Posts Tagged ‘2017’

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.

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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.

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. http://www.almunecartoday.com/palacete-de-la-najarra/ 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.

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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)