I had a lovely almost-week away, relaxing, enjoying some sun, (I'd almost forgotten what wearing shorts feels like!) trying new food, relaxing...
The villa is lovely. I'd been there before but years ago when building work hadn't finished on it. It's a bungalow, right up in the Spanish mountains so there's a stunning view. All you can see at night is the stars and all you can hear is the crickets... beautiful. This is the morning view from the terrace:
It's near Marbella, on the southeast coast, so it's only an hour's drive to Gibraltar, which we did on Monday. I'd imagined just a big rock, which is obviously there, but it's also a tax haven, which means there's also a really tacky town full of cut-price alcohol and tobacco shops (did manage to get a really cheap new camera though!)
But when you drive up to the rock itself, it's well worth going. The view of Africa, from above the clouds, is amazing. The monkeys which live there are very friendly and so cute, especially the tiny baby who seemed to enjoy showing off for us!
There are also some stunning natural caves on the rock. The cave of St Michael is full of stalagmites and stalagtites and has evidence of use by humans in the Neolithic period. It was like walking into a cathedral; the rising natural sculpture reminiscent of organ pipes, and the overwhelming feeling that this was created over thousands and thousands of years by nothing but water. Amazing.
Sadly, my old and slightly rubbish camera couldn't quite cope with the light inside the cave so this gives no idea of how beautiful it was!
I was also so impressed by how well I was catered for in terms of food. The supermarket had a big "sin gluten/coeliacos" section and all the other products were well-labelled, even for a non Spanish speaker like me. I also got a friend of a friend to write down the Spanish for "must eat foods without gluten". As soon as I showed waiters this, they let me know exactly what was safe, returning after each course to reassure me. In one restaurant, they even brought out, without me asking, warm gluten-free bread - wow! You don't get looked after like that here...
I had an amazing seafood risotto, grilled swordfish with prawn sauce, creme caramel and some very nice red wine (although not all at the same meal :) )
And it is nice to be back home, despite the ten-hour travelling nightmare to get here (thanks EasyJet, appreciate it!) And it's even sunny here again, hooray!