Following our few days at the Horse Fair in Jerez (40. Jerez, Horses, and Sherry…), Hugo and I headed for Gibraltar to visit friends and to see those famous monkeys… It was to be Hugo’s first trip outside of Spain, so we dusted off his hard-won passport and were on the move.
We parked in La Linea marina – partly because it is cheap, partly because driving and parking in Gibraltar is an absolute nightmare, but mostly so that we could walk across the runway… It’s one of the only (if not the only) live runways you can walk across in the world, but they are currently constructing a tunnel at the east end which will close the runway to both foot and vehicular traffic, so it’s a cool thing to do while the option is still available. And for the photos, obviously.
We’ve already covered Gibraltar in our previous posts (18. New Year Address… , 25. Hasta Luego, La Línea!), and you may have realised from those that it hasn’t been our favourite place that we’ve stopped so far… However, our good friend Julie lives there, and we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to pop in and say hi. She first met Hugo when he was just a few days old, so it was nice for her to see the growing lad… Her daughter Chloe (who is studying midwifery in the UK) was also visiting, and Hugo and her hit it off instantly. We had a couple of days hanging out, and Julie gave us a tour so that Hugo could see Europa point and the famous macaques, before the trip back across the runway, into Spain, and onwards to Guadix in Granada Province.
The stop in Guadix only came about as I was looking for a half-way stop between Gib and Cartagena to break up the journey. Hugo likes car trips, but 6 hours just seemed a bit too long without Jamie there so we could take turns driving and entertaining Hugo when he needed. Guadix is near Granada, but we wanted a town that was small and cheap, and Granada is neither of those; Guadix was both, and looked quite nice into the bargain.
Having had really lovely weather for the whole journey, as soon as I’d pulled up in Guadix, the heavens opened, so we waited it out for 10 minutes before heading into our next Airbnb (which was lovely, but possibly the most kitsch place in Spain…). We made a brief foray into town, but it became more about puddles and the raging river torrent, so we grabbed some dinner to take back and left the majority of our sightseeing for the following day.
We headed out early the next morning, through the Indiana Jones arch (The Last Crusade was filmed here, and in early June there was a 3-day festival in the city celebrating the 30th year of its release), up to the Cathedral, then further up to find the Alcazaba. Great views, but unfortunately the Alcazaba has been closed for several years after the council decided to prioritise money elsewhere. An elderly lady who lived in the shadow of the Alcazaba told me this with no small amount of disappointment; when she had been a small girl they had often visited and clambered all over the structure, and now it was left to ruin in favour of other (presumably more profitable, or let’s say ‘well-connected’ sights in the city…).
As we walked back down towards the car, we had a stroke of luck… Hugo’s current obsession with all forms of transportation meant that he spotted a little ‘fun train tour’, so we headed over to see what time it left. It turned out that it was a tour that had been pre-booked by the local SAGA equivalent… but the organiser said that if there was space, we could jump on for free… Obviously, this is Spain, so as soon as the pensioners found out about Hugo, they were only too happy to make space for him (and me, luckily), and he became quite the sensation! It took us up to the caves, which seems to be the main tourist attraction in Guadix (and possibly where the Alcazaba finance went) – over 2000 cave dwellings cut into the hillsides! The train drove off and left us, so we had about an hour to look around the dwellings and admire the view over the city (oh, and have an ice-cream..). We weren’t quite sure if the train was coming back for us; it did, although the remainder of the tour was places we’d already been, so we decided to take our leave. It was so kind of them to let us hop on their tour though, as we wouldn’t have seen the caves otherwise. I’m not sure if they’d have invited us if it hadn’t been for Hugo, but the hospitality and kindness of the Spanish (especially when kids are involved, it must be said) is hard to rival!
So it was back to the car, and back to Cartagena…. well, almost… The car wouldn’t start…. Flat battery (the cause had been a left-on indicator light following child entertainment while waiting out the rainstorm when we first arrived..!!)… We called recovery, and the chap duly turned up in less than half an hour; he kindly informed me that this type of ‘women’s trouble’ was very common when females and cars were brought together… Haha, thanks mate (slap!)…
Anyway, on the road again, we made a brief stop at Guadix train station (keeping the engine running, just in case – I couldn’t have faced seeing his expression if I’d had to call him out again!!). The station is also a popular film set, and also another location used in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Then it was a drive through the Badlands (less exciting than it sounds), and homeward bound. Hugo slept through most of it, the excitement of the last few days having taken its toll. He even missed the enormous storm, complete with thunder and lightening, that greeted us on our arrival back into Murcia Province!
Back into the routine now, but just enough time to recover before the next trip….
The now-obligatory video: