Antequera Weekend

Halo and buenos días…Today I wanted to talk about last weekend and my trip to the town of Antequera. It’s a pretty cool town to see; I liked it.  I went there by train, which was also a cool experience, I think that was my first time on a train that wasn’t a metro/subway.  It was just a short trip to this small city in Málaga, it took just over an hour to get there.  There were three things that I wanted to see while there: The Torcal, the lagoon, and Lobo Park.  I only got to check two of these places off my list, but by the end of the trip I figured that was good enough.

So I got there Thursday night, and basically checked myself into a hostel and went to sleep.  When I woke up I decided it was time to start my mission, so I headed to the tourist office in the center square of town. To my surprise there were no busses that go to El Torcal, “you need a car,” they say.  Seeing as I don’t have a car, I put on my running shoes and started to hoof it.

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The Square

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 I figured 12km couldn’t be too bad, if 10km is less than 6.5 miles, I could do that both ways no problem.  Keeping in mind what I had been told in the tourist office, that it would be a steep climb and wasn’t recommendable, I decided to take it slow and walk/run.  So I walked out of town to warm up.

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Goodbye Antequera

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 There were some cool views while climbing up that hill

Little did I know it was actually a mile-high mountain and an almost 2,000′ climb.  I really need to learn the metric system.  Needless to say I walked most of the way up, running downhill was a little bit easier.  It was no big deal though, I had all day to kill with no real agenda, so I took my time and made it up to El Torcal.

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When I finally made it up here’s what I found…….

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 Some crazy rock formations right? Really about the only thing that I was thinking while up there was how cold it was and how tired I was.  It was incredible, back in town it was a perfectly nice day, probably in the 70ºs and sunny.  Oh yea SUNNY.  Even though it was freezing and windy on El Torcal, that sun was strong.  So I took a little tour, but didn’t spend too much time in the park. Once I spotted these toros, I headed back to town.

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They seemed calm enough, so I asked some other park visitors if they thought it was safe to cross them.  The problem was that there wasn’t a single Spaniard in the park, nobody spoke Spanish.  I don’t know where they all came from, I had no club that Antequera was such a big tourist destination.  But you’d think that if you were in Spain you’d at least speak some Spanish, or at least English if you’re traveling in Europe.  Oh well, I was tires anyway, so I took the bulls as a sign to head back. I did get to snap a few photos, it’s incredible to think the shapes of the rocks are completely natural and untouched by humans, but it was just so cold and windy I wanted to head back.

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The other shade of blue in between the sky and the hills is the Mediterranean Sea

It’s said that on a clear day you can see across the sea to Africa.  I don’t know if you need binoculars or a telescope because it was a pretty nice day and I didn’t see any sign of Africa.

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Goodbye to Torcal

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Hello Again, Antequera

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 It is a pretty nice town, and as far as Andalucía goes, it is a pretty ideal image of a small city of the region.  I was just glad to get to check El Torcal off my checklist and move on to my next feat: Fuente de Piedra.  I still had some time to kill because I didn’t want to tackle that task until the next day, so I walked around town and took some pictures before sunset.  A pretty good thing about Spain is the time zone.  It’s too far west for central european time, so the when the sun sets it’s around 8:30, and it’s not even summer yet.  I can only imagine how late the sun “stays up” until in July or August.

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“El Indio de Antequera”

Also known as “La Peña de Enamorados,” which is a little less racist, you can see this giant rock from almost anywhere in Antequera.  It’s amazing that even in a country that “indians” never inhabited you can find rocks named after them.  Maybe another picture will give a better view of the face of the rock.

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Clear Skies

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Puerta

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Castillo o Catedral?

This is a great view of what looks like a castle, but is actually one of the many churches in Antequera.

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There’s El Indio again, do you see it?

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Otra Puerta

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Otra Iglesia

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Jesucristo

This park was absolutely beautiful. Jesus made an appearance several times in the artwork of that park.

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The Main Puerta of Antequera

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How cool is this fountain?

The architecture in general is pretty cool in that city; it blends itself smoothly into the many hills that surround it. It’s really a little city, but it has a quaint town feel to it, with just enough to see.  It’s definitely a day trip though, it didn’t take me more than a few hours to walk around the city. I slept soundly that night, and woke the next morning to embarque on my next journey to Fuente de Piedra.

Luckily for me, Fuente de Piedra Laguna does have a bus stop in the small town of Fuente de Piedra.  So I took the 2.44€ bus to the town, and then it was back to walking for me.  I definitely got some exercise this trip.

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Goodbye Fuente de Piedra

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The Biggest Bug I’ve Ever Seen

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Hello to the Lagoon

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It really was beautiful

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So the whole point of this trip was to see some flamingos

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Can you see them in the far distance?

Of course you can’t, the pictures not taken close enough.  Fuente de Piedra is a natural, salt-water lagoon in the middle of Spain filled with flamingos, and It really is a beautiful place, but it’s guarded so strictly that you really can’t get close enough to see them very good.  Let alone take a decent picture.  I really wanted to get up closer, feel the sand and touch the salt-water, but it was prohibited so I stayed on the trail.  I still got some good photos of the beautiful landscape, so I would in no way say it was a waisted trip.

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When did I go back to PA?

I guess they use John Deere all over the globe. So, I ran out of time at the lagoon, and had to walk back into town and start to head back to Granada.  I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to see, but I figured after all that effort 2/3 wasn’t half bad.  It was definitely an accomplishment to make it to Torcal and I was about done with walking, so I decide not to try to make it to Lobo Park.  It would have been cool because that’s another “natural park” in Spain but it is full of all kinds of wolves.  But that would have been another long walk because there’s no busses that go there either, so I decided to head back to Granada.

Sunday my host family let me know that they were going to a family picnic and I was invited.  The extended family showed up for the occasion, so it was a fun time.  They decided to meet up in a small town outside of Granada to get some lunch at a local restaurant.  I got to meet some new people and eat some fresh, local food.  A few of them biked to the town, luckily there wasn’t enough bikes for me to ride with them so I had to ride in the car to this town.  I did get to see some pretty cool sites though.

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A lot of the small towns are painted white in Andalucía

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Plenty of Fountains

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Later on I headed to “Las Fallas de Granada,” an event that usually only happens in Valencia, but this year Granada was elected to also have an extremely sized-down version of the festival for a weekend.  On my way there I ran into this a semana santa procession, just a block a way from my street.  The weird thing was that semana santa had already been over with for almost a week.  Apparently it was one that got canceled because of rain, so it was rain-checked until this day.  Come to think of it I think this was a procesión that I had tried to see originally on Easter Sunday, but when I got there, no one was there.  Well I guess I did get to see it in the end.

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 It was really interesting and confusing to pass this procession with a full band while heading to las fallas.  I saw pasos and fireworks at the same time.  Then there was smoke in the sky, and I knew I had to make it to Las Fallas before I missed it completely.

So the concept of Las Fallas is that it’s a festival in which they burn floats at the end of the night.  So it was just a good time to hang out with friends, dance and to hear some good/traditional music.  I think the music was traditional.  It was pretty cool, just groups in traditional-festive dress would randomly break out into song and dance.  They had marching bands that played pretty well, even though it seemed relatively sporadic.  It was pretty interesting, but I think the most interesting for me was the brass section.

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Float Before

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Float After

So I didn’t actually get to see it go up in flame, just the fire that burnt it’s remains. It was apparently pretty amazing the way that it burned.  I still thought it was cool, and had a good time seeing what I did see.  Maybe next time I’ll just have to see for myself what the real festival looks like in Valencia….

Until next time, and as always, excuse the grammatical/spelling errors. My computer is set to write in Spanish and so spell check doesn’t really help. Hasta Luego!

-Ryan

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