Posts Tagged ‘Costa Tropical’

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

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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.)

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 -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.

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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. 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