Monday, 8 February 2016

Monday 8 February – Antequera (via Parque Natural de El Torcal)

Where’s Colin: He’s in a completely full municipal Aire in the town of Antequera. N37º1.294', W4º34.331'

Last night’s Aire was definitely the least appealing yet. Aside from being ugly to look at, the adjacent road was busier than we'd expected. Even so, we both slept incredibly well, at least until a particularly loud lorry woke me at ten to six.

With a temperature of 8.5 degrees in Colin’s living area and 6 degrees in the front door pocket (the nearest thing to outside we can achieve without actually putting the remote sensor outside), I had a little rethink about the plan for the next few days and suggested a revision to Mick. We would skip the next couple of intended town stops, spend the day at El Torcal (but not the intended night because at over 3000’ it would be even colder up there) and would hasten our journey back south towards warmer weather. With Mick in agreement we leapt out of bed and got moving.

The Aire we’d originally thought to aim for last night was at Antequera, but based on the photos in the Aires book we decided that Archidona looked marginally nicer. However, I couldn’t positively identify the toilet emptying point there (it’s not the sort of thing you want to get wrong!), so as we were passing through Antequera this morning anyway we swung by the Aire and found that it wasn’t bad for an urban place – and that it was also very busy. It was only the briefest of pit-stops, before Colin’s nose was pointed upwards towards Parque Natural de El Torcal, which our guidebook had told us was ‘one of the most geologically arresting of Spain’s natural parks’.

We were well in the cloud base by the time we arrived in the visitor centre car park, so the usual delaying tactics of coffee and second breakfast were employed, with a pause half way through boiling the kettle to turn Colin around. I’d noticed that the wind was blowing a gale up there (people were staggering around fighting to get arms into their flapping jackets as they got out of their cars) and if we run the fridge on gas when the wind is hitting Colin’s offside then we get unpleasant fumes inside. Mick also took advantage of the free time to connect to the open wifi of a tour bus* across the other side of the car park, allowing him to download to his Kindle one of the books he bought a few days ago. Unfortunately, the bus moved off before he had chance to download the other; most inconsiderate of it!

A good few hours were spent in the park, which included a couple of walks (described on t’other blog at, and it really was spectacular, particularly when the cloud finally lifted after lunch. I’ll let the photos try to illustrate what was so good about the scenery:

As tempting as it was to spend the night (indeed, a handful of other vans obviously had already done so), we focussed on the temperate (we have enough cold nights in Colin in the UK; we want warmth over here!) and headed back down to Antequera with Colin’s engine screaming ‘Change gear for goodness sake!’, but with his brakes having a happier time than during the descent to Abla last week.
In our ongoing quest for some decent wifi, MacDonalds was our next port of call, via a cheap fuel station (86.9c/litre this time) and after a cup of coffee between us we came away with both of our Kindles loaded with the new books.

Prior to the pause at MacDonalds, the SatNav had been set for our next destination, but it was 4.30 by the time we were ready to head off so I gave Mick (as driver) the option of continuing as planned or just heading to the local Aire in town. He came down on the side of ‘had enough driving for today’, which combined nicely with my view of ‘this town looks much nicer than the guide books make it sound’, and five minutes later we were reversing into the only remaining free slot.

Two minutes later we were off for a quick tour of the town, which we’ll quite possibly explore further tomorrow (after I’ve posted this I’ll peruse the information I got from the Tourist Office this afternoon and find out what’s to see that we didn’t see this afternoon).  There seems to be quite a bit of interest here, including this church, which was the furthest point we reached in today’s wanderings:

The Church of San Sebastian. I found the Tourist Office’s web page for it whilst we sat outside, which gave us a quite comprehensive précis of its history.

(*I reckon that 90% of the people from the tour groups we saw got off their buses, walked to a nearby viewpoint which wasn’t that interesting then went to the café, without even setting foot on one of the trails to see the wonders of the area. What a waste of an opportunity! You’d only have to do a ten minute out and back stroll to see a good representation of the surroundings.)

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