One Trip EVERY Month: Canillas de Aceituno

Canillas de Aceituno

My trip this month, is just the kind that I began this challenge for – to go somewhere I’ve been meaning to go, but have never got around to it!

The white, mountain village of Canillas de Aceituno lies, like several others, in the shadow of the largest mountain in the Axarquía region – La Maroma, a bare, pointless peak reaching to a height of  2065 metres.

I chose to take the back road to Canillas de Aceituno from Cómpeta, driving past Archez, Salares and Sedella along the way.  It’s a beautiful drive, with a natural landscape of hills, mountains and ravines and it was worth stopping a few times to take photographs of the open vistas towards a shimmering La Viñuela reservoir in the distance, or the towering Monte Maroma, nearby.  A quicker route would be up the A356 from Vélez-Málaga and then turn right towards the village, but I had the time to linger.

On the approach to Canillas de Aceituno, I came across La Rahige, which is a wooded area with a ravine, pools and waterfalls.  As it was late July, the water was only a trickle, but I’m sure it rages through here during the winter months.

As I explored the shady ravine, I looked up and caught a glimpse of a mountain goat – the first I have ever seen.  He seemed to be watching my every move as he expertly perched on the edge of the cliff face.

Arab archway, Canillas de Aceituno

Records show that there has been a settlement on the site of Canillas de Aceituno since the Moorish occupation in the 8th century, when the main industry was the growing of mulberry trees for silk production. Indeed, there are still two Arabic arches preserved within the village, the first on Calle Agua (which is the prettier of the arches, pictured above) and another on the narrow Calle Calleja, a little higher in the village.  These arches once formed part of a wall that surrounded the settlement, and in which gates were closed at night for protection.

After parking the car, I headed towards the Town Hall in Plaza de la Constitución at the centre of the village, to the Tourist Information Office (open Monday to Friday 10am-2pm) to obtain a mapCanillas de Aceituno is not a large village, but if you visit, it would probably be wise to ask the lady in the Tourist Office to mark the position of the 1000 year old Arab Cistern, as you would probably never find it without some directions.

House of Tithes. Canillas de Aceituno

As you leave the Town Hall, on the diagonally opposite corner you will see the white tower of La Casa de Diezmos (the House of Tithes).  Now a private residence, this is where the production of the mulberry tree leaves and the manufacture of silk were controlled and taxed.

Wandering around the village with it’s impossibly white walls reflecting the summer sun and flanked by flowerpots overflowing with blooms, I came across the plaque where the old castle used to stand, and the Church of Nuestra Señora de Rosario, constructed during the 16th century on the site of the old Arab mosque.

Canillas de Aceituno

From the square at the side of the Town Hall, a maze of narrow streets climbs steeply up the hillside to the Mirador Blas Infante, a scenic viewpoint which offers panoramic views across the terracotta roofs of the village towards La Viñuela reservoir.  There are many other white villages dotted on the hillsides in the distance.

Pathway to La Maroma, Canillas de Aceituno

If you are a hiker, it is from here that you can continue the 6 kilometre climb to the summit of La Maroma – but as it was a hot July afternoon, I decided to pass on that option.

Almonds, Canillas de Aceituno

In the upper part of the village, I stopped to chat with a Spanish couple who had almond shells spread out on their doorstep, ready to be cracked open to expose the nuts inside.  This is a laborious, time-consuming job which I know only too well, as we have 47 almond trees on our land (though this is not something we do as we have never developed the knack of being able to extract the whole nut from it’s tough exterior with ease).

It’s difficult to explain where the old Arab cistern is, but I’ll try.  Sadly there are no signs and the area is in a state of disrepair.  If you have the mark from the Tourist Office on your map, you will see that you should head for Calle Placeta and as you pass the parking area, there is a row of houses on your right side.  Walk past these houses and you will now be next to a patch of rough ground.  As you approach the next house on your right, you will see some very rough steps going down to the side of the house, and an opening in the side wall.  Here you can see into the 1000 year old cistern full of water, which is still used to irrigate the nearby terraces.

Morcilla, Canillas de Aceituno

Each year, on the last Sunday in April, the village of Canillas de Aceituno hosts the the fiesta of El Día de la Morcilla (the Day of the Black Pudding) when the speciality black-pudding stuffed with onion, and for which the village is famous, is celebrated and available for all to try.

If you don’t fancy the black pudding, I can certainly recommend Asador La Maroma for lunch, where not only are the food and surroundings very pleasant, but we were treated like old friends by Paco, the owner and his family.

OH and by the way, don’t forget your camera when you visit Canillas de Aceituno!

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!

Black pudding Image credit: Town Hall of Canillas de Aceituno

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One Trip Every Month: La Fortaleza, Vélez-Málaga

Entrance to La Fortaleza, Velez-Malaga My trip this month is a local one – to La Fortaleza, the medieval fortress and Alcazaba in Vélez-Málaga, capital of the Axarquía region.  Of course, as with many other places, I see the fortress towering above the town every time I pass by, but somehow never got around to visiting before now.

La Fortaleza was in a bad state of repair for many years and, as a result, was not open to the general public – but that has now changed. Alcazaba - Fortress La Fortaleza, Velez-Malaga Located on the highest point of the town, about 80 meters above sea level, the Alcazaba or Fortress was built during the 10th century under Moorish rule, but achieved its greatest prominence during the 14th and 15th centuries, as one of the most important strongholds of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. It’s worth remembering that the River Vélez was once much deeper and wider than it is now, and that the valley formed part of a trade route through the Zafarraya Pass from Granada to Málaga, making the town strategically significant.  

Vélez-Málaga may not have been a very large town, but it was well fortified and defended by a solid set of walls, some of which can still be seen.

As with many Spanish monuments, the directional signage to La Fortaleza leaves a lot to be desired, but if you head for the Fernando Hierro Sports Stadium in Vélez-Málaga and take the Arenas road, following signs for La Iglesia de Santa Maria/Museo de la Santa Semana, you will find the Alcazaba (La Fortaleza) just before the church.

The restored Tower of the Alcazaba (the fortress La Fortaleza) is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 1pm and offers spectacular views over the town and the surrounding Axarquía countryside. Admission is FREE.   

Don’t forget your camera! 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: Looking forward, looking back.

White rabbits!  Conejos blancos!  Yes, it’s that time of the month again ….. soon comes round, doesn’t it?

I got lots of comments about my snow photographs in the CBBH Photo Challenge for April: FULL CIRCLE – but there was the grand total of one entry, apart from mine.  Thanks Le Drake Noir  – even though something did get lost in translation!

What was it you didn’t like, I wonder?  Did the challenge involve taking too many photos – or couldn’t you find the right place to spin around?

Well …. I had fun, anyway – in fact, I enjoyed it so much, I have a similar challenge for this month, except that this time only two photos are involved.

This month’s CBBH Photo Challenge is LOOKING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK.  All you have to do is take a photograph and then turn round and take another of what is behind you.  

Not too difficult, is it?

Costa de a Luz, Spain - towards the sea

This is the gorgeous natural beach area of Playa de Los Lances, near to the town of Tarifa on the Costa de la Luz. At exactly 36 degrees latitude, this is the southernmost point of the European continent, situated even further south than both of the African capital cities of Tunis and Algiers.

If you look carefully at the first photo, you can see the mountains of Africa on the horizon – while the photo below shows the much closer Spanish mountains.

I love these kind of walkways – especially with the shadows of the rails forming such a distinct pattern.

Costa de la Luz, Spain - towards the mountains

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:

 *** Have you ever thought about walking the Camino de Santiago?   Maggie, the Trepidatious Traveller,  only lives a hop, skip and a jump from me in La Axarquía, and yesterday she flew to Lisbon in Portugal to begin the Camino Portuguese.   Last year, Maggie walked the 950 kms of Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port to Finisterre with her daughter over five week period,  so at least she knows what she’s letting herself in for.   You can follow Maggie’s daily posts (she sets off from Lisbon on May 2nd) or donate to the two charities she is raising money for (Cudeca, which is the Spanish cancer charity or Action for Animals).  Buen camino Maggie!

***  Writer, Patricia Sands, says that everyone has a story and her’s involves Antibes in the south of France.  Through her blog you can join The Bridge Club – Patricia’s acclaimed debut novel, or simply become immersed in her love of writing and escape to her beloved France.  If you love writing, you’ll find lots of information about writing  here, as well as having the chance of winning prizes that are regularly offered.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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 May, everyone.

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: 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!

 

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!