Costa Tropical -2

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.


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.


Costa Tropical -1

We recently decided to take a three-night trip to the Costa Tropical (Tropical Coast). This is about an hour and a half away, east of Malaga.

Salobreña StreetJPGWe arrived on Sunday and spent the afternoon exploring Salobreña, where we had booked our stay. The town is (sort of) in three parts: there’s the beach front, which is about 1/3rd mile away from the hotel; there’s the town itself, usually bustling but on this Palm Sunday afternoon, very quiet; and then there’s the old town, the bit people come to see. Salobreña is visible from quite a distance because the white (old town) houses fill the hillside that rises to the castle at the top.

OctopusThe white town is more compressed than the more famous Mijas (which is close to us here in Fuengirola) and much of the access up into town is via steep steps and narrow walkways. There is a route for cars, there’s even a mini-bus service (and the bins do get emptied) but it’s a tight run.  The views en route and from the top are tremendous.  You can see right down the coast to Motril and we even saw the Tangier Med ferry coming in to dock.

That first day, we walked around the old town in the afternoon and later had a couple of beers in one of the few places that seemed to be open in the main town.  Unexpectedly (remember we are based on the Costa del Sol), each beer was accompanied by tapa. The first was cubes of cheese in olive oil with delicious back tomato wedges. The second was a plate of tiny little chorizo sausages with a salad garnish. Both with one piece of bread each. Delicious. We came back here for cena (dinner) and had some ‘proper’ Potatas Bravas and a massive plate of Croquetas. Both dishes were plainly home-made; the ‘brava’ was spicy tomato – not just chilli mayo from a bottle, and the croquettes were packed with meat – the potato just holding it together (rather than the other way around).
Almuñécar boat

The next day we went to explore Almuñécar.

This is a much bigger town with a much bigger reputation.

Almuñécar_crossWe managed to find one of the last few parking spaces in the tree-lined car park and then walked blindly into town. Sharon had done some research, so we knew a couple of places to visit – one being the cross/crucifix, situated on an outcrop of rock where the two main beaches split. The beaches look good, a bit gravelly but easily serviced by the town.

We went looking for the tourist information office, one of which was reputedly housed in a fine old building. It was certainly worth looking out for, even if only for the opportunity to sit for a while in the nicely shaded grounds. The building is quite nice but not, as far as we could see and apart from the tourist office, open to the public.  Almuñécar tourist officeWe then strolled down the road and found the Botanical Gardens.

Although not very big, you can easily spend an hour in here looking at the plants and statues, exploring the little craft shops around the edge and checking out the Roman ruins, thought to have been used for salting fish.

As we wandered out of the park, we meandered our way up to the castle – one of the major things to do in Almuñécar.  It’s a quite a climb, not long but steep – especially when you get there to find it closes on Mondays! Ah well.

We’d had breakfast in Salobreña (and were going out for a meal that evening), so we just had a sandwich for lunch and, late in the afternoon, we returned to base.

Evening meal and day three next …

Almuñécar-Phone home

Seen in Almuñécar

Easter 2017

This is not our first visit to this region at Easter. IMG_3809I know that we have been here at this time for the last two years, but it might be three – probably six times in all.  We like the weather here and the chance to get out and do ‘something’.

The weather at home, being what it is, means that doing ‘something’ is less likely to happen than it is when we’re here.

We’ve been here about ten days now and we will have been a month by the time we fly back.  We’ve already had a couple of good walks and explorations up in the hills behind us. We’ve had a picnic up there too.  A picnic! – I can’t remember when we managed to have one of those at home. We caught the bus up to Mijas one day and then walked back down the track via the wild-west Cabalista bar, where we ate jamón y queso. We’ve also been scootering a couple of times and we’ve been to Montemar (on the train) near Torremolinos so we could explore the park there and then walk back to Benalmadena.


Apart from today (our second Saturday) we’ve been out and done ‘something’ every day.

Today, we’re resting before setting off for a few days to visit the Costa Tropical. This part of Spain is where the Sierra Nevada mountains come down to the sea and is about 130km away, about 90 minute’s drive.

More on this later (maybe)

Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

We’ve just spent our fourth New Year’s Eve here in Torreblanca. That means we must have been coming out here at various times for about five years.

We like it.img_7595

Last new year, we’d hoped to explore the mountain walks (caminos), behind us, but were prevented by me having plantar fasciitis.  This year however, apart from aging knees and creaky bones, we have no such restriction.

We’ve already walked up to Mijas once this time, just before Christmas when we followed the trail we took with John and Carol in September and our first-time last April. The route is a tiring, nearly all uphill, walk that zigzags up the hill to eventually join the A-368 from Benalmádena to Mijas.

So – we’ve done that route three times now. [Update: I later went up again with John T and David T – and then YET again with Tony]

Today however, we set off to explore some of the different routes that might achieve the same end – i.e. get to Mijas.  So, as we didn’t intend to go all the way – just look along other roads and tracks, we took much more interest in the surrounding flora and fauna.

For a start, we found cattle grazing up there today. We often see sheep and goats being herded up and down the hillsides but have never before seen cattle.  It looked like they were being moved from one side of the river head to another but, what made me look twice was that they were being followed by several small white birds. I thought ‘little egrets’ but the pictures don’t look quite right. Certainly an egret of some kind, but I’m not sure which.

We’d always noted Rosemary in great amounts, huge bushes of the stuff, but today we saw bush after bush of Sage too! All these years and we’ve not seen sage before – we haven’t been able to see the wood for the trees!  Last year, I had to ask Rene at Montemare to get me some sage for something I was cooking as I couldn’t find any in the shops.  We also saw Thyme today, not huge amounts – but it’s out there.route_map

We can now walk from our apartment, under the motorway and up the hill side and over towards Carvajal. Then walk back down towards Torreblanca under the motorway again – by a different route.

Winter 2016/17

Well, we’re here in Spain again.  This will be our third Christmas (fourth New Year) out here – and our longest stay.

The attraction I have for Spain at this time of year is the extra hours of daylight and the warmth, although this year, this week has been the coldest we’ve had so far. At home, the day is disappearing by 3:45pm and is completely dark by 4:15pm whereas here I could still read a book outside at 6:00pm.  The sun has almost gone down by then but it doesn’t go properly dark until after 6:15pm. Although I say it’s the coldest so far, it is still far from unpleasant.  When the sun does come out and stays out it can easily get into the mid-twenties (24c-26c) but until today (21st December) it’s been fairly cloudy.

The Costa del Sol has had its share of winter weather this year, with floods all the way from Malaga to Gibraltar. Now we’re here, we can see some of the after effects of those floods – they have done a tremendous job of clearing up, but on Tuesday last when we arrived here, there were still piles of debris all along the beach From Torreblanca to Fuengirola. By Thursday, they were removing those piles too, with truck after truck lining up to take it away.

Well done Ayuntamiento Fuengirola.

Back through France

From Hendaye, we continued up through France to Vouvray, just east of Tours on the north bank of The Loire. Traffic was not too busy but busy enough around Bordeaux. Sharon did  nearly commit murder in a service station en route!  I’d gone to the loo and left her looking out over our car parked in front of the café when a car pulled in and slammed their door into ours! Not being shy – Sharon darted out to catch the woman responsible before she left, but she (the door slamming, evil criminal) managed to evade Sharon’s wrath by backing out of the space and driving back on to the motorway, pretty quick sticks! We were left with a dinted door.30161183796_7e9823d524

The sun shone throughout the afternoon, but by the time we arrived at our Chambre d’Hote just outside the village, it had become chilly and we were glad of our Lidl ‘extras’. In Hendaye, it had been so cold that we had looked around for warmer clothing and found a tracksuit for me and a long sleeved shirt for Sharon in a Lidl just around the corner from our hotel.  As I say, thank goodness for those Lidl ‘extras’.

We walked into Vouvray twice while we were there; a 4.5-mile round trip each time. The first time was to explore the village (it’s tiny) and the second time to find food; there are several places – but we had to find them. Whilst there, we checked out one of the Caves and made some essential purchases. We ate at La Scala.

After a comforetable breakfast we continued our journey up through France to Boulogne. It being Saturday, we expected more traffic but the roads remained quiet and uneventful for the entire journey. Although we’ve visited the area around Abbeville lots of times, we’ve never been to Le Crotoy (and there’s quite a bit of mention in Bernard Cornwell’s book – Harlequin – which I’ve just read) so we called in there for lunch (I had a bucket of mussels!). We will certainly try to visit again, it looks lovely.img_7321

Our Boulogne Chambre d’Hote was right in the middle of the old town, yet we were (just) lucky enough to grab a parking space not too far from our bed. Our room was on the first floor and huge. The windows overlooked the town hall square, where this year they had planted a sensory garden. Well done Boulogne once again.

The Sunday roads in England were also surprisingly quiet. The M20, the M25 and then the M11 were a breeze. So setting off from Boulogne at 8.30am French time to catch a 9:50am train (on time) we were home for 3:00pm UK time.  Not too shabby.

Avila and Hendaye

We were met in Avila by Tony and Gill. They had travelled to meet us via Madrid where they were staying with their daughter Becky. They had taken the train out to Avila and had arrived about an hour before us. Tony and Gill suggested that we all have a drink first, as they needed something to eat, and that we should then walk around the city walls.

Built in the 12th Century the city walls are part of the reason Avila is named as a UNESCO World Heritage site. We started at Gate C (the bottom of town) and made our way up and around to the basilica at the top. Including the separate walk, at the other side of the basilica there are 1.7k of navigable walls.img_7287

The views both from and of the city walls are tremendous and this is certainly a city we would visit again. It seems odd for me, a tourist, to be glad that other tourists were in abundance and were not crowding the city. So, as there were no coach loads of folks following raised yellow umbrellas or filling the narrow city walls, as there were in the other cities – it was a delight.

As we had driven further north, the temperature had cooled noticeably. So much so that when out of the sun, it began to feel quite chilly (when in the sun however, it was still quite nice).

The journey from Toledo to Avila took us over some mountains and the views were terrific. In fact the entire journey was pleasant.  As was the first half of our journey from Avila to France.  The route via Valladolid is peacefully quiet and toll free – once the toll roads start they become a little busier but until Burgos, nothing like busy enough to make driving a chore.

I’ve also FINALLY worked out the Spanish motorway EXIT numbering system.  On the face of it, the system is shambolic and hard to understand with exit numbering bearing no resemblance to anywhere else on earth (unless you know different?).

HOWEVER – all motorways are mile-marked (or kilometre-marked in this case) and the exit number represents the closest kilometre-mark. EASY!

Once we hit the French border, we turned off and entered Hendaye, the nearest French town to Spain. This was a far busier than expected town – not sure what I did expect so close to the border with a ‘toll’ motorway thundering past about half a mile away. Of course, people use the town to cut across the old bridge to and from Spain – doh!