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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!