Day -x

With Jude's school going through administration over the Summer and emerging from the other side leaner and meaner we decided that a stress free warm holiday was needed over half term so we investigated travel agents to find out where we could easily get to from Hurn airport for a few days. Unfortunately as I have to split the half term holidays with Pete my co-worker most destinations were out as they needed a whole week, eventually we found that Thomson Fly went out on Saturday mornbing and back Wednesday evening which was perfect as I could go to work refreshed (read knackered) the next day.

We found out all the details of hotels and flights from a travel agent in town who then told us to book on-line so we did, flights, car hire hotel & insurance.

The Thursday before we are due to go Jude takes a tumble at school and wrecks her foot. For once I managed to persuade her to actually take a day off ill to rest the foot which by this time was blue and swollen so much she couldn't get an ankle bandage on it. I guess I'll get to do all the driving.

Day 1
Saturday October 25th 2008

Home to Spain

The plane left at 6.00am so we were up at a ridiculous time of day aiming to get to Hurn airport (now known as Bournemouth International) at 4.30am. The car park was nearly full so goodness only knows what it is like during the summer, There was a large amount of building work going on so we ended up doubling the amount of walking (hobbling in Jude's case ) to reach the terminal. We only had hand luggage so we could avoid the wait at each end and the £6.50 charge each to book in a suitcase. 10kg is more than enough for 5 days, my bag almost hit the limit but all the cameras and books ended up in it, overall we still had nearly 10kg spare between us.

Flew in a 737 with our own sandwiches to avoid the extortionate in flight money grabbing exercise. Witha strong tailwind we arrived 20 minutes early and were on the ground by 9.15am local time (+ 1 hour).

Car hire was quickly achieved without too much hassle (apart from forgetting the pin for the credit card) but we had to get the girl to show us how to open the boot as none of us could find the buton. (It was a Seat Leon and the catch was the logo which tilted).

Off into the sunshine and head into Malaga proper which was somewhere over there we thought.


Getting there was easier said than done, this became a recurring theme throughout the whole holiday, in Spain the roads and signposts leave a lot to be desired. If you know where you're going and how to get there it's fine but putting a small sign in the V where your turnoff a dual carriageway is doesn't help if you didn't know beforehand that you would need to change roads. This seemed to be normal behaviour, wait until you are ontop of the turn before telling you it exists. Still we got to drive up the beach road and back again, enter what looked like a building site beside the port and get quite familiar with a particularly nasty junction before we eventually wound our way up to a car park by the castle where we slotted into an empty space beside the road.

There was a an official looking man with a book and slips next to to enterance to a tarmaced parking area but we couldn't decide if he was an attendent or not or if our parking space counted. We dutifully ignored him and strode on past whilst he was talking to another couple, he might just have been a coach driver as an empty one was parked up nearby but we didn't give him a chance. Someone suggested we should approach and ask him but there was no way I was going to g oup to a stranger in a foreign couyntry whose language I didn't speak and offer them money.

Broaching the top of the hill we had a grand view down to the gardens and port. We headed off on the path to the castle enterance which seemed to wind down around the castle. After a hundred yards going steeply down we figured this wasn't the way but were not willing to climb back up again as we had intended to visit the Alcabazar anyhow which was at the bottom. With Jude's foot this was slow going but at least it was down.

Route down from the Castle

Those twin walls created an internal safe passage between the Alcabazar and the castle, the public however have to pay at both ends.

Down at the bottom we rested in the gardens before heading to the Alcabazar. Hunting for the enterance we came across a market square with a postcard and ice cream shop. David & I tried a Lime Calipo a variety not available in the UK but we hope it soon will be - yummy. Jude bought the first of the daily postcards for Chris.


David resting from the sun in the gardens

The Alcabazar entrance also led to an excavation of a Phoenecian ampitheatre, originally thought to be Roman this dig showed that the Phoenecians had civilised Spain.

Phoenecian Theatre

Never did find out what that pink octopus looking sculpture was about.


The Alcazabar had an automated ticket machine which also did cheap combination tickets for the castle (about £5 combined) so we availed ourselves of that and headed on in. Inside it was a Moorish palace, lots of brick pathways, hidden gardens, waterways, and ramparts , absoloutly marvellous and little restriction on where you went, even the ramparts without barriers were open.

The exhitition was in the rooms surrounding this courtyard

One of several gardens

David showing no fear

The closest they got to Health, Safety & Boredom inteference was a warning sign with a picture that we eventually deciphered as "Don't fall off" !

I imagine this is what the Allhambra is like, which although closeby in Granada timing meant we would not be able to get there this visit. Still I've since heard that it was a disappointment and the Alcabazar simply overwhelmed us at every turn.

Towards the top there was a bride and groom having their official photos and a free pottery exhibition.

It was very hot and we were dressed for an October Bournemouth at 6.00am so J & D kept stopping for rests in shady spots. (Alternatively they were once again waiting for me to finish taking photographs.

The rear of the palace was still being restored so this will only get better in the future.

We now had to struggle back up the hill to the castle, fortunately Jude's poorly foot gave me an excuse to take it slowly in the heat. Once we reached the castle we stopped for lunch, whatever was in the car that we hadn't eaten on the plane, this meant going past the warden again but it was now a new person and the coach was gone, studiusly ignoring him we grabbed our rolls and water then headed into the castle.


This was extensive with a large open area in the centre. It would have been impressive but we'd just come from the Alcazabar, were hot and tired.

Malaga Bull Ring

At least from the castle the view down to the bull ring wasn't partially occluded by trees.

Leaving Malaga was easier than entering it, jump on the "peage" motorway (signed 20 yards after a junction"), this we discovered on the way home was serendipitous as the alternative route was not good. Came off at Marbella and headed towards the hotel this side of Estepona.

On the internet all the comments said this was a hard to find hotel so I printed out google maps of the three different locations it said it was in, one in the back country which I ignored and one on either side of the dual carriageway. I was convinced it was on the South side nearest the beach but thought I spotted something on the North side just as we had passed a turnoff. Convinced I was wrong we carried on all the way to Estepona then turned around and headed back. Turning round is easier said than done, every 200 yards or so there are exits, however most of these don't let you cross over, they only go to houses on the one side, this means that you need to drive miles beyond where you want to be before there is an exit which leads to a flyover. Someties they lie, one we turned down which declared it was an underpass simply led to some waste ground, st least the people following us also appeared to make the same mistake. Heading back East the only possible hotel wa the one I had spotted but all we could do was wave at it from the wrong side of the road, 5 miles later we hit Marbella again and could turn around.

The Google maps were useless, none were of the right area but we eventually made it, how glad I was that we had been driving in the light. Checked in, unpacked and the others headed off to he pool. After reporting that the safe did not close I joined them on the loungers, they had tried the pool but it was very cold.

Jude looked at the strip of shops for a restaurant but we didn't fancy an Italian, Indian or Chinese, after all this is Spain not Bournemouth. We settled for dinner in the hotel which was a "much as you can eat" hot and cold buffet. Not good food but we didn't care by that point. Having been up since 3.00 am we slumped into bed early.



©2005 Rob Hayward