2014 Malaga Madrid Gibraltar

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I'm offered the chance to spend New Year's eve at a friend's place outside Malaga where his mates run a BnB which also offers tours on Enduro bikes around the Andalusian mountains. I obviously say YES before he finished talking. I book a flight to Madrid and Xmas day finds me leaving Athens behind with views like these:

As I arrive at Madrid the weather is much colder, around 15C lower (!) but fortunately very dry and windless hence bearable. Blame Madrid's location and altitude for that. I rush to the train station as I have a time trial ahead to make it to Malaga on time. Unfortunately the train is fully booked except only a couple of first class seats so here I am, luxurious as it gets on a fast train to Malaga enjoying the goodies of the train's kitchen:

Wine is free and unlimited but I behave and just consume what you see in the picture. Hours later I am at Malaga and my good old biker mate Axel picks me up from the station to take me to their Enduro nest located at a village 40km West of Malaga. Nice vibes with the rest of the guys there (all German) and at night the kitchen is flooded by the smell of Alemania's recipes:

Next day finds me sunbathing by the pool, escorted by the dog of the BnB, this sad looking creature which has a weird habit of eating lemons that fall from the trees of the property:

Maybe that explains his soar face.

The guys there also offer tours on ebikes and they just got a bunch of brand new ones from Bosch that we unbox and put them in a van to try them up in the mountains. Could I have a better way to explore the area around? Absolutely not!

The road following Rio Guadalhorce offers a nice ride:

This area is not too exotic for me as it looks similar to others in Greece but nice nevertheless. The hydroelectric power plant of El Chorro beautifies the spot with is artificial lake:

And the local canyon of course is not bad either:

20 minutes later we arrive at the North end of the lake West of El Chorro where yours truly is ready to roll - what a lovely area for cycling:

We load the bikes back to the van to visit other places as well. On the way I see some impressive rock formations reminding me in a way the ones in Cappadokia:

No way to regret routes like this one on the MA5403:

On our way back I take a better image of the local canyon. See below part of the joy you'll experience if you walk the "Mirador de Cristal Caminito del Rey":

One more stop, later, one more happy me cycling:

Don't think that I asked the guys for these pictures of me, I'm totally the opposite. They wanted some promo shots for their business hence all that. In the absence of helmet those images were not precisely proper for that purpose anyway. Here's a video from cycling around:

Next day my good friend Axel gives me his bike so that I can explore a few more places around. Thanks a lot mate, I took good care of your iron horse:

Torremolinos is the place where I park the bike and I rush to the sea for some swimming. Let me remind you it's 27th of December hence the beach is totally empty. Yes, I'm the only crazy enough to swim:

But let's be honest, it's not such a cold day anyway. I've done much colder swimming than that.

Next day's menu includes a visit to the town of Ronda so me and the lads in cars go up there to visit this picturesque town. Very cold up there. I'm wearing my leather jacket while pictured at the bull of Ronda and it is almost not enough:

Ronda's highlight is of course the emblematic tall bridge at the local canyon, both worth all the pictures your memory card can host:

Before we enter a cafe to save our asses from freezing off I picture this nice bit of Palacio de Salvatierra:

Where the guys done showing me around places? Nope. Next day, Gibraltar here we come!

Again in cars, we make our way to this famous rock. Before crossing the border I take my first picture of it:

After the border a guy offers to picture me at the aptly named local avenue:

Some old canons are still there. This one at Jago's steps:

Yours truly under the "Modern World":

Climbing up the rock of Gibraltar offers a top notch sea view. Since I come from Greece that makes the compliment more sound:

And the peak is hands down stunning:

Of course there's no Gibraltar without monkeys. These guys give zero effs about good manners or private space:

Watch them in action:

Don't miss a chance to visit St. Michael's Cave, it's used as a theater and hosts concerts as well in its unique environment:

The airport of Gibraltar is rather funny. There's an avenue crossing the runaway:

Wanna have an idea of how soldiers defended this land back in the day?

I told you I stay at an Enduro BnB didn't I? Time for some Enduro the next day. I got a Husaberg 450 with enough power to extend your arms and do unintentional wheelies. We soon find ourselves up in the mountains having fun:

I am too busy trying to stay alive on my first enduro ever as we take demanding paths hence unfortunately I don't have pictures of the most impressive parts. Here's a couple from the easier ones:

Unless you do it on a regular basis it's an absolute challenge for all muscles of the body on the tough parts but so much fun when you manage it scratch free. After all this we take a well deserved stop by the local lake to refill our stomachs and please our eyes:

We all spend the New Years eve together back at their BnB listening to the kitschiest of the kitschy 80s pop (you Germans...) till we hit the local club in the small hours where we have one too many at this place flooded by British guys who resided at this much warmer part of Spain. Quite an ending to my stay there before I take the train back to Madrid and finish my trip exploring the capital of Spain.

I booked an AirBnB South of the center and I am lucky enough to take the good weather with me. That allows me pleasant walks and clear pictures under the Spanish sun. Like this one of the Ministry of Agriculture:

Madrid rocks!

Not far from where I stay is the Arganzuela footbridge, a rather interesting construction:

It's bridging the river Manzanares:

From me first steps around the city I totally adore the trend of graffiti on garages indicating the entrance and exit. Cute!

As I arrive at the center I meet Toledo's gate:

As expected the city is full of massive and emblematic buildings:

Real Basilica del San Francisco el Grande

Royal Palace

Even the less emblematic ones have definitely something to say though:

I told you the weather is nice but don't think it's anything like Greek summer, the water around the Temple of Debod is still semi frozen:

Business as usual for January in Madrid I guess. I continue walking and picturing massive buildings like this:

I must say that as much as I love capturing new to me architecture in Madrid I already feel a bit saturated from all these huge things. It might be the fact that they are mostly coloured in grey scale but I definitely enjoy funny bits contracting them like this one:

"Torres de Colon" are definitely like nothing else around there:

"Palacio de Cibeles" is no exception to "massive":

"Metropolis", no exception to the "grey scale" but impressive:

So does this one next to it:

People who follow me know that I don't focus only on the obvious beauty of the cities I visit but I am also interested in various urban details including the not so picturesque ones like this:

I found a lot of homeless around Madrid - just imagine at what temperatures these guys sleep at night...

What a contrast with the vertical garden I find outside the Royal Botanic garden:

OK, it's not THAT cold:

Lovely details on this building at Paseo del Prado:

This one doesn't need a caption I guess:

"Puerta de Alcala":

I am attracted to walk around the grand lake of Retiro which is full of people paddling with their boats on this Saturday:

If you manage to see through this dirty water there's lots of fishes in there:

This park is a nice big parenthesis in the city's grey scale. Palacio de Cristal, a 1887 greenhouse is among the attractions there:

But it takes only a couple of blocks walk to see that not all buildings are well taken care off:

One day ends, another one starts and it happens to be my last one so I just take a few more pictures at Prandologno park before I fly back home.

Nice, large and quiet:

It also has a long deserted lake:

While I was there a large group of Atletico Madrid fans arrived but to my surprise they were much more civilised than I expected, they even had families with kids among them. If only it was like this everywhere...

See you on the next one!