We set off on a very dull day. Sandwiches and flask safely stowed in the footwell and a long six hour drive ahead of us.
We drove south to Zafra and then east to Cordoba and then South again to Malaga and the coast and the small town of Salobrena where our daughter and her family live. The rain clouds stayed with us almost as far as Malaga when the sun suddenly popped out, the sky turned blue and the temperature gauge on the car shot up to 21C.
I always used to find travelling very exciting.
Nowadays the thought of travelling is often more exciting than the actual journey. Perhaps its an age thing. I remember when I was young, arriving was often an anti climax, it was the journey I really enjoyed.
We didn't want to overburden our daughter and her family, their house is small and they have a new baby, so we booked into a Pensione. I do not understand the difference between a Pensione, a Hostal and a Casa Rural - they all provide bed and most often breakfast as well and they come in all price ranges. Ours was very reasonably priced at 25 euros per night plus tax. Breakfast was 2.50 euros on top of that. That is 25 euros per room not per person.
The Pensione was as traditional as you can get. Very very Spanish. And it has been in the same family for four generations. I wonder what kind of people used to stay there before the advent of the British tourist? Salobrena has a castle but it wouldn't have been an easy journey to get there. Granada is about an hour away and I suspect the majority of tourists would have stopped there and not really gone much further. Perhaps it was travelling salesmen and the like.
Fabulous front door.
Long dark corridor with all the bedrooms leading off.
Look at the size of those doors. I don't understand why they are so big.
And the shared WC... so very teeny tiny small. In fact Steve said if he stood up to do what he needed to do, his btm was in the sink! This made us laugh.
But yes I said 'shared'. Do any of you remember the book or the film A Room With a View? Set around the turn of the century (19th to 20th) the cast of characters stay in a Pensione in Italy. Was it Rome? I can't remember now. But I do remember the scenes of elderly dressing gowned ladies heading off to the shared bathroom with their 'toilet bags' and towels, hoping to not meet any gentlemen on the way, but of course running the risk all the same.
Once upon a time we thought nothing of sharing bathroom facilities with strangers. How things have changed... and yet in some places...not at all.
The dark room, the heavy wooden headboard and footboard and the huge shutters on the windows, the large religious painting on the wall above the bed. And that's a marble washstand next to the bed, no doubt the forerunner to the sink.
It's all right up my street, bringing out the romantic streak in me.
The shared shower room was actually downstairs and outside in the courtyard! Not actually outside but the room was accessed off the outside courtyard. Thankfully the weather was not too cold, but it was a tad chilly at night and first thing in the morning.
I had not brought a dressing gown with me because Steve forgot to mention that I would need one. So on our first day I bought a pair of velour pyjamas... very warm, very popular here in Spain and not quite as unfashionable as a cheap velour dressing gown but equally modest.
I look (and felt) for all the world like a seal out of water. Steve remarked that it was like sleeping with a giant teddy bear. Yes I slept with them on. I was cold. No heating in the room of course and only cold water at the basin in the corner.
We are fairly seasoned travellers and we know that the only sure fire way to sleep in a strange bed of dubious comfort is to have at least two large glasses of wine or be absolutely exhausted, or both. We tried both.
In spite of the fact that the mattress seemed intent on propelling us towards the centre of the bed where it was almost impossible for me to climb back up out unless Steve got out of the bed first (him being so much heavier than me), I managed to sleep and I did not have back ache or any other ill effects from the experience.
Breakfast was taken in the dining room, or out in the courtyard when the weather is better - which would have been pleasant in nice weather as the courtyard walls were full of flowers.
Every day we tackled the hill up to our daughter's house which is just below the castle and has a wonderful view of the ocean and the beaches below.
Returning again before bedtime we managed to take a different route each time not really sure of where we were going and still always ended up close enough to the Pensione to make us feel like we really knew where we were going after all.
That certainly helped with the sleeping.
The windy lanes and higgledy piggledy way the houses are all arranged on top of each other is totally charming and as this area has its own micro climate - being called the Costa Tropical - they are able to grow avocado and bananas and pineapple.
And even on a chilly January evening we could smell the jasmine wafting from the pots beside front doors.
A short weekend went by very fast and we were all packed ready to set off on our return journey when the owners of the Pensione lined up to thank us for coming and shook our hands as we left.
When we finally arrived back home to see our finca sitters and ecstatic dog we discovered that our finca sitters had stayed in the exact same Pensione back in the 1980's when they were touring Spain.
And after listening to their holiday stories it would appear that nothing had changed, except for the absence of an elderly grandmother, which you might expect.
I liked that. It made me even more confident that we had indeed, travelled in time.