Tag Archives: travel

SUNNY SPAIN – November and December

Day 8 – Malaga

We were up early on this Thursday morning to check out of Los Amigos Beach Club, with some regret, because we enjoyed this resort much more than we had expeted.  2316316_125_z

DSCN1911   Not only did we make friends, but we walked to the beach, had good food available close by, and Mijas is so centrally located along the Coast del Sol that we could walk or ride almost anywhere in a 2 hour radius–which we did for Ronda, Granada, La Calla, and Fuengirola, which gets you to Malaga by train.   area_map_costa_del_sol

In fact, this day’s journey was exactly that. Thanks to new friend Ivon, we had a town car ride with him to the train station, instead of the wild taxi ride we had getting to Mijas. Believe me, that was a great relief.

We said our tata’s to our British friends Ken and Marjorie, Gordon and Edna, and then found Ivon.  images

We got the train, had a lot of help from the locals and station personnel figuring out how to buy a ticket, and which train to catch.

We arrived in Malaga, and decided to walk the mile to our hotel, partly so we could get an idea of the terrain and how to navigate our two days in the city.

Unknown-1 We arrived at the hotel, Carols V (which I had said to Elton, as we checked out at Los Amigos as Carlos “V.” He replied, graciously, “I think it is Carlos the Roman Numeral Five–you know Charles V, ” the Holy Roman Emperor in the 16th Century.” We had a good laugh. I guess I am forgetting my Latin I and II.

The Carlos V in Malaga isn’t a luxury hotel, but the price was right–and we were only sleep there two nights, expected to be out and about most of the day, so it was really just fine.  Unknown-2

We were bent on tapas for supper, and had it early since our late breakfast at the condo of everything left in the fridge that we didn’t give away, was plenty to tide us over till 4p.m.     IMG_2600

Seated at our al fresco cafe, we people-watched, enjoying the balmy afternoon, and then dined on lovely Serrano ham, olives, cheese, potatoes, roasted peppers, bread and wine. Oh life on the Mediterranean. You could get used to this.  IMG_2611

We had booked a Hop On, Hope Off trolley tour, but had trouble finding the right station. On foot, we traversed quite a bit of the city, and only after a couple of hours realized we were out oftime for the day, because it was almost twilight this December evening.  We had hoped to use the transportation to get around, especially since we had scheduled a tapas workshop on Friday.city-sightseeing-malaga-hop-on-hop-off-tour-in-malaga-138384

As it turned out, we didn’t need much transportation other than our feet. Almost everything in Malaga’s main district is walking distance. And, as in so many city areas of Europe, if you stop off for a gelato or a cappucino or some refreshment, you can do miles with little effort.

IMG_2637  As evening grew, we wandered into the mall near our hotel, and discovered it was the day the Christmas lights would be lit. Shoppers were clustered waiting, and then a collective ahh went up when the lights came on.

Shopping here was a congregation of little shops and posh department stores like Massimo Dutti, where we found accessories–a belt and purse that will give us sweet memories of this trip.   IMG_2628

We had a great time finding gifts for the kids and grands, and a couple of totes for us at the little kiosks in the mall, where everyone was so friendly and helpful.

We headed back to Carlos V for the night, happy to rest up for our full day Friday.

 

 

 

 

Sunny Spain – November and December

Day 6 – La Cala Mijas

Day 6 was a time to kick back a little and see more of the local area. We felt the need to walk, and found La Cala Mijas was about an hour or less from our resort, and worth the walk along the Mediterranean where the view was never hidden.   Coastal-pathway-La-Cala-de-Mijas

We had to navigate along the busy highway’s bridge which paralleled the road, and the traffic was loud and scary at times, but we kept the Sea in sight, so had a good trade-off.  Besides, we knew the distance was possible, and the day was cool and pleasant, about 75 degrees F. on the first day of December.  We weren’t sure whether it was the Spaniards or the tourists who didn’t walk everywhere, but in Mijas, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of foot traffic. In any case, we enjoyed our walk, even though the road roar made it a little difficult to chat as we walked.   Unknown-4

We started out around noon and found it a pleasant mid-70 degrees F. on this Tuesday, December, 1.
When we arrived, we were delighted to find a navigable town with restaurants and expansive beach areas with tables for dining al fresco from El Torreon, the large white beach restaurant we decided on.  Unknown-3

We ordered seafood, of course, at El Torreon, and we leisurely dined with the Mediterranean as our companion. The food was delicious. The whole scene reminded us of Santa Monica, and we felt at home there, almost as though we had always known it.

Unknown-2 It doesn’t get better than having lunch on the beach of the Mediterranean Sea, and strolling through the beach town, with no worries of parking cars, being lost, or dodging children begging for coins. (There was absolutely none of this in Spain.)

After lunch, we strolled around the small town, and enjoyed the freedom of a new place in walking distance to our “home away from home.”

By around 3:30pm. we decided to get to the bridge to walk before any chance of a rush hour, since we didn’t really know much about traffic patterns along the highway.

733987_175558075926207_1560753296_nReturning to Los Amigos, we changed for dinner, and wandered back to the Indian restaurant, Punjab Palace, which we knew we liked, and feeling like this couple of blocks of walking was nothing.   We weren’t about to start exploring new food on this walkabout day.nearby-restaurants

BBC provided our evening’s entertainment, and we also said hi to our British neighbors, who invited us to their party the next day, which we accepted, especially since we planned on leaving Thursday, cutting our time share stay short, to go to Malaga for two days before flying back to Boston.

It was a breezy delightful day by the Sea, and we knew we could get used to this very easily.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

restaurante-faro-playa     restaurante-faro-playa-1

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.