I’ll take the high road

This is my last morning in Malaga and I’m pleased to report that the Paradores have stopped using individual shampoo and body wash bottles that we all used to steal but now have refillable dispensers in the shower. They’ve always asked you to hang your towels on a hook if you’re happy to use them again so ecology is making inroads.

As it is again another lovely blue day and I got my sea fix yesterday, I ask TomTom to take me to Cadiz avoiding motorways and toll roads. As I love driving, the Seat Ibiza is quite an easy drive and time is entirely my own today, I accept the cross country route offered. I’ve done the drive from Cadiz back to Malaga via the coast – and will enjoy the views of Gibraltar and Algeciras on Friday on my way back. So I navigate the Malaga suburbs and then find myself on route A366. What is it about Routes with 66? This one soon enters the Sierra de las Nieves – it means snowy mountains so that’s a bit of a giveaway. The first pass is at 890 metres which is quite high. But we then do switchbacks and hairpins up to Puerto del Viento at 1190 which really is a long way up.

Daisy Scott once told me off for taking photos while driving so I parked up safely to show the delights of route 366. The window was open for the wonderful fresh air with occasional scents of pine and jasmine and the sounds of sheep and goats traversing the hillsides. Happy man. The road then brought me up with a jolt. Many years ago I booked a ten day stay in a lovely villa with its own pool in the village of El Gastor. Here it was.

Only problem which I discovered after we’d arrived – nice house, private pool, walk to the bar – was that is was in the Sierra de Grazalema, the wettest part of Spain. The onshore wind brings water in from the Atlantic, hits the first mountain range, these, and it rains. All the time – greener than Galicia! At least it was warm so using the pool in the rain was quite fun, but it has to go down as one of my less good bookings and because Dee was very busy at the time, entirely my fault. So I shudder a little and drive by and then in a very few kilometres find myself on on what must have been the Roman road from Sevilla to Cadiz. The dramatic landscape change to fertile rolling hills is amazing – what a country of variety this is.

I stop off for lunch and a shoulder relax after all that active driving and it’s a straight run into Cadiz where I find myself in the wrong lane opposite the Parking recommended by the hotel. Kind gaditanos let me cross and descend into the car park thanks to some indicating and gesticulating on my part.

The hotel is a converted convent and my fears of being in a cell-sized room were dispelled. I was also pleased that while every room was named for a Saint then at least mine had a connection with wine. She was an abbess who live in Tuscany from 1268 – 1317 and was canonized in 1726 after performing several miracles.

It’s further south than we’ve previously been in Cadiz so there’s a an interesting area to discover but it’s such a compact city that I can quickly get to see the cathedral in wonderful warm light and then head to the seafront to look at the setting sun.

and then walk through the ancient centre to find more excellent Christmas lights and a skating rink in the main square. I ate tonight in one of the city’s most famous restaurants El Faro where we’d been before and have plans for tomorrow.

Buenos noches!