New Year 2018

Tony and Gill joined us here for a week just after Christmas.  They arrived safely on the 29th December, after being stuck on the runway at Leeds/Bradford Airport for over three hours due to a heavy snowfall.

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We went to Marleen’s for tea, as I hadn’t cooked anything due to their delay. The food was fine, but neither Tony nor Gill enjoyed their salads as they were not exactly what we English expect a salad to be. Having said that, I enjoy eating René’s pretty much lettuce-free salads.

Tony and GillThe next day, we walked up to Mijas, had lunch at Bar Alarcon and walked back down, via the Bar: Peña Caballista La Retama De Mijas. The weather was fabulously warm and sunny and I think that we all felt the heat that day.  We Drove down to Los Boliches for supper and after finding Bar Pepe closed, we ate at the busy, very Spanish, bar on Avenue de Los Boliches, that appears to have no name.  We had two delicious tapas each and seven drinks between us there, all for less than €12!!!.

On New Year’s Eve, we drove down to Gibraltar where accommodation had been arranged for us by Michelle and James. Carol joined us there and in the evening, we all went to Grand Battery House for a family and friends (of Michelle and James) party. Everyone brought food; my contribution was a couple of dozen corned beef, potato and onion Empanadas and six cheese, potato and onion ones. I’m not sure the fillings were as traditional as might have been expected – but they were delicious.

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Just before midnight we went outside, where we could see and hear what was going on in Casemates Square. At midnight, all hell broke loose, with an ‘official’ firework celebration from the square taking the best part of 20 minutes to complete. ‘Unofficial’ firework celebrations continued for at least another 40 minutes, with huge explosions and bright coloured fireworks erupting all over the rock and the housing complexes.  Magnificent.

On New Year’s Day Tony and Gill set off to explore the rock a little more than they had time to do the day before. Sharon, Carol and I walked up to and across the fairly new Windsor Suspension Bridge. The weather was gorgeous so we continued on and down to the town, where most places were closed but where we were able to grab some lunch at Jury’s on the end of Main Street. Tony and Gill joined us towards the end of our meal.

CarajillaAnisThat evening we were joined by Michelle and James and had a variety of tapas and raciones at Casa Puri in La Linea before moving on to Café Modelo for drinks and cake.

It is worth a visit to this café just for the old style décor – but the coffees are good too. It was here that I was first introduced to carajillo con anis.

Tony and Gill left us on Thursday last and since then the weather hasn’t been so good. As I write this the weather is foul, with thunder, lightening, heavy rain and snow showing on the mountains over towards Alhaurin el Grande. 

Brrrr.

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Christmas 2017

Since my last post, Christmas has been and gone and we’re currently waiting for Tony and Gill to join us here in Spain for a week.  Whilst they are with us, we plan to spend a few days, including New Year’s Eve, in Gibraltar with Carol, Michelle and James (and James’s wider family and friends – at Grand Battery House).

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Both Sharon and I have had bits of work to do (online) while we’re here, but have also found plenty of time to take a few walks and one day (so far), to go scootering.  We walked up to Mijas on Friday last, which took us about two and a half hours, including Sharon’s fruit picking exploits. We had lunch at Bar Alarcon before heading back down to Fuengirola on the bus.

We went to Restaurante Montemare for Christmas Eve dinner and had:

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  • A starter of fruit and Feta Cheese
  • A soup made from two different pepper soup recipes and served with smoked salmon
  • A tasty turkey leg
  • Tiramisu
  • (and lots of inbetween bits of alcohol)

On Christmas Day, although we’d planned to have a walk in the morning, followed by brunch on the beach, the weather defeated us. It was cloudy and raining – so we pretty much stayed in all day.  Which was just as well, as I was still feeling a little delicate after last night at the restaurant.

Our Christmas Day meal was a long, drawn out, affair with several courses:

  • IMG_9407Scrambled Eggs and Smoked Salmon in a Pastry Case,
  • French Onion Soup (with traditional cheese croute),
  • Baked Cod with Pesto Crust, served on Cauliflower Rice – we threw this away the cod was awful. Not sure why but it was nasty,
  • Turkey Fillet wrapped in Serrano Ham, served with piperrada. I’d marinaded the tukey in herbs, oil and garlic for 24 hours, before wrapping it in the ham, pan frying it and finishing in the oven. The piperrada was lacking the green pepper but hey, it’s my kitchen 🙂
  • Mince Pie and Yoghurt. We’d tried for crème fraiche but misinterpreted the Spanish – buying some claggy, soggy confection by mistake 😦

We’d bought some cheese to finish with, but we were finished anyway.

Tasty, but filling. Took 4+ hours.

Boxing Day was another soggy day but saw us take a trip to the Fuengirola Market and then on to El Corte Inglés to find a table cloth and some table mats.

All done. We’re ready for the next week now.

Ending 2017

We’re back in Spain for Christmas and the New Year (our fifth New Year here I think).

ViewFromLaGranierWe’re been here a week already and the weather has been fabulous.

We left Manchester last Saturday (-3°C) just in time to miss the massive snow storms that affected the UK.  We’ve had some cool nights but the days have mostly been great.  The one day that promised to be dodgy we chose to collect our car-papers from MálagaCar and spend the day visiting Ardales and the surrounding countryside.

CarajillaAnisAs a treat for my birthday, Sharon booked us a two-night stay in Málaga.  We stayed with Lodgingmalaga in the Plaza de la Constitucion, Málaga’s main square.  The apartment was comfortable, clean and well positioned.

Whilst there we had lunch out twice (just a few tapas), a fabulous evening meal out, and a self-catered ‘picnic’ meal in the apartment, whilst watching everything going on in the square.  Both nights were finished with carajillo con anis, from across the square at Café Central.

Our fabulous evening meal was at La Barra de Zapata – see TripAdvisor.

PatatasBravasOne of our tapas lunches was just around the corner at Kortxo (again – see TripAdvisor) which was very nice but also featured an unusually psychedelic patatas bravas.

We visited the Museo de Málaga; a first for us as we are not big museum visitors (Note – FREE to EU visitors).  However, it was an interesting hour or so and provided us with some context for and reason to visit the Alcazaba.

The Alcazaba is around the back of the museum and below the Castillo de Gibralfaro that towers above the city.  We’d always wondered whether it was worth paying this lower fortification a visit and encouraged by our museum visit we did so. We thoroughly enjoyed it.  The Alcazaba has more nooks and crannies than the upper castle and an interesting system of waterways.  Well worth the €0.60c it cost me (€2.20 for Sharon)

 

 

A day out – Ardales

Yesterday, for all sorts of reasons, we took a trip out to the vicinity of Caminito del Rey; about 40 miles north of Malaga.  We headed for the town of Ardales, as this seemed to be the better approach for the actual walkway.  It ‘sort of’ is better, but the parking area for Caminito del Rey is still 8-10km away, alongside the Conde de Guadalhorce reservoir and it is by no means adequate.

We eventually found a place to park by the Hotel la Posada del Conde, which is a fair old walk from the beginning of the trail. However, the walk back up the road is beautifully scenic as the road surrounds and crosses a network of lakes and reservoirs – all of them a stunning aqua blue/green in the September sunshine.

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The actual entrance to Caminito del Rey is either one mile or 1¾ mile from the road, depending on which route you take.  There is a car park of sorts but it does not have the capacity that this attraction requires.  Cars are abandoned all the way down the road leading to the lakes – hence us having to park right at the other end.  There is a walkway that heads out towards the Caminito ‘entrance’, which starts around the side of El Kiosko restaurant/bar, under a short tunnel (with cars parked along it) and then through the woods and along a winding forest track that covers some stunning views.

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Walking tunnel exit (away from road)

There is another route that starts higher up the road, opposite the inadequate car park, which is accessed by means of another tunnel; this time long and dark, just high enough to take a 6’00” person without stooping.  It comes out on a service road that leads to the Caminito ‘entrance’ – so watch out for service vehicles. We returned this way.

We could, I suppose have done Caminito del Rey ourselves yesterday but decided that as we were wearing sandals and had drunk all of our water – it wouldn’t be sensible.  We have tickets booked for later this month however, so now we know the way and what to wear on our feet.

We later went and walked Caminito del Rey – https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/caminito-del-rey/

Back in Spain

We’re been here in Torreblanca for just over a week now and will be here for another four weeks – almost.  Because we liked our trip to Spain so much last September, we thought we’d book to come again this year – this time without the long drive. And here we are.IMG_8880

Michelle came up to from Gibraltar stay with us last weekend and on Saturday we drove up to Mijas, which was busy, and parked along the bottom hillside road. We walked up to the Ermita del Calvario. Although it was a cooler, cloudier day, we could still see for miles. We then walked out of the touristy area of Mijas and had a delicious lunch at Bar Alarcon, before slowly working our way back home. We walked down to Los Boliches later that evening and ate some more lovely food at Mason Salvador.

On Sunday morning, we breakfasted on the front and explored the newly revealed (newly made?) path [Sendero Las Presas] that winds its way up alongside the Arroyo Las Presas, and up the Torreblanca Hillside. David and Gail arrived late, as we were eating at Marlene’s – they are here for about 10 days. On Monday evening, they joined us for dinner Casa Sugden. We also met them from time to time during the week – they visited Michelle, Friday/Saturday.

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On Friday, we had to visit out bank, in Marbella, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to explore Marbella’s old town, which is an awful lot prettier than the main town. We ate at a small, family bar/restaurant here, outside, in the shade..

From time to time during the week, Sharon and I visited various car showrooms, but none seemed to have anything at a price we could afford. We eventually test drove two at MalagaCar.Com and hope to see/test drive our chosen car next week.  Finger’s crossed.

Costa Tropical – 3

The hotel, whilst delightful is an expensive place to park your car. They charge €16 per night to park in their garage, so we had to drive around for a little while to find on street parking – but we managed. As you walk closer to the beach area, many more metred parking spaces are available, but not really suitable for overnight. Anyway, as I say, we managed.

SalobreñaThis final evening, we aimed to first have a couple of drinks and then to eat at the Botica bar in Plas Antigua. We were once again treated to tapas with each of the drinks; but we also requested a table to eat at.

We were now properly able to soak up the atmosphere of Spain on this evening as they were about to have their first Semana Santa parade of the week (possibly the only one up here in the old town). We saw the young men preparing to carry the huge effigy of Christ; binding themselves up tightly around their bright yellow shirts. The effigies are so big that it takes many men to carry it and they have to protect their back.

Families soon started to arrive, to watch and follow the procession. Many other adults also began to walk up past the square, to the church just across the way – quite a few in traditional costumes.

As we took our table for dinner, we heard a band marching up the hill. This group of musicians were to accompany the Christ figure on its trip around the town. You have to admire them, not only were they playing (not necessarily in tune with each other) their instruments, but they were navigating the steep inclines too.

So, not only were we able to witness the Semana Santa preparations, we were also entertained to a marching band, the antics of drivers trying to navigate their way around the tight bends, now occupied by growing crowds of people AND we were to eat splendid food in the usually quiet square – which had had its water feature specially repaired for the event.

We had portions of Berenjenas Con Miel, which were delicious; Huevos Rotos (with cod and asparagus), not quite as delicious, and Boquerones Fritos (deep-fried fish, anchovy size but white fleshed). After two tapas too – we were stuffed!

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After eating, we followed the noise of the band and caught up with the procession as it wound its way around the upper town. There was still quite a good number of families following the effigy, despite the narrowness of the streets – see video.

And then we came home the day after, which was Wednesday. We caught up with shopping and washing then on Thursday we went and spent a delightful day with Michelle and James in Gibraltar.

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We spent our first full day on this coats by visiting Alumuñécar.

Once we had arrived back in Salobreña, we walked up into the old town again, this time to eat at a restaurant we’d seen up near the castle. On the way, we stopped at a bar called Antigua Botica (I can’t find it on Trip Advisor). The bar is in a square right outside the history museum and just down from the main church, where the following day we would witness our first Semana Santa procession this year. Following yesterday’s trend, each of our two drinks in the bar were once more accompanied with tapas!

The meal we had at The Restaurant Bar Pesetas, which we’d been able to see across the hill from Antigua Botica, was delicious.

We’d not booked, but knew that they wouldn’t be full at the time we wanted to eat (8:30pm ish). We could have gone on their terrace, but it was slightly chilly up there, so we elected to stay in the well-appointed, clean looking dining room. The view was tremendous all the way down the town and then further down the coast towards Motril.

I started with Salmorejo, an Andalusian soup of tomatoes, bread, cream and garlic; served cold and garnished with chopped egg and tiny dices of ham. It was very tasty indeed, but I had first to get over it being the colour and consistency of Heinz tomato soup – but not the same taste AT ALL. Sharon had a house salad which was H U G E. However, she took one for the team and managed to finish it easily enough.

My main course was mussels in a white wine (and tomato) sauce. Lovely. Sharon’s was to be fair, an absolutely delightful fillet steak. Yet it had to go back after a few mouthfuls because it was a little too rare, but the bits she had before then and once it had been re-cooked (still less than medium rare) were very tasty.IMG_8315

I had a brandy in the hotel bar before going up to bed that night and Sharon joined me with a Pernod (no pastis down here).

Our final day on the Costa Tropical was meant to be in and around Motril.

However, we struggled to find the town itself, so we parked and walked along the beach front (around 2.5 miles there and back). Motril seems to be quite a busy place, there’s a port, they still manufacture rum here – a remnant of the sugar cane that was grown widely around here. However, we didn’t look hard enough to find the town so off we went.

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We then continued down the coast, stopping off at Calahonda for a coffee, a good mooch along the beach and around the rocks at the end. We also had a picnic on the beach, we bought the ingredients in a local Coviran and simply sat there and ate it.

We then tootled down the coast a little more – terminating our road trip at Castell de Ferro.

We returned to Salobreña, found a parking space and had a short siesta before heading out for the evening. Which, is the subject of my final Costa Tropical blog.