Las Alpujarras

We arrived back here in Spain just over a week ago and for the first week we did very little as the weather was so awful! We do see rain and wind where we are in Torreblanca, but not usually as intense as it was and not for days on end.

This week however, it’s been much, much better.

We had planned our trip to the Costa Tropical a month or so ago and are staying at the same hotel as last year [Avenida Tropical].  Salobreña is, I think, one of those places that you either love or hate.

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We love it.

En-route, on Tuesday, we called in at Frigiliana.  We’d called there in January with Jo and Mike, so thought it worth a second visit.  This time, we spent more time in the newer part of town – less touristy, but just as nice. We ate lunch in a small ‘local’ bar up there.

Today, using Salobreña as a base, we drove up into Las Alpujarras, which lie just under the Sierra Nevada’s snowline.

Las Alpajurras

Our first stop was at Órgiva, a fairly bustling town at the beginning of our day’s adventure.  The Tourist Office there advised us of some things to see and do, but we didn’t manage to do everything – so may need to re-visit.  We were advised to drive as far as Pórtugos and to sample the waters there!  The Fuente Agria (- the sour fountain – next to an Ermita of the same name) is something to experience just (only!) once in your life!  There is also a pretty grand waterfall nearby [<<< links to waterfall video].  Finding nowhere to eat up there (nowhere we fancied) we set off back to Pampaneira.

Pampaneira was well worth the stop. Pampaneira_Sharon

There are lots of narrow winding streets, lots of steps and an ingenious little canal (about half a metre wide) running down through the town, adding sound and motion to this lovely little village.  Lots of rag-rugs are for sale here – a nod, I suppose, at the hippy life-style said to have settled on the residents hereabouts. We didn’t eat in one of the many restaurants, but simply had a drink (with complementary tapa) and then bought bread and pastries (pan Y dulce) to eat whilst overlooking the ravine below. There are several bodegas selling local hams, cheeses and wines – but the roads are far too dangerous to have sat back and enjoyed such fayre.

Next time, we have to try the tea gardens suggested to us, in Órgiva and to take a look at the Witches town; Soportújar.

Soportújar

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A Week Away

Joanne and Mike have joined us in Spain for the last couple of weeks before we return to the UK.  We have therefore taken the opportunity to spend one of those weeks exploring the Costa Tropical with them, somewhere Sharon and I spent a few days last Easter.

Day One

We drove to Salobreña, our destination, via a short stop-over in Nerja. Here, we had a brisk walk round followed by lunch in a back-street café.  The weather wasn’t good, certainly not as good as some of the weather we’ve had since arriving in Spain, in early December. In fact, apart from our penultimate day, the weather never really improved. So, once again we didn’t manage to experience the Nerja that everyone else seems to rave over. Sharon and I won’t hurry back.

Once we’d arrived at Villa Maeve, our home for the week, we unpacked and sorted ourselves out, before setting off for a shopping spree in Motril, which, we were told, was also the best place to buy wood for the fire.  We needed the fire, it was a life saver.

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View from Villa

The Villa (see separate blog/review) is probably around forty years old and doesn’t seem to have been updated at any time since then. Single glazed windows, main doors that don’t fit and a very open living room, led to the need for heat. With only solid-state heaters and hot air blowers doing nothing to warm the room, we elected to sit around the fire of an evening.

Day two – Thursday 25th January

A few extra curtains to close off corridors and to cover the front door would have helped, but there were none. It didn’t help either that the places we’d hoped to introduce Jo and Mike to, for evening meals – were all closed for winter.  We are so used the activity around us here in Los Boliches, that we forget that other parts of the Spanish coast are not so fortunate.

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Salobreña

We explored Salobreña as best we could, but with many bars and shops closed for winter, especially those that we had planned to take Jo and Mike to eat in, we were left with nothing more to do than take a trip around the castle.

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View from Castle

Castillo de Salobreña, sits high above the white painted town and is well worth a visit now that the refurbishments are complete. From here, we had great views down the coast to Mortil and inland to the snow-capped mountain tops of the Sierra Nevada.

Day three – Friday 26th

Today wasn’t the best weather-wise, so apart from a short shopping expedition by Sharon and me, we stayed in and read. Jo swam most of the morning (as she did most mornings) and Mike updated his C.V.

Day four

Saturday. Today, after Jo’s swim, we took a trip out to Almuñécar, just up the coast towards Malaga. Once again, quite a lot of the places we’d hoped would be open were not. One of the places we’d hoped to visit, the tourist information office on the Avenida Europa, was closed for refurbishment, which was disappointing, as we’d hoped to spend some time exploring the gardens there.  We did visit the Botanical Gardens however, and spend some time exploring the trees, marble statues and roman fish salting site.

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Almuñécar

That evening, we went into Motril to buy Palido Rum piononos from Casa Palomares and to try and find somewhere to eat. But it started raining heavily, just as the town got busy so we bought pizza to cook back at Villa Maeve.

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Evening in Motril

Day five

Today wasn’t the best weather-wise, so apart from a trip into Salobreña, in the rain, for lunch we didn’t do an awful lot.

Day six

Today, Monday, we drove east along the coast to visit Calahonda and Castell de ferro. Once again, Calahonda was a ghost town compared to the visit Sharon and I made last March.  Despite it being Sunday, the beach was deserted – but that was probably because of the fierce winds that were blowing off the sea, rather than the time of year. Having walked up and down for a while we drove on the coast road as far as Castillo de Baños before turning back to have lunch in Castell de ferro.

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Castell de ferro

Day seven

Today was a better day, with lots of mixed cloud and sunshine.  We drove back up the coast to visit Frigiliana, just inland from Nerja. This is a beautiful white painted village high in the hills above the coast. Like Mijas, it is popular with coach trips and must be a nightmare in summer. However, our trip today was blissfully quiet.  It was sunny enough to enjoy the visit without feeling too oppressed.

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Street view – Frigiliana

Final Day

– Back to Torreblanca. 40 mpg overall. (later Jo and Mike took it to Gib and back – 50 mpg.)

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.

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.