Rondalust

Sierre de los NievesIt’s never a good sign when you get up in the morning and your calves scream “oh dear god, why are we walking?” Today would be a day of shuffling, rather than strutting. But first we had a long car drive to the historic town of Ronda.

Sierra de los Nieves

check out this road!

We were going to catch a bus to Neen’s uncle’s house but as we got to the bus stop, the bus pulled away. We decided not to throw away what little remained of our dignity by chasing it, shaking our fists and weeping into the tarmac under a plume of exhaust fumes. We’d probably get killed on the roundabout. Luckily our travel insurance covers repatriation, but nobody wants that on their death certificate. After sitting at the bus stop for over half an hour, we texted Neen to say we had another 20 minute wait, so she came to fetch us. Neen’s uncle, Jerry, joined us for the adventure. Neen was having problems with her eyes and started feeling sick so she pulled over and Cat had to take over driving. Do you remember in our first post how we said how much we hated it and our only experience of driving in a different country would be forever marred? Now we had no choice. This would either redeem us or ruin us. Hell or glory.

Fortunately, the roads were our favourite type to drive – windy mountain roads with stunning views through the Sierra de los Nieves. Mountains one side, valleys the other. It was like being back in Wales, except there were safety barriers and no sheep. Our mate, Andrew, was suitably jealous of Cat driving the roads. So was Lynx. We stopped at El Burgo when Neen got too sick so while she rested in the car,  we wandered the market with Cinta and Jerry, had a drink in a nearby pub then continued on our way.

El Tajo, Ronda

El Tajo

Driving was so much more fun. Jerry made the perfect driving instructor on our excursion. We loved the twisty roads and the views. This was our kind of driving! We took it slow as we’re still getting used to the car, so didn’t fling it around the bends like we would normally. The Sierra de los Nieves were home to many bandits over the years and it was easy to see why. Sadly, we didn’t see any bandits, though we did see some goats. Getting held up by legendary bandits would certainly make our blog post more interesting. Though we’d have a hard time explaining it to the hire car company.

El Tajo, RondaRonda was really nice. It has so many beautiful buildings and the stunning El Tajo gorge. As we walked the streets we saw a yellow American school bus and a film crew. We often end up in places where there are film crews or big events on. Most of the cameramen were positioned around the El Tajo. Then we saw that on the front of the bus was The Fear Factor: Pain in Spain. We think that the contestants were going to bungee jump off the bridge. There is no way in hell we would ever do that. It ranks up there with putting fire ants on your eyes and sitting on an Inquisitor’s chair. Or even going to a Justin Bieber concert.

El Tajo, RondaWe had lunch (ok, chips) in a café and wandered around. We visited the Museo de Bandoleros. Bandit museum! (Our dog is called Bandit, so we had to visit it.) This was our first and only visit to a museum this holiday. We visited 7 in Venice. It was interesting to learn the history of the bandits. We especially loved the old comics related to them. Folklore had romanticised them into heroes, much like Robin Hood and the highwaymen are in Britain.

Museo del Bandoleros

Museo del Bandleros

We climbed up onto the city wall and walked along it while the others stayed at the bottom. It sort of resembled a castle, so we got to feed our castle fix for a bit. We weren’t so keen on climbing back down the walls. The steps were high and open on the one side. Despite us regularly climbing high castles and walls, our intense phobia of heights has never left us.

RondaLynx had a go at driving the mountain roads on the way back. We dropped Neen and Jerry off then drove back to Fuengirola. An hour later, we went back to meet Neen’s aunt, Carmen, who was desperate to meet us. Cinta didn’t come so we had to navigate our way to Elviria. We went from hating driving the car to having to drive it by ourselves. We still hate the size of the car, which seemed to take up the whole road. Next time they try upgrading us, we are definitely punching them.

RondaThe barman loved our tattoos, but couldn’t speak English, so Jerry translated his praise then translated us telling him the stories behind them. It turned out, he was also a twin. We can find fellow twins anywhere. As we left the bar, we got lost. We still don’t know how. We ended up driving up a road where someone had hit a fire hydrant and flooded the road. As Helen (our SatNav voice) navigated us back, we were then pulled over by the police and Cat was breathalysed. First time for everything. They were stopping every driver. We refuse to drink and drive, which is just as well, considering the size of the shots in Spain! Spending our last night in Spain in a jail cell would be a sour end to a fabulous trip.Ronda

Planet of the Apes

Rock of GibraltarToday was the day we had been waiting for – the day we would get mugged by monkeys. Ok, technically they are macaques, which are apes, but ‘mugged by monkeys’ sounds funnier. From the moment Neen suggested visiting Gibraltar, she’s been looking forward to seeing us wrestling monkeys for our phones, food and self-respect. Seeing as Lynx managed to leave a phone on the plane home from America and knock another phone in the Seine, it would be a challenge for her not to lose it to a monkey. Our mum gave us a bumbag to keep them safe. In America, bumbags are called fanny packs, whereas in Britain, ‘fanny’ is a slang term for ‘vagina’. GibraltarNeedless to say, there were countless jokes about putting stuff in our fannies. Cinta had sent us videos of the apes stealing people’s glasses and phones, and our sister regaled us of hilarious tales of our brother in law being chased by an ape. We wear glasses and while it would be safer to go without them, we would not see the monkeys until it was too late. “Is that a paper bag ahead?” would soon become “Oh dear god! It’s eating my face!” Would we escape unscathed? Possibly. Would our self-esteems cope with losing a fight with an ape? No. If our self-esteems were hooked to an ECG machine, they’d be calling in experts to see if they had a pulse.

Gibraltar

cable car selfie!

We set off for Gibraltar and got excited when we saw a Pink Smartcar on our way, though it was one of the pale ones, not the deep pink of General Pinkinton. We’d also spotted Renault 4s and Renault 4 vans on our trip and lamented that they hadn’t been available to hire. We’d have no trouble driving those, seeing as we own two of them. The minute we crossed into Gibraltar, we could tell we were on British soil – it was cold and foggy and there was nowhere to park. Gibraltar drivers are crazy! We eventually found somewhere to park, which was right at the base for the cable cars. We had chips and lemonade in a pub across the road. It’s so weird. Everything is British yet they still drive on the right and a lot of them speak Spanish. Annoyingly we forgot our British wallets and they charged more to change into Euros. So if you go to Gibraltar, pay in sterling, it works out cheaper.Gibraltar apesGibraltar ape

We rode the cable car to the top of the rock and went to the souvenir shop to look for a pin badge. We have a travel rucksack and buy pin badges from every new place we visit to put on it. We managed to find one with a monkey and the rock on. There were monkeys on the railings as you headed into the gift shop. One was eating a pack of biscuits and one looked like it had crumbs all over its face. Another one kept posing for photos every time a camera was pointed at it. We cautiously sidled up to it for a selfie and managed to get one without losing our phone or our dignity. And we got to quote the fabulous line from Kong: Skull Island “is that a monkey?” When we went to Venice, we got to quote from Back to the Future : “where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” We now feel that having a movie quote for every place we visit is as essential as learning their basic language.Gibraltar ape

We headed down through the nature reserve to St Michael’s Cave. One taxi driver got a monkey to sit on people for photos but only those who went up in the taxi were allowed to have a photo with it. The monkey had other ideas and leapt on Cat’s back. They were united in their view of ‘rules were made to be broken’. In hindsight, putting our strawberry perfume in her hair (to make the smell last longer) was a mistake. But no harm came to Cat and she didn’t achieve Internet fame by wrestling with an ape, much to Neen’s dismay. Gibraltar apeThough the monkey did refuse to get off her and kept playing with her hair. In the end we had to summon the taxi driver for assistance. Getting a monkey through airport security would prove tricky. Claiming it’s a fetching rucksack would fail when the monkey starts biting travellers and peeing on the conveyor belt.

St Michael's CavesSt Michael’s caves were stunning and one area was huge – they use it as a concert hall. There were coloured floodlights which made them look lovely, but it was very difficult to take photos then. The phone took better photos than the camera. The stalactites were impressive. The caves don’t cover a huge area, unlike Dan yr Ogof, but they are well worth a visit. The next place on our list was the Great Siege Tunnels. We wanted to see the Ape’s Den so Neen and Cinta went an easier route. Apparently, there’s such a thing as too many monkeys. The Apes Den was just a wooden shelter with fruit under it and two monkeys. Not quite the den of apes we were hoping for. We’d expected to fight our way through a tunnel system with monkeys leaping out at all sides. Like a zombie attraction. Needless to say, we were a little disappointed. We didn’t see a single tourist get mauled. Sad times.St Michael's Caves

Great Siege TunnelsThe Great Siege Tunnels were interesting. The Siege lasted from 1779-1783 and they were also used during WW2. Neen and Cinta stopped halfway – Cinta doesn’t like caves as she’s claustrophobic and Neen couldn’t be arsed to walk down to look at more caves so we went by ourselves. We’re descended from miners, we’re genetically programmed to love caves. They had mannequins in there, which as many people know, are a favourite thing of ours to molest. We behaved ourselves and didn’t act inappropriately towards them. They had cannons and we didn’t think we’d come off well. Plus, they looked ‘judgy’.

Great Siege Tunnels

Tunnel rats

Moorish castle

Inside the Moorish castle

We then wanted to go and see the Moorish Castle. Neen and Cinta headed back to the pub we went to before. The Castle was just a tower with one floor and the roof but it was interesting to see a Moorish castle. SatNav then took us through the town centre to get to the pub. It was like walking on a normal British high street with Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Peacocks, Top Shop, etc. Gibraltar’s a little disappointing. It was nice but nothing special. It’s like being back in the UK but with lizards. We stopped at Trafalgar Cemetery, which is misleading because only two of the soldiers who died at the battle of Trafalgar are buried there. The rest are victims of yellow fever. We met back at the pub and had some more chips then headed home. Our calves haven’t yet forgiven us for all that downhill walking. Lynx hobbled for the rest of the holiday. If we can’t now break a man’s neck with our calves, we are going to be very disappointed.Gibraltar

 

Spanish Invasion

FuengirolaNo problems in the airport, smooth travelling and nothing going wrong. At all. Could this really be one of our travel blogs?

The day dawned horribly early. Well, we were leaving at 7:30 a.m. The journey was uneventful apart from them closing the Brynglas tunnels but the diversion didn’t take long. FuengirolaWe got through baggage drop off without causing an incident, our suitcase was under weight and Cat managed to get through security without being patted down. Neen and Lynx didn’t escape the bleeper’s attention. You’d think airport scanners would account for underwire bras. Believe us, guards, our boobs aren’t big enough for smuggling goods. By the time we’d done our makeup, we had 15 minutes until our gate opened. We heard ‘Keith Allen’ being called over the tannoy and joked that it was the actor.

Castillo Sohail

Castillo Sohail

Lynx was right at the back of the plane – the very last seat – and sat between two large men. The man on her left was very nice. She couldn’t put her case up because everyone else was boarding so she had to wait for them to pass to put her case up. So he put her tripod, camera and kindle on her seat for her. Unfortunately, the guy to the right blocked most of the window. Lynx gets travel sick so needs to look out of the window as the plane starts moving, or she’s nauseous for the whole flight. Luckily, our friend, Hayley, lent her a travel sickness bracelet for the journey. Cat was sat thirteen rows ahead, between two women and behind a whinging, snotty baby. She plotted to put it in the overhead lockers. She was certain the parents would be glad of the peace. Airline rules don’t state you can’t put children in the lockers. Separating us was Ryanair’s plan to make us pay £6 per ticket for allocated seating. Ryanair, you have underestimated our stinginess. We have our kindles, we have no need for company.

Finca del secretario

Finca del Secretario

It turned out, it was Keith Allen the actor. He was sat across the aisle from Lynx but on the window side. The guy to Lynx’s right was doing filming with him. Lynx concluded that meant she must have been sat in first class. Check us out, flying with celebrities. Next we’ll be upgraded from budget airlines. *Checks bank balances* maybe not. The landing was pretty rough, which seems to be the case with Ryanair flights. No travel sickness bracelet in the world can counteract the nausea caused by the landings. And what is it with them not supplying sick bags? We know they’re a no-frills airline but that one tiny frill will save the cleaners an unpleasant task.

Castillo SohailCinta met us at the arrivals gate then joined us on the shuttle bus to get our car. The man uttered the words “we’ve upgraded you from the Polo to a Toyota Verso.” He was lucky he wasn’t punched in the mouth. We selected a Polo because we’ve never driven a car bigger than a Renault 4! We normally drive our SmartForTwo or our mum’s Mini. And they gave us a 7 seater barge! General Pinkington could have fitted inside the car and still left the backseat and boot free.

our hire car

We like small cars. You can fit through gaps that SUVs get trapped in and parking spaces are so much easier to find. Neen drove out of the rental place as we didn’t want to do the first drive. It’s not that far to get to Cinta’s, though we’re not convinced we’ll master roundabouts. It’s all so terrifying. And whilst we don’t want to be disparaging about the drivers, there were very few cars that weren’t covered in scratches or bumps. We feared for our rental car.

on the beach with Cinta

Neen dropped us off at Cinta’s apartment left to go to her uncle’s in Elviria. Cinta took us on a tour of Fuengirola. She’s not far from the beach. People seemed to like our outfits and complimented us in Spanish – not sure they get many goths round here. We also got strange looks for being so clothed on the beach. But after seeing all the perma-tanned, wrinkled Brits who looked like someone had dressed a leather coat in beachwear, we vowed we would cake ourselves in suncream. We would rather be pale and maintain our youthful looks. ‘Leather look’ is fine for furnishings but not for humans. We found a vegan gelato place, Stickhouse, and got fruit lollies – strawberry and raspberry. They use real fruit and the lollies were lovely. We even found time to do our flexibility stretches most evenings. We don’t let holidays get in the way of fitness!

Cafe Nomad

our vegan ice cream from Cafe Nomad

Day two was very warm. We walked to Castillo Solhail, only to find it’s closed all week for an event! Gutted. The one time we’re in Spain and they close their castle! This happens to us a lot. It’s like places don’t want us to educate ourselves. We circled the castle trying to find ways in, but this is the problem with castles – they were designed to keep people out. So we continued our new holiday tradition of honouring Polefit and did a double figurehead on the wall then found a lamppost so Cat did a polecat and Lynx did a fairy sit.

Castillo SohailWe then went to Café Nomad and had delicious vegan ice cream – vanilla, strawberry and chocolate with cream (which was lovely), strawberries, grapes and bananas. We’ve never tried cream before, so this was a moment of bravery. Surprisingly, we liked it, but Neen didn’t. Now who’s fussy? *pokes Neen* Yes, we ate the bananas. Bananas are a big ‘no!’ food for us – the colour, texture, taste, all add up to yuckyness. Devil’s food, we call them.

polecat

Even the thought of touching them makes us shudder. But we were brave and ate them like proper adults without pulling faces and spitting them out. Smothered in ice cream, we couldn’t taste them, but the texture was still upsetting on our tongues. Their Very Berry smoothie was really nice. The Strawberry Burst smoothie was nice but the banana taste was too strong for our liking. BananaMan we are not.

Lynx doing a fairy sit

Then we walked four miles to Finca del Secretario, the Roman ruins. They’re small ruins but interesting and best of all, they’re free! We love finding hidden gems not many tourists know about and the ruins were definitely one of them. One side is the pottery kiln, oven and fish storage area while the other side are the thermal baths and courtyard, complete with mosaic tiles perfectly intact. You don’t get that kind of craftsmanship these days! We sat for a while in the shade as it was 26 degrees. The ruins are a peaceful place to be and totally different to the beach image usually associated with Fuengirola.

Finca del secretarioWe then went to a quiet country road where we learned to drive the car. Driving on the left side of the car on the right side of the road was an unnerving experience. Especially as we weren’t used to being in such an enormous car. We hated it at first. It was like we’d forgotten how to drive. And the seat couldn’t be raised, which is poor form when you’re only 5’1. Finca del secretarioEnded up down a narrow dead end road so had to do a turn that had a tree one side of the road and a sheer drop the other side. That was certainly not an experience we wish to repeat! We’d had plans to share the driving between us and Neen and had been excited about this new experience but after practising, we realised our plans for a fun driving holiday were dashed and we relinquished all driving responsibilities to Neen. With our self-esteem more battered than a pinata, we got Neen to drop us off at Cinta’s and we consoled ourselves with the next day’s adventures: Gibraltar. The island of thieving monkeys.Finca del Secretario