Sunny Spain – November and December

Day 2 – Arriving in  Malaga for a wild ride to Mijas

Our flight to Malaga from Dublin was interesting for me, because my seat mate was Irish and I got a lot of insight into my lack of geographic smarts about her island.

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For one thing, I guess I always imagined Ireland being on the east side of England. It isn’t. This becomes interesting when you realize that the Brits like to vacation in sunny spots during their winter, just like we Americans do.  europe_map

But, the English have more choice of how to get to places like Costa del Sol, and because they are so close to land, they often drive through France to Spain, rather than flying. So, then they have a car with them. More about that later.

My Irish plane friend was flying to Malaga to be with her family for a holiday, which, evidently, they did regularly, since they actually had a vacation home in Malaga. That gave me some thoughts for the future.  Unknown

The flight from Dublin to Malaga was short, a little less than three hours, so I could see why this would be a regular plan for the Irish to escape the dreary chill of winter. I mean, it’s similar to how I feel going  from Hartford to Chicago (except without sunshine at the other end), which I do twice a year without a second thought. My bus ride from Chicago to Rockford is almost as long as the flight from Hartford.

On this Thursday in November, my hubby and I were traveling on Thanksgiving, which my Irish friend didn’t have to contend with. So I could see how this was not a big deal for her. We had left on Wednesday on a red eye to Dublin, so we ended up having a carefree transport on what would have been the busiest travel day of the year in the States. No such thing in Dublin in November.

In any case, we arrived without incident at the Malaga Airport, and our lovely concierge at our time share, Los Amigos Beach Club, had arranged for a taxi to meet us to take us the 30 minutes to ourMijas condos.

UnknownOur driver was waiting, waving a sign with our name on it–just like in the movies. I had never experienced this kind of a reception, and it took some of the anxiety out of being in a foreign country without knowing much of their language. No worries, most of the vendors and business people in Spain speak good English. As I have pointed out, it seems the short distance to Great Britain is just as appealing for the Spaniards, many of whom have been educated in England, and know its culture well.

We followed our somewhat reticent cab driver to his car, threw in our bags and seated ourselves, including belts. Good thing. This was the end of the carefree transport for this day. The wild ride through Malaga to Fuengirola and parts westward was terrifying.

Even my racer husband had a little concern. This driver seemed less familiar with the route we were taking than probably his normal fares, and he drove with jerks and sharp turns that kept us thankful we were in the back seat, and not the “death seat” beside him.    2316316_127_z

Finally, we arrived at Los Amigos Beach Club, and then another problem arose. We wanted to use our credit card, but he wanted cash. We had not exchanged dollars for Euros yet, and his 50 Euro fee was not something we wanted to do in dollars. We handed him our Visa Card and insisted. He reluctantly took out his credit card machine, but became very agitated when we did not have a PIN number. We had the chip card, but it was not an updated version that required a pin.   Unknown

The driver spoke  little English when it came to financial concerns, and we had no way to explain. Thankfully, the Los Amigos manager, Elton, was at the desk, and fluently explained why our card had to be used the old-fashioned way and not with the front insert devicethe new cards use.Unknown-1

We paid the driver, all was well, and we learned that tipping is not customary in Spain for taxis, hotels, restaurants or other services. They just don’t do it, except on rare occasions when a tour guide or service is so outstanding, a thank you is just in order. Given that we were losing about $15 on the $100 with the exchange rate, it worked out well that we saved that 15% in tipping, so we balanced out.

2316316_125_z   Once all the financials were settled, we were greeted by our concierge, Irene, with a hearty “Welcome home!,” which really did make us feel at home, right away.

It was about 3:00pm and after unpacking, we were anxious to cross the street (320 yards) and walk on the beach–the Mediterranean at Faro (lighthouse) Playa (beach) in Mijas. This was going to be the only 70 degree F day of our 10 day trip, so we wanted to make sure we got to the beach.  DSCN1908

The beauty of the Sea is breathtaking, but this, in November, was not the beach we had imagined. No one was sunbathing, and really, the narrow beach wasn’t a sunbathing haven, probably even in summer.

We had our walk, enjoyed being in light jacket weather in November, and were thankful, even without, bathing temps. We picked up small rocks on the very rocky sand, imagined giving them to grandchildren, and generally unwound from our crazy cab ride. The beach is narrow, and we enjoyed seeing the lighthouse around a hilly area.

DSCN1911What we did discover was a lovely seaside restaurant, Faro Playa, which also means lighthouse beach, where we decided to have dinner.      DSCN1921DSCN1909
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After changing to dinner clothes back at the very luxurious condo, we walked back across the highway and didn’t need reservations to be seated on the patio with the lovely view. We saw that this restaurant was closing December 1, like so many businesses do for the winter on the Costa del Sol, so we wanted to eat here for the few days we had until then, since it was the only place we knew (at the time) in walking distance to Los Amigos.

We ordered fresh sea bream (dorado), a whole fish prepared beautifully, but with bones. The small side salad and fried potatoes were ordinary. The experience was muy bueno! Not great, but well done, and with the terrace view, who can complain? The swordfish also looked good, which we decided to try another time.

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On another night, we ordered the pork filet in pepper sauce, also with the side of peas and carrots and fries, and it was also tasty, and really a little more expertly done than the fish. We learned to order this dish from our British friends, who seemed to favor this and ordered it as fil-let, not fil-lay–but then, you haven’t met them yet.

DSCN1918 We walked a little more on the shore after dinner, taking in the beauty of the Mediterranean and counting our blessings.

Walking back to Los Amigos, discovering the tunnel route, rather than the highway above ground crosswalk, we felt we could get used to this.

We visited Irene, at the front desk, exchanged $100 for 85 Euro, then retired early to a comfy bed, since this had been a long day. 16446682

We watched television a little, which gave us a chuckle, since all of the English shows were BBC. We took in a couple of British cooking episodes, and then slept well.

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