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Thursday, 15 December 2011

Day trip to Sierra Nevada!


Natalia online:  I missed the opening, but I managed to get up there this past Saturday. We had an early morning start, and once we had packed our gear into the car we were on the road! We took the new motorway between Antequera and Malaga AP- 46 which cut off roughly 30mins from our trip! Dani drives faster than most so we made it in 1 hour and a half, however for most people it should take roughly 2 hours.
We parked in the underground parking which you will see on you right just before entering the village, its usually quite difficult to find parking on the street, so I recommend heading directly to the underground parking, for 7 hours we paid 15 Euros.
Having changed we quickly made our way to buy our forfaits (ski passes), and thanks to our early start we beat the long lines! Each forfait costs 43Euros but you need to keep in mind that at the end of your ski day you give the cards back and they reimburse you 3 Euros per pass.
On my first few days back on the slopes, I always like to have an instructer to re-fresh and hone my snowboarding skills. My teacher is called Pedro, he's been my instructer since last year and he's awesome! He works at Escuela Tecnica Ski-Snow Carlos Olmedo, if your new or like me like to re-fresh your skills then I highly recomend this ski/snow school. Everyone is very friendly and incredibly professional. You can have a one-on-one class or make your own little group, if your of similar level and not more than 4! For one hour they charge 44 Euros, which is money well spent especially if it's your first time snowboarding or skiing. You should always have a professional teaching you so that you don't hurt yourself or others!
Being a Saturday the slopes quickly filled up, it's important to keep your eyes open for any rogue skiiers! The weather was great, snow somewhat thin on some parts but overall good, being of a soft and powdery texture. The ski lifts close at 4:45 pm, in order to again, beat the long line of cars going down the mountain we left at 4pm, if not your trip back to Marbella is likely to take up to an hour more.
Overall our day in Sierra Nevada was fantastic, we had a wonderful time and we're already planning to go again in January, but this time for a couple of days. I'll post more info on where we stay and where we eat next time, so keep in touch!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Los Boliches Station for Wheelchairs

Christine who teaches flamenco for Scope, wrote in on the Gomarbella Facebook Page to say she was thinking of bringing a group of disabled dance students to Fuengirola in 2012. Scope is a charity which (in Scope's words) has a vision of a world where disabled people have the same opportunities to fulfil their life ambitions as non-disabled people.

Christine asked me specifically about the Los Boliches train stop, wanting to know if the station was accessible to people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Her Scope students would stay near Los Boliches which is also the closest train stop to the Fuengirola fair ground on the train line from Malaga to Fuengirola.

Having said a couple of years ago that the elevated train stop was wheelchair friendly I wanted to take another look at it, deciding to park the car in the Fuengirola feria grounds, walk to Fuengirola train station, take the C1 train to Los Boliches train stop and then walk back to the fairgrounds, looking at the route all the way from the point of view of a wheelchair user.

From the Fuengirola feria grounds (recinto ferial de Fuengirola) I turned right out into Avda. Jesús Santos Rein which took me directly to the main Fuengirola train station. I stayed on the right hand pavement all the way. All the kerbs and crossings have ramps and there are no obstacles at all for wheelchairs. It took me 15 minutes at a reasonable walking speed. There's a lift from the pavement to the underground ticket office and another lift to the platform. I asked the Renfe ticket agent if he thought the ramp at Los Boliches was really wheelchair friendly and he told me cheerily, "You need strong shoulders!"

The Fuengirola to Malaga train service every 20 minutes is fantastic, you don't really even need to check the train timetable, if you've just missed a train, don't fuss, by the time you've got your ticket and taken the escalator down to the platform, the next train's waiting for you. The trains leave Fuengirola train station on the hour, at 20 and 40 minutes past and then on the hour again. The ride to Los Boliches is incredibly smooth and took only 2 minutes.

As the train pulled out I saw that it had one special platform level access and exit door situated in the middle. Access to the rest of the train needs a step up but this central access door would offer a very smooth entry or exit for a wheelchair user.

A pleasant yellow safety jacketed woman was cleaning the station and I asked her about the ramp. She said I had just missed a wheelchair user descending from the earlier train. "It's steep" she said "but you can do it." I would say that descending is no problem, some braking help needed but ascending would need team work as in a helper. The ramps themselves have black non slip strips, handy for the rainy day that it was. At the bottom of the ramp on the sea side of the station, I found the only obstacle, not impassable, roots had lifted the paving slabs which would give a wheelchair or wheeled suitcase a bit of a bump.

From Los Boliches train station back to the Fuengirola feria grounds to pick up the car it took me 10 minutes at a reasonable walking speed. There are lots of shops and cafeterias along the route and no obstacles at all. The enormous feria ground is completely flat and easily negotiable.

I hope we'll be seeing your dancers watching flamenco at the Fuengirola feria next year Christine. Thanks very much for writing in and keep up the good work.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sierra Nevada Opening!


On the 26th of November Sierra Nevada is opening its slopes, I can't wait! I didn't believe my boyfriend Dani when he called me on the way to Malaga to report that he could see a snowy tipped Sierra Nevada. I quickly checked it out on their website, where you can indeed see it covered in snow via their webcam, check it out here.

For those of you who don't know, as well as beautiful weather, beach, and a great nightlife we sun worshipers can also enjoy a winter wonderland a mer two and a half hour drive away! Driving past Malaga, onwards to Granada and then watch out for the exit to Sierra Nevada! Most of the time you won't need chains on your wheels when driving up the mountain, however keep an eye on the weather forecast on the off chance that you might need them during the months of January and February.

From the 26th of November till the 2nd of December the daily ski passes for adults (forfaits) will cost you only 36Euros, from the 3rd of Dec to the 23rd of Dec they cost 40Euros (low season) and then from the 24th of Dec to the 8th of Jan, which is high season, they go up to 44Euros. During January, February and March the prices waver between high and low season so make sure to check that out in advance.

I'll keep you all updated on where to eat, stay, and where to rent you gear once I get up there! Watch this space...

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Flamenco at the Fuengirola Feria

David Pleasance wrote on the Gomarbella Facebook page:

Hi, we are arriving in Malaga on 10th October and staying in La Carihuela for 3 nights. I believe there is an annual "Feria" taking place between 6th -12th and being huge fans (aficionados) of flamenco we would welcome information about this feria as I am sure there must be plenty of things going on. I have searched the internet and surprisingly can not find any kind of agenda or indeed much at all about what sounds like a wonderful event. Can you help us with any information, and indeed anything to do with "real" Flamenco in the area? We will have a car and are prepared to travel wherever. As a matter of fact, when we leave the Costa del Sol on Thursday 13th we are heading to Jerez de la Frontera to feed our flamenco hunger further. Any advice or information would be hugely appreciated. Thanks & regards.

I wrote back to David:

Hi David, I think you are looking for the Fuengirola feria, it fits the dates you mentioned. The afternoon from 2 to 6 is a good time to visit and for the evening action any time from 9pm through to the early hours the next day. You'll find flamenco every night in the casetas.

The feria in Fuengirola which runs from 6 to 12 October, the Nerja feria from 7th - 12th October followed by the smaller Ojén feria and the San Pedro de Alcantará feria from 17- 23 October are the last four ferias for the year in Andalucia.

If you are looking for flamenco festivals, you would look for a festival de cante not baile. These flamenco dedicated events generally take place in the summer as they run from 11pm to 6am. Here's a good link to a dedicated flamenco site, showing regularly updated flamenco events and you might like to plan your next visit to fit in with their calendar.

Jerez de la Frontera is a great place for flamenco of course and I am sure you'll see some top dancers even though it is slightly out of season.

I hope that helps David, have a great time and enjoy your visit.

PS: I'm showing you the shapely street dancers in the photo above to give you an idea of the vibrant international atmosphere at the Fuengirola feria. The real flamenco takes place inside the casetas!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Mountain Bike Training in Marbella


At the end of September my daughter Shayne and I walked for five days north starting from Sevilla towards Santiago de Compostela on the Via de la Plata route. It was a fantastic experience and we'll be back on the trail in 2012 in the spring. We aim to do another 10 stages but this time on bikes. After the summer we'll start walking again.It was with two wheels in mind that I emailed Marbella Rent a Bike to ask about off road mountain bike training classes. I wanted to get some expert advice on what bike to buy and get some classes under my belt before setting off next year. It took no time at all to get the first session set up with trainer Hugo Gomez of Marbella Rent a Bike.

Mountain Bike Training One: Hugo and I met at Los Pinos de Aloha Golf just opposite Aloha Golf and went over the bike that he had brought me, gears, brakes and so on. That's Hugo on the right in case you were wondering. We set off, just the two of us. I've driven through the Los Naranjos and La Quinta area hundreds of times but never really noticed all the hills until that first mountain bike ride. Hugo was very encouraging and the hour and a half session starting first on asphalt ended with a Tour de France Pyrenees type climb on a dirt road before plunging back down to Aloha Golf.
Mountain Bike Training T
wo: This was high tech. Hugo sorted me out with a chest heart monitor belt linked to a Garmin orienteering device on my handlebars and we set off. I've walked all the hills and mountains you can see around Marbella but on this ride when I did manage to lift my head I found us on the west side of the Istan lake on a track I had never seen before. Hugo is a master at getting his students out of their comfort zones and in no time at all I found myself back at Aloha Golf. That evening he sent me a
readout of our 14km route through the hills.
Extra conditioning: I went our with Hugo for an afternoon run along the Paseo Maritimo from Victor's Beach all the way to Princess Playa at the other end. Normally I would walk for a good section but there was no stopping until our turn around and we finished with a sprint over the last hundred metres. I was well pleased with my performance and discovered some new leg muscles.
Mountain Bike Training T
hree: Waterbottle filled with an electrolytic drink, we set off on our bikes earlier this week. My use of the 18 gears is getting better and I'm better at selecting the right gear sometime before I need it. Again our route took off uphill and I'm aiming now to find a comfortable pedalling rythmn.

It'll take me a while to build up strength in my legs and cardiovascular capacity but I'm getting into it. This class was just under 19kms in two hours but I have to say most of it was uphill. Some way along the track I topped up my water bottle from clear mountain stream. Careering downhill I experimented with braking, two fingers on the back brake and one on the front. (These are hydraulic brakes...) Hugo is pushing me to use no brakes at all on some stretches but I still have memories of sensational crashes as a a teenager. Maybe next time. Anytime now expect to see me in lycra cycling pants. My Christmas wish list is growing.

Mountain Bike Training Four: I met Hugo at Manola Santana's Raquet's Club on the Istán road. Yesterday's session was on the road, all the way to Istán . In a car, you don't really notice the hills. On a bike you are constantly shifting gears. With Hugo do all rides start by going uphill straightaway? Sign up for a mountain or road bike training course and find out for yourself! I enjoyed the road bike, it reminded me of cycling 10kms to school. Each time expert bike trainer Hugo Gomes sets new goals. On this bike ride I couldn't use the granny plate (the lowest front plate gear). I managed without it. My condition is building. I was able to drink going uphill instead of waiting for a level stretch of road. For me this is progress. I couldn't have done this ride without having put in the previous three bike rides. I was impressed with the distance that overtaking cars left us on the winding road. On the way down we built up speed. I felt like Miguel Indurain on the Tour de España. In front I could see Hugo legs pumping as we hit the downhill straights and acted on the urge to catch him. (I didn't, but was pleased with myself for having the energy and desire to try.) After each route Hugo emails me my
Garmin print out. I send it on to my daughter and brother. We'll all be riding together next year. Next mountain and road bike training session we are off to Benahavis.

Mountain Bike Training Five: Road bike to Benahavis. We met at 4.30pm at Los Pinos in front of Aloha Golf and hit the back roads past La Quinta golf course. Five hundred metres up the Ronda road just past the motorway we turned off to Benahavis. There are two killing hills along this leg. Dropping down to the Benahavis river was exhilarating if not scary. Hugo was in a pushing mode, stay above 10km/h, no granny plate. We rode up into the centre of Benahavis, turned around and coasted back down to the river. On the long straight to the A7 coast road we attacked a lone cyclist, sweeping past him only to be overtaken again when my legs wouldn't go as fast as my heart. Hugo explained the advantages of staying in his wind shadow. Great, if you can just keep up with him... On the A7 highway I tucked in behind him, we pushed past Guadalmina, San Pedro and detoured through Puerto Banus. My calves were just starting to sieze up. A swig of electrolyte drink and I was off again. The steep climb up from Aloha College to the top of the rise was a challenge after 34kms. I just managed it using the granny plate and my last reserves of energy. A good ride. Bring it on next week Hugo!

Mountain Bike Training Six Big mistake of mine telling Hugo last week to bring it on because today he did. Using his best carrot and stick technique he told me even before we mounted up that he had done our mountain bike route earlier in the day with a younger girl. Of course I was going to push for it after that.

We started off by going straight uphill, my concentration at first was erratic and I muffed gear changes on the first uphill stretches sometimes finding myself sideways on the road having lifted the front wheel off the ground or the rear wheel spurting gravel and not going anywhere. Hugo showed me how to hang back low over the saddle (more weight on the rear wheel) and lean forward over the front wheel (keeping it down). Yes, the road was that steep and rough. We climbed and climbed. I sucked on an energy gel supplement. I remember seeing a helicopter landing pad next to the track. I was back in the groove with the gears.

Without stopping we turned for the descent. Flying down the gravel road I found myself spending less time on the brakes. If I could just stay on the bike I would be back at the van without much more strain. Suddenly Hugo turned right. This wasn't the way home! Now we were on a track used by goats and washed out by the rain. More rocks than track and it was a steeper descent than I had ever done. On my own I would have walked down holding the bike for balance. Now I was flying downhill over rocks and gullies desperately looking for the route ahead. I found it was more manageable to go fast than slowly. We were heading straight for the river. Did I say two fingers on the hydraulic brakes in an earlier mountain bike session? This time I was pulling with five fingers trying to stay in control. Suddenly I found myself in a shady treed tunnel next to the river below El Madroñal. Hugo was carrying his bike ahead through the knee high water. I followed him through. After my long uphill strain followed by a headlong descent losing all my hard earned height in minutes and then finding myself in a strongly flowing river I had definitely moved out of my comfort zone. One more wade through a tributary of the dam in the river and we were back on the asphalt heading through La Quinta back to our starting point at Los Pinos de Aloha.


My next aim said Hugo is to get well up out of the saddle going downhill almost standing up to lessen strain on the knees. I was pleased to learn that overall, despite the wobbly start to the ride I was making progress. If you zoom in on the
Garmin route you'll see the track descending towards the river, losing lots of height very quickly. Hugo if this is a "moderate" route according to the GPS, please spare me the "difficult"route until next year. Next week I´ll be adding some video here of today's mountain bike training session.

Road Bike Training Seven Today's session started out from Manolo Santana's Raquets Club. We were on road bikes. It was another warm sunny December mid afternoon. "No Granny plate up the climb up under the motorway" said Hugo "and keep the speed above 10km/h." It's a tough way to start out, one km on the level, hardly time to warm up and then a steep curving climb but I did it. Perhaps I did dip under 10km/h but after that it was a pleasure. I could remember a lot of the route from before.

It helps a lot to know when to expect the top of a climb and conserve energy or when to put the pedal down. I enjoyed the climb to Istan. This time instead of stopping short of the village we rode through and climbed up towards the polideportivo. The challenge was to keep the pedals turning up a very steep clime but I muffed a gear change and had to stop mid climb. It was a relief to turn back and push towards the coast. I found myself pedalling where I would have coasted before and enjoyed the downhill rush of wind and the pace.

Here's Hugo's comment emailed after the lesson together with today's route: "This was your best lesson so far, I felt like you were fighting to keep up, that brought you good results, your condition is improving a lot too. You had a overall time of 1.19h which is about 20 min quicker than last time." I must be getting stronger!

Mountain Bike Training Eight I knew today was going to be different, I had got an email from Hugo the day before: "Good morning Mike, today's route is short but challenging, we're going to train your speed and endurance as well as your mind!" He added some advice about what to eat before our ride.

To visualise our mountain bike training course, imagine a whip. The lash forms three loops back towards the handle. The loops are all uphill and the handle is an all too short roller coaster downhill ride on a gravelled surface. One circuit is 2.5kms and you do it again and again and again and ...... Hugo is the guy holding the whip. On the first untimed recognition lap, I could see where the mind training came in. How many times was I going to go around? I didn't like to ask.

I learned a lot, getting up out of the saddle and pedalling on rocky rises and gradients which I would have pushed my bike over a month ago. I cycled round curves rather than coasted round them. The gear changes came easily. I went wide on curves then cut in. On the downhills I put my faith in the knobbly mountain bike tyre treads and hit 44 km/h as a top speed by staying off the brakes. Hugo was in front of me, behind me, waiting round bends and laying down obstacles for me to navigate and respond to. He was cracking the whip and encouraging me in equal measures. I saw the AP7 motorway far below me, then the Istan lake, then the motorway. One minute's rest between laps. Once I was given two minutes. Filling up at the gas station on the way home I found myself unsteady on my feet. By the time I had got back, I had my route and lap times waiting on my computer. Lap 1, 8:58, Lap 2, 9:23 Lap 3 10:48, Lap 4: 9:29, Lap 5, 9:42, Lap 6: 9:15. Here's a video of my last lap. Please remember I had been around 7 times before... Overall training time 57:37. I'm very pleased with my progress.

Mountain Bike Training Nine Agility. I thought I had nothing left to learn about staying on my bike but Hugo had me back up in the hills riding over log bridges, washed out rocky stream crossing, keeping my balance on paths with deep gullies on either side. I practised braking techniques, riding at speed downhill on gravelled roads then braking sharply, maintaining a straight line and also sliding the back wheel. I did this lesson at the end of January after getting back from 6 days trekking in Patagonia.  Since then  I've bought my bike, from Hugo of course. It's a Scott Aspect 20 if you are interested.



Lesson 10 The last  50 km mountain and road ride with Hugo is coming up soon.  Since I started my bike lessons back in October, I've been trekking in Patagonia and have been preparing to ride the Camino de Santiago with my brother starting from Sant Jean Pied de Port in France starting on 28th April. It's about 850kms. Then I'm back on the  road on the Via de Plata with my daughter Shayne doing another 5 days on bikes, starting from where we left off in Monasterio. Hugo, I'll be back for Lesson Ten, hopefully a lot fitter than when we first started! Thanks for everything so far!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Road Trip to the Algarve

Mike online and very happy to introduce Natalia as a contributor to the Spain Now and Then blog. You will also find Natalia across on the Gomarbella Facebook page. Over to Natalia after her trip to Portugal.

Day One

Our initial plan was to leave my place at 5.30pm, however in true Spanish fashion we ended up leaving at 6.40pm. We took the A7, direction Estepona/Algeciras all the way to Los Barrios. Watch out for a radar in San Roque just before reaching Los Barrios. Then we took the A-381 to Jerez (theres another radar just before arriving to Jerez, after the last tunnel). Once in Jerez we took the AP-4 towards Sevilla, a two hour drive so far. From Sevilla we traveled on the A-49 to Huelva, continuing a stretch up to Ayamonte and then made our way down to Isla Cristina.

We arrived tired but happy at Hotel Plata Isla Cristina at 9:40pm. The hotel is two stars, clean, very comfy with a home away from home vibe. All the staff are incredibly friendly and accommodating. Having stashed our luggage away and admired our pretty blue room we went down to reception and asked for directions to a good seafood restaurant. Following Jose, the receptionists advice we walked down the road and onto the paseo maritimo (path along the beach) to the Sol y Mar restaurant. The food was divine. We had coquinas which are small clams and some incredibly fresh and tasty prawns. Fed and watered we walked back to our hotel and enjoyed a nightcap in the lounge. We were soon joined by a charming couple from Sevilla and Alicia our bartender/receptionist for the night, it was a lovely relaxing evening in Isla Cristina which is where we booked our hotel for the first night.

Hotel Contact details:
Hotel Plata Isla Cristina
Avenida de la Playa, 1
Isla Cristina, 21410
Spain

Tel: +34 959331800 E-mail: hotelplata@hotmail.com


Day Two

We woke up early and had a simple yet tasty breakfast and bid goodbye to the friendly staff at Hotel Plata Isla Cristina. Heeding their advice we made sure to visit Las Salinas before continuing onto Portugal. Las Salinas is where salt is extracted from sea water, theirs so much that they use tractors to make little salty hills! While exploring Ayamonte and admiring the town we saw that we could take a ferry which would cross the border and take us into Portugal. It took us all of 12 minutes and cost us roughly 5 Euros including the car, to cross Rio Guadiana, dropping us off in Villa Real de S. Antonio. From there we followed the signs to Tavira and then onto Faro where we stopped for lunch and then continued on the A22 - E1 to Albufeira. We woke up early and had a simple yet tasty breakfast and bid goodbye to the friendly staff at Hotel Plata Isla Cristina.

Once in Albufeira it was really easy to find the Monica Isabel Resort, which is where we would be staying for two nights, it cost (with breakfast included) 88 Euros. The resort is like one big urbanisation as well as its hotel it has several blocks made up into small apartments, come cafes a mini supermarket and some small shops. I imagine its perfect for families with young children as you have everything there on your doorstep with the added bonus of being a stones throw away from beach.

Venturing outside the resort and after a quick change of clothes we decided to go and check out the port of Albufeira. The port is easy to find just follow the signs marked marina and when you see a block of buildings painted in all different kinds of pastel colours, you know your in the right place! We headed directly to the information office to check out the info on boat rides. We had been told that this was something we should definitely do, so we booked a 6 hour trip for the next day and then headed into the centre of town.

The centre of town is full to the brim with lively bars and restaurants , and although the narrow streets and old buildings are charming the center was a bit too touristy for my liking. Nevertheless we enjoyed a scrumptious dinner at a seafood restaurant called La taberna do Pescador a.k.a The Fisherman's Tavern. We ordered catalplana which is a seafood dish featuring clams, crab, and prawns seasoned with herbs and spices and steamed in what looks like two metal plates put together to a make a sort of clam like pot. I highly recommend you try this typical Algarve dish!

Fun fact: Cataplana was introduced to Southern Portugal by the Moors during their occupation.

Hotel and Restaurant Contact details:

Monica Isabel Beach Club
Forte S. Joao, Areias De S. Joao,
8200-32
Albufeira
Algarve
Portugal

Tel: +35 1289599200

Restaurant A Taberna do Pescador
Travessa Cais Herculano,
8200 Albufeira

Tel: +35 0289589196

Day Three

We were told to be at the Albufeira port by 9.30am to catch our ride on the Amorita, we'd be setting sail at 10am and expected to be back by 4pm.

What a trip! We had a brilliant time, the weather co-operated, the sailors were fun and talkative and the beach which they took us to was breathtaking. We spent roughly two hours on the secluded beach and enjoyed a BBQ lunch, set up and cooked by our three sailors. We made a trip to the caves by dingy and then spent the rest of the time swimming and playing in the waves. I had expected the Atlantic to be much colder than in Marbella but luckily it wasn't, there was an undercurrent of the Mediterranean coming in, warming the water to around 21 degrees Celsius. The whole trip was fantastic and also very affordable as it only cost us 35 Euro's each. You can take a four hour trip which costs 28 Euros or a two hour trip which costs 17 Euro's.

As well as these "mini cruises" you can go dolphin watching or go big game fishing, something which my boyfriend Dani is keen to try out the next time we go!

Once back at port we spent the rest of the evening enjoying some drinks with a group of friends we made on the boat, it was a perfect day!

Mini cruise contact details:

Tel: +35 289 302 984

Email: bookings@algarve-cruises.com

Website: www.algarve-cruises.com

Day Four

Time to pack up and head back to Marbella :( but before leaving we went to visit Lagos which used to be the capital of the Algarve back in 1576 until 1755 when an earthquake destroyed it. We went to see the port, which is much bigger than the Albufeira port and busier. I had been told that the beaches in Lagos are even more beautiful and wild than those in Albufeira so we made a point of stopping by several. On our way to take a quick dip in the Atlantic before heading back we saw people snorkeling and spied a couple of people on kayaks...what a great idea! We quickly found a place where we could hire our own for two hours at 25 Euros.

Storing our valuables in a water tight container, we put on our life vests and headed out. Don't worry if you've never done this kind of activity before it's easy to pick up and a great work our for your arm and back muscles. Going by kayak we were able to actually go into some of the caves and enjoy the rock formations and grotto's at a much closer angle. This was possibly the most fun thing to do on the whole trip!

You can find kayaks to rent on most of the beaches. Unfortunately there were no public showers nearby to wash off the sea water so salty yet happy we climbed back in our car and headed back home.

NOTE: We didn't see any radars throughout the highways in Portugal!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Cruising on a Charente river boat

Earlier in August we spent three days aboard this lovely old Eau Claire river boat on the Charente River in France. You´ll see Spurwing tied up to the floating pontoon on the Ile de la Grenouillette with Saint Savinien on the far bank of the river.

We had driven up through Spain, escaping an exceptionally hot August down in Marbella and the cool days and nights in the Charente river valley were most refreshing. What a contrast also to the bustling noisy Costa del Sol night life. Here in France, in San Savinien, the bar owners were hurrying home at six in the evening. Back on the coast they would be sweeping out ready for a long evening ahead.

The wide and gentle Charente River winds its way inland through flat lush green countryside with line fishermen and big square eel fishing drop nets coming up on the low banks from time to time. It really is an ideal river for a relaxing river cruise holiday.

The Isle de Grenouillette nestles in a curve in the river on the edge of a recreational park with riding, boating and masses of sports activities for children. The local hairdresser recommended the nearby campsite to my wife. “They have a very good kitchen,” she said. We walked over from the boat to check it out one evening and were treated to the local line dancers entertaining the campsite guests. Again it looks like a great place for a riverside family holiday in France. Here are their contact details:

Ile Aux Loisirs
Camping and Caravanning
17350 Saint Savinien www.ileauxloisirs.com

A busy little boat rentals enterprise operated off the pontoon where we were moored, renting dinghies, electric boats, zodiacs, motor boats up to larger cruisers where nautical credentials have to be shown. Email them for details at: location@portsaintsav.fr

Our friends don´t rent Spurwing, the Eau Claire river boat we stayed on but, if you feel that you are ready for something more exotic in terms of boat cruises perhaps even on the other side of world check out the private Phuket yacht charter they also run.

For more information about the area we stayed in and I do want to go back there next summer if not before, there is an excellent tourist office right next to the river.
Here are their contact details, they´ll look after you in more than one language!

Office de Tourisme
1, rue de Bateliers
Isle de Grenouillette
17350 Le Mung

Tel: + 33 546 902107 Email: stsavinien.tourisme@wanadoo.fr


Their shelves are loaded with more information about sailing and river cruise rentals on the River Charente. I really recommend it if you are looking for a relaxing river holiday. See you there next year?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Horse riding in Agadir, Morocco

Tamraght is a little fishing village about 12 kms north from Agadir in southern Morocco. We were fortunate to spend a few months living near there recently.

Tamraght is well known for having some of the best surfing in Morocco. There are many surf camps of various quality, but our favorite by far is Surf Maroc. Managed buy a close knit team of very cool people they run an incredibly slick operation out of 4 locations. They also offer Roxy surf weeks and a surf yoga retreat in a fabulous villa with private pool, front line beach.

Where there is surf there are of course beaches and Tamraght has plenty to offer.

Nearly everyday from our house in Aourir (2km south of Tamraght) we would walk to the beach and spend a few hours playing with our little boy in the golden sand, splashing in the cool Atlantic waters, taking camel rides and petting the horses. Over time we built up a good rapport with Adi, the young chap in charge of these horse trips. Adi is great fun, speaks good English and has a passion for horses and horse riding. We visited his stables, Ranch Amodou Cheval, built out of traditional materials, fed the horses and drank Moroccan whisky (Moroccan mint tea, highly sweetened).

Highly impressed with their basic but very clean stables and well fed horses we decided to go

out for an early morning ride along the stunning, deserted beach between Aourir and Tamraght.

The three of us met Adi before the sun burnt off the morning mist, out side our house and climbed, rather awkwardly into the mounts.

We had selected a two hour trip, the first half of which was spent on the beach, trotting past beginner surfers being washed up, bedraggled but happy and galloping to chase the sea gulls. The second half we took a right turn and walked into the mountains, past argan trees, berber nomad camps and finally returning to the beach for the ride home.

Saddle sore but promising to take one of the more adventurous Adi offers we bade farewell.

If you should ever be Agadir or thereabouts I highly recommend giving Adi a call and organising a ride with him - you won't regret it!

Web: www.amodoucheval.com
Email: amodoucheval@gmail.com
Mobile: +212 662200474 or +212 670341510
Address: km13 Route d’Essaouira, Tamraght, Agadir

Ranch Amodou Cheval offers rides by the hour, day trips, 2 days trips – longer 8 days trips. Learn more visit their web site.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Beach Restaurants near Marriott's Marbella

Sherry's visiting Marriott's Marbella Beach Resort and asked about nearby restaurants and so I've dedicated this page to her. Always looking for an excuse to take my motorbike out for a spin, I popped out to Elviria to check out the beachside restaurants closest to Marriott's Marbella.

In Andalucia beach restaurants are called chiringuitos and all of them used to be right on the sand. They were like little desert island shacks made of wood and palm leaves and often got washed away by high tides. Eventually urban planning caught up and moved them off the beach. I really recommend eating at least once at a beach bar or chiringuito somewhere along the coastline during your holiday.

Late Sunday afternoon I rode down Avda Hacienda Playa, the long road down to the beach next to Marriott's: The resort looked magnificent with lush green, well cared for gardens under towering palm trees. Residents in Marriott's Marbella at the bottom end of the resort can practically walk out onto the beach. At the end of Avda Hacienda Playa on the beach to the left is:

Restaurante Merendero Cristina
Urb Rancho Park Km 192 N340/A7
Marbella

Tel: + 34 952 832 725 Merendero Cristina specialise in fish and shellfish.

A hundred metres further along the beach to the left is:

Carlos and Paula Chiringuito
Calle Mar de la Tranquilidad s/nElviria
Marbella

Tel: + 34 952 113 986 Carlos and Paula offer seafood paella, fish, meat barbecues and pasta. The waiter explained that Paula is the mum and Carlos is the son.

Both restaurants were well populated and most diners were sitting outside on the wooden decks. The beach is slightly wider next to Carlos and Paula and could be easier for families with young children. As I left one of the waiters was lighting the barbecue outside. You must try sardinas al espeto when you are next in a chiringuito, that's sardines on skewers cooked next to the flames, lots of Omega 3 oils and healthy salads and chilled white wine followed by a siesta on the beach....

You can get to these two beach bars by bus getting off at the Pino Golf bus stop and walking about 10minutes over the hill and down the road past Marriott's Marbella. Back at the small parking area where Avda Hacienda Playa meets the beach, looking west towards Marbella in the distance I could see the famous Nikki Beach about 500 metres along the beach. The chiringuito right next to it is:

Chiringuito Los Tonys
Bajada Hotel Don Carlos
29604 Marbella

Tel: + 34 952 113 142 Los Tonys offer paella, shellfish, fish baked in salt and skewered meats and fish.

It's just too far to walk comfortably to Los Tonys and Nikki's Beach so I would recommend driving or taking a taxi. At the to end of Avda. Hacienda Playa, turn left and you'll see the Don Carlos hotel loom up in front of you. Skirt it to the right following the road and then look for Nikki Beach signs on the fork to the right. Drop down, curve to the left, under a road bridge and you are on
the Bajada Hotel Don Carlos. At the end is Los Tonys and just before you get to the end on the left is the Nikki Beach entrance and parking place. Every summer they email me an exclusive invitation to the opening but when I look more carefully at my screen, I can just make out a price, usually upwards of €50.

It's a different scene down here, Los Tonys is fairly upmarket and you'll see lots of folk in white beach gear and bronzed girls in bikinis and wispy tops on the beach below Nikki's. It's the beach part of Nikki Beach in the blog photo. On the terraces above the beautiful people are drinking chilled cava by the bottle.

The other beach restaurant I checked out for Sherry is The Beach House where we have often eaten and I would recommend having a meal here. You'll need a car to get here from Marriott's Marbella. You'll pick up a sign for The Beach House at the second roundabout above the exit from the A7. Keep on down this road until you see signs to the left indicating Restaurante Playa Blanca and Restaurante Las Banderas. (No second Beach House sign yet but go down left) until you see Carril del Relojero and then a Beach House sign. Check out driving directions on their website.

The Beach House is very popular and I suggest you make a reservation if you would like a beach side table in the evening or at lunch during summer.

The Beach House Restaurant
Urb. Coto de los Dolores
Carril del Relojero Elviria
29604 Marbella
Tel: + 34952 839 459

www.marbellabeachhouse.com

Of course just over the A7 road bridge in the Elviria Commercial Centre, within comfortable walking distance of Marriott's Marbella, there are a host of good and interesting restaurants where we have also eaten. I'll do a separate page on these restaurants which include: Restaurant Orient Palace, Pizza Real, Dragon del Mar II, and round the back of the complex, almost hidden away is the Taj Mahal Indian food restaurant. If you just feel like staying in and have a glass of wine on your terrace then give the Taj Mahal Indian restaurant a ring. They do takeaways at really good prices and will also deliver locally. Tel: + 34 952 836 153.

Sherry I hope you get this in time. Have a great stay and enjoy the local cuisine, thanks again for writing in.

Best wishes from Marbella Mike

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Vincci Estrella del Marbella Hotel Bus Stop

Elena wrote to me on Facebook:

Me and my husband are planning to visit Marbella in September. We are arriving at
Malaga Airport and we are staying at Vincci Estrella del Mar Hotel. Please help us to find the best solution for transportation from the airport to the hotel. We would like to take the bus from the airport if there is a bus station near our hotel.

This is my reply to Elena:

Hi Elena, thank you very much for writing in. I have never been to the Vincci Estrella del Mar Hotel so I went out to the hotel this afternoon on my motorbike to check where it is exactly.

When you arrive at Malaga airport your easiest option is to take the
Malaga Airport bus service to Marbella. When you get to Marbella bus station, take the next bus to Fuengirola back along the coast road. There are two buses every hour.

The closest bus stop to the Vincci Estrella del Mar is the La Vibora bus stop. Look at this
list of bus stops between Marbella and Fuengirola and you will see exactly where to get off. You can also use the L7 local bus service to get to La Vibora but the M220 MARBELLA - FUENGIROLA service is quicker and there are less stops.

When you get off at the
La Vibora bus stop, you will see a parking area, walk across this open area and take the first road to the right. The street is called Avda Vibora Baja and on Google Maps it is called Avda. Urb. Real Zaragoza but don't worry because where you turn right there is no signpost anyway! Walk along this road for 400 metres then turn left into Avda José Ribeira for 100 metres. You will see the hotel Vincci Estrella del Mar on your left, parallel to Calle Goya. The total distance is probably about 600metres.

In Reception I spoke to Marina, one of the receptionists. She was very helpful and gave me a map for guests needing transport by bus. The hotel looks really impressive and she explained that it had only been open for two years. I must go back and have a look around.

Elena, if you are arriving after dark I suggest you take a taxi from
Marbella bus station to the hotel. There are no lights along the roads where you will be walking and while I think it is perfectly safe, it will be easier to find your way in daylight. The concierge told me that the cost of a taxi from Marbella bus station to the Hotel Vincci Estrella del Mar during the day is €14 and after 10pm and at weekends it will be €16 approximately.

Here are the contact details and address for the hotel:

Hotel Vincci Marbella Estrella del Mar
Urbanizacion Estrella del Mar
Las Chapas Carretera Nacional 340.
Km, 191
29604 Marbella.
Malaga, Spain

Tel: + 34 951 053 970
Fax: + 34 951 053 980

Email:
estrelladelmar@vinccihoteles.com

Thanks again for writing in Elena, I hope this helps you. Please let me know if I can give you any more information. Best wishes to you and your husband for a pleasant stay at the Hotel Vincci Marbella Estrella del Mar.

Mike

PS I took the photo standing in Avda José Ribeira. On the left of the hotel where the red car is driving, this is Calle Goya. It is really just a road for the hotel guests to park their cars and does not go anywhere.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Bus, transfer or car rental from malaga airport?

Good Evening Mike,

From doing some research i've realised I have a really rubbish flight...but then again it was only cheap. Me and a friend need to get from Malaga airport to Marbella on Saturday night. Our flight lands at 23.45 so from looking at the timetable we will miss the last bus...and to top it all off we are going in June..does the bus not run on Saturday and Sunday until July???

I am thinking our only options are a transfer or hire a car? The prices of which are nearly the same! I think a taxi would just rip us off given the time and us being 2 young girls. We are open to suggestions on the return to the airport. The flight is at 10pm on Saturday again unfortunately...would we be able to get a train??

I would be very grateful for some advice...there is no hurry!

Best Wishes Ny

Hi Ny

Thanks very much for writing in. Yes, it's not so easy getting to Marbella economically if you land late in the evening.
About the special airport shuttle bus to Marbella, it runs every day of the year between Marbella bus station and Malaga airport.

Here are two suggestions:

1) Taking a taxi from the airport you can't get ripped off because there is a set fare for all journeys on the Costa del Sol so you know before you get into the taxi what you will pay at the other end. I have just phoned the Marbella taxi company Tel: + 34 95277 44 88 and from Marbella centre to Malaga airport, after 10pm on a Saturday the fare is €69.(May 2011) Coming the other way will be about the same. I always suggest checking with driver before getting in.

2) About the cost of a hire car, quite often the cost of a short rental with all its travel possibilities works out only a little bit more than taking a taxi or even sometimes cheaper than a transfer company and certainly more flexible.

Using the link above or here, take two minutes to check out the cost of a small rental car from Malaga Airport and returning it in Marbella a couple of days later after making a couple of trips say to Ronda or definitely down to Tarifa to get your money's worth. If you add your very cheap return bus return to the airport plus the bargain cost of a Gomarbella rental car, I'm sure it won't be too painful...

3) About getting back to the airport if you decide not to keep your rental car for the week, the easiest option from Marbella is the Malaga airport bus mentioned above.

I hope this helps you Ny, please feel free to write back if I can help you. Have a fantastic trip and stay in Marbella.

Best wishes Mike

PS, I didn't suggest a horse drawn carriage to Ny, although you can hire them from next to Cafeteria Marbella seen in the picture above. Earlier this year Cafeteria Marbella had a big facelift. I like it because I have fond memories of eating here when we first came on holiday to Marbella back in 1978. I think I had calamares or squid. Coming from Rhodesia this was very exotic.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Crown Resorts Club Delta Mar Reception

Marvella wrote in last week to say:

"I am thinking about a last minute trip with my husband and children. We are looking at staying with Crown Resorts at Club Caronte Do you know anything about it? I have seen on Gomarbella that it is possible to take a train from Malaga airport to Fuengirola then a bus to Calahonda. Which bus stop should I use to get to the resort?"

I replied to Marvelle to say:

"For Club Caronte Crown Resorts, you need to get off at the Riviera del Sol bus stop. To get to the Delta Club Crown Resorts Reception, here is a little known secret! Instead of walking back towards the Riviera del Sol shops and main entrance to the urbanisation and then all the way around to the Reception, walk another 100m in the same direction you were travelling towards Marbella. You'll have a hedge on your right and the busy highway on your left. If you look through the hedge you'll see the Delta Club Crown Resort Reception building. At the end of the hedge, there is a rickety plank and if you walk across the plank and up a short path, you'll come out into the Reception car park. The entrance to the resort Reception is not more than 100 metres from the bus stop but if you walk around by road it is at least a kilometre.

If you don't need to go to the local Crown Resorts Reception at Club Delta Mar first and are going straight to your Club Caronte apartment, then walk 200 metres the other way from the Riviera del Sol bus stop and you'll see a taxi rank next to the Riviera del Sol shopping centre. For a minimum fare a taxi will take you the short final leg of your journey up the hill to the Caronte resort.

Two days after my reply to Marvella I drove to the Riviera del Sol to double check the information I had given her. My GPS said Club Caronte Crown Resort was 1.3kms or 3.50 minutes by car from the Riviera del Sol roundabout. I went up to the resort and then to the Club Delta Mar Reception right next to the Riviera del Sol bus stop to get more information. I spoke to Lucia the very pleasant Receptionist on duty and she explained to me how the different Crown Club receptions worked.

There are three Crown Resorts Receptions:

1) Crown Club Delta Mar Reception serves the Delta Mar resort, the La Riviera resort and the Club Caronte resort. The Caronte resort is higher up the hill and Crown Resorts recommend the use of a hire car when staying there. It has great views, is quieter. It has a swimming pool and a gym. For families with children Crown Resorts recommends Delta Mar and La Riviera because everything is within easy walking distance and the beach is so much closer. If you look at the picture above, you'll see the La Riviera resort just behind the Reception. The Club Delta Mar Reception opens every day at 9am but like the Club Calahonda Reception, evening closing hours are variable in winter or summer.

Address: Crown Club Delta Mar and Crown Club La Riviera, Riviera del Sol, 29650 Mijas Costa, Málaga, Spain. Tel: + 34 952 933 674

2) Crown Resorts Club Calahonda Reception serves the Calahonda resort and is accessed by bus from the middle Calahonda bus stop. It is a short walk up from the A7/N340 highway.

Address: Crown Resorts Club Calahonda Calle Almeria s/n Urb. Sitio de Calahonda, 29649 Mijas Costa, Málaga, Spain Tel: + 34 952 933 674

3) Crown Resorts Club Marbella Reception serves the Marbella Resort complex and is the main reception for all three resorts and is open 24 hours a day. If you are arriving late at any of the other resorts and need help, phone Crown Club Marbella Reception on + 34 952 933 674 It's further away from the busy A7/N340 coastal highway and if you are arriving for the first time by bus, I recommend that you get off at the first Calahonda bus stop travelling from Fuengirola and instead of pulling your suitcase up the hill, take a taxi for the short distance to the resort.

Address: Crown Resorts Club MarbellaCalle Monte Paraiso, Sitio De Calahonda s/n, 29650 Mijas Costa, Málaga, Spain. Tel: + 34 952 933 674

I suggested to Marvelle also that she could take the bus back into Fuengirola and the children would enjoy the Aqua Park or perhaps a visit to the Fuengirola Zoo. Marbella is 35 minutes the other way by bus and she could have a look around in the Old Town before taking a ferry from the Puerto Deportivo in Marbella to Puerto Banus. From there she could taxi back to Marbella or take a local bus back to Marbella centre before catching the Fuengirola bus back to her Crown Club Resort.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Taxis from Malaga Airport to Fuengirola

A Gomarbella reader wrote in from the USA in June last year.

Dave: "Hi, My parents & I are coming from U.S. to a condo in Fuengirola for a week. As there are 3 of us, do you recommend taking a taxi from the Malaga airport to Fuengirola? As opposed to paying for individual tickets for the train to Fuengirola and then bus to our condo? Thanks. I love your website! Dave"

Mike: "Hi Dave, Thank you very much for kind words, much appreciated. I have just phoned the Fuengirola taxi company Tel: + 34 952 47 10 00 and the girl on duty said that by day the fare from Fuengirola centre (I said the Fuengirola bus station) to Malaga airport is €37 and at night after 10pm and at weekends it is €44. The reciprocal fares as charged by the Malaga taxi drivers should be the same.

If your parents are feeling a bit tired after the trip then the taxi would be the way to go. On the way back and feeling refreshed, then the train from Fuengirola train station would be an alternative. You pick up the taxis right outside arrivals. Best wishes from Marbella Mike"



Dave: "Mike, Thanks for looking into this for us. We probably will be tired when we get there, so I think we'll take the taxi from the airport. Dave"

In the picture above you'll see the taxis lined up outside Arrivals. To the right of the taxis on the ground floor is the Malaga Airport Arrivals Hall in T3. The sliding Arrivals exit and entry doors are just out of the picture to the right. The Departures level is on the first floor level. Check in takes place from inside the "old" T2 building on the left all the way from left to right into the T3 terminal on the right.

The Malaga Airport bus stop is almost below when I am standing, straight out from the Arrivals Hall across the open forecourt.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Fuengirola to La Cala de Mijas by bus

Muriel: "Hi Mike, You´ve picked a beautiful spot to live in! I'm headed to Malaga next week and I´ve been searching for specific answers about bus transportation from Fuengirola to Mijas Costa: I know it goes along the CN340, and I know its the bus headed to Marbella which makes specific stops along the way. I even know where the Fuengirola bus station is but I need to know some specifics!

1) Is there a public option or is there only the private Portillo bus?
2) Do you have any idea about the fares?

3) Does that bus have a specific number?

Thank you very much for your time and help in advance, you must be tired of answering similar questions all the time. But you sure help us make this trip alot more easy and enjoyable! Thanks again, Muriel"

Mike: "Hi Muriel, I'm impressed that you have done some background research. I bet you are an organised traveller. You are right about the Portillo bus company being a private company but the Andalusian government has an agreement with them which has lasted as long as I have lived in Spain to operate bus services on the Costa del Sol and Portillo has to guarantee an agreed service and fixed prices and so on. In effect, it is public transport at the same time.

I phoned the Portillo customer attention number this afternoon and the girl told me that the fare from Fuengirola to Mijas Costa was one euro forty six cents if I remember correctly, but she couldn't give me the number of the service between Fuengirola and Marbella!

Every Tuesday evening my wife does line dancing in Fuengirola and I go the gym in Benalmadena so on the way home this evening, I stopped at two of the bus stops between Fuengirola and La Cala de Mijas. At the first, the bus schedule had been torn off but at the second bus stop I was able to read the number of the service, it's M220.

Having said all that Muriel, don't bother with route numbers, just work off the destination name on the front of the bus. Even the Portillo Costa del Sol bus schedules on the internet don't show the bus route number. When you catch the bus at the Fuengirola bus station it will show MARBELLA on the front. When you travel back to Fuengirola from the La Cala de Mijas bus stop to return to Fuengirola will be in a different position to the one you got off at coming from Fuengirola.

I don't mind at all helping visitors and it makes it all worthwhile to get feedback like yours. I appreciate your writing. I hope the weather is good for your visit, it's warm at the moment and raining on and off but the sun always comes out! Please let me know how things go if you have time when you get back. Best wishes from Marbella Muriel and thanks very much again for visiting Gomarbella. Mike"

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Feria Internacional de Pueblos Fuengirola

The Feria Internacional de Pueblos is held every year over four days in the Fuengirola recinto ferial (showgrounds) and is well worth a visit. If you're on the Costa del Sol at the end of April, it's a must for your calendar. Entrance is free and it's all go from midday right through to 4am in the morning.

I went on Saturday afternoon, my wife was performing with the line dancing Missippi Coasters on the US stand and I have to say Fuengirola is just the right setting for this kind of multicultural experience. I read afterwards that there were more than 30 countries packed side by side into the showground pavilions. The dusky Cuban beauties in the picture above had just got back from a parade through the centre of Fuengirolas. You'll find more photos on the Gomarbella Facebook photo page.

I saw dancers in traditional costumes performing to music played by groups who had flown in from different countries whilst really tempting smells and aromas arose from street kitchens. Next to the Argentinian stand enormous racks of beef were cooking over slow burning fires and further down the street hot dogs, paella, Moroccan pastries and Asian delicacies sold briskly.

It's a very enjoyable fun outing for the whole family and I really recommend a visit. The Feria Internacional de Pueblos is organised by the Tourism Department of the Fuengirola Town Hall and you can reach them for information and dates on + 34 952 46 74 57. It's 10 minutes walk from either Los Boliches or Fuengirola train stations, the same distance from Fuengirola bus station and there is normally lots of parking right next door in the municipal parking area.

We dipped into a number of different pavilions and it was fun to compare the noise, bustle and rythmns of the South American cultures with the more sedate northern European countries or the purposeful activity and catering of Asia. The beer was chilled and we went home well fed and feeling very relaxed.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Prado del San Sebastian Bus Station Seville

Much as this looks like the entrance to an art gallery, it's actually the ticket sales area in the Prado del San Sebastian Bus Station in Sevilla. You'll see the different bus companies ticket offices around the large room. Built back in 1941 it has a very homely feel to it and is still my favourite bus station. As you step in from the heat of Seville in July and August the high ceilings give you immediate relief. I took this photo just last Saturday.

The Estación de Autobuses del Prado de San Sebastian is an easy walk from the Giralda out of the old Jewish quarter in the Barrio de Santa Cruz and across the Jardines Reales Alcázares park. On a hot summer's day in Seville, you'll be well advised to take the tram from Plaza Nueva on the border of El Arenal and the Santa Cruz districts and glide in airconditioned comfort to the TUSSAM transport interchange not 200m from the bus station.

Why might you be using the Prado de San Sebastian bus station? If you're on your way to the east or south of Sevilla, Cordoba, Jaen, Granada, Cadiz, Malaga, Marbella, Almería, Jerez de la Frontera or Marbella Bus station or even travelling as far as Barcelona, Murcia or Cartagena, you'll be leaving from here. Use the Gomarbella online bus reservations for ease of booking and speed.

Run your eyes over the destinations in Cadiz and time will slow right down. Even before you step on the bus you'll taste the sherries of Jeréz, chilled white Barbadillo wines from the white sands of the Cadíz shoreline and the fresh Atlantic fish served in every restaurant..

Here is the address:

ESTACIÓN DE AUTOBUSES
PRADO DE SAN SEBASTIAN
Prado de San Sebastian s/n
41005 Seville

Tel: 954 417 111

From the TUSSAM transport interchange right next door you can pick up the tram to Plaza Nueva and the TUSSAM local buses in Seville to central and outlying suburbs. From Avda de El Cid and Avda Menendez Pelayo next to the bus station you have the C3 Interior circular bus route running clockwise round the El Arenal and Santa Cruz districts and the C4 running anticlockwise round the same area. Both of these routes pass the Santa Justa train station in Sevilla. They are great value at only €1.30 (2011)

The Sevilla Airport Bus starts at the San Sebastian bus station before connecting with the Santa Justa
train station. If you are coming in from Seville Airport and need to get to the Plaza de Armas bus station to travel on to Portugal, get off at Prado de San Sebastian bus station and then take the C3 circular bus around to Plaza de Armas.

Here's a link to an earlier blog about the San Sebastian Bus Station

Please contact me through the Comments Box at the bottom of this page if I can help you at all with your travelling!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Macc Vets and Marbella Rugby Club

Seven years ago when my friend Danny Sheratte first spoke of organising a rugby tour to Marbella with vets from Macclesfield I wondered why he was involved with Cheshire rugby playing medical personnel but it became clearer over time that these were no ordinary vets. They are the Macclesfield Vets, seen here in the photo, veterans of many years of rugby ranging from national level through to the less transparent layers of Macclesfield club rugby.

For evidence of the team's power and determination to win at all costs check out the video of this bruising tackle by Danny in a recent game. Marbella readers please note that he was also one of the original co-founders of our local rugby club.

This is the second Macc Vets tour to Marbella and this time they will be playing against the Marbella Rugby Club in a triangular tournament together with Handsworth on Saturday 2nd April 2011.

Here is their itinerary:

Friday 1st April 2011
The Macc Vets arrive at Malaga airport from Manchester and transfer on the airport shuttle bus to Marbella where they are staying at the centrally situated Hotel San Cristobal.

Hotel San Cristobal
Avda Ramon y Cajal, 3
29601 Marbella Tel: + 34 952 77 12 50 www.hotelsancristobal.com

Friday lunch is at the Argentinean restaurant Clérico.

Restaurante Clericó Marbella
Av. Antonio Belón, 22
29601 Marbella Tel: 952 765 683 http://www.clerico.es

The team will dine on Friday evening at the elegant Da Bruno Sul Mare Restaurant on the sea front.

Da Bruno Sul Mare Restaurant
Edificio Skol,
Paseo Marítimo.
29600 Marbella, Tel: +34 952 90 33 18 www.dabruno.com

Saturday 2nd April 2011
The Macc Vets transfer to the Marbella Rugby Club grounds just beyond Rio Real for the triangular tournament.

14.30 Macclesfield versus Handsworth
16.00 Marbella versus Macclesfield
17.00 Marbella versus Handsworth
19.00 Paella and Beer

Sunday 3rd April 2011
Lunch at Palms Restaurant on the beach in Marbella's Puerto Deportivo

17.00 transfer from Marbella to Malaga Airport on the shuttle bus.

Come along on Saturday and have a great rugby afternoon out with the Macc Vets and the Marbella Rugby Club!

PS: The picture above shows the three teams, Marbella Rugby Club, Handsworth and the Macclesfield Rugby Veterans at the end of the afternoon's play. Here are some more photos from the afternoon's play at the Marbella Rugby Club

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Line Dancing in Fuengirola

My wife is an ardent line dancer here on the Costa del Sol and I asked her to write a few lines about her group, the Mississippi Coasters. Here is what she wrote:

"I'm addicted to line dancing. I started in February last year with the Mississipi Coasters in Casa Juanito at the Feria
ground in Fuengirola. I was hooked after my very first class. When you get a dance right from start to finish the euphoria is amazing.

Bob Horan, the teacher is a master. He knows an incredible number of line dances. He teaches us new steps by walking us through them and calling out the names of the steps eg; Coaster Step, Jazzbox, Rock Recover and so on. Then we dance those steps to music with Bob calling out the steps on his microphone. As we get to know the dances and become more confident he calls out the name of the dance does a preliminary walk through and off we go. The music is great and when you see all the dancers dancing in line and in time it's just fantastic.

Beginners are made very welcome and encouraged right from the start, the good dancers pass on their tips and the time races by, I am loathe to leave when my chariot arrives. Pauline, Bob's wife is the original country and western "chick" and a wonderful dancer. So friendly and warm, such a lovely person she gives out the lists of the steps and introduces newcomers to everyone else. The atmosphere is very conducive to learning. If you look at the picture above with us all dressed up for our photo shoot last week at our Fuengirola line dancing venue, you'll see Bob in the foreground and Pauline standing just behind him.

I really enjoy the classes, the exercise is good and it's great for the memory as well having to remember all the steps! I have so wanted to do line dancing ever since that song 'Locomotion' came out. As a teenager in Zimbabwe we danced in sequence to it making up our own steps so I was over the moon to find line dancing on my doorstep just down the road in Fuengirola. I enjoy the social aspect as well as watching the good dancers. We also have socials, lunches and dinners at different venues.

I wear black trousers or jeans and boots with a small heel,(Cuban is good). I recently bought some line dancing shoes and they're great.

If you are looking for line dancing classes on the Costa del Sol, Bob and Pauline teach at Club Los Naranjos in Calahonda on a Monday from 8 to 10 30 p.m. and at Casa Juanito in the Fuengirola feria ground on a Tuesday from 7.30 to 10 30 p.m. and Cafe/bar Bonanza in Benalmadena on Friday afternoons from 2 to 5pm p.m.

Here are contact telephone numbers for Bob and Pauline; 00 34 952 93 17 54 or 00 34 697 441 313 and their email address is: pmhoran@mercuryin.es Come and join us!"