Andalucia in October

The first week of October is a good time for exploring southern Spain – the fierce heat of the summer months has subsided to a temperature in the mid to high twenties, manageable for touring by coach and exploring on foot. I recently made a short visit to Andalucía, a part of Spain that I first visited many years ago, before the massive development of the tourist industry got under way. There was an occasional cloud and a couple of very light and short showers but the weather was warm enough to sit by the poolside – the brave even managed a plunge into the hotel swimming pool, which as this time of year is unheated.

By Olaf Tausch (Own work) (], via Wikimedia Commons
A friend and I stayed in Mijas, a whitewashed small town on a mountainside overlooking the coastline. No high rise hotels here – we could gaze down on the very developed tourist coastline a few miles below and feel pleased that we had chosen to be away from the bustle. Our hotel was the THR Mijas, which has two hundred rooms, beautiful gardens, a pleasant pool area, and a spa. A word of caution, should you be tempted to stay here, pedestrian access to this hotel is not ideal for the very elderly or others with mobility issues, as the routes from the road to the entrance are via either a steep metal staircase or a sloping pathway. 

But I and my knee replacement managed reasonably well – and came home slightly fitter than when we left, having resisted the temptation to travel around Mijas by donkey taxi or tuk tuk. We even managed the steep climb to the summit of the village, where we were rewarded by fantastic views, a visit to the pretty church, the bullring, and gardens still in full bloom.

Flamenco dancers preparing to perform in the square at Mijas

The first few days of our holiday included a packed itinerary of visits to notable places of interest, one of which was the mountainside town Frigiliana, the best-preserved Moorish village in the region. The Moors invaded Andalucía in 711 C.E. and subsequently ruled Spain for 800 years. They built their castles and settlements on mountainsides impregnable to attack. 

Frigiliana By Glenis Rix

So Frigiliana has some very steep climbs, but the effort is well rewarded. The coach dropped us off at a small square at the bottom of the village, which is overlooked by the only surviving sugar cane refinery in Europe. Our first visit was to a nearby café for a glass of hot chocolate infused with a shot of local brandy to fortify us for a leisurely climb to the top of the village, browsing in the many small shops that line the lanes and alleys. This truly is a very pretty, picturesque place – and not too many other tourists early in the morning.

As more visitors started to arrive we returned to the coach for the short journey to Nerja, famed for the viewing point known as the Balcony of Europe, which offers spectacular views of the coast.

By PerryPlanet (self-taken) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For less than ten euros my travelling companion and I shared a generous dish of delicious tapas and a litre of local beer in the Plaza Cava before strolling along the promenade.

View from the promenade at Nerja by Glenis Rix

 Although I travelled with a friend the holiday package that we chose was specifically for single travellers. It seems to me that this is an ideal solution for both less independent or more gregarious explorers of a certain age (my youth hostelling days are long gone) as there is always someone to chat with. Breakfast and dinner at the hotel was served at reserved tables that seat ten people. There were 39 travellers on our trip (which I was told was an unusually large party) accompanied by an ever-present, knowledgeable and enthusiastic bi-lingual tour manager.

We also visited the cathedral and market in Malaga, Ronda, the Arab market and the Alhambra Palace in Granada. More about these later. Hasta Luego.

 Find out more about Mijas on my hub pages


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