Andalucia Del Sur: Daredevil Handymen, Don’t Mention the War, and Mountain Biking Thrills and Spills

20 Mar

From Cadiz we drove directly to Arcos de la Frontera to rendezvous with Stuart’s brother and sister-in-law for a long overdue family lunch. Arcos is a spectacular white town with murderously narrow, winding streets. An aperitif on the view terrace of the Parador followed by an eight euro menu del dia in the tiny plaza next to the old market passed the time very pleasantly. The hotel handyman suspended above a 200 meter sheer drop to repaint the parador was an unexpected diversion.

Ninety minutes south to the coast brought us to Los Caños de Meca, our home for the next three nights. Out of the summer season Caños attracts kite surfers, hikers in the Parque Natural and a few hardy tourists determined to see the site of the Battle of Trafalgar, off Cabo de Trafalgar. Stuart delighted in announcing loudly in his best Basil Fawlty voice, ‘The English won you know’, at every opportunity so it’s lucky there were few Spaniards to hear him. My knowledge of the history of that period had been hazy but I could now win a trivia competition on the topic of Lord Horatio Nelson.

We’d booked a penthouse apartment with 270 degree ocean views for a ridiculously low price. Only two other apartments in the large complex were occupied. We idled the time away strolling the beach and cypress pine forest and along the cliffs before sunset beers at Bar Ariate and great coffee at the adobe and thatch hippy hangout Las Dunas, almost the only places open. The best entertainment was watching kite surfers. It looks a whole lot more fun than regular surfing. Both men and women tear along at great knots and leap out of the water to turn and flip.

Making our way to the Costa Del Sol (aka Costa Del Golf) through windmills and giant bulls dotting the ridges we were impressed by Tarifa with its strong Moorish influences, clean streets and fortified sea front. I’ll return some day to explore the old town and check out Thursday Flamenco at Almedina. Estapona seemed to be the most Spanish of the seaside towns amongst the concrete horrors developed for holidaymakers and retirees. Stuart was incredulous at the solo British topless sunbather at our Lido Beach Cafe lunch stop who spent the hour we were there adjusting his short white shorts for maximum sun exposure. We created a whole back story for him with shades of ‘Shirley Valentine’.

We spent the afternoon in gorgeous Malaga town centre and took tea at El Patio before heading back down the coast to Fuengirola and Sierra Cycling’s beach houses where I’d stayed in late October. What better way to stay fit for our next round of alpine skiing than a couple of days in the saddle in the Sierra Nevada and also catch the finals of the Rugby Six Nations tournament – all in great company.

This was a late addition to our itinerary so we weren’t exactly kitted out for mountain biking. Stuart made do with my yoga pants and his mocassins in lieu of cycle shorts and sports shoes. He earned the admiration of our guide, Ash, for his efforts on the single tracks. I, on the other hand, managed to stay out of trouble until the very last up and over trail at which point I went up and over the handle bars and landed heavily. I now have some decorative scrapes and bruises to add to the disc brake burn I collected last time.

The perfect weather of the past fortnight has continued with wildflowers scenting the air in the heat of the day. The mimosa (wattle) is especially spectacular and the lunch and coffee stops in the mountains made the effort of the hill climbs well worth it. Stuart finally got his wood fire grilled sardines at the beach and I overindulged on Aruna’s vegie curry dishes at Mira India.

Thanks as ever to Alan for his organisation, Ash for his expertise, our housemates for their company, and Mary for the best cooked breakfasts in Spain!

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3 Responses to “Andalucia Del Sur: Daredevil Handymen, Don’t Mention the War, and Mountain Biking Thrills and Spills”

  1. jo March 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    happy birthday sharon lots of love jo xxxx

  2. Charles March 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    No sign of you slowing down even though you are nearly one year older tomorrow.
    Have a lovely Birthday and looking forward to seeing you both in a month

    Love

    Charles and Anne

    • Sharon Tickle March 21, 2012 at 7:59 am #

      Thanks for the birthday wishes all. My motto is one I stole from my Mother, ‘If not now when?’. Has worked so far! Love from Grenoble. Sxx

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