El Torcal

As we were leaving Ronda, with heaviness in our hearts, Karl mentioned his burning desire to go and explore the valleys below the cliffs. So we drove along the outskirts of town looking for a road that would mirsculously take us there. Our GPS, 'Ken' was no help, but probably better than our sense of direction which led us down a winding dirt road to an old abandoned church, and no where else. We shouldn't have really been taking the Audi off road, so maturity prevailed and we returned to the bitumen. 

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Soon we were on the highway. Malaga had been wiped from the itinery with our extension of the stay in Ronda, and adding more time to Granada. I found a nice little detour to take in some natural beauty. I know it sounds conceited, but I get a bit bored of mindblowly awesome buildings after a while so it becomes harder to appreciate their magnificence. So in fairness to the buildings, We need to have our space from time to time. "It's not you, it's me."

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El Torcal is a geographic masterpiece. The rock has deteriorated in such a way that the mountain top has become a sprawling landscape of giant tea plate stacks, or cow pats, depending on how you view the world. I failed to take a picture that captures the expansiveness of the place, but it was strikingly beautiful, and I felt like it was a grey, Spanish Bungle Bungles.

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After taking on this first section of the track, we opted out of the 7km walk, in the heat of the middle of the day, carrying a child. There was also a more feasible 3km loop, but details, details. Our excuses hold up better against the longer route. 

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Matisse got a nappy change and feed in the backseat of the car in the carpark. This kind of classiness has hung around us like a bad smell this trip. 

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The detour to El Torcal had left us in the middle of nowhere. So rather than backtracking to Antiquera, we reprogrammed Ken to find the best route to Granada. He picked some 'roads' that took us on a valley adventure to satisfy Karl's deepest desire. Soon the roads became nothing more than intermittent bitument between potholes. Karl's rally driving skills got a workout. It was dead set gorgeous. However, the scenery was just an unwelcome distraction from my self assigned task of watching for pot holes and oncoming traffic, specifically speeding locals ripping around the bends.,daring tourists to consider getting in their way. Our car got a good shaking, I'm surprised a wheel didn't fall off. They dont make Audi's like they used to.

 These perfect roads were three lane motorways in comparison . 

These perfect roads were three lane motorways in comparison . 

The motorway led to a truck stop restaurant where we enjoyed a lazy three course Menu del Dia. It was the hand of destiny that put us back on the motorway just I n time to drive by a gypsy convoy, which was only travelling two exits. I was hyperventilating with excitement, all these amazing caravans being towed by tractors. It was a sight to behold. We had begun overtaking them by the time I realised what was going on, so I got Karl to illegally pull over on the side of the motorway so I could get out and grab some photos. The first tractor honked so loudly. I anticipated abuse for dangerously parking on the side of the highway, taking up some of their lane, but more so for taking pictures without their permission. Instead I got a big wave. All the tractors started honking and waving, making a big noisy procession down the highway. Some of the caravans had people sitting in their déckchairs out the back. They were even waving... I was trying to take pictures in between waving, so my photos are pretty dodgy. This was a definite highlight of the trip.

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We learnt early on that one and half hours in the car is about the limit for little Matisse. Beyond that, boredom sets in and she becomes a nightmare. She isn't tricked by a prolonged stop either. There is only so much being strapped to a harness she can handle in a 24hr period. So we time our drives for when she is tired and will sleep the first hour. With our detour to El Torcal, and the back alley route to the motorway, we had hit this threshold with still an hour to go. She was hating us, and making it known, so I jumped in the backseat to entertain her from there.

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Thirty minutes later, all the usual tricks, songs and distractions were wearing thin. Desperate times called for desperate measures. First on the scene was Bertie the magic squirting bottle, squirting Matisse in the face with water. This was both alarming and entertaining for Matisse. Eventually, tears were flowing again. Sally the stripey sock snake slithered in to see what was going on. Eating body parts, making lots of ssss noises and generally acting creepy helped pass another 3 and a half minutes,then it was game over. What to do, what to do.... Sally the snake wound down the window and began talking to the passing cars. Hysterical laughter prevailed. Of course. The most embarrassing thing for me, would be the only thing to keep her happy. The startled looks from the people in the cars is hilarious in hindsight. 

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It's fair to say that Matisse was beside herself when we arrived in Granada. This was exacerbated by our attempts to find the apartment. It took 15 minutes to drive 1km through the most tangled and narrow streets we have yet encountered. The picture below captures the moment when we scratched both our side mirrors, even though they were pulled in, as we edged our way between these two buildings. The apartment promoted the free on street parking out front, but naturally, it was all taken. So we squeezed past the man on the curb and committed to a 15 minute loop back.

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I phoned our host Lydia to find out where she was. She couldn't make it and had sent Fernando to do the check in. All this with full decimal screaming from Matisse who wanted to escape more than life itself. She had even started fake choking to prove her point. We found a parking spot nearby and walked to the apartment where the same man was still standing... "Fernando?"... "Si." For fucks sake. I could have minimised the ordeal had I just army rolled out the first time round. We checked into our apartment and went to the terrace to take in the glorious views of La Alhambra, a Muslim palace, castle and fortress. 

 La Alhambra from the square beside our apartment. 

La Alhambra from the square beside our apartment.