Book your hire car with Gomarbella & Spain now and Then

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Hammam Baths in Cordoba and Granada

Emerging from an underground carpark in Cordoba yesteday with only my Costa del Sol thin jersey to protect me from the freezing air, I couldn't help envying the fashionably dressed Cordobenses with their caps, scarves up to their noses, warm leather jackets and gloves.

What did I do to keep warm? I headed for the Hammam Arab Baths, right next to the Cordoba Mezquita in Calle Corregidor Luís de la Cerda 56, not 200 metres from the Mezquita and right next to the Guadalquivir river. It was a relief to step out of the cold air blowing off the sierras above Cordoba into the warmth and pleasantly scented ambience of the Hammam reception.

Isabel the receptionist took my booking for an Arab bath session to include a back and feet massage with scented oils before I took myself off to read the morning papers over my breakfast coffee and tostados with olive oil and tomato.

On my return at 2pm Isabel explained the facilities, a changing room, shower, warm bath, hot bath, steam room and the cold baths which could be repeated and varied as often as I liked during the hour and a half session. I was given a numbered wrist band for my massage and a generously sized towel.

Just off the reception is a little courtyard from which the changing rooms can be accessed. Changing into my swimming costume in the intimacy of wooden lattice worked partitions, I left my clothes in a secure locker and stepped straight into the Arab baths area.

Soothing music, the sound of running water and scented warm air washed pleasantly over me. The square warm pool was lit with natural light through patterned skylights and five massage tables together with the hot rock table stood around the pool. I was the only one to swim lengths in the warm water pool, the other bathers preferred to sit on the submerged steps and talk quietly. I left my towel and water bottle that I had brought in on one of the poolside benches. Another couple sipped the minted Arab tea they had ordered.

The hot baths room leads directly off the pool area. I had been advised not to spend more than five minutes there but it isn't easy to keep track of time in the very relaxing atmosphere of the candlelit room. After soaking myself in the hot baths, I moved on to the steam room and followed my session there with total immersion in the freezing cold tubs which left me gasping for breath. It was a relief to get back into the warm pool and start the circuit again.

Sitting by the pool I was called for my massage by Emi, my masseur. She offered me a choice of aromatic oils, I chose rosemary and was given a very gentle and relaxing massage on my back and legs. Emi suggested having a shower before continuing.

I could have easily stayed there the whole afternoon but I had a two hour drive back to Marbella. Isabel was happy for me to take a photo in reception, cameras are not allowed in the bathing area and the young couple making a booking were pleased to pose for my photo. When I came out, the sun was shining and I felt very pleasantly warm and relaxed.

I do recommend the Arab Hammam baths in Cordoba as a very pleasant way of spending a couple of hours. In summer, a reservation will definitely be necessary and remember to bring a swimming costume on your visit.

The circular bus operating out of Cordoba Bus Station will get you very close to the baths right next to the Mezquita.

I'll add in the addresses of the other Hammams in Andalucia, I'll definitely be visiting them soon.

Hammam Arab Baths

Hammam Arab Baths in Cordoba
Calle Corregidor Luis de la Cerda, 51, 14003 Córdoba.
Tel: 902 333 334

Hammam Arab Bath in Granada
Calle Santa Ana, 16 Granada
Tel: 902 333 334

Hammam Arab Bath in Malaga
Calle Tomás de Cózar, 13, 29008 Malaga,
Tel: 952 212 32

Please write in and let me know how you enjoy your Hammam bath experience!

Monday, 17 January 2011

San Pedro Bus Station bus to Seville

A traveller to Seville wrote to me a few days ago.


I wrote back:

Yes you can book the trip to Sevilla up to six days in advance. The Avanza bus service leaves the Marbella bus station and then stops in San Pedro de Alcántara before climbing up through the hills to the Ronda bus station and finishing at the Prado de San Sebastian bus station in Sevilla

Right now the San Pedro bus station is just a small office on the bypass next to the big roundabout below San Pedro de Alcantara. It was moved out of San Pedro whilst the tunnel under San Pedro was being built. There is a permanent taxi rank right next to the roundabout.

To make a booking to go to Seville by bus or come back to the Costa del Sol you can go to the Marbella bus station ticket office: Tel: 952 36 01 91 or the ticket office in in San Pedro and buy the ticket up to 6 days before travelling. You will need to go to the bus stations because you have to buy the ticket at the same time as you do the reservation. 

I went to San Pedro de Alcántara and took this photo of the bus station and spoke to the girl in the office. She confirmed that bookings can be made in all directions from her little bus station. The San Pedro bypass runs from left to right in the photo. Up to the left is San Pedro and down to the right is the sea.

You can also do online bus ticket bookings for the the route from the Costa del Sol to Seville and back to the Coast with the Los Amarillos bus company using the Gomarbella online bus reservations page. 

In case you are taking the bus into San Pedro de Alcántara then check on this list of bus stops between Marbella bus station and Estepona bus station for the location of the San Pedro stop and bus schedules.

The definitive San Pedro de Alcántara bus station will be near the Marqués del Duero Avenue roundabout seen in the picture.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Record Go Rent a Car Review Malaga

Betty rented two cars through Gomarbella in 2010 and wrote in to tell me about two different Gomarbella car hire experiences she had in 2010. I really appreciate getting this kind of feedback, whether positive or negative because I always pass it on to the company concerned. Here is the email I received:

Dear Mike

This email is long overdue but after two very different experiences using car rental search engine for our holidays last year, I thought it might be useful to tell you about them.

Here goes! I knew about the car rental search engine as someone had told me about the car hire section and so when planning our holiday in Spain I automatically used it to compare prices. In the end we didn’t fly to Malaga but went to Nice in France. Having seen that the car rentals were not confined to southern Spain, I went ahead and booked a car, the prices were very competitive and I took out extra insurance with Mondial Assistance as I always do. I received the confirmation minutes later by email and didn’t think anything more about it until a while later when we actually flew to France. Upon arrival we headed to Sixt. We waited about five minutes, were treated courteously and given an upgrade to a new clean automatic Mercedes B class. The whole process from booking to handing back the keys on departure could not have been smoother and easier.

I have sent you a picture of the Mercedes parked outside our holiday villa in Nice, it is a very neat little car and went really well.

Fast forward to 8 months later when I flew to Malaga during the summer of 2010 at quite short notice to visit a sick friend and needed a car for 3 days. I used to book it and as I was staying locally and not doing too much driving, I decided to take a small car in Group C. I completed the booking which was quick and easy.

When I got to Malaga I went to Record Go Rent a Car which was where I had to pick up the car. There were four queues of people waiting to collect keys. I eventually got to the desk which took about 20 minutes of waiting and began the very long walk to the end of the car park where I found my rental car. At first I thought there it was a mistake because it was so dirty both inside and outside with quite a few scratches (I always check before getting in a rental car!) Also it was a Hyundai Getz and I had booked a Category C car, Peugeot 207 or similar.

I put my luggage in the boot which I had to hold open because it didn’t stay open by itself, got in and found that there that the top of the gear stick indicating the gears was missing (which way was reverse?). I walked all the way back to Record Go rental desk to ask them if there had been some mistake in giving me a dirty scratched car and they assured me that no, this was indeed my rental car. I forget the price now but it was approximately 70€ for three days.

Oh yes, the best part is that I was parked near Puerto Banus and by mistake went to another dirty black Hyundai Getz which was parked two cars in front of mine. I opened the boot and saw a whole bunch of stuff which wasn’t mine! I got such a fright because I had managed to open someone else’s car with my key! I hurriedly shut the boot and walked the ten metres to my Record Go rental car!

Anyway I will continue to book cars with because the booking process is really so very easy and straightforward. When flying to Malaga next time, I will simply make sure not to take the smallest car category again! Thanks for all you do Mike to make travelling whether by bus or hire car easier for the rest of us!

I hope this is of interest to you because I remember you asked me for your feedback when I rented the cars.

Happy New Year to you and thank you for your help with the car rentals.


Saturday, 1 January 2011

Trilobite fossils near Agadir in Morocco

In November this year I had a weekend down in Agadir on the Atlantic coast in Morocco. I flew from Seville Airport to Marrakesh hiring a car at the airport and then driving down to Agadir, 3 hours further south. I was visiting my nephew who is living down there in a little village just to the north of Agadir called Auorir.

When I mentioned I wanted to take back a fossil for my grandson, Jonathan told me about a small fossil finding and restoration industry 20 minutes inland from Auorir. We set off up a winding road following a dry valley river bed into the foothills of the High Atlas mountains, once undersea until thrust upwards and now a rich source of marine fossils.

It was getting dark so we stopped short of the fossil village at a cavelike roadside shop about 20 minutes inland from the sea. The shop owner Aguelif Hassan was a patient and skilled salesman. He explained the origins and history of the different fossils that we were peering at, sometimes referring us to photographs and texts in a magazine. Some of his fossils he explained were not genuine, showing us the difference. I settled for an impressive black ridged beetle like fossil, about 5cms long, still stuck to the rock in which it was found. It was the shell of a trilobite, about 350 million years old according to the magazine.

It seems to be a common fossil and turns up in quite a few books. It was an immediate hit when it could be identified in one of the books my grandson has. I've since found out that the trilobite would shed five or six of these shells during its life.

Aguelif told me our trilobite was genuine. I believed him but whether it is or it isn't, it has given my grandson enormous satisfaction and a great new interest. He now wants to discover fossils for himself so we are looking for sites in the UK where we can have a fossil discovery holiday.

I liked Aguelif's style, he is knowledgeable and has a wide range of fossils.

Here are his address and contact details:

Fossils in Morocco

Aguelif Hassan
Atelier Rue d'IMMOUZER
Dour ALMA AUORIR - Agadir


Mobile: + 212 660 478 977
Mobile: + 212 662 666 937

Happy fossil hunting in Morocco!