Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

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.

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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

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.

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.

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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.