Kayaking in a Storm in Nerja

Well we have had such a hectic summer that I don’t even know where to begin talking about it! Well let’s begin with the most torturous, nerve-racking event of the season: KAYAKING IN A STORM!

The promotional photos show a bunch of very happy people swimming about in a lagoon with perfectly still waters. The water is crystal clear and deep green. There’s not a ripple on the surface of the water. In the background you can see a waterfall.

In real life? Ah yes in real life!

Before Rowing at Nerja

Ah yes how happy and totally unsuspecting was my son. Upon arrival at Nerja. You can see a few storm clouds gathering in the distance but meh, nothing to worry about. Right? (Sorry I fuzzed out his photo but he’s still underage!)

At first when we arrived, it all looked pretty neat and normal. The instructor taught us how to handle a kayak and oars. Easy peasy. We put on our lovely crimson life jackets. Pay attention to those life jackets, in a storm they can save your life haha.

Before Group Photo

Don’t we look happy in this happy Before photo? I always say, I’m the pasty white shortie at the end next to “Ermenegildo”, the one all dressed in white. I don’t think I’d qualify for Baywatch. Now, those tall, shapely, tanned things in bikini on the other side, on the other hand……..

Well at any rate there is no way I would ever jump into a kayak in the middle of the sea without a life jacket.

As we pushed out into the ocean, the water was a bit rough, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Waves kept crashing over the kayak and submerging it under the water. I was terrified!

But we soon discovered that kayaks are built to be practically unsinkable. No matter how enormous the waves or how many crashed over the kayak, the kayak always comes floating back up again. And it won’t capsize either. So you can ride out tranquilly.

Kayaking

You can see the storm clouds starting to gather in the corner.

We began the route but the sea just got rougher and rougher. A tour through some underground caverns underneath the Caves of Nerja is usually included in this route, but the day we went, the sea was so enraged we couldn’t enter the caverns, because the waves were too strong and big and high.

Calm Swimming

We did make it to some sort of sheltered enclosure where we could jump out of the kayaks and swim around a bit. After that the monitor guided us on a fun obstacle course where we had to manoeuvre our way through some very narrow channels between tall rocks. That was easy and a lot of fun. The sea there was calm, and there was no hurry.

(Although the instructor took a photo of us doing this, I didn’t include it here because I think I look like a fat frog.)

At this point, however, a rollicking storm rolled in and we were forced to head back without finishing the route. It was a good thing we didn’t continue, because we had our hands full then trying to avoid getting dragged across the strait to Africa!

No more photos from here on, of course. The instructor had his hands full just trying to prevent us all from getting dragged to Africa!

So huge enormous waves were crashing all over the kayak all the time. The sea kept trying to pull us towards Africa and we had to row very very fast just to avoid getting dragged out to the open sea. No matter how fast we rowed, the kayak kept getting tossed about where we didn’t want to go. This was NOT what we’d bargained for when we signed up! Where was the calm lagoon and the crystal clear water? All we had were deep dark turbulent waves!

After about five hours of arduous rowing we finally made it back to the beach. As if we weren’t already exhausted enough, the instructor then made us jump out of the kayak a certain distance from the shore, because they couldn’t drag the kayak to shore with us in it!

I leapt out and immediately got pushed under the water, because the water was sooo deep I couldn’t touch the bottom! Good thing I had the life jacket on. Although on the other hand there was no way I was going to jump into deep, rough waves without a life jacket I can assure you!

After we swam to shore, if it had been up to me I would’ve just hurled myself down onto the sand and lain there for three years! However, since no one else did that and everyone else had the stamina to finish the activity with dignity, I wasn’t going to be any less than anyone else haha!

But as soon as we returned the oars and life jackets, I grabbed my son “Ermenegildo” and dove onto a beach wall and vegged out there for about half an hour, because my head kept spinning round and round.

When I’d recovered enough to walk around without falling down, we went to pick up the photos from the instructor. Then we ate the sandwiches I’d brought with us.

Then, unbelievable though it might seem, given that it was still cold and stormy (highly unusual weather in the middle of a southern Spanish summer) and a strong wind was still blowing and we were freezing to death since we were all wet because I hadn’t brought a change of clothing (I thought it was going to be hot and sunny and we’d dry right off), in spite of that we had an ice cream! Yes we are crazy!

Then we had a beautiful relaxed stroll back along the seaside promenade. My son bought some souvenirs (ie. had me buy him some souvenirs). Well Nerja’s pretty famous. It’s a lovely town and well worth the bother of visiting it. And of course, you can get souvenirs there.

Storm Clouds Over Nerja

Nothing spectacular about this anodyne photo. Just wanted to show the highly unusual view of storm clouds over Nerja, something you would probably not often get a chance to behold.

After that, idling our way back up towards the historic town, we lucked upon THE MOST DELICIOUS, DELECTABLE Indian restaurant I have ever visited. It’s called Masala House, if you happen to be in Nerja and you would like to try it out. Best prices I have ever seen here in the south of Spain!

You can find it on the winding road that winds down to Playa Burriana.

We picked our way back up to the historic centre and from there to the highway to take the bus back to Malaga. The bus driver had the great good fortune to count on air conditioning in the bus and he turned it up to Super High, and we were still wet, so we had a miserable, freezing cold ride back to Malaga.

Fortunately, we had a hot shower waiting for us back home haha.

We went on the kayak tour with Educare Aventura (no affiliate link and this is not a sponsored post), 600.62.00.54, www.educareaventura.com (where you will see the happy photos of happy shining people swimming in lagoons as still as a millpond). The kayaking activity costs 20 euros per person (children pay less but I assure you, a child will not be able to carry out the activity in a storm!). They have several outings a day during the summer, both morning and afternoon. Less in the winter.

Their office is located at the far end of Playa Burriana, if you are walking to the beach from the centre of Nerja. Just keep crossing the beach all the way to the end. You’ll recognize them because they have some sails out front.

They have lockers for you to leave your bags so you don’t have to bring them on the kayaks. You can also leave your valuables with the wonderful girls at the desk. There’s a changing room too. Of course, since I didn’t bring a change of clothes, we didn’t avail of it. I’d recommend you bring a change of clothes if you are expecting a storm haha. (If you are not you can just dry yourselves in the sun.)

Kayaking photo credits to Marcel, our instructor at Educare Aventura. The rest of the photos are, as usual, mine.

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Caves of Nerja

Well, looks like it’s time for another sightseeing / travel post.

I promised my son I would take him to the Caves of Nerja for his birthday. His birthday was at the end of last year, so you can see I’m not very current with posts haha!

If you live around here or have ever come for a visit, you are probably familiar with the Caves of Nerja and you have probably dropped by to discover them. They are very well known and most tourists do try to make an effort to stop by and visit them.

The Caves of Nerja were formed millions of years ago during prehistoric times by rainwater filtering through the porous rock and slowly gouging out cavities and openings underground. They were almost continuously inhabited by cavemen, who left several paintings depicting everyday life in their times. These cave paintings aren’t open to the public, in order to preserve them.

Even though they are so famous today, no one knew about these caves in modern times until they were discovered in 1959.

Now, it’s very common for caves to be discovered while public works are taking place excavating tunnels for highways, parking lots or other things that are habitually built underground. But that wasn’t how the Caves of Nerja were discovered.

A group of five boys from the nearby village of Maro liked to wander around in the fields and go bat hunting. They were aware that there were some holes where literally hundreds and thousands of bats would fly out from at dusk, and they liked to go chasing these bats.

One day, they thought they would explore more deeply into the holes where these bats flew out from. They tried to drop down into one of these holes, and soon found out that it wasn’t exactly just a tiny little rabbit warren haha!

It was, in fact, an enormous, immense, gigantic cavern. When they dropped down into the cavern, they discovered skeletons lying around.

They were very excited and were soon sharing their findings with friends, neighbours and teachers. Word spread, and it wasn’t long before scientists and experts started swinging around to check out this new finding.

Very soon they realized the immensity and significance of this discovery. Archaeological research began on this site, and the following year the caves were opened to the public.

The five lucky lads who discovered the caves weren’t forgotten. They are immortalized in a statue that you can see in the town of Nerja.

The Caves themselves are divided into three galleries, only one of which is open to tourists. The two deeper galleries, the Upper Gallery and the New Gallery, can only be visited in special, pre-arranged tours.

A series of pathways cuts through several halls and leads you in the end to the main showcase of the Caves: the Hall of the Cataclysm.

This is the famous hall where you can see the super gigantic column in the centre. This is the largest naturally-occurring cave column in the world. It reaches from the top of the hall into depths so profound that you can’t really see the bottom of it all. The column is 32 metres high and occupies a space of 3000 m3.

We went in the afternoon so we could see the guided tour, but I’m not too sure it is really worth the bother of having to jostle with all the crowds. If we ever go back again we will probably go in the morning, when you don’t have to go in a group and you can wander about freely.

We got assigned to a tour guide who pretty much didn’t say a word to us, other than telling us which direction to go in the labyrinthine trails which appear to wander about in all directions. Fortunately, we hung behind, and we were able to catch other tour guides who were a little less laconic.

I’m not too sure about how much information you can garner from the explanations of the tour guides, all the same. We listened to one explain how the Hall of the Cataclysm was formed:

“This hall is known as the Hall of the Cataclysm. The reason it received this name is because during the time this cave was formed, there were lots and lots of major cataclysms on earth. Severe earthquakes, which really shook up the earth a lot and made a lot of the blocks inside this cave fall down all over the place into haphazard shapes, which is what you can see now.”

You can see from this natural cave design where the Moors got their inspiration for their incredible artwork and architecture that you can admire in places like the Alhambra of Granada.

The pamphlet that they give you when you enter into the Caves provides you with the same explanation, in slightly clearer language:

“At the bottom of the cavern you can observe piles of enormous stone blocks. These are stalactites and stalagmites piled one atop the other without any logical order. This chaos resulted from a colossal earthquake which took place 800,000 years ago.”

There is a vast space which is usually filled with seats, where concerts and dance shows take place during the summer. These concerts take advantage of the incredible and formidable natural acoustics in this area. You can hear these acoustics if you scream in the hall (when no one is around, of course): you will hear your voice echo all around you. The sound is just amazing.

Of course, if you go with a super-responsible, old-before-his-time child with adult behaviour, he will say something like, “Mami, stop screaming! You shouldn’t scream in public places!”

Outside the Caves, you can wander around and enjoy the Hispano-Arab garden, which is a small pool of water covered with beautiful tiles. There are also playgrounds and cool paths with benches to stroll about or to sit and rest.

There is a cafeteria-restaurant where they serve drinks at a most reasonable price, where you can freshen up before the long ride home or grab a bite to eat.

All in all, this is a really great site for a day trip. You can just come to enjoy the caves, or you can combine it with a trip to the town of Nerja. We have been to Nerja a few times and if I ever feel up to it, I might zip up another blog post dedicated just to the town of Nerja.

The Caves of Nerja are open from 10 am. to 1 pm. in the mornings for unsupervised visits. At 1 o’clock the first guided tour begins. After that the Caves close for lunch, and re-open at 4 in the afternoon. From 4 to 5:30 there are guided tours every half hour.

There is a special schedule during the summer months, so if you are planning a visit in the summer, check their new opening hours for that period.

They also offer special visits (with different prices) which must be reserved beforehand. These visits can be reserved through internet.

The visit costs the same regardless of whether you go alone or with a guide. The price of the ticket is 9 euros for adults and 5 euros for children up to 12 years old. Children under 6 can enter for free. (As of 2015.)

I do like the Caves of Nerja, and I consider it a must to visit them if you are in Malaga on holiday. However, I feel that in matters of cave exploration, the best kept secret in the region is definitely the Treasure Cave.

Check up my blog post on the Treasure Cave here.

I personally prefer the Treasure Cave over the Caves of Nerja for a number of reasons:

  • the Treasure Cave has a greater variety of shapes, caverns and hallways
  • there are rock formations with more interesting shapes in the Treasure Cave
  • the Treasure Cave has a lot of historical significance, and it was used as a centre for cult and deity worship during prehistoric times
  • you get to see the cavern dedicated to the worship of the prehistoric deity Noctiluca, really quite incredible
  • there are never a lot of tourists jostling around in the Treasure Cave, so you can have a relaxed, leisurely tour at any time of the year
  • it’s a “wet” cave, so you can see basins filled with water and you can even dip your fingers into the water and rub it on your face (the water is naturally clean and clear, it’s rainwater that has filtered in through the porous rocks). I would be careful which basins you dip your fingers into, though, since some of these basins were used for animal sacrifice!
  • there are three underground lakes, beautiful and spectacular! You won’t find that at the Caves of Nerja
  • the entrance fare is cheaper than at the Caves of Nerja, and if your kids are members of “La Banda” they get to go in for free
  • there is an archaeological park at the Treasure Cave that you can visit for free, and it gives you archaeological and scientific information. You can also see reproductions of some prehistoric cave paintings in this park. Children will probably be bored there, however. I speak from experience!

I saved these two photos for last because they seemed rather special. I thought that both these photos looked sort of like the book cover for some Lord of The Rings-like novel. Of course they are not as good quality as a real, true, bona-fide professional book cover, they’re grainy. But I thought they still rather looked like something out of The Lord of The Rings.

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Spanish Beaches

Malaga Port

Since it seemed the appropriate time of the year for this, I started a collection of beach photos that I’d made throughout the years. But then I got bored. So these are the photos that I managed to finish editing before I got bored.

Pretty much all of these photos are from around here (Malaga). I really wasn’t much into photography before I came to Malaga, so I have very few (if any) photos of beaches from any other places.

This beach is in La Línea de la Concepción right up against Gibraltar. It’s a very beautiful beach, as are all beaches in Cádiz, with fine white sands and warm Caribbean blue water, mmmhh. Wish the beaches here in Malaga were like that haha!

You can see that hazy blue floaty mass of land across the way. It’s Africa! Yes you can really see Africa from this beach. It looks so close. It looks like you could almost swim across. But the very narrow strait that separates Spain from Africa is deceptively treacherous and full of dangerous undercurrents.

Beach in SpainSpanish Beach

Torremolinos.

Beach in Spain

This was a winter’s day in Chipiona. We went there with an organised group mainly so we could see the sights. Well we did get to see the sights, but most of the group spent most of the time going to visit – Rocío Jurado landmarks! Like her tomb at the local cemetery, her home or a huge statue of her. Rocío Jurado was a very popular, now deceased flamenco singer.

This is in Torremolinos again. Somehow I actually managed to grab these beaches empty! Maybe it was off-season hehe?

And again. But many years ago.

(I think he was crying or about to cry!) (This is the same little guy who is now making pizzas!)

My kids in Maro near Nerja. Check out the people bathing in November!

Maro in November

Although not quite a beach, I couldn’t help including these darkly dramatic winter pics.

Spanish Beach

Beach in Spain

A view from a classic viewpoint of the Port of Malaga.

Malaga Port

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Everyday Scenes From Everyday Life in Spain

When I read about people living in another country, I always wonder what it’s like to live in that country.

I wonder what these people do every day. How they do their shopping. Where they buy their food. What sights do they see as they walk around.

So I thought I’d show some of the things that I see every day.

Now, as a developed European country, Spain isn’t really that different from any other developed country. There are high-rise buildings, modern skyscrapers in the downtown areas, apartment buildings fully equipped with all the usual utilities and household appliances, cars, internet and mobile phones.

There is free public education for kids. Free medical care and modern hospitals. Corporate offices, shops, department stores and shopping centres.

When I visited Morocco, I found life there extremely different from life in a developed Western country. That would most definitely be a delightful country to visit for a photo shoot, or to write a blog about. However, at that time, I wasn’t in the habit of taking photos and I didn’t have a blog.

In Morocco local people usually do their shopping in the vividly coloured marketplaces filled with leather and spices, not at supermarkets. I didn’t see a single shopping centre.

However, here in Spain, life isn’t really very different from life in Canada. My kids go to school in very civilized, well-equipped elementary and high schools with amazing teachers. I usually do the shopping at a regular supermarket.

Yesterday, however, just by chance, I happened upon several interesting scenes and took photos of them. So I thought I’d share them today as typical scenes from an ordinary day here in Spain.

Flowers in November

Nothing spectacular about this photo, but it always thrills me to see green trees and flowers blooming all over the place in those chilly, arctic months when the rest of the world is covered in snow!

Misty Mountains in Malaga

Who would’ve thought you could see misty mountains in sunny Malaga?

Fire in a Building

As I was coming home I happened upon a fire in a building. Although spectacular, fortunately it wasn’t serious and nothing happened. The affected building is the one with the lighted doors in the background.

Ham in Super Vegetariano

This place really made me laugh out loud! Well, to understand the “joke” I’d have to explain it a little. As you can see, this used to be a large vegetarian supermarket called “Super Vegetariano”. It very quickly went out of business, given the *overwhelming adoration* of the Spanish public for vegetarian diets and a more ecological and ethical lifestyle haha. Now the new shop that has opened up in its place, which is quite wildly more successful than its predecessor, is called “Azabache: Jamones y Embutidos” which means “Azabache: Ham and Deli Meat”. It is enjoying far greater success than the old vegetarian supermarket. Clearly, round here, tradition and “the way things have always been done” always win out over ecology and a more ethical way of life.

Maro in November

Now here are a couple of photos that aren’t from yesterday, but they do show typical places that we can see and visit round here. This photo is from the exact same date but a few years ago. You can see the people bathing in the sea in the background, so happy that here in Spain you can swim in the sea in November!

Empty Garden

An empty playground in the rain that we pass every day on the way to school.

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Puerto Banus – Bumping Elbows With The Jet Set

Perhaps not everyone knows, but Puerto Banús, in Marbella, is synonymous with…… jet set, rich Arab and European royalty, Hollywood celebs on holiday, luxury yachts and Lamborghinis, James Bond, maybe? (Well, not yet, at least.)

I’m not too sure how or why this little locality acquired such fame. It’s just another ordinary port on the extensive coastline of southern Spain. So I don’t know how the powers that be saw fit to transform Puerto Banús into the playground of the ultra rich as opposed to, for example, some other port on the same coastline such as Estepona or La Línea de la Concepción.

But be that as it may, very fortunately, taking a stroll in Puerto Banús alongside the super rich and famous is free. Anyone can go there. Happily, there’s no “entrance fee” in order to gain access to the town or port.

You can take a walk there and window shop at the many luxury boutiques that you can find there. You can admire the dozens of luxury yachts all neatly parked in a row (many of which were, nonetheless, up for sale – a testimony, perhaps, to the effects of the times that we are living on the pocketbooks of even the ultra rich?).

Parked Yachts Puerto Banus

It was a very happy day for me that my friend and I took our families out for a walk in Marbella, where we had a fabulous lunch at an incredible local treasure chest of a restaurant – unfortunately I didn’t pay much attention to the name of this restaurant, and I wouldn’t be able to find it again, since I just followed my friend around haha – that served the most amazing Malaga fried fish dishes.

Malaga fried fish is a specialty of this Spanish province, and it has nothing to do with the greasy, pre-packaged fried fish that is so popular in Britain.

(Many apologies to fans of British fried fish, I’m sure there must be tasty fried fish in Britain too, it’s just that, unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to sample any of those kinds of fried fish when I was in London, only the greasy ones……)

I usually take photos when I go out to eat with the kids, but for some reason I wasn’t in the mood the other day. So I’ve got no photos of our famous dish.

Here’s a photo of my kids devouring similar fare, however, on a beach in the city of Malaga.

Pescaito Frito

After our meal we decided to spirit ourselves over to Puerto Banús. I’d never been to Puerto Banús, although I’ve gone several times to visit in Marbella.

Playa de Puerto BanusThis is a weird statue, commissioned for a huge sum from a Russian sculptor. We thought it was weird since it reminded us of the statue of Columbus that points out to sea in Barcelona.

Statue Puerto Banus

This is the statue of Columbus in Barcelona.

Colon Barcelona Columbus Statue

Sunset in Puerto BanusIt’s hard to see them, but if you squint a little bit you can see the itty bitty (and not so itty bitty) fishies in the water here.

Fish Puerto Banus

Little fish, big fish, swimming in the water
Come back here, man, gimme my daughter!

PJ Harvey

Imagine being the owner of one of these!

Yachts Parked in a Row Puerto Banus

 Lighthouse Puerto Banus

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The Orange Trees

I love to see orange trees. I really love the sight of these perennial greens loaded down with fruit. Growing up in Canada, we never saw oranges, of course. In fact, it was inconceivable and totally impossible, to me, that any plant could keep its leaves twelve months of the year (except conifers, of course). Oranges were this rare, exotic thing that arrived in crates from California or Florida, half-wilted already.

Oranges in a Garden

So I love to see orange trees, because they remind me that we don’t live in the Arctic anymore! I love to see them because they tell me that in some parts of the world, there is life the whole year round.

Oranges Hanging From a Tree

I stop often to take photos of them, and every once in a while, I’ll upload a few of these photos here. Not too many at a time (although I literally have dozens!), because if I beat you over the head with endless scenes of oranges, well, that’s no fun.

Oranges At Night

Oranges grow all over the place here. You can’t eat them, though. Otherwise, how would supermarkets and fruitmongers survive? The oranges that grow out on the street are bitter oranges. You could, I suppose, take a few home for free and make bitter orange jam with them. But why would you want to do that, anyways, when you can get a jar of bitter orange jam for about a euro at the supermarket, and save yourself all the fuss? Besides which, the ones on the streets must be chock full of contamination and pollution from sucking up car fumes all the time.

Table Oranges

But they sure are nice to look at!

The Orange Tree

Rainy Courtyard

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CBBH Photo Challenge: Reflection

I don’t often get around to rummaging through old photos and picking out specific themes. But I felt like taking up the challenge from Marianne of East of Malaga today and putting up some photos with the theme of the month.

I’ve seen some neat galleries on other blogs, but I don’t know how to set up a gallery here so I guess I’ll just bumble along with the old traditional way: plunking down photos one by one!

Ciutadella Barcelona

This was from our trip to Barcelona. Seems such a long time ago!

Calle Larios Malaga

Larios Street (calle Larios), the major pedestrian thoroughfare of downtown Malaga, is so beautifully lit up at night.

Chunky Statue

Thought this was a most unusual perspective on reflections, this statue, in Torremolinos, is polished so smooth you can even make out the details on the building it’s reflecting.

Malaga Street

These nocturnal alleyways are lovely in black and white too, and more mysterious at that.

Nebulous Reflections

I’m not going to tell you what that one is! I’ll leave it up to your imaginations!

Rio Chillar River

This was a scenic gorge you can wade through on the Chillar River near Nerja.

River Malaga

Shadows in the Water

This could be any city, any riverbank, any reflection.

Well, I would like to link to Toby at Travels With Toby, who reminded me about the CBBH Photo Challenge. She’s travelled a lot, and with any luck, one day she’ll be my neighbour here in Spain!

Then I’d like to recommend another blog even though it isn’t really related to travelling, photography or Spain, A Sprinkle of Al Sharq. What Sprinkle and I both have in common is we’re both single mums! I know lots of single mums but even with that, I think we’re still a minority.

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