We have left France behind and are now exploring Spain. We have been here before, once to Barcelona,
which we loved, and a couple of quick visits elsewhere in Spain during our early travelling days when we were still doing bus tours, which we didn’t enjoy very much. Now we are staying with H&G (we travelled with them in Australia last year. If you want you can read about that trip in my archives) and H’s sister, Ir, and our mutual friends, B and L.
Jim and I flew into Malaga from France after a delayed flight surrounded by kids fresh from the overstimulation of EuroDisney. I got so tired of being bumped by Mickey Mouse ears, stepped on by fully-clad princesses; and if I have to hear “Let it Go” from “Frozen” one more time…
It was difficult finding our friend, L, in the Malaga airport since her cell phone refused to work. Finally, asking for the help of a kindly pilot, she used his cell and left us a message as to her whereabouts. Thus, once armed with a new upgraded larger rental car and Google maps, we headed out into the Spanish night.
Since it was dark, it was difficult to formulate a good impression of Spain except that it was hot! Then, once we were out of the city of Malaga, the wonderful aromas of the countryside started perfuming the car. They are so different from those of night in Canada or in France. I couldn’t wait to try to discover what was causing those lovely scents.
The other thing we noticed was the roads were going up hill and down dale. We had the impression of rather mountainous terrain. Quite a change from the gentle slopes of wine country.
This impression was further enhanced when, ninety kilometres after leaving the airport, we left the main highway to take the road up to what will be our new home for two weeks, Ítrabo. Talk about winding this way and that! Switch backs and encroaching banks, narrow tracks and looping turns! I was glad there were signs to point the way because I had no idea which direction was north, south, east, or west.
At one point the road actually warned (in universal picture language, thank goodness) “road narrows” and “windy.” We all three gasped. More narrow? More windy? How is that possible? We soon found out. Now, in defence of the road to Ítrabo, we did drive this road a couple days later when we weren’t dead tired and it was full daylight. It was like a completely different road! Sort of…
Once we got into the tiny town of Ítrabo (1,100 people), as instructed by our friends H&G and B who had arrived earlier in the day, we parked in front of the Post Office and phoned the apartment. Jim was told under no circumstances was he to drive any further into town. After this point, the streets narrow into one way tracks and finally donkey cart width. Did I mention Ítrabo is built on a hill? No? Trying to back up through steep, windy, narrow streets that would not fit our upgraded rental car was not a good idea. On the way to the Post Office, we had passed a couple of restaurants with knots of patrons celebrating Saturday night, but here, in the gloom of eleven o’clock, it was eerily quiet.
Then, like a heavenly light, B suddenly appeared beside the car. She had dashed down a flight of stairs to assure us we were in the right place. G was hiking up from the apartment to the parking lot above the town where he was getting his car to lead Jim through the maze of streets, choosing only the ones that stayed wide enough for our car. Despite the fact it had taken B only moments to come down the stairs, we were told it would be much easier to wheel our luggage down from the parking lot.
Already, I was feeling happier. We hadn’t got lost, only turned around a few times. We had found our way and now our friends were there to guide us. And they spoke English! Did I mention I don’t speak Spanish? No? Perhaps you understand why I find Spain a little daunting.
However, after trundling the suitcases and backpacks down the incredibly steep streets (I have never wished my suitcase came equipped with brakes before), G stopped in front of an ornate wooden door. Suddenly, there was H, welcoming us with smiles and hugs. In moments our luggage was in place and we had a tour of the house. It was absolutely lovely! All white with Moorish influences, lots of levels, lots of sitting rooms, and lots of outside decks.
Before long we were sitting on a cool deck under a fully laden grape arbor, sharing a glass of Spanish wine with good friends and nibbling the midnight snacks H had put together for us. As I delighted in the sheep milk cheese, flavourful peaches, rich olives, and spicy meats I decided I was going to like Spain a great deal.