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Report 1970: Three Travellers in the Costa del Sol, Barcelona and Paris

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Fall 2011

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Page 3 of 8: Costa del Sol – Day Trips

photo by Doug Phillips

At the bullfighting ring in Ronda

On our first full day we drove a few kms inland to the picturesque community of Frigiliana, our first experience with one of the “pueblos blancos” in the area. At other times we were slightly more adventurous.

One day we drove along a long and winding road into the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the region known as Las Alpujarras and visited the three best-known villages, Capileira, Bubion and Pampaneira. Frans, our landlord, suggested the excursion and recommended that we start at the top with Capileira, then work our way down to the other two. Great suggestion on all counts! Lots of artisan workshops – with leather in Capileira and weaving in Pampaneira being the highlights. We spent most of our time in Capileira. Bought some stuff, enjoyed a very good lunch and got some great pictures.

A couple of days later we took a day trip over to Gibraltar. It was a quintessential British experience – cloudy weather, mediocre food and expensive prices. We spent most of our time on the Upper Rock, the lower town not holding much appeal. We took the cable car to the top (€31, one way for the three of us), having spurned the entreaties of several mini-van tours near the lower level entrance to the cable cars. I think it was a good move, because the best part of our day in Gibraltar was the few hours walking along the roads and walkways of the Upper Rock, enjoying the views and commenting on the challenges of earlier inhabitants of the area.

A less enjoyable part of our time was spent at the several attractions on the rock, which were invariably congested with small tour buses. We didn’t pay to visit any of them – £10 per person seemed to be the standard charge – way over-priced in our opinion.

As we walked along, we were mystified about the purpose of the many heavy iron rings driven into the rock face along beside all the roadways as we walked along. We had no idea, until near the end of our time on the Upper Rock, we saw a plaque explaining their purpose. Until the 20th century companies of strong-armed gunners hauled heavy guns up the rock using ropes passed through the rings. Oh.

One day we ventured over to Malaga. We had an enjoyable time in the old part of the city. Our main purpose was a visit to the Picasso Museum, but we also toured the Alcazaba and had a very good lunch at La Teteria on the street outside the museum.

The next day we drove the long/wrong way into the Sierra de las Nieves mountains to spend a day in Ronda, the best-known of the pueblos blancos. This spectacular and historic town is less than an hour from Marbella on the A-397, our intended route. However, on a whim we followed a sign for Ronda around Malaga and had a two-hour winding trek along the A-357. Ah well, a unique experience. Ronda was worth the trip – spectacular setting, impressive bull-ring, lots of literary and historical connections. We followed a walking tour of the old part of the city in one of our guide books and sought out a tapas bar (La Taberna de Antonio) recommended by another. We drove back along the recommended route.

View from the escarpment in Ronda

We had intended to visit the Alhambra in Granada, but left the arrangements too late. Tickets to the Alhambra are on timed-entry basis, which we knew by looking at the website early in our planning, before we left Canada. However, we weren’t certain when we wanted to go, so decided to leave the booking until later. Big mistake. By the time we had made up our minds, there were no tickets available during the time we were in the area.

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