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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.

10 comments:

Alecha said...

Hey there!
We are going to Spain next week Thursday for 2 weeks! We are from South Africa and are really excited to visit your country! Could you please advice me on what would be the best way to get from Malaga Airport to Campanile Malaga Airport Hotel. It is in Avenida De Velazquez, 212, 29004 Málaga.
Thanks for the help!
Alecha

Joe said...

Hi Mike

I'm going to Marbella next week aand am planing to use the shuttle bus between there and Malaga Airport. I was hoping to pick your brain...

Firstly, do I just follow the signs for bus when I arrive at the airport? Secondly, is it worth purchasing my ticket for the return journey when I arrive at Marbella bus station on the day I arrive?

Thanks,
Joe

Dana said...

we are in spain for 5 nights...and are debating between to marriott properties...

the playa andaluza and the marbella villas by marriott...


do you have any suggestions as to which would be best?

the villas are signficantly greater in price

Dana said...

We are staying in Spain for 5 nights on a trip to Europe.

We are looking at the Marriott properties: Playa Andaluza and the Marbella Villas

The Villas are much more expensive, but appear to be in the town.

Suggestions?

We are a fairly low-key group, looking to investigate the town, eat out and be on the beach.

Korby said...

Mike,
this is amazing how knowledgeable you are about Marbella! I have been researching to find out how to get from Faro, Portugal to Marbella. What I have found out is that there is only one bus Alsa that leaves at 1:15 everyday, but that doesn't get me to Marbella til late. I thought maybe there would be a bus that I could take to somewhere in Spain (ie Huelva or Ayomonte) and then get to Marbella from there, but haven't found anything. If there isn't anything we will have to cut our time in Portugal short and stay another night in Marbella and come on that bus that gets us in so late. We are going to a wedding in Marbella on July 10 and want to get there for their barbecue on July 9th. By the way is there any chance you know of someone who would be willing to drive us from Faro to Marbella? There are 6 of us. Thanks for your help. Korby

Mike Drury said...

Hi Joe

Thanks very much for writing in. As you come out of the arrivals area and walk out of the sliding doors into the open air, straight ahead of you, beyond the lift and the ramp you'll see the open air bus stop. It's about 60 metres from the exit door. Beyond the airport bus stop you'll see the train station.

You can certainly get your return ticket when you arrive, that will allow you to walk straight to the Malaga airport bus bay, normally number 11, without having to queue at the ticket office beforehand. You can reserve a ticket up to seven days before but not longer. It also means you can arrive at the bus station just that bit longer!

I'll be at the Marbella bus station tomorrow at 7am! My wife is taking the bus to the airport to visit the grandchildren in London.

I hope this helps you Joe, have a great trip and thanks again for writing in.

Mike

Mike Drury said...

Hi Korby

Thanks very much for writing in and your kind words, much appreciated. I'm not 100% sure of your travel times needs but I can see that the overnight bus is not what you are looking for. I was at the Faro bus station in February this year and asked the girl in the ticket office if the Alsa overnight bus from Faro to the Costa del Sol came down to the coast from Sevilla to Marbella and then on to Malaga. She said that the route was directly from Sevilla to Malaga through the interior and then back along the coast to Marbella which is why it takes so long.

Here is a different combination of buses. The two timetables work fine travelling from Faro to Marbella but if you travel the other way you need an overnight stop in Sevilla so you may just be in luck!

Check out this alternative timetable of buses from Faro to Sevilla here:

http://www.gomarbella.com/costadelsolbuses/marbella-faro-algarve-sevilla-bus.htm

and then the timetable of buses from Sevilla to Marbella here:

http://www.ctsa-portillo.es/ima/pdf/marbella.pdf

In summary:

08.20 depart Faro
13.00 arrive Sevilla

You will arrive in Sevilla from Portugal at the Plaza de Armas bus station and then need to change (15 minutes) to the Prado de San Sebastian bus station for your bus to the coast. This gives you good time for a bit of refreshment. It'll be hot but the buses are airconditioned.

15.30 depart Sevilla
19.00 arrive Marbella

No social occasion starts in the heat of the summer before 20.00 so you would be in good time to have a shower and change and then hit the barbeque with an incredible thirst.

Does this work better for you? I am guessing a bit at your travel and social schedule but if this does not work, let me know your exact movements and I'll try again.

My wife and I stopped in Faro in the big Jumbo hipermarket just off the Algarve coastal highway on our way back from Vigo about two weeks ago to buy Portuguese beers and green tea supplies. We go to the Algarve at least twice a year if not more. If you have time, try one of the river excursions from the harbour right next to the Faro bus station.

Best wishes Korby and looking forward to hearing from you

Mike

Mike Drury said...

Hello Dana

Thank you very much for writing in and especially for coming all this way to visit our part of the world. That's an interesting question which I've never been asked before.

First of all the locations; Marriotts Marbella is between Fuengirola and Marbella but nearer Marbella. By car it's 15 to 20 minutes from the centre of Marbella and by bus it's around 25minutes. I was wondering why you said it appeared to be in Marbella so I googled Marriotts Marbella and the Google Map positioning of the resort is hopeless, putting it in the centre of Marbella. If you Google "Urbanización Rancho Park, Marbella, España" Marriotts is up at the top of this road near the roundabout on the left, some 12 kms outside of Marbella.

Playa Andaluza is between San Pedro de Alcántara and Estepona and nearer San Pedro. By car it must be 25 minutes to the centre of Marbella and a good 35 minutes by bus. If you look on Google Maps for "Playa Andaluza Estepona" the positioning is much better, the icon will show up next to Atalaya Isdabe.

Marriotts Marbella is 10 minutes walk closer to the nearest bus stop than Playa Andaluza. Both bus and car travel are just that bit easier with Marriotts Marbella taking into account a number of factors.

I prefer the beaches just down from Marriotts Marbella. They are sandier whilst the beaches between San Pedro and Estepona tend to be rockier. Both resorts have nearby beach bars where you can eat during the day or evening.

Both resorts have other hotels with full amenities to be enjoyed if you feel like stepping out for a change of scenery. The Don Carlos hotel is a short walk from Marriotts Marbella whilst the Atalaya Hotel is a similar walking distance from Playa Andaluza. Regarding shops and restaurants Marriotts Marbella has the Elviria shops and restaurants just over the main road and along a bit. Playa Andaluza has lots and lots of restaurants in the Benamara strip on the same side of the road and the Centro Comercial Diana shops, offices and restaurants over the main road.

Marriotts Marbella allows quicker access to Marbella and all that the town offers. You could bus into Marbella, the buses run every 30 minutes and then take a taxi back after midnight when the buses have stopped running. As I mentioned above, being positioned between Marbella and Fuengirola, 30 minutes by bus up the coast would have you at the Fuengirola bus station. I would save looking around Fuengirola for the next visit and walk from the bus station to the Fuengirola train station right next door and for a very inexpensive train fare, visit Malaga city. The trains leave Fuengirola and return from Malaga every 30 minutes.

Marriotts Playa Andaluza is closer to Puerto Banus (between San Pedro de Alcántara and Marbella) and is worth a visit but perhaps not if you can live without glitz and glamour sprinkled with tawdriness in the very early morning hours. Estepona would be your nearest town of interest and this former fishing village has a a busy night life and is worth a visit. From San Pedro bus station you could pick up a bus to La Linea bus station on the frontier of Gibraltar and spend a day there. Buy your return ticket at the same time as your outward ticket or when you get to La Linea. The Selwo animal park is just down the road if you have a car.

Dana, What do you think at this stage? I've tried to be neutral but have I given you any indicators to make a decision on? If not, please write back and ask me some more questions or give me more ideas of what you would like to do on holiday!

Best wishes from Marbella and thanks again for your contact

Mike

Dana said...

Mike,

Thank you very much for your great response!
Honestly, the difference for us is the cost. The Marriott in Marbella is significantly more expensive. Saying that, we are leaning towards the Playa Andaluza. We are traveling with some US and UK travelers and none of us have been to the Costa del Sol before. It had been recommended to us, and seemed like a nice finish to a 3 week European trip.

From reading your post, although it seems the Marbella resort is much more convenient for the city of Marbella, we might still be able to experience the culture/restaurants/etc. in other nearby towns?

We are looking to relax a bit while we are there (5 nights) but also looking to investigate the towns, and just be a typical tourist.
I have heard about possible trips to Gibraltar and Morrocco. What are your thoughts on these spots? Are there any other places worth visiting?

Our biggest dilemma right now is deciding whether or not to rent a car. As there are six of us, we have found some rental options that seat 6 people and are not too expensive. It seems more realistic to have a car as we can do as we please. However, the concerns are that the roads may be difficult to navigate, etc. Also, will a rental really save us much cost when it comes to bus tickets, taxis, etc.? Is parking an issue? What are your thoughts and recommendations on car hire versus bus/taxi transportation?

We are definitely interested in taking a few "excurisions" to nearby towns/cities/places of interest if they are feasable.

Your help is GREATLY appreciated! :)

Thanks!
Dana

Mike Drury said...

Hi Dana

OK, go for Playa Andaluza and build your holiday around that resort. There's as much to do and see there as anywhere else. If you can run to a vehicle you'll be able to fit in more tailor made visits and also gain on relaxation time at home. If the budget can manage a GPS system, you'll home and dry. The road systems are good, even with the summer traffic it is normally quite fluid. Take toll roads whenever possible. They are faster and driving is easier.

Here are a few suggestions regarding excursions if you have a vehicle; You are only an hour away from La Linea on the Gibraltar frontier. I'd leave the vehicle outside the border in an underground public parking area, walk to the border and take a bus across the airport runway up to the bottom of Main Street. Walk up Main Street, the shops are well priced for things like whiskey and electronic goods, have coffee in Saccarellos, visit the museum, take a cable car up the Rock or do guided Rock Tour.

If you spend a morning in Gibraltar, then travel on down the coast to Tarifa, stop in the town, have an orange juice in Cafe Central and watch the world go by before driving on down the stretch of beach to Punto Paloma. The beach restaurant at Hurricane Hotel halfway along the strip is a good place to have lunch and do some people watching. If you go on to Punto Paloma, have a swim there, watch the kite surfers and climb the massive sand dune. From there it is 90 minutes home. There are some great chiringuitos (beach bars) on the Punto Paloma beach to have lunch and hang out. Try to do Gib and Tarifa on a weekday. Aim to start the day early and finish late. Tarifa is a great place to chill out and swim in the fresh and very invigorating Atlantic waters. The beaches are clean and sandy. It's my favourite place.

The access road to the little mountain valley town of Benahavis takes off from next to Playa Andaluza. It's a short trip and is good for lunch or dinner and you'll be home again in 30 minutes. San Pedro de Alcántara your nearest town will be worth visiting once the big tunnel works are over. Give it a miss for the moment.

Puerto Banus is 15 minutes along the coast towards Marbella. Park underground and have a walk around. Lots of shops and you can do some people watching during the day. Miss it out in the evening if you are looking for something more low key. There is a ferry service linking Puerto Banus to Marbella.

Tangier is best done as part of an organised tour. It's a full day trip and you would be picked up from the hotel and dropped back there. You might be leaving yourselves short of time to see Spain but it all depends on your energies at the end of your European safari.

Ronda is an hour's drive up into the mountains and is worth visiting. The scenery as you drive up is great, the driver will be watching the curves.

Sevilla is two hours 20 minutes from Playa Andaluza I drove there and back yesterday to take my nephew to the Sevilla airport to fly down to Marakesh in Morocco. Cordoba is 2 hours 30 minutes from Playa Andaluza. I was there on Friday! My wife and I were doing Cambridge English speaking tests at the Cordoba business university. Both Sevilla and Cordoba are very easy drives and I love stopping to have a coffee along the way. Remember the speed limit is 110kmh at the moment and don't leave anything visible in the vehicle.

Leave yourselves some relaxation time at home between the longer day trips. It'll be hot so it's good to carry a bottle of water with you during the day. Have a look at those suggestions Dana and see how they might fit into your five nights and ask me any questions that come to mind!

Best wishes Mike