One Trip EVERY month: Riding on Mr Henderson’s Railway

Remember back to the end of January, when I asked if you would vote for my photograph to win a contest on Facebook?

And, so many of you voted that I WON?!

You might recall that the prize (offered by Toma Tours) was a day trip (with lunch), to one of the most picturesque parts of Andalucía, along a scenic train line known as Mr Henderson’s Railway – a British-built Victorian train line from Algeciras to Ronda.

I promised that if I won I would invite along two local bloggers to share my prize – and take lots of photographs, so I could tell you all about it ….. so here we go!

Start of the day - with Gibraltar in the backgroundFirst stop of the day in Algeciras, with the Rock of Gibraltar in the background.

So, I would like to introduce you to the two lovely ladies who came along with me last Saturday - Ali Meehan, founder of Costa Women, a Social and Business Networking Community for Women living in Spain (of which I am a proud member) and the Queen of SherryAnnie B, who took a well-earned day off from her Spanish Kitchen (and who supplied the superb cream-sherry to accompany my home-made fudge on our train journey).

Who’s the gorgeous guy next to me, I hear you ask?!  NO – it’s not George Clooney, that’s Manni, founder of Toma Tours,  and our highly knowledgeable guide for the day. 

Glorious views from Punta Carnero, Algeciras towards Africa

After meeting up with Manni in Marbella, we continued along the southern coast of Andalucía, past Gibraltar, to our first stop near to Playa de Getares in Algiceras, where we had glorious views from the lighthouse at Punta Carnero across the protected bay-within-a-bay, to Africa.

We were obviously set for perfect weather for our special day.

The route of Mr Henderson’s Railway cuts through breath-taking scenery from Algeciras to Ronda, taking in boutique hotels, trackside restaurants, trains, architecture, wildlife and history, as well as wonderful food and wine and is one of the most popular day trips run by Toma Tours.  You can read more about the history of the railway HERE and HERE.

Orange trees at Hotel Reina Cristina, Algeciras, Spain

We had time to enjoy coffee at the Hotel Reina Cristina, a rather grand British colonial-style hotel, with connections to the railway, and where many famous people including Winston Churchill, Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles de Gaulle have visited before us.

Then it was off to the railway station at Algeciras where we boarded the air-conditioned RENFE train (which has now replaced the original steam engines) for the one hour 45 minute journey to Arriate, near Ronda.  

Manni gave us a map of the route, a book all about Mr Henderson to enjoy with our sherry and fudge, and strict instructions to make sure that the train’s conductor knew we wanted to get off at Arriate (which is a request stop only) before waving us off at the station.   His task was to set off in his vehicle to meet us at the other end, while ours was to sit back and enjoy the fudge and sherry (much to the amusement of our fellow passengers) along with the stunning scenery and delightful stations along the route.  

Although the trains themselves have changed over the years, the scenery, 20 bridges, 16 tunnels and almost 750 metres elevation that the railway has to contend with remain as they have from the beginning.    We skirted the cork oak forest of the Alcornocales Natural Park, negotiated mountains, rivers, scenic white villages, orange and olive groves and even sighted storks circling their huge nests.

Manni the Station Master, waiting at Arriate, Spain

Just after 1.30pm we arrived at our destination, where we were met by Manni the Station Master who was waiting for us with glasses of cava (Spanish champagne)!  So many passengers on the packed train were taking photographs of our memorable welcome and it’s certainly one I will never forget!  WOW!

Our lunch stop was at the delightful trackside restaurant of El Muelle de Arriate – but there was no need to worry about the noise of passing trains with only two arrivals each day!  We feasted on huge “sharing plates” of goat’s cheese salad with mixed nuts and balsamic dressing; “Frank’s birthday cake” (named in honour of the friendly owner, Dutchman Frank) containing tender sliced potato, smoked salmon and mayo; tropical fruit salad and a platter of various pork cuts, followed by a selection of delicious desserts.  

What was particularly memorable for me was Frank’s personal introduction to each of the dishes whereby he came over and explained the ingredients and asked for our thoughts.  A very nice touch, indeed :)

After lunch, we continued our journey into Ronda with a visit to the Hotel Reina Victoria (sister hotel of the Hotel Reina Cristina at the other end of the railway line) for coffee, with spectacular views across Ronda’s famous gorge and landscape.

Manni continued guiding us around Ronda with a walking tour, introducing us to the history of bull-fighting,  the Plaza de Toros and the bullfighters’ Walk of Fame.

Ronda is one of the most famous and oldest Moorish towns of Andalucía.   Prehistoric remains show that the first inhabitants were here 25,000 years before Christ.   Whilst the Romans built the first settlements, it was after the Moorish conquest in 711AD that it flourished.

The town has an altitude of 739m and can be found 60 kilometres up a winding mountain road from Marbella on the western Costa del Sol, in the mountain range known as the Serranía de Ronda. 

Ronda sits astride a deep gorge, known as El Tajo, with a stone bridge linking the two sides.  Built in 1793, it is called El Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), because there are also two older bridges spanning the gorge.

So, after our amazing day, all that was left was for us to drive back down to the coast – but we hadn’t counted on one final surprise that Manni had in store for us.  Sadly for you, he’s sworn me to secrecy, so you’ll have to book the trip to find out what it was.  All I can say is that it certainly was a “moving experience”! 

WE HAD A FANTASTIC DAY RIDING ON MR HENDERSON’S RAILWAY WITH TOMA TOURS, AND I WOULD RECOMMEND THEIR TRIPS TO ANYONE.  Thanks again, Manni!

One Trip EVERY Month Logo

This post is my contribution to the One Trip EVERY Month Challenge.

If you’d like to join me, here’s how:

  • Each month, visit somewhere and then write about your trip or describe it using photographs – whichever suits you best.
  • Don´t forget to title and tag your entry ’One Trip EVERY Month Challenge’, and link back to this page.
  • Display the Challenge logo on your post or in your sidebar.
  • HAVE FUN!

Are you ready to join me by taking ONE TRIP EVERY MONTH? What are you waiting for?

GO!

 

CBBH Photo Challenge: Full Circle

During March I visited the Sierra Nevada Ski Station in the neighbouring province of Granada, Spain.

The Sierra Nevada (Spanish for “snowy range”) is Europe’s most southerly and sunniest ski resort with more than 80% of sunny days each year.  There are more than 104 kilometres of trails, 116 ski runs and 22 ski lifts to ensure you enjoy the biggest snow park in Spain!

I thought we could have a bit of fun with the CBBH Photo Challenge during April, so I want you to choose a position to stand and then turn a FULL CIRCLE, taking photos as you go.

My first FULL CIRCLE spin was in the main square, at the lower end of the resort village, Pradollano, which lies 2100 metres above sea level.  The village has a full-range of hotels, restaurants, shops and holiday apartments and caters for every taste and budget.

Square in the centre of Pradollano, Sierra Nevada ski village, Spain

Square in the centre of Pradollano, Sierra Nevada ski village, Spain

Square in the centre of Pradollano, Sierra Nevada ski village, Spain

Square in the centre of Pradollano, Sierra Nevada ski village, Spain

Square in the centre of Pradollano, Sierra Nevada ski village, Spain

Square in the centre of Pradollano, Sierra Nevada ski village, Spain

From this square I jumped on board the ski-lift to the top station, Borreguiles, situated at 3300 metres above sea level – where I did my second FULL CIRCLE spin!

In the first of the next set of photographs, you can see the village of Pradollano far below.  The highest peak of the Sierra Nevada range is Mulhacén (appearing in the fourth photograph, below), which at 3,481 metres is also the highest point of the Iberian Peninsula. 

Above the ski village, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Above the ski village, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Above the ski village, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Above the ski village, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Above the ski village, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Above the ski village, Sierra Nevada, Spain

So, now it’s YOUR turn.

Don’t forget that the CBBH Photo Challenge is a little different from some other challenges, in two ways. First, it’s only once a month – giving you lots of time to consider your entry before the end of the calendar month. Second, and most important, this is a BLOG HOP (after all, it is the CBBH – Conejo Blanco Blog Hop, conejo blanco means white rabbit in Spanish), so DON’T FORGET that in your post you need to add links to two blogs that you have visited and commented on during the past month.

That way, when we visit each other, we can HOP OVER to your links, connect with others and share a little blog love around!

Conejo Blanco BLOG HOP Photo Challenge

 

My Featured Blog Links for this month:

*** The Barsetshire Diaries follows the everyday adventures of “Lord” David Prosser, an author and retired Local Government Officer from North Wales.  Quite apart from a penchant for car-boot sales, charity and antique shops, David regales us with hilarious tales of his day-to-day life as a member of the landed gentry.   His Blog Cast List is so long that it now has a page of it’s own, so as not to confuse newcomers and non-regular visitors!  After a difficult past year, David’s writing has kept him busy on the straight-and-narrow – and he is one of my most regular commenters.  OOHHH and I nearly forgot …. you MUST pop over and see Reuben’s photo page :)  So cute!

*** Spanish Scribbles is all about Wendy Kate’s journey into sketching and drawing, in and around her adopted hill-top pueblo of Jimena de la Frontera in Andalucía.  Unlike me, who can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, Wendy has produced the most wonderful illustrations of the tower in the main square, and the best cats in Jimena, as well as the cork oak trees in the nearby Parque Natural Los Alcornocales, which are harvested every nine years.  Over the weeks, it will be fascinating to see just how much her drawing comes along.  What a talented lady!

Please HOP over and say HELLO to both of my featured links, and tell them Marianne sent you!

So that´s the CBBH Photo Challenge for April, folks.

Remember, all you have to do is post your entry by the end of the month, tag your entry ‘CBBH Photo Challenge’, link back to this blog and, most importantly, don´t forget to add links to any two blogs that you´ve commented on during the past month, so that we can all HOP OVER and have a look.

Make sure you FOLLOW THIS BLOG so you don´t miss next month’s exciting challenge!

For more information on how the CBBH Photo Challenge works click here.

I hope everyone taking part enjoys the exposure the CBBH Photo Challenge offers to featured blogs and, who knows, you may end up finding a new favourite!

I´m looking forward to seeing your interpretations.

[CBBH logo Image credit: (cc) Mostly Dans]

One trip EVERY month: Glass and Crystal Museum, Málaga

You might have noticed I’ve not been around much for the past couple of weeks.  That’s because I’ve been back in the UK visiting family and friends, as well as a six-day trip to Iceland to cross off a “Bucket List” item ….. to see the Northern Lights.  

I’m back home in Spain now and I’ll get to see your new blog entries and respond to your kind comments over the next few days.

In keeping with the theme of this blog, and to satisfy my One Trip EVERY Month Challenge, I want to tell you about my recent visit to the Museum of Glass and Crystal in Málaga.  I’ve noticed for some time on Trip Advisor that this is Number One rated attraction in the city, so it was time to pay a visit.

Tapas of tuna and prawns in Malaga

We had spent the earlier part of the day at the wonderful Atarazanas food market, enjoying delicious tapas of fresh tuna and prawns at Marisqueria El Yerno, so it was a relatively short stroll towards Plazuela Santisimo Cristo de la Sangre to find the Glass and Crystal museum.

I have to admit that it could have been a bit easier to find, but eventually we arrived after a couple of wrong turns.

Glass and Crystal museum, Malaga

The Museum of Glass and Crystal is privately owned and housed in a beautifully restored 18th century building complete with inner courtyards, and displays a collection of more than 3,000 pieces of mostly European crystal and glass, as well as antique furniture and works of art.

There are a number of stained glass windows from British churches, including a particularly magnificent one by William Morris.

William Morris stained glass window

What was particularly enchanting about our visit to this museum was the fact that it is housed within a family home, and we were fortunate to be given a private guided tour by one of the owners, Professor Ian Phillips, whose knowledge and enthusiasm of this unique collection shone through.

My only regret was that we had limited time available for our tour as we had to get back to our parked car, some distance away, before the meter ran out.  I look forward to returning to enjoy a more leisurely tour – perhaps when our next visitors are here in the summer.

 

Collección del Vidrio y Cristal de Málaga
Address: Plazuela Santísimo Cristo de la Sangre 2, Málaga  (in front of the main door of the Church of San Felipe Neri)
Telephone: (+34) 95 222 02 71
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday  11am – 7pm.  Closed on Mondays, Christmas and New Year’s Days and for the whole of the month of August.
General admission: 5 euros (reduced for certain groups)

One Trip EVERY Month Logo

This post is my contribution to the One Trip EVERY Month Challenge.

If you’d like to join me, here’s how:

  • Each month, visit somewhere and then write about your trip or describe it using photographs – whichever suits you best.
  • Don´t forget to title and tag your entry ’One Trip EVERY Month Challenge’, and link back to this page.
  • Display the Challenge logo on your post or in your sidebar.
  • HAVE FUN!

Are you ready to join me by taking ONE TRIP EVERY MONTH? What are you waiting for?

GO!

 

Lighthouse at Torrox Costa

Lighthouse at Torrox Costa, Spain

The lighthouse at Torrox Costa is approximately 50 kms to the east of the city of Málaga.

This stretch of coastline has bamboo fringed beaches and is immediately east of the “Balcon de Torrox“, constructed as a lookout to the sea and headlands, with transparent flooring looking down on the Roman necropolis unearthed beneath.

I particularly like the contrast of the white-painted lighthouse against the clear, blue, Andalucián summer sky, fringed with the wild bamboo fronds.

The perspective of the height of the structure is completely lost in the vegetation.