Vacationing in Andalucia, Spain

We took our first Spanish vacation in Andalusia. It is the southern most area of Spain and boarders the Mediterranean Sea on the south and the Atlantic on the west.  The the Mediterranean beach area is called Costa del sol.  The territory has eight provinces that also match the names of the cities in the provinces.  Of those we visited Seville, the capital of Andalusia, Cordoba, Granada, and Malaga.  We also visited Gibraltar, a small peninsula in Andalusia on the Mediterranean Sea that is part of the United Kingdom.  And I took a day trip to Tangier Morocco.  See other posts in this blog for more about those locations.

Andalusia’s history, culture and language has been heavily influenced by the Iberians, Visigoths, Romans, Greeks, Jews, Muslim Moors and Christians.  The name is derived from the Arabic  word Al-Andalus.

Our “base camp” was a condominium in Calahonda, a small town southwest of Malaga. We lived in a neighborhood that was interspersed with a few hotels. You could see the influence from the Muslim Moors in many of the buildings.  We found this a very relaxing environment.  It was quiet, peaceful, with beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea. On a Sunday afternoon we found a large flee market that was fun to visit

Calahonda
Calahonda
Mediterranean Villa
Mediterranpan Villa
Calahonda Flee Market
Calahonda Flee Market
Local Road to Condo
Local Road to Condo

The Luna Beach and all the beaches in Calahonda were within close walking distance. The  beaches consisted of sand and very tiny and medium sized stones. Larger rocks were near the beach in the water, which was a beautiful blue. Many people were sun bathing, fishing, or walking along the beach. There were few swimmers as the water was on the cool side.

Luna Beach
Luna Beach
Playa del Luma
Playa del Luma
Calahonda Beach
Calahonda Beach

We had an opportunity to eat at a new restaurant called Max which was part of a beach club on Max Beach. The views were great, service and food were excellent.

Max Beach Club
Max Beach Club

We took a local bus to Marbella and Fuengirola on two separate days.  They both have yacht harbors, nice beaches and lots of good restaurants and shopping.  We explored the towns on foot for a few hours, but much more time can be devoted to both towns.  In Marbella we found a local church that looked very old.  It is quite a contrast between it and the large cathedrals throughout Spain, but this is the type of place where most people worship.  Both towns are old with narrow streets that have lots of flowers and courtyards.

Marbella LocChurch
Marbella Local Church
Inside Local Church
Inside Marbella Local Church
City Street
Marbella City Street
Marbella City Street
Marbella City Street
Marbella Local Street
Marbella Local Street
Marbella Side Street
Marbella Side Street

Most of our time in Fuengirola was directed to a huge market that was held each Tuesday from about 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. There were some tourists there, but mostly local people. It was great fun. The merchandise was good and the prices fair.

Fuengirola Market
Fuengirola Market
Fuengirola Market
Fuengirola Market
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Gibraltar in 2019

Gibraltar, is a unique geographical outpost of the United Kingdom.  Located on the tip of Spain, it is close to North Africa.  The “Rock” has provided a military strategic advantage for centuries dating back to the Moors and the latest during WWII.  Visitors will find remnants from the fortifications built on Gibraltar over time.

Moroccan Fortress
Moroccan Fortress
Exterior Wall
Gibraltar Exterior Wall (Moroccan)
Gibraltar Fortification
Gibraltar Fortification (British)
WWII Gun
WWII Gun

Gibraltar is made of of very narrow, steep roads, many man made tunnels, and caves.  The roads are usually bounded by rocks, steep cliffs, or both.  It can be a little scary when navigating them in a bus, even a small one.

Gibraltar Tunnel
Gibraltar Tunnel
Gibraltar Road
Gibraltar Road

Saint Michael’s Cave, named after a cave in Apulia Italy, is located in the “Upper Rock” of Gibraltar. It is made of of limestone. The areas open to the public are well lit and have stairs with railings. There is a large natural amphitheater with seating. The natural acoustics enhance the sound from concerts played here.

St. Michael's Cave
St. Michael’s Cave
St. Michael's Columns
St. Michael’s Columns
Bottom of St. Michael's Cave
View from the bottom of St. Michael’s Cave
Cross Section of a stalactite/stalagmite
Cross Section of a stalactite/stalagmite
Natural View
Natural View
Accentuated with Color
Accentuated with Color
Cool Green
Cool Green

Around St. Michael’s Cave you’re likely to find Barbary “Apes,” actually monkeys that were brought over from Morocco. At one time the British Army cared for the apes, designating one part of the hospital for their care. Today their care is outsourced to a company. They are very tame, often posing for pictures.  There are steep fines for feeding the “Apes.”

Barbary "ape"
Barbary “Ape” at the mouth of St. Michael’s Cave
Barbary "Ape"
Barbary “Ape” in woods near the St. Michael’s Cave

At the tip of Gibraltar is the Straits of Gibraltar where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. The views are beautiful and on a clear day you can see the coast of Morocco.  Gibraltar is a very crowded peninsula.  The engineers have started to reclaim land to build more housing.

Straits of Gibraltar
Straits of Gibraltar
Gibraltar Light House
Gibraltar Light House at Europa Point
Land Reclaimed from Mediterranean
Reclaimed Land for Living Space on Gibraltar

 

Finally, what would an excursion be with out shopping. Main Street in Gibraltar has become devoted to shopping and eating as well some interesting architecture.