It’s always exciting when the first almond blossom appears on the trees in the garden, but when that day is also New Year’s Day, it’s even more special.
Happy New Year, everyone!
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The Balcón de Europa (the Balcony of Europe) is a well-known landmark in the coastal town of Nerja.
Leading to the semi-circular viewing point with a circular marble, geometric patterned platform overlooking the sea is a lovely palm-tree lined promenade, often packed with visitors strolling along enjoying an ice-cream.
I was particularly fortunate the other day, when I was visiting Nerja and popped along to gaze over the railings of the Balcón, to pretty much have it all to myself.
Well, other than the King, of course!
A bronze statue of King Alfonso XII stands leaning on the railings near the end of the Balcón de Europa, commemorating his visit to the town in January, 1885. The King came to see the damage caused by an earthquake that devastated the region on Christmas Day, 1884.
He was captivated by the beauty of the area and legend has it that he was responsible for naming it “Balcón de Europa”.
It’s not true, of course!
There are two old cannons on the Balcón, near to the statue of the King, which serve as a reminder of the strategic importance of the Balcón in days gone by.
I was particularly drawn to this monument to the five boys (Francisco Navas Montesinos, José Torres Cárdenas, Miguel Muñoz Zorrilla, José Luis Barbero de Miguel and Manuel Muñoz Zorrilla) who discovered the Nerja caves in January 1959.
The town is so proud of them that their names are also written on a plaque at the entrance to the caves, where there is a much bigger monument to honour them.
To one side of the Balcón is this white arched structure, covered with pots of plants which is the perfect place to shade from the hot sun on a summer’s day and admire the view of the east of Málaga.
I’ve seen newly-married couples having their bridal photos taken here, too – but not on that particular day! A perfect spot, don’t you think?
Whilst you’re here, you might enjoy reading:
Oh come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
Oh come ye, Oh come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him
Born the King of Angels:
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Oh come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
Yesterday I went to see the Christmas nativity scene (known as a Belén) at the council offices in Torre del Mar. When I first arrived, I could hear the excited chatter of school children as I approached the Tenencia de Alcaldía offices, opposite to the National Police Station on Calle Andalucía.
Just through the entrance door of the council chambers is an exhibition room, where the nativity scene can be found. The children were just finishing their visit and were all excited to be receiving some sweets as they left the building – which gave me a perfect opportunity to have a look around, before the next group of children arrived.
As I entered the exhibition room, the first thing I noticed was that the walls were covered with children’s drawings, showing their perceptions of Torre del Mar. As you can see, the lighthouse features in many of the pictures.
The creator of the nativity scene, Antonio Fortes Calderón, was on hand to explain that the display covers thirty square metres and consists of 60 individual pieces – many of which were made of papier-mâché.
Antonio was keen to show me around the delightful Belén, pointing out various areas of the display which were representative of the area in general, but also very specific pieces that were instantly recognisable to me as parts the town.
I absolutely LOVE the revolving light on the lighthouse!
Here’s the very distinctive blue-and-white lighthouse and the beach, complete with the running track (Sendero Litoral), together with a model of the old church of Torre del Mar (now replaced with a more modern church).
Two of the (three) old chimneys of the Azucarera (sugar mill) are depicted, along with the old railway station (now the bus station).
And this photo shows the bandstand and the old lighthouse, which is now hidden amongst the buildings, just off the promenade.
Torre del Mar means Tower of the Sea, but that particular tower, after which the town is named, is no longer standing. Antonio has included a model to show how it would have looked, back in the day.
If you’ve a spare half an hour, pop along and have a look at all the pictures the children have drawn, and as you walk around this magnificent Nativity scene, see how many buildings from the town you can spot.
You never know, you might bump into Antonio whilst you’re there!
I love flying and whenever possible I’ll jump at the chance of a window seat. It’s fascinating to see the land below from a totally unique perspective and particularly if you know the area well, at ground level.
Last Thursday lunchtime I flew back to the UK to see friends and family for a few days. As is often the case, my plane took off from Málaga airport and headed out to sea before banking left to cross back over the coast of the Axarquía. From my window seat on the right-hand side of the plane, I had a bird’s-eye view, and the best and clearest view I have ever had.
We crossed the coast over Benajarafe, giving me a great view of the harbour and marina at Caleta de Vélez with Algarrobo Costa just above (and slightly to the right in the photo) and Torre del Mar below.
From the wider angle, you can also see the point of land sticking out which is where the lighthouse is at Torrox Costa, with the start of Nerja beyond.
As we continued to fly inland, Vélez-Málaga came into view and, if you look closely, you can just about see the motorway (Autovía del Mediterraneo) cutting across the landscape before Torre del Mar begins.
The white mountain village of Cómpeta was instantly recognisable, as the tops of the mountains above the village suffered and remain scarred by the devastating fire last summer.
We flew directly over the bare, pointless peak of La Maroma, the highest mountain in Málaga province – standing at an impressive 2065m (or 6775ft), and dominating the skyline of the Axarquía. You can clearly see the village of Canillas de Aceituno in the lee of La Maroma (towards the bottom right of the photograph).
And finally, after flying over Mount Maroma, we left the Axarquía region where the distinctive shape of the reservoir of Lake Bermejales came into view, and the town towards the bottom left of the photo is Alhama de Granada.
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November 1st is celebrated with a national holiday each year in Spain, as Todos los Santos (All Saints´ day). Cemeteries will be packed with families paying their respects to loved ones who have gone before them.