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Sunday, 12 April 2009

My bus driver didn't smile at me

I landed at Malaga airport in Spain in the evening of 12 April 1979. It was Easter Thursday and there were no buses running so I took a taxi into the city and eventually found a place to spend the night. I wasn't to know that my hostel was right at the centre of the colourful and noisy processions that criss cross Malaga city every night during Easter.

I was on my way from Rhodesia to Swans School in Marbella to take up a teaching post and the next morning I staggered with my heavy suitcase to Malaga bus station. The ticket office was closed. A bus was parked outside with the engine running and a sign indicating "Marbella". I tried to pay the uniformed driver behind the wheel but he waved me, rather crossly I thought, to take a seat.

Perhaps he would take my fare at the end of the journey. When we got to Marbella and I tried to pay him again he waved me brusquely off the bus. I decided that maybe in Spain at Easter you could travel free on the buses.

I found out later that the Spanish bus drivers were on strike and the government had drafted in the police to drive the buses. No wonder my driver had seemed a little irritated.

Perhaps for this reason I am sympathetic towards visitors to Spain and thirty years on to the day I landed, I still find myself helping other travellers on the Costa del Sol.

PS: Things have now moved on and you can now do online bus ticket reservations through the gomarbella reservation system.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Faro Train Station

I was driving when we visited Faro train station from where we were staying in the foothills near Sao Brás de Alportel but it was easy to find parking in the back streets near the station.

I needed to check out the Faro bus station as well so it was very convenient to find that the train station was only about 200 metres
along the Avenida de La Republica from the Faro bus station. I love old buildings like this one which must have seen so many travellers coming and going over the years. The picture was taken on a tranquil Sunday at the beginning of March this year, it was lovely and warm in the sun on the platform sheltered from the wind sweeping in from the sea just to the right of the photo.

The line from Faro train station runs just behind the bus station and then hugs the coast all the way to Vila Real de San Antonio on the edge of the very wide Guadiana River marking the frontier with Spain. Vila Real de San Antonio is worth a visit and as part of a day's visit, from there you could take a ferry across the Guadiana River and eat Atlantic fish and drink Barbadillo white wine
in Ayamonte on the Spanish side of the river. OK the taste of the fish might only vary in the flavouring but at least you would have had a quick visit to Spain from Portugal and done a train journey and a ferry crossing all in the same day.

From Faro to Lagos in the other direction, the train line runs quite far inland and you only really near the beaches in the last few kilometres as you approach Lagos: the journey takes about an hour and a half. You can always do the return trip to Faro by bus from Lagos bus station if you are still feeling adventurous!

PS: You can now do online bus ticket reservations from the Costa del Sol to Faro through the gomarbella reservation system.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Torreblanca Train Stop

This is the Torreblanca train stop on the line from Malaga to Fuengirola. It's the third last stop before Fuengirola train station after travelling from Malaga or the Malaga airport train stop. The next stop after Torreblanca and before Fuengirola is the Los Boliches train stop.

Travelling from the Torreblanca train stop towards Fuengirola, the journey to Fuengirola train station takes 5 minutes.

If you are travelling to the Malaga airport train stop or coming from Malaga city, the trains leave and arrive at Torreblanca train stop every 20 minutes. The journey to Malaga airport takes approximately 28 minutes and 42 minutes to the Maria Zambrano train station in Malaga.

The Torreblanca hotel is right next to the train stop, just to the left of the picture. A flight of steps leads down from the bridge over the train line and if you time it right, you can walk out of the hotel and be in Fuengirola 10 minutes later.

There's a great little cafeteria next to the platform, you can just see it behind the platform. Don't hurry your drink if you hear the train coming, have another cold beer and wait for the next train. You are in Spain now and I recommend that you just take it easy and enjoy life. There'll be another train along in twenty minutes!