Of Castles, Memorial Bridges and Strangers in Need

Much to my delight, Fuengirola has a castle. It’s called Castillo Sohail and was conveniently located along the seaside on our walk along the Costa del Sol. Naturally, we had to climb the somewhat steep hill, past fenced-off archaeological excavations, to explore the history it had to offer.

I thought I was clever when I announced “Dos, por favor” at the ticket office, only to feel like a complete idiot when the woman asked me a question in very fast, very incomprehensible Spanish. My blank-eyed stare and muttered “Non comprendo” made her smile and she repeated her question in perfect English – did we want tickets for the morning or afternoon? I replied sheepishly, paid the €3 per person entry fee and glared at Gareth, who was having trouble keeping a straight face. Well, at least no one could say I wasn’t trying…

I quickly forgot my embarrassment once inside the castle. Although the interior is bare and paved over, with built-in seating for the open-air concerts held here in July and August, the sense of history still lingered in the air. We walked along the ramparts, enjoying the view of the sea and the city, touching the grooves in the walls where arrows probably caused damage and posed next to the canons dating from the 16th century. The castle’s original inhabitants must have been a lot smaller, since the guard tower’s door only came up to shoulder height, much to our amusement. I wanted to climb up the tower, as always, but the steps of the curling staircase were so tiny that metal handholds had to be embedded into the walls with which you can pull yourself up and down a space so narrow that my claustrophobia immediately kicked in and I decided against it.

After we’d had our fill of the view from the walls, we walked along the outside perimeter of the castle before taking a shortcut over the grass back to the promenade. We were accosted by a man looking a little rough, his clothes were dirty and his hair unkempt. Normally I would try my best to avoid someone that looked like he hadn’t seen a shower in three days, but he spoke the Queen’s English and seemed genuinely happy to find someone who could understand him. Apparently his car had been towed by the police for being parked illegally and he needed €7 for taxi money to the station. I gave him a €10 note. He asked my address or telephone number so that he could pay me back once he’d found an ATM, I told him not to worry about. I figured if he was really in need, then my money has helped him out. If not, his conscience will take care of the rest. Do you think we were scammed?

We made our way to the suspension bridge spanning the Fuengirola river we had seen from atop the castle. From what I could gather with my limited Spanish, it seems like the bridge was dedicated to the memories of those who had died when the Spanish Armada sailed against England. Before continuing our walk along the Costa del Sol, we took a moment to appreciate the view of the castle from the bridge, awed by the confluence of so much history in a single gaze.

For more posts in the Spain 2010 series, click here.

Have you visited Fuengirola and its castle? What more does the city have to offer for intrepid explorers like ourselves?

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