It was another early start this morning, the alarm going off at 7.00am as the Queen Victoria headed towards the port of Málaga. It was a long time since we’d sailed into Málaga; in May 1995 in fact, on the Seawing. I should imagine the port will have changed beyond recognition.
In any case, this morning we were booked on a half-day excursion to the pretty little mountainside town of Mijas Pueblo, about a 45-minute coach ride away. The weather, although there was blue sky showing, was a bit breezy and cooler than you would want, although we had to keep reminding ourselves it was November, after all! 🙂
After breakfast, the four of us met in the reception area and disembarked the Queen Victoria, where tour guides waited to show us to the appropriate coaches. As we boarded, we were asked to collect a radio device with earphones so we’d be able to hear what the guide was saying on our walking tour.
As the bus made its way through the town of Málaga, along the sea front, the only thing I could remember was the tree-lined, wide streets laid with mosaic tiles. The guide, who introduced himself as Pepe chattered away to us and pointed out things of interest on the way, adding in a few quips; he was quite the comedian.
After a gentle climb (Mijas is 400 metres above sea level) the bus pulled up in an area where there were some restrooms if we needed them. He pointed out an interesting life-sized statue of a donkey and said this is where we would meet the bus again at 12.30pm. As we alighted from the bus, I was surprised at how chilly it was and at the strength of the wind; it wasn’t comfortable and all I was wearing was my denim jacket with my alpaca wrap around my shoulders; I was definitely under-dressed. Everyone else was somewhat aghast at the wind, particularly since Pepe used his radio mic to communicate with us through our headsets, and much of the time you couldn’t really hear him for the wind. 🙁
As we set off, however, Pepe assured us that the weather would warm up later on, and our walking tour would take us through the more sheltered routes.
Our first impressions of Mijas Pueblo were how typically Spanish it was; gorgeous little whitewashed dwellings, shops and other buildings, many containing colourful hanging baskets, all nestled on the side of the mountains. The little streets had us all dying to explore and, true to Pepe’s word, it was much pleasanter now we were out of the wind.
By now, most of the clouds had cleared from the sky and it was even starting to feel a little warm as we walked along. There were lots of pretty little shops selling hand-crafted souvenirs including wooden carvings, painted glass sculptures and, of course, the inevitable Lládro porcelain.
Mijas Pueblo is also famous for its burro taxis – touristy carriages pulled by donkeys. Mijas town is one of the last places in Spain where donkeys are used for tourism. However, the local council has imposed a set of strict regulations to make sure the animals are well taken care of. We saw these donkey carriages everywhere, as well as the occasional horse and carriage.
As we walked along, we came to a steep path which Pepe told us was worth climbing for the views at the top. When we got there, it was breathtaking, an amazing vista over the Costa del Sol and even across as far as the Rock of Gibraltar. Lots of the dwellings had their own swimming pools, and the clear blue rectangles stood out clearly among the dry brown earth.
Around 11.00am, Pepe advised us we could either stay with him or have around an hour and a half of free time before we had to be back to the ‘Donkey’ statue for 12.30pm. As a complimentary drink was included in the price of the tour, Pepe asked us to be at a particular café no later than 11.15 – we therefore decided to go there now. 🙂
Making our way past lots of shops, whose proprietors tried to tempt us to come in, we arrived at the café but there were no tables for four available; we were asked to come back in about 15 minutes which we did, after looking in some nearby shops. We each enjoyed a cold glass of beer as we sat at a table by the window, watching as the burro taxis and horses and carriages went by. Carole’s eyes would light up every time she saw a horse; they used to keep horses so they have a soft spot for their equine friends.
As we slowly headed back in the direction for the coach pick-up point, we passed the ‘parking’ area where several horses and carriages waited for customers. Like a taxi tank, you had to take the next one in the queue, so Carole negotiated a price of 25 Euros for a 20 minute ride for all of us. Climbing to the carriage, the ‘driver’ gave the order and the horse set off with a clip-clop of hooves, punctuated by the jingling of lots of bells attached to his harness.
The ride was really lovely as the weather had improved amazingly since we’d left the coach. The wind had dropped and the sun shone down from a vivid blue sky. The horse clopped his way along, patiently; we were pleased to see he looked well-cared for and his coat was in good condition.
Once the ride finished, we all alighted from the carriage and Carole took some time to pet the horse as Billy talked ‘horse’ with his owner/driver.
As we still had about a 20 minute wait until our coach, we went into a nearby clothing shop, where I bought a lovely little white Broderie Anglaise top. We then made our way back to the start of the tour where we had time to use the restrooms before the coach pulled up. What a lovely morning it had turned out to be, despite our initial misgivings due to the weather. 🙂
Back on the Queen Victoria we went up to the self-service for a spot of lunch, before returning to 5123 and enjoying a 30-minute power nap. Then I poured myself another glass of the cheap plonk and sat out on the balcony for a while, just watching the world go by. As the Queen Victoria would be in port until 9.30 tonight (as our next port of call, Gilbraltar, was only 70nm away) we did contemplate going ashore again, but then decided we couldn’t be bothered.
We didn’t really do a lot this afternoon, just wandered around the ship and pottered about and whiled away the time until it was time to start getting ready for dinner. I wore a pair of black sparkly leggings with a chiffon, floaty blue top teamed with a pair of IC shoes in blue floral pattern, finished off with a big blue satin bow.
Off we went, along to the restaurant for our dinner which was as delicious as ever.
After dinner, as usual, we hotfooted it along to the Royal Court Theatre for tonight’s show. As we sat in our ‘regular’ seats, the two ladies who were there last night came along to have a look at my shoes. Regular readers of this blog will already know that my Irregular Choice shoes attract attention wherever I go. 🙂
The show was something a bit unusual, a French acrobatic/aerialist duo called “Duo Acropole” who danced, did a balancing act and seemed to have no bones they were so strong, lithe and flexible. It was all done to a background of French music; the show was entitled La France est Belle (France is beautiful). In one memorable scene, the male half of the duo displayed his skill with some black paint and a large brush; he started painting on a white board that was set up on an easel; I couldn’t make head or tail of what he was painting until he finished and, with a flourish, turned the painting upside down, to reveal a portrait of French singer Edith Piaf; cue the song Non, je ne regrette rien. 🙂
Then it was just a case of going along to the Golden Lion and listening to the music, chatting and trying to enjoy our drinks without thinking too much about the extortionate cost. They are easily twice the price we pay for drinks in our local pub at home. By now, the Queen Victoria was well underway again, but the movement was hardly discernible as she only had to cross the Straits of Gibralter so she wasn’t going very fast at all.
Returning to our stateroom around 11.00pm, Trevor put on the TV to see if there were any highlights from the opening games of the Football World Cup 2022 in Qatar, while I read for a while, and perused tomorrow’s daily activities programme to see if there was anything of interest going on. Then we propped open the balcony door an inch or so and settled down for the night. We slept very well.