28 March, 2015
On Saturday at around 1530 I reached my base at Benalmádena Pueblo. It took me 3 days and five and a half hours (including the 24 hour ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Bilbao) riding the Family Truckster 740 miles from London to Portsmouth and from Bilbao to the apartment in Benalmádena Pueblo that would be my base in Andalucía for the next 4 weeks.
It was baking hot on my arrival – around 30 degrees – adding to the difficulty of finding the exact location on the apartment within a densely populated residential development on the side of a quite steep south facing hill. The GPS got me close but not right to the front door. After venturing down a few dead ends I was finally forced to park up and continue my search on foot. Manoeuvring the fully loaded Family Truckster in these tight streets with the winter lining in my motorcycle suit intact would surely see me drop it due to combination of uneven surfaces dehydration and exhaustion before I’d searched all available Calle’s (streets) in the development.
I was so glad I’d stopped just short of the Pueblo to take a few moments with my motorcycle jacket off to cool down and have a bottle of cold water before starting the final, seemingly lengthy search for my new digs.
A few days later it now seems so simple. The GPS was very close to the mark but the first time in a new place is never that easy. Plus, did I mention the heat? and the winter lining in my motorcycle suit? I was probably suffering early stage heat stroke!
Getting off the bike and walking was the key, but I was soon confronted with another dilemma. Why are there two apartments next to each other (both with external entries to the right street) with the same number? The number I was looking for? Some days are never easy but it was my third day running of having trouble finding my accommodation. I had a 50/50 chance of getting it right. My enquires at the first door came up empty – no one was home. I rang the telephone number of my hosts but no answer. I was only a few minutes earlier than my estimated arrival time. On ringing the doorbell at the second apartment I was greeted by my Airbnb host – success at last!
After making our respective introductions I retrieved my motorcycle and rode it the short distance to it’s Benalmádena Pueblo home for the next four weeks, right outside the kitchen window of the end apartment, just next to the front door.
I quickly removed my motorcycle jacket, began unloading and bringing my luggage inside as my host showed me around and explained the house rules and “do’s and don’ts”. He’s a really nice guy and we seemed to be chatting forever but all I really wanted to do was change into a pair of shorts and a fresh t-shirt.
Eventually, while he was explaining where the local supermarkets and best restaurants, I just removed my boots and socks while telling him how cold it was at Portsmouth when I’d left a few days earlier. Surprised the stench of my socks hadn’t sent him fleeing for the door he continued with his welcome to Benalmádena Pueblo and my apartment speech. Not being able to stand the heat any longer, after first excusing my inability to tolerate the heat for any longer, I simply removed my motorcycle trousers – winter lining intact. Undeterred my host continued on, leaving me with a lot of very useful knowledge that would come in handy at my first opportunity to explore the immediate neighbourhood.
With all relevant information now relayed to me my host handed me the keys and left me to unpack, rehydrate and reflect on the ride from Valdepeñas.
It was pretty uneventful really, most of the way on Autovias with the landscape changing from vineyards to olive groves within an hour of re-joining the A-4. The roads were good and I was making excellent time by the time I turned onto the Autovia Sierra Navada and edging ever closer to Granada. Pretty soon I had a great view of the snow covered peaks of Sierra Navada as the Autovia skirted around Granada taking me south-west for Malaga on the A-92.
I stopped to refuel myself and the Family Truckster at Chauchina taking in the great view of Sierra Navada at Restaurante Marinetto.
I ordered the House Salad for lunch – an interesting combination of lettuce, carrot, beetroot, pineapple, avocado, blue cheese, ham and tinned tuna.
It was ok and a with a bottle of cold water taking in the stunning view it was a good opportunity to take a break from the ever increasing heat of the day with my jacket off and recharge my batteries for the final leg to Benalmádena Pueblo via the outskirts of Malaga.
An hour and a bit later I cruised past Malaga and was soon turning off the Autovia for Benalmadena. The rest of the story you already know. I’d made it!
The ride/ferry from London to Benalmádena was done – this Vuelta a Andalucia was in full swing. But first I’d take a couple of days off the Family Truckster and take some time to explore my new surroundings.
Once I’d unpacked and changed my first priority was the local supermarket to grab some provisions for breakfast and the occasional lunch. Luckily for me the local supermarket was still open when I finally made it there around 6pm and I was able to grab all the things I’d needed.
After dropping my groceries off at the apartment my thoughts turned to dinner and tapas. My host had told me earlier of the best tapas bar close by so that’s where I headed – La Taperia. Maybe I’d been spoilt by my experience the previous night in Valdepeñas as unfortunately I found La Taperia most disappointing.
Never mind, I’ll just have to find a better one – with so many restaurants in walking distance this will not be a chore for me and I have plenty of time to check them all out!