Being in Spain isn’t just about the new Mediterranean garden. Though at times that’s how it feels. It’s all new to me. The plants. The soil. The weather. Oh. The weather. I do like a bit of sun. But not in July or August. It’s too hot. And I never thought I’d say that!
But there have been visitors. Which I love. Which means we have to explore. And explore we have over the last 6 months. Trips to the Alhambra. Twice. Trips to the coast. Numerous. A trip to Malaga. Oh. The trip to Malaga. Where I parked in the car park of Cortes de Ingles. And walked into the old town. And where I couldn’t find the car in the car park when I got back. Had to retrace our steps back through the store. You could smell the fear. A hire car. Whose registration I don’t know – yes it’s on the key fob I know but in the panic I forgot. We eventually found it. After half an hour. By which time I was ready to cry.
So we bought a small house in Andalucia. In Competa. Up a long and winding road. In the hills. By now you will know it has a garden. A lovely Mediterranean garden which I have bored the pants off everyone with twittering instagramming and generally talking about it. Even in my sleep. A style of house I didn’t want. I wanted a town house. A terrace. No garden. No pool. A walk to the bar. To the cafes. Which is the total opposite to what we bought.
We were also due to be based in Frigliana another white washed village but the owners of the B&B we had booked cancelled a few days before. Not because we are bad guests but because they had a family crisis.
So Ian did his research and we booked into a fantastic B&B in Competa –Casa b Run by Carsten and Bente who’s hospitality and breakfasts are incredible. But being based in Competa it gave us a lot of time to explore the town.
Where is Competa? I asked the same question to Ian when we booked to visit in March. It’s just over an hour from Malaga and and hour and a half to Granada and the wonders of the Alhambra. It is the jewel in the crown of the whitewashed villages. It’s breathtaking on first sight. Surrounding by the mountain ranges and is that type of place which you would say has a lovely feel. Which it does. The town has everything you could want. Great places to eat. Pharmacies. ( important when you get a swollen eye!). Bakeries. Fruit shop. Great places to eat and watch the world go by. Wine shop with lovely local wines. An amazing ironmongers. A petrol station. A kitchen shop ( heaven for me) and excellent friendly service from everyone. The Estate Agent we used has guided us through the first 6 months with a general ease.
In August every year is the Noche del Vino – the night of wine. It’s an enormous annual event in the town and there is a lunch cooked and prepared in the Plaza de Vendimia. The grapes are crushed by the Mayor and the lunch is served – Migas. To be honest. It looked a bit like gruel. It’s olive oil and fried breadcrumbs. Add plenty of local wine to wash it down. Which is good. We were wimps and didn’t stay up to watch the flamenco dancing. There’s next year.
It is a lovely white Andalusian town. High on the hill. And with its own lonely goatherd. Where the man and his goats wanders across the hills from side to side. You can smell them before you see them. A whiff of goat is not to be forgotten. Ever. And I love it. Hugely. The town. Not the smell of goat. Which I don’t by the way. The mountains are high. And no. I haven’t had a Maria Von Trapp moment running up the hills. Singin I am sixteen going on seventeen. More like 60 going on 70. If I could get up the hill in the first place.
I can usually be found in the square of a lunchtime. At my favourite place Casa Paco. Or in the evening to be fair. Or at any time of the day. It’s friendly.
We are lucky to be able to get to the coast in no time at all – should we wish to. Which we do occasionally. Thrty minutes down the wiggly road you get to Torre de Mar. A long beach with a very long promenade. Which in the summer is busy. And I mean busy. Out of season it is lovely. Much quieter and the cafes are still cooking their sardines on the beach in boats on coals.
Down the opposite road from the house. – the windy road rather than wiggly – you get to Nerja and further beyond the Costa Tropical. That’s a new one on me. Costa Del sol. Costa Brava yes. But never Costa Tropical. I was taken for supper to a lovely restaurant La Barraca on the beach at playa de Cantarijan. In the summer the beach and restaurant is only accessed by bus down a hugely steep hill. At night you can take your car down. I’m not sure I will. It’s very steep. Oh. And it’s one of the areas famous nudist beaches. We went at night. And ate. Fully clothed. Me. Naked. With mozzies. Never. The food and beach is great.
It’s in a natural park and there is the fear of fire. You can drive down in the evening. I keep meaning to take a ian there. Maybe next time.
We hadn’t explored Nerja much until I had a friend staying this time. To be honest it was complete noseiness on my part. Some friends have said they are coming to Nerja early in 2018 and if we were here we should meet up. So i went in search of their hotel. And found a new part of the town I didn’t know was there. Lanes of Tapas Bars and a nice long beach.
There are hidden gems we have yet to explore along the Costa Tropical. To explore beyond Malaga on the Costa del Sol. There’s MIjas. There’s Marbella. Worth a visit when we have friends staying.
There have been a couple of trips to The Alhambra . Visitors say ‘are you sure you want to go again ‘ the answer is always yes. It’s an awesome place to visit and its a bargain. A day visit with entrance two the Nasrid Palace is one €14.95 euro. The Nasrid Palce is awesome and I want to go and visit at night. The visit is worth it just to see the beauty of that palace. This weekend we visited in the rain. And boy did it rain.
The drive to Granada is easy and we have earmarked a weekend to stay overnight and explore the town. It looks fabulous. It’s too much to do The Alhambra and Granada town in one day. Unless you are on a tourist trip doing the whole of Eure in a week. Which we are not.Of course i have managed to look at the gardens at The Alhanbra on each visit and i have done a bit of a blog already about my August visit. Link to that is here. A friend has reminded me about the Botanical garden in Malaga. That’s been added to the list. That’s what I love about social media. People tell you things you didn’t know. There are some gardens open in and around Granada so some forward olannning is needed for next year.
This visit the general life gardens at the Alhambra remained colourful but the flowers were going over. I do think that even when not picture perfect the flowers look good. I was still surprised at the planting. In August I thought that the planting looked pretty English. There were plants I hadn’t seen in a while. Some my parents had grown in the 70’s. Those tall red bedding salvias for one. A lot of orange tagetes. Some plants I want for my garden next year not the previous two but a fabulous euphorbia that was fantastic against the orange.
Malaga is interesting as well We will be there for New Year and apparentky they decorate the town at Xmas. Will be interesting to go and see. My friend Helen and I did the Cathedral this time and it was interesting. Shame my pictures weren’t which was disappointing. Must have been all that incense wafting about! There is always a next time. But at about €6 Euro it’s a bargain.
The colours of some of the houses in the old town are fabulous. We need more time to explore. The Picasso Museum is earmarked for the December trip. As long as I’m not Picasso’d out. I have seen a fair few PIcasso exhibitions these last 18months but I’m sure the museum here should be fab. If not there will be more Tapas time.
What I also find interesting here is the cost of entry into the places of interest. By interesting. I mean how inexpensive it is to vist. Unlike many in the UK. We have two days in Seville with friends at New Year which we are all looking forward to. We are so liucky that there is so much within easy reach to visit. Cordoba is on the list for 2018 as well. We have yet to decide whether we drive or let the train take the strain.
But I pinch myself regularly just as to how lucky we are to have such wonderful opportunities. I didn’t expect retirement to be so exciting So varied. And such fun
So. It’s not all been about plants. There has been food. Tapas. Of course. An amazing Paella at El Pilon, a lunch of avacado and spicy prawns at Casa Paco. Food to fuel the gardening. I can’t help myself.
For me learning a new language is hard. Last week I learnt a few phrases to introduce my friends to the waiter at the restaurant that we use. A lot. All was well. He understood what I had said. Corrected one word. Then bingo. He replied and my face was like a rabbit in the car headlights. I got the first and last word of the sentence. Nodded my head said Si a lot. And smiled. They need to speak to me like some peiople speak to them. Slowly. Very slowly. BUT I am determined to get there but be prepared for some disasters. Ian is doing brilliantly and we are both looking to arrange one to one conversational classes when we are there.
I am so looking forward to the next 6 months. the garden is already showing the start of the growth of the bulbs – back to the garden – I know. it’s exciting to see what will come through. I have planted alliums. Freesias. Every time I return something new is in flower. In fruit. We have Seville to look forwards to. A trip to Malaga – suppers with friends. Another season.
No doubt I’ll let you know.