Tranquility and relaxation in secluded paradise

From food poisoning to good health…

I love olives now!

Looks like I was victorious in my battle against food poisoning as I’m here again with another update on my travels around the world. I’m writing this post from paradise – I’ve found it at last! To be more specific, it’s a spectacular guest house situated in the Sierra de Tejeda mountain range just outside Malaga. How did I get here? Well, you’re about to find out!

Living the hostel life…

Granada Inn hostel

Leading on from my last post, I did manage to get the placement volunteering at the hostel, which was fortunate – another case of being in the right place at the right time. Working at a hostel is pretty cool I must admit, especially this hostel. The hostel had a real Spanish feel to it with a cobbled stone floor running through the courtyard, flamenco playing softly over candle lit tables, and modern rooms with little traditional balconies looking onto the street. In addition to all of that, it was situated in the heart of Granada, which made it very easy to access all the interesting places it had to offer. Although making beds and cleaning the kitchen aren’t my favourite activities, they were certainly worth doing for an exchange of bed and breakfast, and a chance to socialise with a variety of travellers from all over the world. I had some great times with some great people – memorable moments for me were celebrating with the Spaniards in the streets as Spain won the Euro cup; partying at the biggest nightclub in Granada – entertaining all the Spanish locals with magic tricks and broken Spanish; and connecting with people of all different cultures as they passed through the hostel on their travels.

Musical delights in the heart of Granada…

Backshot of the group

At the time I was staying in Granada, there was a music event spanning the summer months. I got to attend a few classical concerts outside the main cathedral which were an incredible listening experience, and couldn’t have been more perfectly timed as I’ve been wanting to see a live classical orchestra for many years now.

The hiking trail never ends…

All the hiking trails in full view

I spent 4 of my last 5 days hiking, something which has really grown on me. My first two hikes started in the nearby town of Monachil where I climbed high up the hills to an amazing viewpoint overlooking the town. I remember sitting and eating my lunch high up on the hill side, with a slight breeze in my hair, the beautiful sun, and a waterfall just below – it was a real pleasure to be so secluded with nobody but myself and my thoughts. I got invited by Ruby on the last two hikes which were going to take place over the weekend. At first I said no because I was so tired from the previous hikes – the next morning I changed my mind, following my “take all opportunities” attitude once again.

Climbing high in the Sierra de Nevada…

Moving towards the peak of Veleta

The morning coach took us into the Sierra de Nevada mountain range, stopping at the ski station at the base of Veleta where we began our two day hike. The first day we climbed to the peak of Veleta, having a few stops to nibble through our ration packs – mainly the yummy chocolate. The peak was fantastic! Outstanding views; cool air; and a warm sense of achievement. From the peak we moved down, and across to the base of Mulhacen. We stayed the night in a little shelter built for hikers, and ended up sleeping on the dinner table – turned out to be a funny night as there were 8 Spanish guys in there drinking, and singing. The next morning we hiked up to Mulhacen – the highest mountain peak in Europe. When we reached the top I was really proud of myself for what I had achieved, it took all of my energy but I managed to do it – and in a pretty fast time as well – all the hiking I’ve been doing over the last 5 months has really strengthened my mind, and conditioned my body to cope with all the steep inclines both mountains threw at me.

Another goodbye to another great person…

Me and hiking partner Ruby

It was sad to say goodbye to Ruby, she did a lot for me, and I will never forget that. She is kind, caring, and loving, with a great attitude towards life – I took many good things away from meeting her. The next morning I said my goodbyes at the hostel, and bordered the coach to my next destination – Torre del Mar.

Looking back at my plans…

Sunset over Granada mountains

Back in May, I was contacted on HelpX by Mark and Tom, a couple running a gay guest house just outside Malaga in the Sierra de Tejeda mountain range. They were looking for a volunteer to work the summer season helping around the place to make sure it was always kept to a high standard, with a bit of additional work to do on the land. I was in Pratdip at the time, but had plans to move down to Granada. After a few emails and a Skype conversation, it was all arranged, and I was to arrive in Torre del Mar early July to be picked up by Mark and taken up to their guest house.

Guest house in heaven…

The amazing pool

So here I was sitting on the coach, heading towards Torre del Mar. As soon as the coach passed into the Province of Malaga I looked out of the window to see the most beautiful landscape – flowing fields of olive and almond trees, and huge mountains surrounding the valley – it reminded me of the Sierra de Llaberia mountain range, but only better. Soon after, the coach pulled up outside the bus station at Torre del Mar – lo and behold, there was Mark waiting for me with his 4×4. We drove up a windy road into the surrounding hills, along a dirt track, and pulled up outside the most spectacular building with a 360 degree view of breathtaking landscape. The guest house is mainly aimed towards gay people, and is clothing optional. I’ve never spent much time around gay people, and never been naked in public so it was certainly going to be an experience for me. I was going into this place with an open mind, and total acceptance towards people’s differences regarding sexuality. It didn’t take me long until I was walking around naked – I’ve got to say, it’s one of the most liberating feelings – a feeling of freedom in a place free of judgemental actions and thoughts. Staying with Mark and Tom has been the highlight of my travelling so far. I’ve never met a place which attracts so many great people, and I’ve never felt more welcomed nor so comfortable in all my life.

Meditation, Yoga, and a welcomed massage…

Yoga week

Last week was yoga and massage week. Yoga is something I was interested in before I started travelling, and I got to do it for a whole week. The teacher David was excellent and I certainly felt the benefits both mentally and physically at the end of each day. The day started at sunrise with meditation by the pool, then yoga in the casita overlooking fields of olives and almonds. After that, it was Swedish massage in the evenings where we got a chance to practice, and receive – it was also my first time ever having a massage – definitely will be going for more in the future! Two or three times a week there are organised dinners where all the guests sit down and Tom cooks a delicious three course meal – the conversation is always great fun, and sometimes I get the opportunity to practice my Spanish, and French skills. I had the opportunity to go with some guests to a nearby nudist beach which was another new experience for me, I never knew so many people were into it!

Peace and Tranquility

Living here, enjoying beautiful sun all day long, relaxing in the jacuzzi, swimming in the pool, working in pure tranquillity, being around great people, watching the sun set over the mountains each evening – and now you know why I call it paradise! I’m staying here until early September, and will be celebrating my 25th birthday here – I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to spend it on my travels. I’ve made no plans for when I leave – but it will be a lot cooler to start heading south into Morocco to explore the North of Africa.

Keep saying yes…

Relaxing after yoga

Something I’ve incorporated into my life is to not let opportunities pass me by – and it’s leading me on a wonderful journey through the world at the moment. A quote I particularly like I heard on the film The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, “If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?” – it’s a quote that really makes me think about life, and how important maintaining healthy relationships with your family and friends should be in comparison to putting work before them all.

Thanks for being part of my life…

Tom the host

I’ve spent a lot of time writing this blog. I do it for pleasure, for memories, and for my family and friends to hear about all the experiences I am having as I travel around the world. I do hope I can inspire others to explore, or push themselves out of their comfort zone to try something new – that would give me great satisfaction.

Until next time guys, peace and love, Jonathan x

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4 Responses

  1. gail luske says:

    you are an inspiration, my friend-your writing is so personal and real. i feel as if we’re having one of our great conversations over a paint brush or chalkboard. keep on moving on, but remember you’ll always have a home here in ca..

  2. Jacky says:

    Hey jonathon! It’s Jacky, one of the 3 girls you met in Grenada. I told you I’d check out your blog! I was hoping you’d publish a detailed blog on how to get to the waterfalls, haha. The next time I’m in grenada I’ll let you know so I can get more hiking advice. Glad to read you’re doing well and trying so many new experiences. I think I too will adopt this attitude of saying yes to every opportunity. Happy travels!

  3. Eduardo says:

    Hey Jonathan!
    You’re quite a good writer, indeed! It sums up, quite well, the feelings we experience at the Finca! Thank you!
    I wish you all the best!
    Good luck!

  4. Dan says:

    HAHA brilliant mate! Only you could find a nudist hostel to work at, and immediately whip off the clothing. Shouldn’t come as a surprise to me though after all them times you were stood in front of me in the gym with your wang swinging around.

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