Day 18: Motril to Nerja - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 24, 2024

Day 18: Motril to Nerja

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We had a clue not to count on breakfast at the Estrella el Mar when we learned it was to be had in the bar. And yes, it was the weakest of the trip, with one piece of toast and coffee. To be fair, they did bring some of that inedible (to us) Spanish ham, but I carried it back to them. The bar, however, did have a feature almost as good as what bacon and eggs would have been: a large poster showing the birds to be found at a nearby wetland. The desk clerk also gave us a pamphlet about the wetland, and we looked for it, but never quite connected. It was fun, though.

The poster. "Charca" means pond, or wetland.
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We set off and immediately made this photo for the Andersons, for this hotel next to ours is where they stayed in 2019.

Scott and Rachael - remember this?
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Scott AndersonI do remember that! Wondered if you were staying there too. When we were there it had th3 only open restaurant within walking distance.
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A little further down the street was the scene of a fallen palm tree. It had taken out a wall, and then was sliced up as part of the cleanup in progress.

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Karen PoretIt actually fell down? Wow!
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretThe winds have been brutally strong the past few days.
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesYep, I guess if it is strong enough to blow your sandwich out of your hand, the palm tree is also suspect. ;)
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It was interesting that the rounds showed (of course) no annual growth rings. Palms don't grow that way. I wonder if there are trees here (like Pines, surely) that do respond to seasons such as they are, with faster and slower growth.
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Our first evidence of wetland anything was a large puddle, with a pair of Mallards. The couple, it appears, was having a tiff.
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Early in the day, some white sugar cubes houses are interesting. Very soon, we would be running by thousands, but (until much later) still trying to photograph them all!

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We knew our route would be flat for a bit and then there would be a lot of climbing.  And so it was. Here below is some of the flat part.

Looks pretty flat here!
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We soon got pur first look (for today) of a phenomenon that we have seen all week and that would appear all day: White houses climbing up hillsides. During today, the main way this appeared was that we would come around a headland, up high, and look down at the next bay. The opposite side of the bay would have been created by a headland, and that headland would be swarmed over by white houses. It really is a rather wonderful thing to look at.

White houses climb a mountain.
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We didn't find the bird filled wetlands, but we did spot a couple of birds.  One was the handsome Goldfinch, and in our case it was out finding dandelion seeds.

House Sparrow
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24151 Goldfinch (feathering his nest)
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And a White Wagtail
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We had set off extra early, hoping to beat the wind, which we thought might tend to come up more at noon. In fact, it was pretty stiff all day. But unlike yesterday it was not gusting as much, giving us a chance to make reasonable progress.

The flag tell the tale.
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One f the pamphlets we got at the hotel was for the Castle of Salobrena. Since we were not planning to tour the area, I accepted the pamphlet from the hotel man, but did not expect to see it. However our route was just right, and there it was. Like many of the ancient buildings in Spain, the castle was first built by the Muslims, and later taken over by the Christians. The castle was then used as a prison for various dethroned sultans.

The Castle of Salobrena
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A view up to the castle from below the cliff
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Scott AndersonLooks impregnable enough.
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White houses had also climbed the cliff.
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We got a touch of "village life" as a donkey cart came along. The donkeys really were not happy to see me, and gave the driver trouble as they turned the corner by which I was taking the snapshot.

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The settled down quickly enough.
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A highlight of the day came as our track directed us up through the village of La Caleta. It's a grouping of white houses that has climbed a hillside, and the only remarkable thing otherwise was that we were supposed to go up through it. I took the shot below not for putting in the blog but only as a reminder of where we were at this point. But La Caleta became more than just a point on the map, because we joined in just a bit to village life, or came to understand just a little of the people living here.

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Dodie on the way to La Caleta.
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Perhaps because of the weak breakfast, my food sensing equipment was on the alert. About a block away, I detected that there must be a bakery around. My nose zeroed in the seemingly closed cafe below. But the sign (not really visible in the photo) said Panaderia and the door looked a bit open. I dragged Dodie to a stop, and sent her in for a look. Our protocol is not to send me into bakeries, as I will tend to come out with the whole shop, and/or something too gooey to carry on the bikes.

Through the door there was not much to be seen, but down some stairs there was indeed a bake shop. The actual bakery was upstairs, and while Dodie was there, the husband (upstairs) was calling down and the lady below replied, but upstairs could not hear and kept repeating a question. Dodie shared some eyerolling with the lady, about hard to manage husbands. 

Dodie did not come out with the whole shop, but she did get a lot!

The cafe/bakeshop
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I can read "pasteleria" on a sign, no matter how faint.
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The bakeshop was at the centre of the lower part of town, and I had a chance to look around while Dodie was inside. On the walls of some buildings were photos of people, and I soon found a poster that explained this as a photo project to document some of the townspeople.

The centre of town.
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These two ladies undertook to document the town folk. "Caleteros" means people of Caleta.
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Here are some of the photos. Note how these are "real" people, so different from model images.

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Our track said "go up", so we did that.

I was impressed by Dodie's cardio fitness, as I was puffing to get up here. She later admitted that she was too.
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The town continues up, and the views continue to improve.
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We spotted the house over there for sale, in case anyone is interested!
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Karen PoretIs my hunch about the dark “roll up” doors to block out the sun as well as prying eyes ?
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretMany homes gave these. They rise and lower from inside and are both for sun shade, room darkening at night, and possibly for security.
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThank you! The first time I saw this idea in the Netherlands it reminded me of rolling garage doors on warehouses in cities. I had never seen this on private residences. I was told in the Netherlands these are popular especially for homes with children who need to get their sleep before the sun goes down! ( we know it doesn’t set in Netherlands until almost ten pm..)
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An attractive passage. Hey, wait for me!
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It goes up.
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And up.
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This is getting really steep!
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This guy on a warm wall by the steep street is completely unperturbed.
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A view of the Med.
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Up at the top of the village was the N340, the road we had determined was our best ticket to Nerja. In general, roads that intend on getting somewhere have gone high, to avoid diddling around the shoreline. The Autovia is always way high.

Although a fairly main road, the N340 is still curvy and up and down. That makes it attractive to motorcycle riders.
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Flowering shrubs are a whole "thing", and a tough area in which to make IDs. But these caught our attention by being so nicely coloured.
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Bill ShaneyfeltFlowers look a lot like burgloss, but not the leaves.

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/61789-Anchusa/browse_photos?place_id=6774
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The road now continued at a fairly high level, affording us views down to coves created by headlands that we would somehow be crossing .
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Here is a look down into one such bay or cove.
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The town below is called Almunecar. Here for Karen Poret is their name thing, without the standard coloured letters!
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Karen PoretThank you Steve! :)
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See all the apartments by the shore.
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They are large buildings of a dozen stories.
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There are developments there of other styles.
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Very geometric!
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We passed around the edges of town, running by other geometric wonders.
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So many chimneys and towers?
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All kinds of neighbourhoods. This was called Taramay.
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We stopped near a random restaurant, whose sign afforded a Spanish lesson. What do they exactly have on offer?

Veal, pork, chicken, quail, lamb, rabbit.
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We had passed through some tunnels, which are a main way for the roads to cross headlands, and found them rather terrifying, because they lack shoulders.  Dodie had the idea that we should put on our flashers to add to our regular running lights. We did that, and were really visible. But that did not keep us from getting sideswiped (almost) by a bus.  We new that there was a really long tunnel coming up, so we started to think about going around it.

No shoulder.
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Another cove, another white village.
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I am starting to think of the sugar cubes as organic entities, that climb hillsides.
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Scott had written about lots of cyclists here. And yes, there were some. We found their presence encouraging, especially as regards tackling tunnels.
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This could be the "big one", but we weren't sure. We decided to just go for it, rather than look for the route around.
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Get on those flashers.
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Gonna be a bit scary.
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We booted through that tunnel at really high speed, and this time did not attract any busses.

We are passing from Granada to Malaga. Note that the Autovia is doing it too, way high.
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At first we thought we warranted drones and choppers to check on us, but as usual it is the motorcycles getting all the attention.
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Wow, look at all the campers. They seem like aphids on a twig. Research showed them to be all from Germany.
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Karen PoretSo, if the campers are all FROM Germany, are the Spanish campers IN Germany? ;)
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretCamping cars are a huge thing in Germany. The weather is not great in Germany right now, so they all come here.
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesAla snowbirds in the USA.. the Midwest and upper Atlantic coast states gone south, to Florida. Ironically, today, it was 80 degrees here in Santa Cruz, CA, and last week today it was pouring rain with 50 degrees. You can’t “win”.
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We made it sort of. Still up to 10 km to our hotel.
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The "Eagle" aqueduct. (Acqueducto del Aguila)
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Karen PoretWow! Now that’s a statement !
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"The aqueduct was built between 1879 and 1880 (the exact date is not known) to aid the industrial revolution; it was intended to carry water from Nerja town to the local sugar refinery in Maro, Las Mercedes (also known as Fábrica San Joaquin de Maro, built in 1884), for irrigation. The aqueduct was commissioned by the factory owner, Francisco Cantarero Senio; his signature is visible in the central pavilion of the aqueduct. The factory is now closed but the aqueduct continues to be used for local irrigation."

We were pleased to pick up this bikeway outside of Nerja.
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An interesting roof, part of a restaurant building. It turned out to be rather unique and not a style in the city.
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Karen PoretThe pattern seems to be ala “Mackenzie Childs” ..NYC..
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Other buildings of the city retained attractive sugar cube style.
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Our hotel was in a plaza called Plaza d'Espana. It was a large and pleasant space, but as we were to see, it is connected to a really super pedestrian/tourist area.
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Unlike on other trips, we have not been writing to hotels on Booking and advising about the need to store bicycles. Rather, we have been springing it on them when we arrive, often by rolling right up to the front desk. Sometimes a storage room is found, sometimes a garage, and often, we take the bikes to our room. Only thing, unlike the Bike Fridays, they are too large to fit in most elevators. So I may get to carry them up the stairs. Two floors is my limit, though. This time the desk clerk moved our room, to the "first floor", to accommodate the bikes. I was surprised to find then that the first floor somehow involved four flights of stairs. Dodie feels these were more like half flights, which is comforting, I guess.

As we entered town and looked at various signs, we came to understand that the "Balcony of Europe" is a big thing here. But what was it? According to a tourism site:

"King Alfonso XII actually named this balcony after the big earthquake that hit Nerja in 1884. Back in those days here stood a watch out fort called “Paseo de la Batería” and the king shouted, “this is the Balcón de Europa”.

The Balcón de Europa is quite charming and all the tourists who visit Nerja will visit this balcony. Here you can take a stroll and also watch numerous artists (musicians, painters, jugglers) do their thing. Because it’s in the center of Nerja it’s a great spot to meet your friends or family and have an ice cream on one of the benches or in one of the many bars that surround this balcony."

The balcony is just a viewpoint, but as the tourist text says, it is at the heart of the walking/shopping/gelato zone of town. Our square just adjoins this zone, so out we went:

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The first attraction in the walking zone was the 1697 Church of El Salvador. Though small, this church had many evocative statues of Jesus, Mary, and Saints. As we have seen in Spain, the representation of Jesus often has those rays of power coming from his head, but also he is often in the process of being cruxified. Therefore he looks at least pained, sometimes tortured. Mary generally gets a big crown and fancy clothes, but she nevertheless is in tears over the situation. Joseph is non-existent. It's a family that does not seems to have had many happy times.

The Church of El Salvador
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Not sure who the third figure is. Could be Gabriel or Raphael, who are associated with St Miguel Arcangel, the patron saint of Nerja.
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Even Jesus is depressed in this one.
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St Miguel
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The finery is not cheering Mary up.
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Semana Santa is coming. Jesus does not look enthused about it.
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Some of the walking area beyond the church
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The view along the coast from the Balcony
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While looking out over the coast, I noticed that the man beside me was sporting a Nikon P1000 super zoom camera. I have been eying the P950, which has 83x zoom, but the P1000 boasts 125x zoom. It's equivalent to a bizarre 3000 mm telephoto lens! I asked the man if that was really a P1000, and that was enough to start a conversation. The man was Dutch or German, and his English was perfect. I mentioned that I was concerned about the size of the camera, for use on a bike, and he said "Here, try it out", slipping the strap over his head.  "No, no, please hang on to it", I said "I don't trust myself to not drop it". So the man leaned over so I could try the camera. I zeroed in on a chair by a house impossibly far down the coast, and it snapped nicely into focus. I was impressed, but the thing was still too huge!   We then had a fun discussion of weight, cost, sensor size, etc. of the camera, and why the man or anyone else would buy one. In the end what I took away from the chat was not so much camera details, but a profound gratefulness that in this world someone would still hand me, a total stranger,  his $2000 camera on request. Probably it was "blink" identification of a fellow enthusiast, but still!

If we see any pirates, we can blast them! The P1000 could pick them up miles away.
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Cormorants are on watch too.
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Hey, pay attention!
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Back into the vibrant walking area.
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On the side of a building. Naming buildings is common here, a bit like in Britain.
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We are heading for a place to mail postcards.
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Watch for them, grandkids!
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The walking area is really fun.
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We have found that nougat is as popular in Spain as in France, and Spanish shops have more variety of confections along these lines than do the French.

Spanish nougat
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So yummy!
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More walking street
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The restaurant on the corner
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This would be a nice place to eat.
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We are back at our hotel. The brief walk around Nerja was great!
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Today's ride: 46 km (29 miles)
Total: 832 km (517 miles)

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