February 11-19, 2018
The six of us had two vehicles and we were all going to the same place. There was a short discussion on if we should split up into different groups than we had arrived in. In the end, we agreed to keep the the status quo and simply plan to meet up at our new apartment in Màlaga at a given time.
With that settled, Dan and I hauled our baggage to our car and made our way back out onto the open road. We had a rough idea of where we wanted to go, thanks to the technology of (drumroll, please!) a paper map! Yes, I had brought an old paper map of southern Spain to help plot out routes and get a better sense of where things were in relation to other things. I love maps.
So with the help of our map, Dan would program various towns into our GPS, giving us the option to make adjustments as our whims required it. Our first order of business was to get out of Granada and retrace our early steps from yesterday. It was an easy drive down the motorway but it was good to take our exit and get into the countryside. And once again, I wish that had been on a motorcycle, not only for the sheer pleasure of riding, but also because I would have more photos to share with you.
As it is, the first time I got out the camera was when we reached the most bizarre industrial complex called Escúzar. It was as though an area had been set aside for a vast array of businesses and their associated infrastructure, but then no one showed up. Of course in hindsight, it is obvious that this is a victim of the 2008 recession, but it was still impressive to see.
This went on for miles – or so it seemed
What it looks like from Google
Checking out the paper map for our next destination
We shared the road with a fair number of bicyclists, usually in packs of five or so and all wearing their “I’m a serious cyclist!” outfits. They were polite and did not take up the whole road – at least once they realized that we were behind them. It is great countryside for bicycling, although I am sure that once summer hits, the temperatures get uncomfortable.
We saw a few herds of goats and sheep, but very little in the way of ranching overall. The dominant crop was clearly olives. Hill after hill was covered in groves, the trees spacing determined by the individual soil moisture content. It was also encouraging to see that many new groves had been planted, showing that there was hope for the future in this region.
Olive groves for miles!
Taking the scenic route
Mountain range to the south of us
Some random village on our route
Dan had us heading to a lake. We knew nothing about this lake, but there was no reason not to check it out. It was (sort of) on the way, and we had all sorts of time. At a “T” junction, most traffic apparently went to the right, but Dan said we should go left. Shortly after that, we saw a sign for “Puente Romano” – that sounded cool! So we kept on going, even when the road started to look like this:
After 13 kilometers we found our bridge. It was in the middle of nowhere, on a bad road and with nothing else around it. Only someone really determined to see this bridge, or who just happened to be wandering by, would ever come here. And here we were.
There isn’t much online about this bridge and I was suspecious about it being Roman, if only for the complete isolation it existed in. The only real mention of it is in related to a hiking trail in the area that follows the Rio Cacín, and a quick blurb on Wiki. And the single sentence about the bridge states that it is not Roman at all, but was built in the beginning of the 20th century. I would have felt cheated, if it wasn’t such a beautiful, random stop.
Dan for scale
I had crossed the bridge and walked up towards the bend in the river, just to get a better look at the odd rocks. That’s when I saw a quick movement on the other side of the ravine: a large bird. I used the new camera’s Super Zoom and found the bird sitting on a rock ledge. I love this zoom.
Here’s an idea of where the bird landed (red circle)
And the bird, a Eurasian eagle-owl
The road continued in its neglected state, closely following the ravine. Olive groves continued to polka dot the landscape around us. I stopped at a couple points to try to capture the full scope of the ravine but the morning light was wrecking havoc. As usual, I didn’t let that stop me.
At one stop, I noticed that there was a hiking path on the far side of the ravine. I could see how a hike in the cool shadows would be a welcome change, although I’m sure that it would still be hot later in the year. As I contemplated the this dirt trail I noticed a couple of dots of bright color: hikers! So naturally I zoomed in on them, too.
The hiking trail, and two hikers on the far right edge
Ok, enough of the zoom lens. It was time to see this magical lake! I don’t why I was surprised to find that it wasn’t a real lake, but a reservoir. Reservoirs generally disappoint me, as the water level, unless completely full, leaves an ugly ring around the shores. But this “lake” didn’t look anything like that, at least not where we were standing. In fact, it looked rather impressive, with the shaded mountains at the other end.
Spillway on Los Bermejales Reservoir
Dan updated the GPS with another town along our route and off we went, climbing into the hills that lined the lake. Did I mention that there were some olive groves around here?
Sierra Nevadas in the distance
The countryside was beautiful. Mountains, fields, orchards, small villages, winding roads, blossoming trees…I was really surprised and happy with our choice of roads this morning.
A very rocky region
Just this one stretch looked like this
Need to come back on two wheels!
Even though Dan is my Navigator, I am still the Driver and could make the call to stop whenever I felt like it. And I felt like it. I was tired of the “photos through the car windows” and wanted to stop and see it, feel the air on my skin and smell the scents of the countryside. Stupid cars, don’t let you really do any of these things.
Stopping to take in the view
Still, sometimes those shots from the windows of a moving car turn out better than expected. And better than nothing at all.
Blossoming trees covered the hillsides
We had reached our last section of mountain road: a winding section that crossed through the Montes de Málaga Natural Park. We were on A-7000, a road that had proven to be popular with more motorcycles than I’d see so far on this entire trip, and I could understand why.
The road followed a mountain ridge, giving us views on both sides. Then it started its descent to the coast. There wasn’t a lot of room for the typical switchbacks so the engineers had to be creative. Imagine my surprise when I saw this on the GPS:
I had seen this once before, when riding through Custer State Park in South Dakota. There, they are called pigtail bridges and look like this:
But this was nothing like that simple little wooden bridge. Here, the road wrapped around the outside of the slope and then cut back in, through a tunnel carved into the rock of the mountain itself. It was an impressive solution.
Màlaga and the Mediterranean
The road to the coast
We arrived in Màlaga and searched for our parking garage. It was a difficult search, full of one way streets, tourists, narrow roads and lots of traffic – only to discover that the garage was full! So we circled back around and desperately took shelter in the first available garage we found. It was a full fifteen minute walk back to the hotel, but at least the car was no longer on our minds.
Ooooh, our apartment is above a jazz club!
The view from our apartment
The Cathedral and park that was just outside of our window
I had picked out an apartment that was “in the city center”. I don’t think that I could have chosen any better: the Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga was directly outside of our windows! The apartment was comfortable and had plenty of room, except for one thing: I had requested space for six people, but there were only enough beds for five. Once we were all together and in the apartment, we managed to find a place for each of us and got things settled. Thank you, Ron and Sue, for being so accommodating!
It was late afternoon before we wandered back outside. Since we were finally on the Mediterranean coast we felt it only right that we should go to the waterfront.
Many boats from many places were docked here
Beaches of Màlaga
Modern architecture of Spain
An egret in the tree in the park (yes, I zoomed in on it for this shot)
We tried to make an early night of it by having dinner just after seven o’clock. We were almost the first ones in the restaurant we had chosen, OCHO Wine Shop & Bistro. It was highly regarded for their Argentinian steak and we were all ready to test them. The guys had discovered this shop earlier when they were searching for a bottle of wine. The service and selection had been very good and gave us hope that dinner would be of the same level.
OCHO Wine Shop & Bistro
Front row seats to the kitchen
We weren’t disappointed
Màlaga at night
Link to Day 8