Category Archives: Cycling Fuengirola

Refuelling….

I don’t want you to think that my main breakfast fuel in the morning was just the farton……. because, as we all know, variety is the spice of life….even at breakfast time…..but a panadería full of tempting pastries only really pretends to sell you a variety of products. They have a very clever way of making you think that each regional pastry is vitally different from the others, with its own ingredients, method of baking and, most importantly, its presentation. Well, their deceit is now being revealed……..but I’m still buying into it.  All these wonderful pastries are made with the same base ingredients of flour, milk, sugar and eggs, but the ingenuity of how they are presented is the essential magic when you enter a panadería.IMG_20171111_090205964

Perhaps my favourite breakfast pastry in Spain actually originates in Mallorca, and its called the ensaimada. If you haven’t tried one, you haven’t lived. I would recommend even buying yourself a return plane ticket, spend a night in Palma de Mallorca, just so you can have an ensaimada breakfast in the morning before your flight home. Crazy? No, not really……..IMG_20171106_174418261_HDR

Or you can go to the foot of the climb to Mijas (pueblo) in Andalucía, have your ensaimada in a café, and really feel virtuous by cycling off the calories as you climb up to the beautiful pueblo blanco (white village) at the topIMG_20171107_124545509

and then look smugly down over the captivating panorama, knowing that the only direction back to the coast is downhill. Could it get any better than that?

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Asanas on the sand….

For me, beaches are there to be enjoyed through some form of beach-related activity, never to simply lie on, and absolutely never for sunbathing and reading the latest thriller. Why would you want to do that……?

The frequently quoted holiday dream of the burned out 9-5 salary earner is to fill the suitcase with the latest bestsellers, fly several hours to a sun-drenched location, spending a few thousand £s in the process, only to lie on a beach sipping piña coladas and reading the latest Dan Brown…… The power of this illusionary dream is only reinforced by the frequency with which people ‘Facebrag’ with photos of themselves holding a (usually very) large glass of Pinot Grigio, gazing across a white tropical beach to an unrealistically blue seascape. The ultimate dream of the aspirational laid bare so as to make friends back in misty drizzly old Blighty envious of their good fortune. The social media equivalent of the “wish you were here” postcard…..but now we can geo-locate ourselves with pin point accuracy, and zoom in on Google maps to the very point we are sitting on the beach.

Our daughter, Rachael, is in the business of personal training, yoga teaching and Thai yoga massage, and sells a very different type of dream, but powerful nevertheless. Her classroom is frequently the beach on the Costa del Sol and, instead of the piña colada and Dan Brown, she can use the power of the environment to encourage stretching and relaxation, meditation and controlled breathing, all the while harnessing the power of the sun and the sound of the waves lapping gently against the shore.

I joined her classes immediately. No stranger to yoga, I have been practising (on and off) for nearly 30 years, but largely untutored since taking classes in the late 80s. Now I was being ‘held to account’ for some of my wayward practices, with the scrutinizing eye of my daughter to correct my posture, and adjust my movements from one Asana to another.

Although I am entirely biassed, I would say that ‘asanas on the beach’ would be an infinitely more realistic dream to promote amongst the overworked and hassled. As the sun rose over the horizon at 7.50am, I would go down to the beach and do my ‘salutation to the sun’ as it began it’s climb to its zenith….. then went off in search of a panadería (bakery) to buy my breakfast fartons……. I know what you are thinking…… but it’s the Valencian Catalan word for a pastry that comes from the small village of Alboraya…….but I loved giving the shop assistant an emphatically pronounced ¿me pones cinco fartons, por favor?

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Further afield…

Beyond Mijas lies a town called Alhaurín el Grande, a name bestowed on it by the Moors meaning the ‘garden of Allah’, and rises to over 320 metres above sea level. The climb up to the pass was long and laboured

But the descent was fast and exciting.

It still betrays remnants of its fortified past

but was overrun by the Christian forces under the Catholic Monarchs in 1485, putting in place another piece of the jigsaw of the Reconquest of Spain.

The day concluded with a spectacular rising of the moon over the sea, lighting up the surroundings with a spectral glow.

Exploiting the benefits…

With the loan of a smart B’twin hybrid, fully equipped with disc brakes and suspension, and enough low gears to climb Everest, I set off on mini-adventures along the coast in both directions, and when sparkling seascapes lost their interest, I headed up into the mountains that provide a brooding backdrop to this coastline.

Access for bicycles along the coast is very patchy. Where there is a Paseo Marítimo, the going is pleasant and flat, with stretches that go on for several kms, but this is not always the case. Getting to Malaga was fairly straightforward,

but going west towards Marbella was a mess. Narrow cycleways, poorly maintained and bedecked with dangerous obstacles, made the westward exploits challenging and unappetising. The furthest I ventured to was Calahonda, and then braved the busy coastal A7 for the return journey. But it was fast and not too dangerous, fortunately.

Getting up into the hills, however, was uncomplicated…..(did I really say that?). Heading up to Mijas Pueblo,

 the beautiful white village (pueblo blanco) hugging the side of the mountain, I climbed to almost 400 metres in less than 5km, but the views over the coastline were stunning.

T​he village almost enjoys the status of being a national monument, so assiduously is the fabric and decor of the architecture protected. Such beauty, however, has its drawbacks, making it a ‘honeypot’ for coach tours and visitors….. but a small price to pay.

Enforced migration…

It’s tough when your daughter chooses to settle on the Costa del Sol, and you quickly sense the predatory footsteps of companies like QuEasyjet behind you bidding for your business. The company of the orange logo happened to be a third choice for this trip, because, first, we decided to overlook Ryanair due to their debacle over staffing rosters, and then somewhat smugly opted for Monarch……BIG MISTAKE! Within a few hours of their crash, however, I had worked out how to retrieve the cost of both plane and train tickets, and booked with EasyJet with little change to our itinerary.

So we ended up in Los Boliches, Fuengirola, with a perfectly proportioned studio apartment (for two people, that is) that afforded daily views of solar salutations announcing the first blushes of the new day, without having to move from the prostrate comfort of the mattress……unless of course, you insisted (as I did) on going down to the beach in person to salute the sun personally. But then it did considerately wait till 7.50am to pop above the horizon….so no great sacrifice there.

Our 11th floor eerie, according to the GPS on my phone, put us at 42 metres above sea level, which gifted us with commanding views of our environment. If ‘people watching’ is your principal sport, you could have a daily workout of several hours. Or you could survey the offshore fishing activities of local fishermen, feast yourself on the antics of windsurfers, paragliders and jet skiers, and catch glimpses of beach bootcamps and yoga classes……but more of that in another post.

A beachside holiday resort has never been our first choice of destination, but when your daughter lives and makes her living in such an environment, it’s funny how your thinking develops. Not to mention the loan of a bicycle from Jonathan, Rachael’s partner…..

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