At 3,398m altitude the Veleta is the highest mountain in Spain and the third highest in Europe. In the summer you can drive or cycle all the way to the top. The mountain has a distinct triangular summit that must be so recognisable for the people who call the Sierra Nevada home.
The road up to the Veleta is a stunning drive. This is alpine driving at its best. The road is the highest in Europe but the top above 2,600m is closed in winter by a barricade. I imagine that it sometimes might close lower down too if there’s any snow. Like everywhere else I’ve been in Europe this year the temperatures are unseasonably high and there’s almost no snow.
I manage to find a small patch of snow at 2,500m. It’s pretty. But the poor snow quality and low number of lifts open means I have decided against skiing up here. Much as I love skiing, Mum isn’t into it and the cost / benefit ratio is not in my favour.
Despite the lack of snow and warm temperatures the mountain is still amazing. We’re so high up compared with the relatively flat lands around us that I feel almost like I am looking out of a plane window.
Our next stop on what will be a massive day is Antequera where there are some neolithic structures. The structures are not so big but it is pretty cool to be in a place that was lived in about ten thousand years ago. That’s a number I can’t even conceive of. It’s incredible to realise that this country has such an ancient history.
After lunch in Antequera (a picnic in a park) we drive to El Tonrillo de Torcal (Torcal National Park). We weren’t sure what to expect but decided it had to be more interesting than just driving down the highway to Malaga. Well, this place is definitely something!
Wild mountain goats hang out beside the road, seemingly unafraid of the cars driving past and people taking photos.
But what the park is most famous for are the pancake rock formations. They are breathtaking and we can’t take our eyes off them. They take their shape from the fact that they were part of an ancient sea bed that was pushed up into a mountain range during the Jurassic Age 150 million years ago.
There are some walking paths that wind between the rocks, allowing you to get up close and personal to the main attractions. There are two options from the carpark at the lookout: a 3km (2 mile) and a 1.5km (1 mile) walk. We opt for the shorter of the two. It’s already late afternoon and we’re at about 1,300m above sea level so this is not a place to be caught out after dark.
Despite the short distance, the walk takes us about an hour because we stop so often in total awe of our surrounds. It’s all here: rocks, flowers, trees and deep green grass. An orchestra of visual stimuli.
We leave the mountains behind and take the long scenic route to Malaga where Picasso was born and lived in his youth. The Picasso Museum and Picasso house are the next stop on our massive day of sight seeing. There’s a free audio tour in the Picasso Museum and I am grateful for it because I’ve never really understood Picasso’s works. Now I do … he was the consummate deconstructionist who then reassembled what he saw in multiple dimensions. I really loved the museum. It was absolutely fantastic.
We end our day in Fuengirola. We don’t arrive until around 8pm and are both absolutely pooped from such a big day of travel. We’ve done it all from tall mountains to ancient structures, a rocky walk to cubism. We don’t even bother with dinner tonight, lazing in our beds surfing the internet instead. A sign of contentment.