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Mijas, Costa del Sol

Pretty village clinging to the hillside above Fuengirola

Much-hyped Mijas proved that hill walking and I don’t mix.

Why? Well, the white-washed hilltop village may be one of the top tourist attractions on the Costa del Sol but arriving there provided a real problem for us.

The typical Andalusian village clings to the mountain side over 1,400 feet above sea level and we decided to drive rather than take the bus. A bad move. The town has bags of atmosphere, and friendly people, but they must sort out the signs.

We spotted a parking sign at the first roundabout and we had been told that cars are not allowed into the village.

The sign said 200m. Not bad, so we took it and went up and up until we reached a rough plateau in the cliff face.

We then spotted a notice saying there was a shuttle bus from 11am. Great, so we walked down to the village and two hours later asked officials in the tourism office – next to the brilliantly-clean WC – where the shuttle went from.

One red-faced official said: “That was only for Easter.” Then she asked if the sign was still there!

Sad really, as it left a minus and climbing back up to get the car was a real effort. I nicknamed it heart-attack hill.

Thankfully, it was a cool day and not the semi-tropical temperatures normally associated with the town.

On the positive side, Mijas is worth visiting, if you can find a car park and they were advertised at 1E a day. You can take a mule taxi from a car park, by the way.

And, make no mistake, villagers need your cash desperately as the economy is primarily based on tourism.

They are visitor-friendly and viewing platforms which are ideal for taking pictures of the coastline – Feungirola, Torremolinos etc – are easily accessible and well signposted.

There is a local historical museum and craft market and the municipality has seven golf courses, but all those shops and restaurants need your custom.

Mijas was, apparently, founded in prehistoric times and the remains of the original walls are still visible.

The Romans also traded with Mijas then the Moors took over and they allowed residents to preserve their property, religion and customs in exchange for their goods from agriculture, livestock, and farming.

The town boasts one of the highest bullrings in Spain. It was built in 1900 and stands in the higher part of the towns on a rock next to the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Concepción.

The access gate is in harmony with the landscape and the bullring has an oval shape, one of a few in Spain.

The first bullfighting event in Mijas took place in September 1900 and, since then, there have been hundreds of young bull running events.

Mijas is blessed with 2,920 hours of sunshine per year. We missed the sun but enjoyed the experience, apart from that climb back to the clifftop carpark.

En route, I passed a number of other tourists inching their way back to their cars gulping air, it is that steep.

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