Journey Home

This week’s trip back from Spain was the most stressful we’ve ever had.

We’d set off in good time for our 17:25pm flight, leaving time to get a little fuel (we were on a ‘return half full’ policy), to drive the 20 minutes to the airport, to drop the car off at Malagacar.com and be through security 90 minutes before the gate opened. No worries.

However, once we dropped down the slip road at Los Boliches we saw that the A7 (just at the point where it is joined by the AP7) was blocked solid and only moving very, very slowly. We could see that this continued right up the hill towards Benalmadena and decided therefore to come straight off (there are three slip roads at this point and the final one returns to Los Pacos/Finlandia/Torreblanca) and take the coast road through Benalmadena and Torremolinos to the airport.

For almost 30 minutes we thought that this was a BIG mistake. The coast road was crawling along even slower than the motorway. At first we thought that this was because others had taken the same decision as us, to take the N340 and avoid the motorway.

9934913693_92ac6085c0Then we came across the JCB!

The coast road hold-up was caused by a JCB! Nothing more.

The rest of the journey was as uneventful as any journey on that road (I got lost just the once, near the airport and not in Torremolinos, which would have been a nightmare) and luckily it was siesta time, or it might have been more eventful.

Security at the airport was a breeze but the plane took off 35 minutes late. This was unannounced; we suspect because the crew were (possibly) delayed by the incident on the motorway. However, the pilot made good time and we could have landed just a little later than planned – but – we were forced to abort the landing because of ‘debris on the runway, possibly birds, probably dead birds by now’ and go around again. This made us very tight for our 20:20pm train home. We’d also been forced to put Sharon’s on-board bag in the hold because the flight was full (they brooked no argument – ‘don’t fly then!’), so that delayed us at the airport in Manchester.

We ran like the wind to catch the train. Really, we did.

We were on the platform when the guard closed the doors, in fact we were nearer than that: one second earlier and we would have had our hands on the doors!  However, a sad smile and a whistle was all we got from the guard – plus a missed train.

Bugger!

Fortunately, there was another train slightly later, which meant a change in Manchester and a missed connection in Huddersfield. However, despite all of the above we were home only 35-40 minutes later than planned. Phew.

Home time

Well today, it is time to fly home.  We have a late afternoon flight so the morning has been spent with Sharon cleaning the apartment and me catching up on work. The work should have taken perhaps half an hour, but took almost two😦

My brothers departed on Sunday last and after some adventures arrived home safely. They missed Malaga airport and had a tur of Malaga itself before finally finding the hire car return car park. Then then had trouble with their boarding cards – that seems to be a Ryanair problem; if you print from the site it misses part of the bar code, so you have to download a pdf file and print that!

On Saturday, it was the Virgin del Carmen festival in Los Boliches. The festival is held in seaside towns (usually old fishing towns) up and down the Spanish coast on July 16th every year. We’d spent the day in Malaga, then came into Los Boliches for dinner in Meson Salvador, which is situated on the procession route. We were lucky to get the last big table.

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Despite the capacity crowd of diners, staff were able to keep up the pace, to stir the happy atmosphere and to serve us with delicious hot (where necessary) and cold (where necessary) food and drink. The six of us had a variety of dishes, mine was the Iberican Cheeks (I can’t remember the Spanish name) and my wife had Ox tail (rabo de toro) – both were superb. Both fell apart at the touch of our forks and tasted divine.

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The crowds here to see the Virgin’s procession were huge and steadily converged close to the port of Fuengirola, where we gave up and came home. In future, it would be good to eat in Los Boliches, but to return to the apartment in time to see the fireworks down the coast – which we missed due to coming away.

The girls spent the day shopping in Malaga, but Peter, Andrew and I first walked up to the castle and then around it. We then had lunch in the backstreets before taking a ride on the Malaga ‘EYE’ and a walk around the port.

Hermanos y Cuñadas

We’ve been at the apartment for a week now. First of all, there was just Sharon and myself, but on Sunday last we were joined by both my brothers and wife/partner. Andrew and Debbie (partner) live in Perth Western Australia, but it is their third visit to this part of the world. Peter and Linder live close to us in Huddersfield, but they too have been here once before.

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However, neither brother (or their better halves) had been to Mijas before and just one had been to Ronda – so yesterday we took off for Ronda.

We took the train from Torreblanca Station, just at the bottom of our hill, right into Malaga – Maria Zambrano station. Others, possibly wanting to take a similar journey may wish to come up out of the Cercanias (C) line [Fuengirola – Malaga-Centro] platform and into the huge Maria Zambrano shopping centre, which is at street level. Continue around the corner and into the glass lined ticket office; don’t waste time trying to buy the tickets from a machine – you need the ticket office.  This area has a numbered service system, so do also remember to take a numbered ticket before you approach the counter (when it is your turn).28206577832_3335305662

The train runs just once a day from Malaga to Ronda, at 10:05am.  It returns from Ronda to Malaga at 16:50pm – each way takes approximately 2 hours. The return ticket costs €23.20 for these two named trains. The platform is then just a short walk away and the train is superbly comfortable. The route passes out of suburban Malaga and into increasingly agricultural/rural Spain. We often felt that each station we stopped at, should have tumble weed blowing across the deserted tracks, yet each stop seemed to have a large concentration of housing around it.

Unbeknown to us, the train line passed through Caminito del Rey and alongside the gravity defying walkway, first opened by King Alfonso XIII in 1921. We tried and better tried to take photographs of this but were thwarted by the intense reflection of the sun in the carriage window.

Ronda was hot.  Very hot. So we moved from shade to shade as much as we could, whilst still trying to show Peter and Linda the sights of the city. We had lunch in the main square under a water-sprayed canopy and a beer in a local bar near the station.

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Today, Wednesday, we visited Mijas.  This was a mistake.

Mijas is such a pleasure to walk around and for most times in the year parking is easy enough. However, today was horrendous. Suffice to say we will avoid July visits by car in future. The town was buzzing despite the continuous structural and road works that have been going on since at least last October, when we first saw them. Everyone seemed to enjoy our visit, Especially our windy yet panoramic lunch.

July 2016

We started the day with a ‘scoot’ along the front at Carvajal, before returning home for showers and breakfast. Then we shopped. That’s how we roll down here:-) .

IMG_6383I must say though, that the quality of meat here is tremendous.

I found some frozen brown ‘stuff’ in the freezer and thought ‘ah-yes, that’s the bourguignonne sauce I had left from Easter’. Remembering (thinking rather than knowing) that I had had lots of spare sauce, I thought that I would just cook a couple of the delicious pork loin slices we’d just bought, along with a few bits of chorizo; and serve the lot up with some pasta and the rich brown bourguignonne sauce.

A plan.

However, it turned out, when defrosted, that the brown stuff was actually two decent portions of full meat bourguignonne. The meat just fell apart and still tasted delicious, even after being frozen.

Cooked pork steak sandwiches for lunch tomorrow then.

Spaniss Soup

So, today we ate out at lunchtime – the weather was abysmal, so we shopped, ate and then came home to hibernate for the afternoon. Lunch for me was a ciabatta-like bread stuffed with pork steak and serrano ham. Delicious. Sharon had a Chicken Caesar based sandwich that looked delicious too.

For tea, I cooked Spaniss Soup. I guess that should be Spanish Soup, but each time I’ve had the soup in a local restaurant it’s presented to me as “Spaniss Soup”:-) I’ve no idea what the Spanish name for it is, but my version is more of a hearty meal than a starter.

Spaniss Soup

I bought a litre of chicken stock (Caldo de Pollo) for just less than €1, four slices of serrano ham for a similar price and everything else was in the fridge. Why can’t we buy stocks like this in the UK? Here, you can buy a variety of stocks at a variety of prices – but essentially, there are shelves full of them.  Makes life so much easier for us cheffy types.

IMG_5972Set the stock going to warm up and add half a chopped onion. Two peeled and sliced (or diced, suit yourself) carrots are then added, two sticks of celery peeled and sliced come next – story well and set the whole lot to simmer. Adjust the seasoning (salt) then add one star anise, two bay leaves and a few turns of black pepper. While the soup is simmering, add the four slices of ham (cut it into strips first), We also had half a jar of butter beans that went in at this stage too – continue simmering until carrots are well cooked.

Now, while the soup is simmering chop up two hard boiled eggs and place these, cold, in the bottom of your four serving dishes. If you also have a little chorizo – get that cooked in the microwave and add some to the egg.

The soup should be hearty, but unthickened – adjust the seasoning (i.e. check the salt and pepper balance) and serve onto the cold egg and chorizo. Serve with lots of crusty bread and cold cold San Miguel:-)

The restaurant version is pretty much stock with garnish, but this version is a good filling meal in itself  Enjoy.

Walk to Mijas

Those readers that kindly read the previous post may like to have an update?

As of this morning (Friday) I am stitch free again:-) I’d worn the dressings administered by the Hospital Costa Del Sol until Monday but then took over my own dressing repairs. With a red (elastoplast red) plaster, I was far less frightening to little children and with all drinks administered via a straw my lip (and bridge of nose) survived.  This morning’s stitch removal was something of an anti-climax as a) it didn’t hurt and b) it took the nurse less than five minutes to remove them.

25564377223_fe062a5572So – all done, nothing was/is as bad as it seemed (except brandy through a straw- yuk, and coffee, yuk too).

On Wednesday, partly to keep mostly out of sight and partly to stay fit, we walked to Mijas. The route had very kindly been worked out first by Tony and Gill at Christmas and then by Joanne and Mike in January. Both teams left us photos and directions that were a breeze to follow.

Basically, we walk out of the apartment block and turn left. This follows Calle Pensamiento up under the motorway and ever more ‘up’ into the mountain behind us. I believe the road now becomes a camino (so we were salir a caminar).

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We followed the signs for Rancho La Paz  for quite some way before being required to turn right and follow a different path. I think Tony and Gill had taken a shortcut ‘path’ at this stage, but their route joins the one we followed soon.

26074518452_8cb8af7c1cWe pass a few huge homes on our route and just past one of these Sharon decided to drop off the track and steal a few items of citrus fruits (rock hard!) All along the route there are various cave formations and the view gets ever more glorious. Most of the route is counter-intuitive as (because of the massive cliff face we have to navigate) we spend quite a while walking away from Mija. QUITE a while.

As I say, the views over Fuengirola and the coast become ever more tremendous and by the time we reach the red pillared house, we became a bit blaise. However, the route soon goes UP again and heads west towards Mijas. We pop out onto the main  Benalmádena-Mijas soon after The Hermitage, and we pass an ancient aqueduct before entering town

26100639231_076d51be23_nWe ate lunch at the same place we had a coffee on Christmas Day and then set off back.  We really should have caught a bus and then a txi up the hill to home as both Sharon and I have suffered since Wednesday. I have plantar faciitis and, as it had been relatively mild for the last month thought I’d manage (I did one-way). It’s been painful again since the walk. Sharon’s knees are taking some recovering from the journey back down.

I’m glad we did the walk and I’m sure we will do it again. I’d recommend it to anyone. Message me and I will send you the route.

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Good Friday

Well, I had planned to do all sorts of things to do today once I’d finished my online work. The sun was out and there was not too much cloud, so I could walk/scoot along the coast to enjoy some of that sunshine, I thought that I might take lunch in a local bar, a possible trip into Malaga was on the cards; to see one of the Semanta Santa processions.  The world was my oyster as they say.

Instead, I spent nine hours exploring the Spanish national health system.

It works well – slowly, but it works. It is no worse than our own NHS and is better in some ways. Please don’t read on if you are squeamish.

I’d decided to scoot into Los Boliches before descending onto the coast road and then on to the castle at Fuengirola, but because I couldn’t get parked on the Paseo (it is Easter after all and V. BUSY), I’d come back to park behind the railway station and was therefore taking an untried route when my 200mm front wheel found a >200mm hole I hadn’t seen.

Crash.

I actually saw the ground coming up towards me but there was no time to roll or put out my arms (the usual impulses), so my face took the brunt of the impact. I knew instantly that my top lip was the worst of my injuries but the blood from my nose was the most insistent. Luckily, I’d packed a few extra packs of paper hankies, a bottle of water and (thank Goodness) my cotton hanky was freshly washed and ironed – it took THAT about 10 seconds to become soaked red. I made my way back to the car with paper hankies stuck up my nose, I was dipping water on my lip and wiping the various cuts and bruises on my knees and elbows (and one wrist)  – but no one said a dicky bird.

I came home and made a better job of cleaning myself up before going to see Marlene at Monte Mare to ask if they had some antiseptic (we hadn’t here in the apartment, but we do have now). It was obvious to Marlene, after she’d cleaned me up a bit more, that I needed to see a doctor – so she plied me with sweet tea (and a straw) and called our friend Tony Brown. He told me to go and get my passport and E111. He photocopied these and then poor Tony, who has done this sort of things for folks – lots of times (and therefore knew what he was taking on), escorted me to the emergencia in Las Lagunas. We didn’t do too bad for time there, despite it being very busy; we arrived at 1400hrs and were out and on our way by 1450hrs. Sadly, they said I needed a special lip stitch, which they could not do at Las Lagunas.

So we then went onto Marbella to the Hospital Costa de Sol. Half an hour away.

We spent almost six hours there. HCDS_DSThe routine is to register, in the entrance. You are given an armband with allergies identified and you go through to the waiting area where you are, eventually, called for triage. Triage is a bit like ‘oh, you’re not dying, join the queue‘ but I guess that’s what triage is like everywhere. Then, we waited and waited until we eventually (almost 3 hours after triage) saw a doctor. She said that I must have an x-ray and have the wounds (the bridge of my nose has a massive lump missing) dressed before leaving. She would see me again after the x-ray.

IMG_5901Well, the x-ray was undertaken fairly quickly and we had to wait less than an hour to see the doctor again. However, the dressing hadn’t been done yet – so she sped that along and I soon found myself on a bed being cleaned up again and having my lip stitched.  That went better than I expected – the anesthetic needle hurt far more than the four stitches he inserted. It’s uncomfortable now, but only to be expected I suppose. I have a white ‘Hitler’ moustache:-)

So that’s it. I have to take paracetamol (no kidding) and keep my dressings on until Tuesday and go back to another clinic on Friday for the stitches removing. To say that I ache today (Saturday) is an understatement as, although my face took impact, the rest of my body was also shook up big time.

Big thanks to Marlene and to Tony, especially Tony, for their time and patience.

And now to show Sharon just what I’ve written here.  I’m picking her up at the station in Torreblanca shortly – she will SEE the mess.:-)IMG_5900

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