Southeast Spain

Since we've been expecting a baby I haven't been allowed to go anywhere far away by myself. I'm hoping this restriction is lifted at some point. However, a friend of Stefanie's came for a visit last weekend and somehow that meant I could leave for the weekend by myself. So I went to the southeast part of Spain to see a bunch of things I missed the last time I was there.

First stop was Torcal de Antequera nature reserve. This place is similar to Elbesandsteingebirge, except larger, much more accessible and with mountain goats! The entire park is basically part of a large mountain covered with stone pillars that look like stacks of rock pancakes. And with mountain goats climbing all over the place. I saw them do some pretty amazing climbing as they ran away from me. Like, some crazy Prince of Persia wall running type of stuff.

The next day I went to Fuente de Piedra, which is a shallow lake home to lots of birds, including two thirds of all the flamingos in the Mediterranean during baby-making season. So when I saw "flamenquin" on the menu of a local restaurant, I thought it might be flamingo, so I had to try it. Turns out this is actually a fried roll of pork with eggs inside. Now I know. It's too bad really. I was hankering for some pink bird.

Next I hiked to El Camino del Rey (the King's path) in Malaga's lake district (otherwise known as the most dangerous pathway in the world). This is a path on the side of a cliff built in 1905 and in desperate need of repair. I knew it was falling apart and would be hard to do before I got there, but I thought it was least possible to do. I made it all the way to a part with 3 inches of space to step onto while you hug the cliff wall, with no other way around. I'm pretty sure I could have made it, but it wasn't worth the risk of falling several hundred feet. So I turned back. Mother would be proud.

Next, I turned east and spent a day hiking through the Tabernas Desert, where hundreds of American westerns have been filmed. I even went to "Mini Hollywood", a mock up of a town from a typical western built for tourists. I even saw a wild west show where the good guy takes on two outlaws and everyone dies in the end. All in Spanish of course, just like the movies.

On the way back to the airport I stopped at the Alhambra near Granada. This started as a palace for a Muslim sultan back in the 1200's after the Muslim conquests, and the main palace is decorated as such. Actually, the decorations here are more numerous and extravagant then anything I saw in the Muslim countries that I've visited. Maybe this is because the palaces in these countries are still being used and not open to the public.

This trip marks my 3rd time in Spain, and there is still plenty more to see here. In fact, Spain has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country other than Italy and there are lots of natural parks and monuments. So I will probably be back again at some point. Maybe next time I'll really find flamingo on the menu.

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