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29sep-2014-d3100-234

This summer I had the pleasure of doing this trail twice, once in June and again in September.  What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon for anyone that wants to get off the couch and go for a beautiful walk through the stunning gorge at El Chorro north of Malaga.

One thing to note, is that booking ahead is a must.  Tickets must be purchased online in advance to ensure entry most times in the year.  http://www.caminitodelrey.info/en/#1  this is the website with the English language preference chosen.  It is also available in French, German and Spanish.

I can’t put into words how enjoyable this walk is.. A guided tour is not necessary, and in fact more enjoyable doing it without the guide, you can move at your own pace.

Things of importance to note.

When you arrive at Ardales, the start of the trail, there is ample parking a restaurant and cafe/bar with facilities.

When you book your ticket, you book a start/entry time. It is important to note that it is 2.5 or 1.5 kilometer walk in to get to the start of the walk, so leave yourself enough time to ensure you get to the gate at your starting time.  There are toilet facilities here as well and places to sit while awaiting your entry time.  Be early.

There are 2 entrances at the start, the first one is located right next to the cafe and is the longer and slightly more challenging route from the one that is located about 100 meters from the cafe. If mobility is an issue, I highly recommend the route that is located 100 meters from the cafe.  A small flash light is a good idea as you go thru a low tunnel to get through the rock for 20 meters or so, rocky floor so a flashlight is a good idea.

At the end of the walk, there is a bus that you can take back to the start where you parked. It’s under 3 euros.  Another option is to drive to the El Chorro end of the trail, park your car, take the bus to the start and then walk back to your car.  There are restaurants and facilities at both ends. Give yourself extra time if you are doing this method as the bus takes about 20 minutes to circumnavigate the gorge and get to the start.

Children under 8 are not permitted nor are any persons that require carrying. No hikers backpacks are permitted either as in place the trail is narrow.  Small day packs are welcome, be sure to bring a snack and some water.

The trail in total is about 7.5 km depending on which entrance you use and takes about 3 hours at a leisurely pace.

 

 

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Fresco

When I was photographing the altar in Plaza Placeta in the old town on the day of Corpus Christi, I met and elderly lady that was explaining that the house in which the altar was set up in front of was in fact one of her homes.  She mentioned a second house, which she proudly took me that had a very old fresco painting on the ceiling in the entryway.

The interesting thing about the fresco which she reports is well over 100 years old, is that it shows a very different view of the area below the castle, and a much higher water line.  She really doesn’t know how old the painting is, only that it is more than 100 years old.

Fresco-

Fresco- click to enlarge

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Yesterday I popped into my local fruit market to see if the dark purple figs were in, I want to make fig chutney this week.  My friendly shopkeeper advised me that he won’t be having them in for another week or so as the price is too high at the moment.  Anyway, what he was doing when I walked in the shop really intrigued me.

On his counter, he had a pile of flowers of a type that I have never seen before, and he was taking them apart. When I asked him what he was doing he told me that they were chirimoya flowers and he was taking them apart to get to the pollen inside.  You see the Chirimoya are fruit that have to be hand pollinated.

What he does, is to gather the pollen by sending the heads through a small strainer where the pollen is collected and then placed in the receptacle his hand made pollinating spray gun.   Then each flower on the tree is prayed with pollen. Genius.

Intact Chirimoya flowers.

Intact Chirimoya flowers.

Discarded Petals.

Discarded Petals.

Pollen Heads

Pollen Heads

Hand made sprayer

Hand made sprayer

This little sprayer is an amazing little piece of equipment.  He used, a straw, an egg from a kinder surprise, camera cleaning squeeze pump, and an aluminum handle from  a sliding window.  The pollen is placed in the egg and then sprayed in the flower of the Chirimoya.

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La Compana Bar

La Compana Bar

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La Bahia Restaurant under water

La Bahia Restaurant under water

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What started out as a dry french bread dough  cake with a bean hidden in it has over the past 300 years evolved into a delicious danish type dough cake with sweet cream, caramelized sugar and dried fruit placed decoratively on top.  This year was my very first year to try it, not the last to be sure.. it really was delicious, and it made my birthday on the 9th extra special.

My Three Kings Birthday Cake

My Three Kings Birthday Cake

The booby prize, a dried haba bean

The booby prize, a dried haba beans

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I actually got the prize, a porcelain Balthazar.

Wikipedia says:

The “king cake” takes its name from the biblical three kings. In Catholic liturgical tradition, the Solemnity of Epiphany – commemorated on January 6 – celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. The Eve of Epiphany (the night of January 5) is popularly known as Twelfth Night (the Twelve Days of Christmas are counted from Christmas Eve until this night). The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), up until Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday;” the day before the start of Lent. Some organizations or groups of friends may have “king cake parties” every week through the Carnival season. In Portugal and France, whoever gets the King cake trinket is expected to buy the next cake for these get-togethers

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I spotted this woman today standing in the market square accepting letters to give to the Three Kings for gift delivery on the 6th of January.  On the night of the 5th of January there is a parade with floats, bands and the Three Kings, think Santa Claus parade and you will get the general idea.  In cities like Madrid and Malaga, the parades are massive and amazing.. I was lucky to be in Madrid in 2001 for their parade, and it was spectacular..it takes place at night, with fireworks, lights, floats and music.. just amazing.

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Romeria 2014 is now just a fond memory.  The weather was fantastic and everyone had a great time.  Up first, the kids.

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