Secrets of Andalucia Walk

Day 1
I arrive early at the Malaga airport. Unfortunately, the cheap flight I booked required an early departure out of Barcelona. When the group arrives, it is easy to spot our fearless leader, Andrew. He would be the fit and gregarious fellow waiting in the airport café.
We pile into our bus (mini) for the trip to Hotel Finca in Canillas de Albaida, a seemingly short 1 hour drive from Malaga. No one has prepared me (or anyone else it seems in the group) for the hairpin, edge of your seat, nosebleed ride ahead. Hopefully, we won’t see any buses that have careened off the precipice.

It is a beautiful ride through limestone white washed villages of red clay tile roofs, all set in the rugged Andalucia mountains. As we pull into our home for the week, Hotel Finca (Finca means casual, not serious, we’re earning a living doing this, farm). We’re greeted by Sue and Gordon, the English ex pat owners and Basil (dog extraordinaire) warmly and taken to our individually styled room in this fantastically restored 200-year old farmhouse (once used as an olive mill – the property includes a large grove of olive trees).

My room overlooks the pool and the entire valley down to the sea. A quick change and I’m out to explore the property. Later I find out that Gordon is the creative genius behind the creation of the total unique atmosphere of the inn. Lush gardens of plumbago, lemon trees and flowering terraces interspersed with little seating areas (the Moroccan influences are obvious – we’re only a few miles by ferry to the shore of Northern Africa). Lots of little rooms for relaxing including a fully stocked library (you can take home any book if you haven’t finished it) and, of course, pool side lounge.

Dinner tonight is our first group gathering – all at one long table in the lovely lounge, complete with open fire (it has cooled off quite a bit) and comfy sofas. We linger over tapas (blood pudding is well received) and a dinner of chicken roasted in local grapes and raisins. It’s been a long day, but we all chat up a little in front of the fire before retiring for the evening. Tomorrow will be our first walking day (a warm up around the local 3 villages), so we’re all anxious to get a good rest.