Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Tuesday 9 February – Antequera and Olvera

Where’s Colin? He’s at an Aire at the old railway station, just outside of the attractive-looking town of Olvera. There are only 4 pitches at this Aire (nice generous ones, mind) but they each have electricity and a water points, for which the charge is €7 a night.

The Rough Guide says of Antequera that it is ‘an undistinguished, modern town, but it does have a number of peripheral attractions in a number of fine churches and a group of prehistoric dolmen caves’. It doesn’t make the town sound worth a detour or a special trip, does it? Contrasted with that description, what we saw was a very well presented town with an obviously long history and the Tourist Office gave me a map highlighting 57 points of interest, including a ridiculous number of churches, a castle, the Roman baths and the bull ring, as well as the Dolmen caves.

If you look carefully, there are a lot of large churches in this shot. Far more than seem justified by the size of the town (and there were even more out of the shot)

Having only been to the Alhambra two days ago, I didn’t think it worth spending €6 apiece on the castle but we walked around a section of its walls, enjoying the elevated view over the town and the adjacent remains of Roman baths (not the best example we’ve seen).

Back down in the town coffee called to us (and the barman managed to upsell second breakfast to us too) before we set out for the Dolmen Caves, to which we could have driven, but I didn’t think the 1.5km there-and-back walk would harm us.

By good fortune, we arrived at the Visitor Centre just as an English version of the information film had started, so we learnt how these chambered cairns were constructed before we viewed them. Unfortunately, the centre had run out of information leaflets in English and I’ve seen such conflicting information about the age of the structures that I can’t say for certain whether they’re from the 3rd, 5th or 6th century BC, but they do most definitely fall into the category of ‘very old’.

The first (of the two on this site) we came to was impressive to me, but Mick was disappointed as he’d expected something much bigger. The second one stunned us and took away all of Mick’s disappointment. It was huge: one of the roof slabs alone I paced out as being at least 7m by 8m. I imagine it’d be tricky to manoeuvre it into position even with mechanical equipment like a crane. Here’s a not-particularly-illustrative snap; the inside ones must have been taken on the camera, rather than my phone:

It’s hungry work looking around ancient structures, and as it was approaching 1pm it seemed (to our British standards) to be a suitable time for lunch, but we knew we were on the early side by Spanish standards. Indeed we were, and having walked back into town and sought out our chosen restaurant we learnt that we still had half an hour to wait until the kitchen opened, which meant that we wouldn’t be eating until gone 2pm and wouldn’t get away from the town until 3.30 at the earliest. Eating out thus became postponed for another day.

Quite impressively, we managed to incur the tutting disapproval of two different Germans before we left the Aire. Our first crime was daring to use the tap when it wasn’t our turn in the service point (the fact that no-one else was using it or waiting to use it was immaterial; the important fact was that we weren’t parked in the service point at the time). Once the service point was free and we took up position, we then incurred the wrath of a new arrival for draining our tank* even though we could see that the drain was blocked and that the water was spilling across the road. He would have had a point (and ‘everyone’s been doing this’ would not have been an acceptable excuse) if I hadn’t checked that in fact the water was running across the road and straight into a different drain.

Finally ready to move on, another 50-mile journey was had before we negotiated our way down a steep little lane to the Aire on which we are now sitting. We’ve made great efforts to pay someone for being here, but thus far have failed. Maybe someone will turn up in the morning to relieve us of our €7.

Arriving with a few hours of daylight remaining, ordinarily a wander would have been had, but greater priority has been given to stuff that needed doing on the computer whilst we had unlimited power, which combined nicely with the fact that it was raining.

The forecast for the next week features raindrops every single day. The question is: if it’s still raining in the morning, will we find the enthusiasm to walk all the way back up the hill to go and explore this interesting looking place?

(*I wonder if the same man would go down the road tutting at all the ladies who mop their floors and then throw the soapy water out over the pavement, to drain into the road? The contents of our tank are pretty similar, being mainly water, with a bit of soap and a tiny amount of toothpaste. I’m very careful about wiping dirty plates and dishes before washing them (to save our tank getting all mankey and the tiny outflow blocked with debris) and where possible I don’t empty the washing up bowl down the sink anyway (much quicker to walk to a suitable drain and dispose of the water direct than to store it and then wait whilst it drains out of a tiny hole.)

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