I’m back blogging again after my Spanish holiday. Spain was great. It was quite strange being away from home on my birthday this year but very nice to celebrate the day in Spain. It was lovely to wake up to sunshine and blue skies every day, birds singing and no rain! It was quite a change when I flew back into rainy Manchester and grey skies. Back to reality! My Mum and I stayed at a small resort called Mijas. It’s in Malaga, just above Fuengirola, a popular seaside resort which we visited. Mijas is a lovely Andalucian town, full of white washed houses, with great views of the coast below. Despite the influx of tourists, Mijas has managed to retain many of its traditional customs including the traditional donkey-taxis which line the central plaza. It’s a really good base for touring the surrounding area.
We did an excursion to Gibraltar, a British owned island well worth visiting. Gibraltar is famous for its dramatic rock which overlooks the straits of Gibraltar, the narrow neck of water which separates Europe from Africa. The island is also famous for its colony of Barbary apes, which run free in a semi-wild state in a nature reserve on the rock. My Mum and I did a rock tour by minibus which was very interesting. Some of my favourite parts were seeing the famous lighthouse, St Michael’s Cave and the Apes’ Den. The lighthouse is situated on the southern most tip of the island and is well worth seeing. St Michael’s Cave is one of the most dramatic natural grottoes with lots of interesting subterranean rock formations. One of my favourite parts of the tour was seeing the Barbary apes. The apes have lived on the rock for two centuries and it was interesting to see them roaming freely around the nature reserve. The baby monkeys (we saw some that had just been born the previous week) were particularly cute. Everyone was warned not to carry any plastic bags as the monkeys associate them with food and will immediately snatch them. We were especially warned not to carry our passports in a plastic bag or otherwise there would be monkeys going home in our name! Our guide told us the story of one lady who had gone to the Apes Den carrying her passport in a plastic bag. A cheeky monkey had immediately snatched the bag and the guide had to entice it away with some peanuts so it would drop the bag and she could retrieve it! The monkeys were on their best behaviour when we visited but still very inquisitive and quite entertaining too. They have obviously grown used to the tourists visiting. They love chocolate and ice-cream. Everyone was warned to eat any chocolate or ice-cream inside the gift shop and not to bring them outside. But some people never listen and there were still some tourists who were eating ice-creams outside, only to have them snatched by hungry monkeys! It was quite a funny sight as we watched a little monkey knocking back an ice cream! The Upper Rock nature reserve also gives great views over North Africa. Back in Spain, we also visited Granada and the world famous Alhambra Palace, an impressive reminder of Granada’s history and well worth seeing. The clifftop town of Ronda with its fabulous views from the amazing Puente Nuevo Bridge is also worth a visit. A favourite haunt of writer Ernest Hemingway, actor Orson Welles also spent a year there in his youth. I really enjoyed my Spanish holiday. It was nice and relaxing, so now I’m back, batteries re-charged and ready to get back to work and reality again!