Archive for the ‘Costa del Sol’ 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.

 

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)

 

 

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.