Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Costa del Sol, 2007

Saturday 14 April 2007
The Flight Out
We arrived at Liverpool John Lennon Airport at around 3:00pm having been dropped off by Christine’s Dad. This was in plenty of time for our 6:30 flight, but we felt that it would be great for the girls to watch the planes taking on and off. The weather was superb, the sun bright and warm, and once we had checked our bags in, we went for a cooling drink in the observation lounge. After a further wander around the airport, we then had a meal – to kill some more time – before preparing to board the plane.

Our flight was called, and the girl’s excitement visibly grew. We were flying EasyJet, which have a policy of allowing families to board the craft before everyone else. At Liverpool, you have to walk out to the craft and climb the stairs, and the girls took the opportunity to wave to the Captain, who cheerily returned the wave. With the plane not full, we took the opportunity to take two rows so that the girls had a window seat each.

Take off was fun for the girls and the flight was uneventful apart from Jayne – who didn’t stop taking the whole time. At one point she spotted another plane flying way down below us just above the clouds, and enjoyed spotting towns and villages. The captain informed us that we were ahead of schedule and that we would be landing about 10 minutes early. With ears popping all the way, we started to descend, flying out over the coast and turning back towards the airport. We landed at Malaga airport at about 10:30 local time where we were met by the company from whom we had hired our car, and who took us to where we were to pick it up.

The Car
The paperwork and formalities complete, I took the wheel to drive to our destination – about 15 miles away. This was our first mistake of the holiday! A strange car with the controls on the opposite side; in a strange country; sharing the road with some of the most competitive drivers in Europe; on one of the most dangerous road in Europe; attempting to understand road signs that are clearly designed to confuse (roads can have more than one road number in Spain!) and complicated by the fact that it was night and very dark meant that we were in for a very interesting time – or at the very least, a very long night.

Following what I thought were the correct signs, I came off the coastal road at the wrong junction and ended up in the middle of Fuengirola totally confused. After asking directions at a local café, I still ended up lost, going, I think, in totally the wrong direction! Finally we asked another person who had difficulty explaining, but was prepared to show us. He climbed in and directed us to close by where we needed to be, phoned our reception and got further information and was able to guide us back to the coastal road and explain the last bit of the journey. He left us at that point to make his own way home. What generosity, what hospitality. I have no idea how far we took him out of his way, but we were very grateful for his unconditional help. We knew where we were and how to get to the complex, no problems now!
Arrival At The Apartment
However, we arrived at Club La Costa, and I still managed to get lost! Apparently, there are two sites and of course, we went to the wrong one! Eventually, we registered and arrived at our apartment at about 1:00am local time – tired and very stressed out. After a quick cup of tea, and an even quicker unpack, we went to bed absolutely shattered, but full of expectation of the morrow and meeting the Mediterranean Sea for the first time.

Sunday 15 April 2007
I woke at about 7:00am local time, and as I was still a bit stressed from the previous night’s drive, I got myself up and went down to make myself a coffee (I’m generally an early riser, so this was no real hardship). We had already decided that today would be a true “Chill-out” day where we would do as little as possible, so if I felt tired – so what. In Spain, at that time of the morning, it was still dark, and I had the wonderful opportunity to watch the sun come up over the Mediterranean Sea. The sun changed from the deepest red close to the horizon to orange, gold and eventually bright yellow as it rose into a clear sky. The mountains that back on to the coast, reflected the sun as it rose becoming more defined and clear. The day was looking good for sun and warmth and for generally doing nothing!

The Beach
After breakfast, we strolled down to the beach to have our first real look at the sea. At this time of year, it was still very cold and not that inviting to the swimmer, but none-the-less, it was great to paddle and wander along, with the girls screeching each time a wave broke and splashed them. Christine settled down to read a book, while the girls and I walked along the beach. Quite a number of local sea anglers had set up on the beach with massive poles thrust into the sand, and the line disappearing into the surf. We didn’t see anyone catch anything, but guy we passed was cleaning an octopus – though whether he had caught it or was using it for bait, I don’t know.

As I expected, the entire coast is lined with hotels, but to my surprise, it did not look as bad as I had envisaged. Each hotel had its own design, but the Andelusian theme was maintained which carried its own sense of charm. It also helped that the time of year was very much off-peak, which meant that the crowds I expected, were not there. There was room to breath! The sand is not particularly golden in colour, more a dark beige, but the beaches are clean with many places to put litter. The beach must stretch, unbroken, for about 5 to 7 miles with each hotel grabbing its bit for sun-loungers.

The Castle
About half to three-quarters of a kilometre down the beach towards Fuengirola, is a castle, the Castle of Sohail, sitting on the top of a rocky promontory at the mouth of the Rio Fuengirola commanding views of both the sea and the town. This was definitely somewhere we would visit get to know. The water in the river was a little warmer than the sea, so the girls had a bit more of a splash around – until they spotted the crabs!

The Afternoon And Evening
After returning to the apartment for lunch, we spent the rest of the day by the pool – the girls spent it in the pool – Christine and I lying on the loungers, resting, reading and drinking the odd beer or two. The sky remained clear, the sun bright and warm, but not too hot.

Eventually, we were able to drag the girls out of the pool and went to a local restaurant for the evening meal, after which, the girls went to the local playground, and Christine and I went for a final drink in the bar before heading home.

Monday 16 April 2007
The Castle of Sohail
We decided that we would be a little more active today that the previous day. We all felt a lot more refreshed and rested, so we walked to the local castle we had seen yesterday. The weather was a little cooler and cloudier, though the rain did hold off.

Parts of the castle date back to the Phoenicians, in particular the foundations, though most of what is now visible has been added, firstly by the Romans, followed by the Moors and later by the Christians. The Moorish occupation began in the 10th century and the castle proper was built by Abderraman III. The settlement was called Suel which later became Suhayl which eventually became Sohail. During the Middle Ages, a major fire destroyed the town, leaving only the fortress in habitation. In 1485, the castle was captured by the Christians who attempted, with very little success, to re-establish a viable population in the area and in 1511, apart from the castle and watchtower, it was officially registered as uninhabited

One of the sources of Fuengirola’s name comes from the Roman name of the spring that sits at the foot of the castle – Font-Jirola, - however, there are a couple of other claims to where the name comes from.

We found the castle is quite interesting and well worth the visit. The lady in the ticket office was very informative, and advised us on particular parts of the castle. On the way up to the main entrance, we had passed a couple of wooden machines that looked a little like capstans, and which in fact were winding engines used to pull ships out of the sea and onto the beach. We wandered through the various rooms and up onto the castle walls. Bethen braved difficult climbing conditions to get to the roof of the main tower, the rest of us were not brave enough!

Eventually, it was time to head back along the beach to the apartment, and head off to Marbella.

Afternoon saw us in Marbella, - a major tourist destination about 30 miles down the coast towards Gibraltar from Feungirola. The town is also home to a major ex-pat population of British – some retired on pensions, others retired on elicit gains from crime. Marbella is primarily of Roman origin, when it was called Salduba, though it’s main development came during its occupation by the Moors who called it Marbil-la. The town was recaptured by Spanish Christians in 1485/

Having parked the car, we wandered down to the beach to walk along the front. The fragrant smell of wood burning alerted us to a sea-front bar-b-que and a possible place for lunch. In fact, the restaurant was one of seven beach side establishments specialising in fish and seafood meals. The bar –b-que was made from an old boat that had been filled to the gunnels with sand on which they burnt logs for which to grill the local fish. Bethen had a beef-burger while Jayne had grilled prawns – six massive prawns which, any larger, could have been mistaken for langoustines! Christine and I shred a wonderful seafood stew, which contained any amount of shellfish, crab and a complete lobster. It was a beautiful taste of the Med.

When we felt relaxed and rested after our lunch, we headed along the shore towards the old town with its quirky little streets and shops. It was really nice to be able to sit outside in a café in the middle of a town and not hear traffic. To relax under the shade of a palm tree and to quietly plan the following day.

After buying some pastries for breakfast the following day, we made our way back to the apartment and let the girls go off to the pool and meet up with the friends they had made, while Christine and I relaxed in the cool of the evening.

Tuesday 17 April 2007
Today, we planned to explore inland, and in particular, to get to Ronda going via Mijas and Coin. The day dawned overcast, but it was still bright and it didn’t look as if it would rain. With breakfast finished we set out. By now, I had become a lot more familiar and confident with the car and have started to adapt my driving style to match Spanish conditions. However, there is a particularly tricky bit when we leave the apartment complex and join the coastal dual carriageway where cars are already travelling at around 70 miles an hour. Joining this road is from a standing start, so rapid acceleration and confidence is an absolute requirement!

Once on our way, it was quite straightforward to reach the Mijas road. This road climbs pretty quickly into the mountains, affording some great views down onto the Costa del Sol. By now the clouds had cleared and the day looked set for sunshine and warmth though it was still hazy in the distance. It was not long, before the Spanish attitude to road maintenance made itself known. Potholes, subsidence and general break-up of the road surface seem to be the order of the day making driving a very interesting experience. Occasionally, if a hole was deemed bad enough, a couple of shovels of asphalt would be dropped into it and roughly levelled out which did little to improve the general driving experience! How often do Spanish cars need their suspension repairing?

Eventually, we reached Mijas, - one of the many Andelusian “White” villages – or in this case, - towns. These villages consist of buildings that have been glaringly whitewashed as a means of maintaining cool interiors during the hot sunny seasons. If the sun is out, it can make it almost painful to look at them! After parking the car, we made our way up to the Shrine of the Virgen de la Pena. This religious building is simple in the extreme and was dug out of the rock by the pious hermit Diego de Jesús, María y San Pablo in 1586. According to legend it was some children who, having been advised by a dove, discovered the image of the Virgin that had been concealed for several hundred years between the walls of an old castle so that it would not fall into the hands of the Arabs who ruled the region of Al-Andalus for eight centuries.

From there we descended into the town to where the donkey taxis wait. These taxis are two person traps pulled by donkeys decked out in colourful harnesses and take tourists on a tour of the town. In the main square, were horse and carriages which we chose to go on a tour of the town. The horse’s harnesses had bells attached so the horse jingled as it trotted down the narrow, twisting streets of the town. The girls loved this ride, and it did give us a great over-view of the town.

After our ride around the town, we climbed up into the town and to explore further and have a drink. The town is very much geared towards the tourist, but still retains its old charm and character and it is not hard to see the old town. There are many small, but interesting shops selling all kinds of mementos from the obvious and tacky, to the interesting and crafty. We spent a couple of very pleasant hours in Mijas, the highlight of which for the girls were the horses and donkeys. A visit to the tourist office and armed with a fresh map, we were ready to move on to our next destination, the village of Coín.

Coín is situated in the Rio Grande valley about 30 kilometres from Mijas. The road to Coín is awful, requiring concentration and a firm grip on the steering wheel. On arrival, we found a largish town of closely clustered buildings with narrow twisting streets and very few sign-posts. Finding somewhere to park, we went exploring, but found very little of any real interest. However, reading up about the town it does seem it is steeped in history. The Roman town of Italica was constructed with marble from quarries in Coín which at this time was named ‘Lacibis’. When the Visigoths rules the Iberian Peninsula, it appears Coín became deserted. It wasn’t until the Moors settled here in around 929AD that Coín underwent reconstruction and was restored to its former glory. Coín became an important centre for oils and wines. In 1485 the village was taken by a siege during the Christian re-conquest. Christopher Columbus was alleged to be involved. Captain Cook visited Coín in 1829.

Although Coín is still really a village, King Alfonso XIII awarded it the title of city in 1925.
Coín has a wealth of important architecture including several churches. The Church of san Andres is also known as the Caridad and forms part of the hospital. The Church of San Juan is one of the largest churches in the province and has been officially declared a national monument. Coín also houses and important ceramics factory, located on the main road from Fuengirola and a working film studio that was once the set for the TV series ‘Eldorado’.

Unfortunately, we could not find any of this and so we bought fresh bread and meats for lunch from the local supermarket and found the road out towards Ronda.

Sierra de las Nieves
Shortly after leaving Coín, the road improved and we were able to make good time. We climbed high into the mountains passing a number of “White” villages on the way. On one stretch of road as it climbed into yet another range of mountains, we stopped for lunch. The hillsides were covered in olive groves, and the scent of jasmine was heavy, to almost the point of over powering. The road we were travelling was not the main road to Ronda, and so traffic and traffic noise was light. From the hills around, could be heard the sound of bells hung round the necks of sheep and goats, and the only other soul we saw was a local olive grove farmer tending his trees.

Eventually we arrived at the natural park of Sierra de las Nieves which is an area of outstanding beauty. Cultivation is at a minimum and the area is minimally managed to maintain its natural beauty and provide protection for the Spanish fir which is endemic to the area. We stopped off to have a walk in the forests and look out over the area, marvelling at the views of the distant mountains. The mountains in this part of Spain are tall and rugged, showing all the signs of having been sculptured by water. Deep ‘V’ shaped valleys cut down and through the mountain ranges, making them quite a different shape to the smoother, rounded, glacially shaped mountains in the UK.

By mid afternoon, we arrived at Ronda and reached the old centre of the town via the usual tight, narrow streets that seem such a feature of Spanish towns. Eventually finding somewhere to park – the access to which was by driving along a pavement between café tables followed by a precipitous drop into the underground car park, - we set off to discover Ronda.

Ronda has been a home for mankind for many thousands of years. First a Celtic village, later the Roman "Laurus" and finally under the Arabs a rich provincial capital named "Hisn-Rand-Onda". The Moors lived in this privileged region almost until the fall of Granada. They finally capitulated in the year 1485 and handed it over to the Catholic Monarchs. Between the 16th and the 18th centuries it grew rapidly, though during the 19th it underwent a period of stagnation. Its popularity increased, however, during the 20th century as Spain, and in particular, provincial Spain began to open up to western influences. Ernest Hemmingway spent many years in the town and based his novel, For Whom The Bell Tolls which records the murders of Nationalist sympathisers early in the Spanish Civil War by being thrown into the Rio Guadalevin from the cliffs of El Tajo by Republican forces, 120 meters below. His novel about the glory and passion of bullfighting, Death In The Afternoon, was also set in Ronda. Orson Welles was another famous regular resident and is buried in the town.

One of the first buildings we came to was the Plaza de Toros, the oldest bullring in Spain still in use. Ronda is often considered the birthplace of modern bullfighting, and it carries that history proudly. From there, it is a short walk to Puento Nuevo – the tallest of the three bridges that span the El Tajo canyon between the old town – La Cuidad, - and the new town which incorporates the industrial and commercial centres.

La Cuidad has many buildings of interest and the Moorish influences are plain to be seen throughout. Many of the streets are lined with orange trees laiden with fruit – which surprised me a bit as it was still early in the year. I can only assume that the fruit had been allowed to remain from last year, and will eventually drop off.

We went into one church at the lowest point of the old city walls and climbed the bell tower to enjoy the view. At that moment, the bells rang the quarter hour, and I’ve never seen the girls jump so high! I did tell them that we now had a further fifteen minutes to enjoy the view before they went off again, but they were pretty insistent that we went back down.

By now, the afternoon was very hot, and drinks were a necessity to keep going. The climb back up the gorge was pretty hard and so we decided to start our return back to the apartment. This time we took the busier road down to San Pedro on the coast and back along the coastal road to Mijas Costa and our apartment. Unfortunately, it was too late for the girls to go into the pool, but they disappeared off to the playground, while Christine and I relaxed after the long day.

Wednesday 18 April 2007
Hard Sell
Today was the day Club la Costa were going to try and sell us the time-share! Fortunately, it was the one really bad day of the holiday where it rained just about all day. Today was the day we “paid” for our free holiday, the day when we would be offered the opportunity to become members of Club la Costa! Having already sat through a presentation, we already knew the score, and were always going to say “no”, but we were committed to attend as part of the condition to going on the holiday.

We were collected and taken for breakfast, after which we were taken out and about along the Costa del Sol showing us the sites. Our chaperone was pleasant, and apart from smoking, good company. He gave us one or two ideas for things to do during the remainder of our holiday, before taking us back for the “hard sell”. The salesman made a flippant remark that he had to hear us say ‘No’ 17 times before they accepted it, so Jayne sat there and said ‘No’ 17 times, counting them off on her fingers, and then saying ‘Can we go now?’. We made it very clear that it wasn’t for us, though I could see its appeal for people who like that type of holiday, but they had to try none-the-less. Eventually, they saw the light and let us go, by which time the rain had eased up.

As the day was just about done, we decided to get off the complex for a little while and have a look at the local shopping mall, and perhaps do a little grocery shopping. I was quite pleasantly surprised with Spanish supermarkets, and the range of goods offered is quite large, without it, apparantly, having the same negative effect on local shopping that the large supermarkets have had in the UK. In particular, I just loved the cold meats section with the local hams and sausages hanging from the shelves. The hams were particularly impressive as they were the full leg and had been locally and traditionally cured. A whole leg cost about 30 Euros, which would have represented very good value for money. However, as it would not have been practical to bring them back with us, they had to remain on the shelves.

The Bottom Line
We then found a rather nice tapas bar in the mall where we had tea. Unfortunately, when I bent down to pick up something I had dropped, my trousers split most dramatically! I was exposed to all the elements, added to which, we were at the furthest point away from the car, it was possible to be! We enjoyed our meal while planning how to get me through the shopping mall and back to the car without becoming Spain’s biggest laughing stock. It must have been some site to see as I walked back to the car with as much dignity as I could muster closely surrounded by my loving family.

Thursday 19 April 2007
After the previous day’s washout, the day dawned bright and sunny again. We were going to go to Gibraltar and an early start was the order of the day. I decided to try the toll motorway and avoid the congestion along the coastal road. This turned out to be a good move, as the road was well made and relatively clear of traffic and so could make good time. There were a number of tunnels along this road, and dipped headlights are a requirement when going through them. My co-driver, Jayne, made it her responsibility to remind me to switch the lights on and off at each tunnel. The journey was incident free and before long the familiar shape of the Rock I had seen in books and television came into site.

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar. The territory shares a land border with Spain to the north and we had to pass through border controls to enter. Gibraltar has historically been an important base for the British Armed Forces and is the site of a Royal Navy base

The name of the territory is derived from the original Arabic name Jabal Ţāriq, meaning "mountain of Tariq", or from Gibr al-Ţāriq, meaning "rock of Tariq"). It refers to the Berber general Tariq ibn-Ziyad, who led the initial incursion into Iberia in advance of the main Moorish force in 711. Earlier, it was known as Mons Calpe, one of the Pillars of Hercules. Today, Gibraltar is known colloquially as "Gib" or "the Rock". The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major issue of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain continuesly requests the return of sovereignty, ceded by Spain in perpetuity in 1713. The overwhelming majority of Gibraltarians, however. strongly oppose this, along with any proposal of shared sovereignty.

Getting through the border control was not a problem, and very shortly, we were back on British soil. Entry to Gibraltar is across Gibraltar Airport’s runway, so we had to keep an eye out for low flying aircraft! However, one in, there were still some European aspects to the place – they drive on the right, the streets are narrow and twisty and everyone dives as if they were part of a Grand Prix! Finding parking was a problem until we stumbled upon a road where parking was allowed with no charge.

The Rock
Our first port of call was the cable car that went to the top of the Rock. From there it would be possible to explore different aspects of the Rock as we made our way back down to the town. The cable car gave us great views of the main port and across the bay to Algerciras, and it was from this vantage point, we caught sight of our first Barbary Ape. Before long, we were at the top and wandering the viewing platforms. Although the sky was clear and the sun bright, conditions were hazy and we could only see the tops of the mountains in Africa, peeping through the cloud. There must have been at least 30 ships at anchor around the Rock, presumably awaiting entry into the port, and included a large cruise ship. The views from the top were breath-taking, both back along the Costa del Sol and across the bay towards Spain. Jayne was not too impressed with the apes, and, in fact, was quite frightened of them. One did attempt to take a bag that Christine was carrying.

The Rock itself, consists of three summits, and the cable car goes up to the middle one. The other two summits have clusters of arials on them, though it did look as if you could get close to them.

We decided to walk down while having a look at some old gun emplacements and St Micheal’s Cave. The weather became a lot warmer, and so visits to the secret tunnels were abandonded for this visit. The gun emplacement afforded more good views of Gibraltar and Spain, but no gun! There was, however, a precipitous path down the east side of the rock which might be worth exploring at some future occasion. After a short rest, we moved on to St Micheal’s Cave which turned out to be a treasure. Magnificent stallactite and stallacmite formations were everywhere attesting to its great age. The cave opens into a number of different rooms/areas and was used as a hospital during the Second World War.

The Town
From the cave, we descended down to the town. This was very steep, and in the heat, became a bit of a drag. On the walk down, we passed the den that the apes use overnight, where there were quite a few baby apes around learning the tricks on how to fleece the tourists!

The last part of the walk is on a little dirt track that leads eventually to a set of steps into the upper town. From there, it was a short walk to the main part of the town and lunch! We took our time in an attempt to recover from our walk, but eventually, we set off to explore as much of the town as time would allow. We did walk the main street which ended in a large square where there is a glassblowing factory and shop. We were able to watch the craftsmen making intricate and quite exquisite pieces of glassware, - and who made it look so easy! We were determined to purchase soe examples, though we kept it to small items for ease and saftey of carrying them in suitcases.

Gibraltar has such a lot to see, that it is going to require a further visit to take it all in, but it will be worth it.

By this time, it was late afternoon, and so we decided to head on back to our apartment and have our evening meal there. Of course, it was rush hour, so the border crossing was busy, and to make things even more interesting, we were selected to be searched. Of course nothing was found, but the whole process is designed to be intimidating and un-nerving. Eventually, we were on our way, and we returned on the toll road which made the journey pretty quick. Evening meal was at a local campsite’s restaurant which was cheap, pleantiful and very friendly. We finally arrived back at our apartment where the girls showed they still had the energy to meet up with their friends at the playground, while I went for a beer and Christine rested up.

Friday 20 April 2007
Today was to be our last full day on the apartment, and apart from a last meal at the restaurant in the evening, we had no real plans. However, amongst all the tourist information and leaflets, was a flier about a ferry service between Fuengirola and Benalmadena which we thought might be fun. The trip takes about an hour, and we were able to get great views of the mountains and coastline from the boat. The sea was quite choppy, with a brisk breeze coming in form the sea. The girls spent a lot of time watching the waves splash up the boat and having a great time. At Benalmadena, we stolled along the seafront until we found a restaurant we liked the sight of to have lunch. Again, we had picked the right place where the food was good, but not to expensive and just slightly off the promenade.

We returned to Fuengirola by the ferry, though this time, the girls were a little more quiet. In fact, Jayne actually fell asleep for much of the journey. At Fuengirola, we wandered the streets looking at the shops, but most were closed as it was still siesta. Eventually, we made our way back to the apartment where the girls descended on the pool, I went to the bar for a drink and Christine relaxed.

The Meal
Very soon, it was time to get ready for the evening meal. Showered and dressed, we made our way up to the restaurant and had a really lovely meal. It was a classic meal to linger over, but eventually, the girls were restless to get over to see their friends, so they shot of, leaving Christine and I alone to enjoy a brandy and coffee, - the brandy was so good, it became 2 brandys! We also got into conversation with some people on the table next to us which meant that it turned into a late night for all of us.

It had been a lovely way to round off our last full day.

Saturday 21 April 2007
The Last Day
Today we had to leave the apartment and check out, however, our flight was not until 10:30pm so we still had, to all intents and purposes, a full day to do something with. Unfortunately, the weather was not brilliant. The day dawned overcast with a strong hint of rain which was later a reality. Packing and checking out was not really a problem, but from then on, the day was never going to be a good one. The rain came down, and it matched our mood perfectly. I think all of us were a bit down with the fact that the holiday was coming to an end, and coupled with late nights, irratibility was never far away.

We chose to go inland again to Antequera, an historic town about 30 minutes north of Malaga. The town has been the site of human occupation for at least 5,000 years, and has a Megalithic Necropolis on its northern outskirts. This was pretty amazing – the more so because it was free – and quite interesting. It consisted of a number of chanbers, but we were only aloud into one. Its position was such that it commanded a prominent view over the surrounding plain, sheltered by the hill that is now Antequera. Nearby, acording to the information we had, were dolmens, but, unfortunately, our map-reading and Spanish signposts let us down and we never found them. We went into town and had a look at a couple of interesting places in the old town.

Antequera was occupied by the Moors in 716 who re-named it Medina Antaquira and heavily influenced its culture, traditions and architecture. The fortifications that can presently seen in the old town were constructed by the Moors in the 13th century when, following attacks on Moors by a coalition of Christian kings and Antequera became a Moorish border stronghold. The Moors were finally driven out in 1410. There was much to see, with lots of churches and other buildings to look at, but the rain continued and in the end, we decided to head back to Malaga.

In Malaga, we parked up by the port which is overlooked by the old Moorish castle and the later Christian cathederal. Close by is Malaga bullring. We had a bit of a wander round, but our heart was not in it really. I think we would have prefered to have just got back to the plane and return home, but we still had hours to kill. After a drink in a sea-front café, we headed out of Malaga towards the east to see if we could find a supermarket and by some of the brandy we had tasted the previous night. We did find a place and got a couple of bottles of brandy and a bottle of sherry. These we packed into our hand-luggage, as we didn’t want anything to happen to them. Big mistake!

We drove back to Malaga to hand back the car, and sometime during the unloading, the bag with the sherry got dropped, and the bottle broke. This meant that we had lost one bottle which had only been in our possession for less than an hour. Moreover, we now had a bag full of clothes smelling of sherry. To cope with that, we packed the bag into one of the suitcases.

Hoping our troubles were over, we caught the transfer over to the airport where we could check in. This we did, but only discovered when we reached security, the the two brandy bottles could not be taken on as hand-luggage. This meant that we had to go back to check-in and add another bag to go into the hold. As we had already used up our allocation of bags, it cost another 15 euros to load this bag, but hopefully, that would be the end of it.

The Flight Back
We had a final meal in Spain in the airport cafeteria. An expensive, but simple dish, but it did kill some of the time we had to wait. After the meal, we did a bit of Duty-Free shopping and met up with the parents of the friends Bethen & Jayne had made during the holiday. Before long, it was 9:30pm and we would be boarding our plane in a few minutes – except the plane was 30 minutes late!

Eventually on the plane, like the flight out, there was plenty of space, so we could spread out. This time, after the take off, Jayne settled down to sleep as it was quite late and she was very tired. I tried to read, but kept nodding off. Again, the flight was no problem, and the captain kept us well informed of progress, and eventually we landed at Liverpool. Before long, we were at baggage collection waiting for our bags which dutifully arrived – except the last minute bag we had put onto the flight. This was nowhere to be seen, and it appears it never made the flight at Malaga.

This just about completed the day as far as I was concerned. We just now wanted to get home and get to bed. Christine’s Dad very kindly met us at the airport, and we were eventually all in bed by 1:30am – holiday over.