Spain 1

I’ve been to Spain a dozen or so times, although I’ve never posted about it before.

I’ve been there as a tourist / traveller – the words are interchangeable, and where one stops and the other begins is very much a matter of personal taste. Some travellers would be highly offended if you referred to them as tourists, yet the Oxford dictionary defines a tourist as a person who makes a tour, a traveller, esp. for recreation. It is a snob thing, really. Many travellers like to think of themselves as being too serious to be a mere tourist. Perhaps it has a lot to do with that word tour, with the inference it is an organised thing, probably by a travel company, and probably full of holiday-makers who need to be guided around these awkward foreign places and told what to see and do. A Package Tour, perhaps. And so also that word recreation.

And I can be as guilty of that snobbish attitude as the next traveller. I can think of a number of times when I’ve been travelling and said ‘I’m just going to be a tourist, today‘, when I’ve felt like a day just wandering around a place and taking photographs and sitting in cafes.

Mea culpa.

I’ve also had the pleasure of going to Spain numerous times as an instructor with a group, and spending a week taking people canoeing, walking and climbing. So, all that and getting paid for it, too. Pretty fortunate, actually.

If you have ever read the book As I walked out one midsummer morning by Laurie Lee, which is the follow-up book to Cider with Rosie, you will know it is the record of his journey on foot through Spain in the 1930’s, just before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. It is a truly marvellous book, and well worth anyone’s time reading it, but I mention it only because I wanted to do something like that, and so my second visit to Spain was to spend a couple of weeks walking in the hills and mountains in the South of the country.

I flew into Malaga, I walked out of Malaga.

Heading north, the walker quickly gets into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the mountain chain that extends for a couple of hundred miles parallel to the south coast of Spain. And for the best part of the next two weeks I worked my way first Eastwards, and then Westwards back to Malaga, avoiding roads wherever possible. I slept each night on a hillside, or in the corner of a field, or anywhere else convenient where I could lay out my sleeping bag away from town or village.

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As a journey, it was not without its difficulties – finding water was frequently a problem. Passing through villages there would inevitably be a tap somewhere I could fill up my bottles (and myself; I rapidly learned the thing to do was to drink as much as I possibly could when I found a water supply!), but away from any habitation it was a lot harder. Many water courses had dried up and I had to take every opportunity to fill up.

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But as a way of seeing the Spain that few casual visitors see, it was unrivalled.

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When the Arabs conquered part of Spain in the early part of the eighth century, they created water courses known as Falaj (which can still be seen in use in many countries such as Oman and Iran) to channel water over long distances. This one is still in use now in the Sierra Nevada.

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Morning View…

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…and a dusk photo at one of my wild camps. 

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26 thoughts on “Spain 1

  1. Colin Barrett

    “un vaso de agua, por favour”.
    ‘As I walked out …’ is one of my favourite books and I was reading it when I went to Spain with you, Mick, and High Hopes.
    I prefer the term ‘traveller’ but, as you say, this includes being a tourist.
    I can see I’m going to have to learn to play the violin and go travelling again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ll be living on fried eggs and red wine, then, Colin, I expect. I can just see you on a street corner in Malaga with your violin and your hat on the ground. And, as I write that, it reminds me that the first time I went to Malaga, I stayed in a tiny back street hotel and my neighbour for a couple of days was a German fellow who was busking with a violin.

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      1. Colin Barrett

        I’m working on getting High Hopes to move en mass to Portugal where we could open a café and become guides, or, indeed, sit on street corners with our violins and hats.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is wonderful. Love the pictures especially the one with the Falaj … this is new to me. I’m longing to know more! We used to have an apartment in Mallorca over thirty years ago in what was then a tiny fishing village. I have such happy memories of it. Our father used to take us on ‘mystery tours’ in a very hot car with those plastic seats that burnt your thighs! We would go up into the hills and explore but without a doubt, I would appreciate it so much more now. It was a very quiet island then – now, somewhat different I presume. Strangely however, my sister and I are going back there in a few weeks. We want a little trip down memory lane. I loved your pictures too. Wonderful post Mick. Katie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your hiking trip sounds great, except for the water shortage. I spent a long weekend in Malaga when I was in college, yes, being a classic tourist, and enjoyed it. I’d never been to Spain before, and Alcazaba, Roman ruins, etc. were interesting. Just seeing the sun and something green, during a winter semester in Hull, made it worth the flight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed Malaga, actually. I’ve been there a couple of times. the first time I went (over thirty years ago, now) the Alcazaba was virtually falling down and largely overgrown. By the next time, restoration had begun and I spent a couple of interesting hours exploring it. I believe it’s still on-going.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d like to be a traveler, but mostly I’ve been a tourist. C’est la vie. Looks like this was definitely traveler action.

    On the other hand, maybe I’ll stick to being a tourist. Sleeping on the ground doesn’t appeal to me anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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