11/07/2018

SUMMER HOLIDAY 2018 - NERJA




My family and I had our holiday to Nerja, Spain booked for almost a full year before we actually went so, to sit here now writing this post, I have crazy holiday-blues. The build-up to this holiday meant that a lot of research, shopping, and excitement lead up to it and I am so glad to say that, it was all completely worth it. In fact, Jamie and I are already talking about going back on our own next year.

I guess, in hindsight, Nerja (pronounced: Ner-ha) was everything that I anticipated and more. I'd never been before and I expected a nice little Spanish town, that wasn't as busy as your typical Spanish holiday-locations, with nice beaches and tasty food but, looking back now, there was so much more.

NERJA TOWN
Our Air BnB apartment was a 25-minute walk from the centre of town which, while it meant there was a lot of walking to be done in the heat, also meant that we got lovely peace and quiet at night time. Although, in regards to that, the town wasn't particularly rowdy anyway - despite the odd nights when football matches were on.

I should clarify that the town is based around the main focal point which is 'Balcón de Europa' - a promenade leading up to a large balcony that looks over the sea and across the Costa Del Sol coastline. Around it is lots of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops so, while I said it's not 'rowdy', there's definitely a brilliant buzzing atmosphere. At night, there are lots of people about and on the 'Playa Balcon De Europa' there are buskers, artists, magicians, and more, all showcasing their work. I was so tempted to get a caricature drawn of Jamie and I but it turns out that tipsy-old-me wanted to by the album of a Spanish Guitarist instead... at least it's something to listen to on car journies back home, I guess.

In the daytime, you got to really see the town in all its glory. There are beautiful shops along the way such as a few Moroccan shops selling hand-painted, delicate goods from Moroccan and Arabic cultures. There are jewellery shops, food merchants, souvenir stores and one shop that caught my eye sold hundreds of hand-painted, colourful crockery and plant pots from local villages - as you can imagine, I was completely in my element (I couldn't decide which plant post design to buy and I'm sure that by the end of it my sister was just saying 'yes' to them all in a plea for me to leave the shop).




It wasn't only the plant pots that wowed me, the plants themselves were like something out of a dream of mine. If you know me well, you'll know that Jamie and I have a Monstera Deliciosa plant (typically known as a Swiss Cheese Plant) from IKEA and just casually dotted around the streets of Nerja were huge flamboyant Monsteras beaming in all their tropical wonder. Other plants that I saw along the way were all colours of Hibiscus, Banana Plants (with actual bananas on them - wow, I'm so British), a Sedum Burrito (another houseplant that's on my wishlist), Rubber Plants, and more. For any plant lover, this is a brilliant place to wander around.

I was pretty astonished at the cleanliness of Nerja too. Considering all of the dry land - meaning a lot of dust - a lot of the houses are immaculate. The doors are polished, the streets are cobbled with clean, cared-for, mosaic tiles, and there are bins on every street which means very little litter dotted around. The cleanliness helped me feel safe in this environment but it was also the really friendly local people that helped me feel comfortable.

Lastly, it's worth mentioning that the food across this town is of great value. Considering how busy the restaurants and bars can be late at night, the food is great value in a lot of places. I am going to be publishing a blog post soon on The Best Places to Eat in Nerja so keep an eye out!





VISITS OUTSIDE OF NERJA
The previous four images are from a little town up in the Andalucian Mountains that is renowned for being one of the most beautiful places to visit in Southern Spain: Frigiliana. And it certainly didn't disappoint. My family had hired a car so one day we set off for brunch in Frigiliana and a wander around to see what everyone was praising it for. The streets are all whitewashed, the street cobbles mosaiced, and the buildings sprinkled with hundreds and hundreds of stunning plants and flowers. It felt like something out of a fairytale. They even have a famous cart-donkey that was helping carry some goods up the hill. As historical and traditional as it all was, everything looked so fresh and clean. The shop that I mentioned previously that sold colourful crockery and plant pots included a lot of handmade pottery for Frigiliana and the town itself is full of them. Frigiliana is also known for its honey and olive oil - apparently some of the best in the area.

As well as that little trip out, we also took the car to visit the Cuevas de Nerja one evening. The Cuevas de Nerja (or The Nerja Caves to you and I) were just over a mile drive from our accommodation and situated almost literally in the middle of nowhere, just North of the village: Maro (which I'll speak a little more about soon). You can go here anytime and learn about the history and facts of them but we decided that, as this was our first time visiting Nerja and their Caves, we would pay a little bit extra to go on an exclusive 'Secrets of the Caves' tour. This tour started at 7:30PM and took place when the caves were shut to the public. With around 30 other English-speaking tourists, we were guided around the enormous caves by a fantastically enthusiastic tour guide and got to see parts of the caves that day-time visitors don't get to experience. The whole experience was completely out-of-this-world; I would 100% recommend to anyone that you pay that little bit extra for the exclusive tour, it's so so worth it.




Now the pictures above are of Granada - a major, Madrid-like city which is an hour drive North-East of Nerja. Once ruled by the Islamic community, 'Moors', in the middle ages, today it still bursts with relics of history and thrilling Arabic legacies. To get to Granada, you pass the stunning Sierra Nevada - a famous mountain range in Andalucia. The mountains are so high that, even on a day with 30-degree heat, they still have snow on their peaks. Nevertheless, Granada is a hustling city - still mountainous, but with a centre full of well-known shops and lots of global tourists. I would warn anyone wanting to visit here that Granada is particularly hot in comparison to the coastline and, with what feels like only ever uphill walking, it can be quite strenuous. However, I did love the little sidestreets hidden behind the hustle and bustle which had little quirky shops selling intricate Arabic goods, souvenirs with the famous Andalucian colourful tiles, a perfume museum, and spices and foods from the Eastern culture.

Last but not least, there's Maro. This tiny little village that was homeplace of the Caves discoverers but it's also pretty popular for its beach. Despite the fact that the beach is a very long, steep walk downhill, it's totally worth a visit to. Usually quieter than the other Nerja beaches, and a lot smaller, it is also a fantastic place to see the sea life. Even just a quick paddle out a few metres on your lilo and you can see schools of fish swimming below (considering you stay quite still). I saw a big crowd of black-and-white striped fish at one point; I didn't need goggles either, the water is so clear at Maro beach that you can simply just look down. Here I am on my doughnut rubber-ring in the waves:



THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT NERJA
If you're anything like me and you do lots of research on a place before you go then you might have visited this page to get to know more about Nerja before your summer holiday or maybe it's on the cards for your next destination to visit. Like any location, there are a few things that I would recommend you to avoid or don't do just to make sure you have the best possible time out there.

  - Firstly, like many places, I figure, there are cockroaches. The cockroaches that we encountered were a pretty big 2-3inches long and, while I somehow managed to keep my cool, my Mum and my sister were terrified of them. Ultimately, they're pretty harmless but the way they scurry away is enough to make anyone squirm.

  - Something that scouring the lengths and breadths of Google Maps doesn't quite clear up is how very hilly Nerja is. Unlike the next big 'holiday' resort, West of Nerja, Malaga, the mountains of Nerja come straight up from the sea - there is very little flat land before a harsher incline comes about. This is something that I'm sure my Mum would've liked to have known prior to our visit as she suffers from bad 'prickly heat' that gets worse with strenuous walking.

  - Lastly, if you're looking for the good value food that I mentioned earlier, seek it in the town. The restaurants on the Burianna Beach (Nerja's largest tourist beach) do serve up good food, but not always the best value. The shops, bars and restaurants along here do seem to get away with charging more for what you get because of the number of tourists that can be there throughout high-season. If you're looking for really delicious and good value food, get yourself up into the town.

I could go on for pages and pages telling you about how much fun I had on this holiday because it really was one to remember.

 Let me know if you've ever been to Nerja and where you'd love to go next!
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6 comments

  1. I've never heard of this place before but it looks absolutely beautiful! Glad you had an amazing holiday.

    Steph x
    www.wanderlustpulse.com

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    1. Thank you so much! Not many people have heard of it but it's such a brill place x

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  2. Ah this town looks stunning - I honestly prefer quieter towns like this, there are so many hidden gems and amazing places to eat. I've never heard of this town before either so I'd love to visit! Thanks for sharing, your photos are gorgeous! X

    Evie x | https://eviejayne.co.uk

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    1. No problem - you're exactly like me, I love the quieter places to go to :P

      Thank you x

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  3. I've never heard of Nerja before! It looks so lovely there, and the caves sound so interesting! I much prefer heading to quieter places, so this sounds like the perfect little escape, but still with enough things nearby to keep you entertained! It sounds like you had a great time!
    xo April | April Everyday

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  4. Yeah it's News to a lot of people actually but such a wonderful destination x

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