just kidding! Looking east from the Balcony of Europe
There's lots of choices for eating, but we started with Joanny's, which was recommended to us. It's a little Spanish/English place, with great Shrimps Pil-Pil, we discovered. I mention the English because, after all, this part of Spain is to retired English what Florida is to retired Canadians. So we're running with a wild crowd here!
A day trip along the coast today, as far as Mijas. We wanted to check out this town again, because it's where we stayed ten years ago with Jenn's parents and sister. We'd heard it had changed a lot, and it had, but not all for the worse, despite signs of overdevelopment. Mijas is busier now, but the panoramic views from the mountainside are still preserved. They've also made some great pedestrian walkways, and, by the bullring, a children's playground. Anica's been enjoying the many playgrounds so far in Spain! At lunch, Anica entertained us by reading a magazine's trivia questions and giving us mixed-up answers using the answer key. "How many children did Queen Victoria have?" "---96." "What do Italians call Milan?" "---Beatrix Potter."
Later, we even drove up past the exact house Jenn's parents rented at Christmas/New Year's of 19996. Still looks nice!
Another sunny day in the coast of sun! Perversely, we decided to go inside a cave. The Nerja cave is quite famous, and quite huge. It was well worth the visit. We haven't been in a cavern as big as the largest single chamber is here. Exploring it was pretty tame and touristry, with its paved pathways and handrails, but it's still an impressive place. It was discovered by five local boys in 1961. Although humans lived in it for thousands of years, it had been empty since at least 4000 BCE.
Anica seems really happy that people aren't trying to touch her or get her picture taken here in Spain. And, in every city we've been in, even in the most touristry parts, there haven't been touts and hawkers all over us, spoiling our browsing. Jenn and Anica really like that change. Yet another nice playground, too, at the Nerja caves site, so Anica got to swing and slide around for a while.
Then we went down to the beach for the famous "paella" at Ayo's. The owner there, oddly enough, is one of the five who discovered the caves. Ayo's is right on the beach, and although there were some people in swimsuits, when the wind blew it was pretty chilly. We gobbled our paella, and got out of there pretty quickly.
Today we took a day-trip to Granada to visit the Alhambra, the famous Moorish/Spanish palace/fort complex. It's been described as a heaven on earth, and was on the short-list of nominations for the new wonders of the world. The weather's usually a little colder in Granada, which is at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas. Today, however, is as beautiful: about 14 degrees, with brilliant sunshine. I appreciated the Alhambra even more than I did when I saw it ten years ago, thanks to better weather, and Ancia's enthusiasm. She rarely makes us feel like we're dragging her to these places, and sometimes she is so interested that it's incrediblly infectious. She was like that today with the Alhambra.
Justica Gate, an entrance to the Alhambra
Even before we entered, Anica was taking pictures of every detail that caught her eye in Granada. We parked at the Alhambra site, which is practically a garden or park even before you go in, then walked down the long slope to the town. We had lunch in a piazza, then walked down the Gran Via and all the way around the cathedral. Anica was bouncing along, taking pictures of everything from gargoyles to graffiti. When she ran around an empty piazza, I said " you should save your energy; we have to walk up the hill again to the Alhambra." She said, "Dad, I did Petra for two days; I have lots of energy!" Good point.
Good place to find lunch. Plaza Nueva, Granada
We picked up a book about the Alhambra, done like an eyewitness book with lots of labelled photos and drawings. Good move, for just 8 Euros, because Anica was able to act like our tour guide and read from it as we visited the different parts. We loved the Charles V fountain, and the Justice Gate, which we used to enter the site. The views from the Alcazar today were crystal clear: in one direction, the modern town, in another the gardens and an abbey, in another the snow-capped mountains, in another a hillside dotted with modernized cave-homes and topped with a small church.
From the Alhambra's Keep, looking toward the Sierra Nevadas
At 3:30, we used our "timed tickets" to enter the Nasrid Palaces. A word about tickets: ten years ago, everyone just crowded around a ricketedy old tour booth and bought their tickets. This time, we bought in advance on the internet and used a machine at the site to print them.
The trio of palaces is great, but we did have a major disappointment in the "Courtyard of the Lions." The lions themselves, probably the most famous image of the Alhambra were gone! Taken away for restoration, leaving just the bare fountain, not even running. Anica had already read ahead and was looking forward to seeing them. All we could do is say, whenever you travel, there's always some part of historical sites undergoing restoration. Otherwise it will all crumble eventually.
Wondering Where The Lions Are? Gone away from the famous courtyard for restoration
We sped back down the freeway, not much more than an hour, to Nerja, in order to enjoy a dinner where we could simply walk back to Casa Charlotte. We ate at "Langham's," fancier than we'd usually choose (based on what we would have paid in Granada), and very delicious after a busy day.
Nasrid Palace Detail, of tiles, archways, carved surfaces
For the record, we visited another little pretty hillside town today, Frigiliana, quite close to Nerja. Very hilly! Jenn bought a stylized "gecko" decoration. I think geckos have been a constant in this trip, so that seems appropriate. Yesterday was a quiet day, wandering around Nerja, enjoying the playground and view over the sea, having more shrimps pil-pil at Joanny's. All three of agree that Casa Charlotte and Nerja in general has been one of the absolute nicest places we've ever stayed.
Also for the record, Nerja is where Jenn did a ton of planning for the Europe part of the trip, choosing week-long rental accomodations. Not that we're here, we realize even more how few hotel/hostel choices there are in our budget, so we're going mainly for the self-catering flat options. Also, we've booked several more in advance in the past week because so many of our preferred choices are filling up. Now, that said, we don't have a clue where we're staying tomorrow night!
"Going to Nerja"
Today we got up and went on a highway and scenic road to Nerja. When we got on the scenic road we saw mountins, also coulered rocks (naturel) and really high peakes over the clouds! First we stopped at Malaga where we looked in a department store, had Dunkin coffe, and go to Imaganarium. When we got to Nerja we saw are place. clean, nice and best of all (plus two bedrooms, 1 bathroom and kitchen) Bunk beds! Had tapas, rested, had dinner, g.n.
"Mijas up on the hill"
Today we went to Mijas. It was a town up on a hill so it was very pretty up there over looking the houses, with pools and lawns, a city and the Meditrainian. When we got up we saw a good place to have lunch and there we got: mushroom and chicken pie for Mum, sausage roll for Dad, and x2 cheese on toast for me. Then we went to a pretty rock/cave church with magnifcent views!
"Ermita de la Virgen de Pena, Mijas
After we went to a playground with a amusment park sort of ride. Went home with the usal magnifcent view (me, exicted to get back beacuse I had got a "Flaminco" dance Barbie dress), rested, had dinner, G.N!
Today when we got up we went on and off between the Sunday Flea Market and the Nerja caves. I know that I probaly would of liked the Flea Market, but at the end of the day, I was really glad that we went to the Nerja caves. The drive to the Nerja caves, was short and easy. When we arrived there, it was busy from tour groups to couples to famalies from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, England and the U.S.A.! Everywhere! It was so busy! When we got into the caves we saw an archaeological site with sruff like brushs and stuff. Neat stuff! When we got deeper you had to get your picture taken! Boo-hoo! Then we saw a cracked skull! N-E-A-T! After we saw stalagmites in a h-u-g-e cavern! After the caves we went back, rested, had dinner. G.N!
"Granada and the Alhambra"
When we got to this day I was so exicted! A Muslim (past) place! Taken over by the Christans! When we got there we had booked tickets so we would'ent have to stand in a Prado-like lineup. So we got our tickets from a aready-booked machine before going to get lunch at a lovely place. Then we went to a pretty Cathedral. After we went to the Alhambra! History: "The Charles V Fountain reflects a desire of conquerors of Islam to Christianize--blah blah blah...Here's some good/interesting stuff about the masks on it: "It is not certain whether the mysterious are meant to repransant Granadas 3 rivers or the three sesons: ears of wheat for summer, flowers for spring and grapes for autumn."
Detail from Charles V fountain. Can you tell which season he is?
I really enjoyed the Alhambra and the Alcazabra, seeing the Nasrid Palaces (even, without the lions) and Towers. SO NEAT! We had ice cream to! I did-not-want-to-leave. O my gosh! I forgot to tell you: SNOW CAPPED MOUNTIN in 17c weather! And you could see them! Lucikly I bought binoculers a couple days ago so I could see the cave homes and them. Went home, had dinner, G.N.
Even better with binoculars! View of Granada's cathedral from above