The best thing about Nerja was the journey and people watching

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September, 2022

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We booked to stay in Malaga for two weeks so that we could take a couple of day trips along the Costa del Sol. Our first foray was to Nerja.

Our bus tickets cost €17.52 and, although we had a timed departure at 9.15am, we chose a flexible open return. The first stop was Torre del Marre where lots of people wanting Malaga tried to board. The majority of the journey was on the motorway, but the 20 km stretch from Torrox Costa took 30 minutes as we took the coastal road and stopped more frequently.

Arriving in Nerja at 10.45am, we made our way through narrow streets, to the sea front where a pedestrianised area was full of stalls and shops selling leather bags, belts and hats.

Tourist Information provided a map which revealed there was little to see in the town, with the major attraction being Cueva de Nerja, a nearby cavern with unusual stalactites and stalagmite caves which could be reached by a tourist ‘train’.

We headed towards the promontory, Balcón de Europa, which gave great views of the beach and clean, green sea in front, the white houses behind and the mountains in the distance, great for photos.

We then stopped for coffee and a beer at Hermes in Plaza de España, a large square in the centre of town, built on top of the municipal underground car park. Although there was a large hotel on one side, the rest was apartments with many of the shops underneath being available for rent.

It was quiet when we arrived, but as we left to look around the nearby church Iglesia de El Salvador, the restaurant was becoming busier. Having established that the Plaza Tutti Frutti was aimed at the nighttime market, we walked along Carabeo, which overlooked the sea, but the beach appeared a little inaccessible and down lots of steps.

At 12.30pm, many people were still having breakfast and other restaurants didn’t appear to open for lunch until 1pm, but after a relatively early start, we were ready to eat so returned to Hermes. We ordered a bottle of rosada €12 and as the tapas was mainly seafood, we ordered aguacate (avocado) with prawns and a prawn cocktail. Both were excellent and served with lettuce, lots of sauce and two large bread rolls, great for mopping up. With a bottle of water the bill came to €33.40.

Whilst the food was delicious, the people watching was even better. A family of three of an indeterminate nationality, appeared to have ordered far too much food, but the waiter, who was a little terse, was having none of it. Most dishes arrived in large bowls which wouldn’t fit on the table and so dad put a bowl on the floor before realising it still had his knife and fork. He then went off to take a phone call, the little girl went to follow, knocked a glass off the table and started howling. Dad looked at the end of his tether and disappeared for a stroll and calming cigarette whilst the mess was swept up.

Having paid the bill and chatted a little in basic Spanish, the terse waiter was our new best friend and even referred to my husband as ‘amigos.’

We made our way back through alleys with yet more shops and stalls. Having arrived at the bus station in plenty of time for the 3.30pm, the ticket office told us where to wait. But when the bus arrived it was relatively full and there was a great throng of us aiming to board. Unfortunately because we had an open ticket, we were not allowed on and had to return to the ticket booth to get our ticket validated for the next bus over an hour later.

When the bus arrived, we all got on with the driver turning one young ‘lone ranger’ away for not wearing a proper mask, but letting another lady with a white scarf wrapped around her face on. We sat behind the disabled seats which were occupied by a man with a stick and his scarfed wife. Just as we got out of Nerja, they asked the driver whether it was the stop for their hotel and although other passengers tried to help, they remained on the bus, and consequently went a long way past, with the man ranting about the rude driver.

Just after this incident, a red car tried to reverse out in front of us which prompted lots of voluble chat between the driver and a passenger who had sat in the vacated seat: obviously the instruction ‘do not talk to the driver whilst the bus is in motion’ does not apply in Spain. Back at Torrox Costa, lots of mainly English-speaking people wanted to board, but the bus driver wouldn’t let them on, shouting ‘cinco viente’. But eventually, after fearing a British mutiny, he relented and let most of them on.

We arrived back in to Malaga at 6.15pm. Whilst Nerja itself was slightly disappointing, it had been an interesting day which had kept us fully amused.

Helen Jackson

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