Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

A week of walking

It’s been a very social, and active, week.  David and Gail arrived here in Spain on Sunday and Tony joined me at the apartment on Monday.

IMG_0166On Tuesday, Tony and I drove up to Mijas early in the morning and had breakfast in the main square. We then set off up into the hills, where there are a number of signposted hiking routes, about 9:30am. We started by following the yellow route. This presents a fairly vigorous climb, almost as far as what I assume is a fire break (green dotted line) before coming back down the mountain via the blue route.  We didn’t come back that way though, we continued as far as the fire break and then followed that, along with the green and red routes, all the way back.

These are tough routes, with more climbs than you’d expect. Still, we made it back to Mijas and had a well-deserved ice cream.

We met David and Gail for dinner at Marleen’s that evening, to make final arrangements with David about Wednesday’s walk.

Wednesday’s walk was to be along the now internationally famous Caminito Del Rey.  Sharon and I had done this walk back in September 2017 and enjoyed it very much.  Many of our friends have expressed a desire to do the same one day. For David and Tony – this was the day.

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Wednesday, like Tuesday was a superb Spring day, with temperatures in to mid-20’s. We set off about 10:45am to drive to Ardales, and then on to the lakes that signal the start of this linear walk, just N.E. of the town. The walk is ticket only (€10) and finishes at El Chorro. From the end, we caught the half-hourly bus (€1.55) back to where we’d parked, close to the lakes. We joined David and Gail in their apartment for dinner, which was delicious and most agreeable after our trek.

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On Thursday Tony and I re-traced the walk Sharon and I did in April.  This time however, we stopped for lunch in a bar we found in Benalmádena Pueblo. The bar served 3 tapas (we chose patatas bravas, berenjena con miel de caña and bacalao fritos), bread and a drink for €7, which we thought was a bargain. Furthermore, the food and the beers – under our sun shade/umbrella, was delightful. For dinner, we walked into Los Boliches for a couple of beers and ate at Mason Salvador, before catching the last bus back up the hill.

On Friday we drove down to the front and then walked along the front to the Castillo, which was closed when we got there. We wove our way back to Los Boliches via back streets and had a fairly early lunch at Bar Pepé. This was our second visit here – the food is delicious. Tony departed about 6:00pm to catch his plane back to Leeds.  Phew – what a busy, energetic week!

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Friday evening and most of Saturday was subdued by a heavy, rolling sea fret, but this cleared by tea time on Saturday, so I joined David and Gail to walk down into Los Boliches, via Finlandia. Here we had food and drinks and a jolly good time.

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June 2018

Because of the ensuing chaos on the U.K. railways, it was touch and go whether my train from Huddersfield would get me to the airport on time.  In the end it was only fifteen minutes late arriving and, despite the usual T2 security-madness (have these people never flown before?), I was happily on-board, on time and, a swift and uneventful flight was had.

The Jet2 flight landed early enough for me to buy milk in Los Boliches, catch bus, arrive at the apartment, unpack (2 minutes), turn boiler on (and fridge ‘up’) and to enjoy a prawn cocktail and a couple of beers at Restaurante Montemare.

First thing on Friday, I had promised myself that I would be at the town hall (ayuntamiento) by 9:15am to pay my car tax.  We had tried in April but the place was rammed at that time – so we left it until I could come now, on this visit to Spain.  As I was away from the apartment in good time, I was able to enjoy an early breakfast en route, at Granier.

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We pay 70% of the tax and my understanding is that provided I pay this by August, the final 30% is not charged – if one is registered with the council, which I am.  I’d missed the other early payment discount (about €2) in April because the demand didn’t arrive until after the due date.  So, with that in mind I also ventured deeper into the town hall to register my need for a direct debit.  As far as I know, that quest was successful.

As I was on my scooter to do all that, I meandered back via various places and even tried to have my hair cut, but he was busy so I went back later in the day.  I also took the opportunity of a trip out to introduce dos patos to each other: Owain (from Llandudno) and Pauline (a local lass).

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Once I was back at the apartment, I completed the work I still had to do, online; had a tasty lunch, a short siesta, washed the car (WASHED THE CAR!) and walked back into Los Boliches for my haircut and a few beers and tapas.

I can never pack that much into a day at home.

Finding new places

Today, we found a village and a castle; and we visited a temple!

You’d think by now, that we’d know pretty much all of the local attractions and that we might have visited most.  Well, we haven’t.  It seems that every visit throws up new things to explore.

We set off walking up the hill towards Rancho La Paz and turned off right at the Paintball/Disc-Golf centre.  So far, so normal – in fact we’ve often walked almost as far as the Restaurant El Higuerón many times before.  However, the rest of our route was new and we were headed for the Butterfly Park aIMG_9995t Benalmádena.

We had avoided walking here before because there is no footway alongside the short stretch of road that passes the restaurant and leads to and from the motorway (A7).  However, we’d noticed that there was a well-trodden path next to the crash barriers and we managed to reach the road we wanted without incident.  It’s a fairly straight forward route then to the Butterfly Park, which cannot be missed because of its proximity to the Buddhist Temple that stands alongside it.

The Stupa-Benalmádena has stood here, just outside Benalmádena Pueblo since 2003.

“It is perhaps perplexing that the largest Stupa in the western world, and one of the biggest in the world, has been built in Southern Spain in Benalmádena City on Costa del Sol, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, with breathtaking views of Gibraltar and the African continent.”

We didn’t go into the Mariposario, but I will, one day.

Benalmádena Pueblo is completely new to us.  Who knew there were three Benalmádenas?

Benalmádena Costa serves all the beach-loving, sun-seeking, ‘pints of beer for €1.20’ holiday makers and along with Benalmádena Arroyo is everything about Spain I’d previously dreaded. 

However, Benalmádena Pueblo is quite a few kilometres inland, up a huge hill and appears to be quite presentable.  We didn’t stay long, but there were narrows streets to explore, white painted houses, bars, restaurants, view-points and lot of walks for us to discover on a future visit.IMG_9996

The town was busy today as it seemed to be the day for young girls and boys to be confirmed. Lots of smart young men and white-dressed young girls to be seen around the church.

As we walked down the (very steep) hill to the station at Torremuelle, we passed a large park on the left, with a small white church on a hill (Ermita?) – to be explored another day?

We also saw a huge, anachronistic castle.  It was so out of place and unexpected, that we didn’t know what to think, so, it had to wait until we got home to find out that it was built to honour Christopher Columbus.  Castillo Monumento Colomares is another place to visit, one day in the future.  It is hideous though.

 

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.  [See also Free Food on other blog]

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

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.