Friday, 15 November 2019

Winter on Costa del Sol


The Costa del Sol is one of Europe’s most popular locations not only for summer but for winter sun as well. With its mild and pleasant climate, winter in southern Spain feels a million miles away from the gloomy skies and freezing temperatures associated with other parts of the continent. There are many things to do in winter so have a look below at our list of top reasons to visit Cost del Sol this time a year.




1. No crowds & low prices

While summers on Costa del Sol are often associated with heavy crowds and high prices, a winter trip to Spain’s sunniest coast offers travelers a completely different experience. Hotel rates in low season drop considerably, the queues at major attractions are substantially shorter and, best of all, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture to embrace the Spanish way of life.



2. Winter golfing

Mild and sunny weather along with the beautiful terrain, stunning views, and world-class facilities make Costa del Sol number one winter golfing destination. Nicknamed “Costa del Golf”, Spain’s sunniest stretch of shoreline has over 70 golf courses for all tastes and ability levels, from lesser known, great value pay-and-plays to fairways that hosts international championships.

The months of December and January tend to be a little quieter on the courses which means you’ll be able to enjoy a relaxing round without the stress of having to wait at every tee and being able to book your preferred tee-off time. You’ll also find that rates at many of the courses are lower during these months allowing you to take advantage of some great deals.



3. Skiing in Sierra Nevada

Costa del sol is a land of contrasts. They get sharper in winter as the coastal areas keep you warm and the sierras are decorated with snowy peaks.

Sierra Nevada is well known as the sunniest ski resort in Europa. It offers a total of 107 skiable kilometres, with a 115 runs. Natural snow is supplemented by snow cannons on some runs, and many skiers are pleasantly surprised to find that, because of its southerly position, the air temperature is usually warmer than other resorts. Depending on the snow level, the ski season generally runs from the end of November or the beginning of December until the end of April or early May.



4. Christmas lights & markets

Malaga does Christmas like nowhere else, and it’s one of few places on the Costa del Sol with a spectacular display of festive sparkle. The entire city centre is decorated in lights, but the centrepiece is Calle Larios. Every evening there’s a light and sound show when the lights ‘dance’ in time to the Christmas music.

Traditional Christmas markets appear all over the Costa del Sol and make a great place for shopping for gifts. Browse arts and crafts, stalls selling typical local produce and Christmas fare, all with great ideas for that perfect present. The best markets at Christmas on the Costa del Sol are Malaga & Marbella.




Thursday, 26 September 2019

The Route of the White Villages




Between the Atlantic in the west and the Mediterranean in the east, lies some of the prettiest hidden towns of Spain. If you are visiting or living in Andalucia, southern Spain, you cannot miss a trip to “pueblos blancos”, also known as white villages

They date back to the Romans and Moors, offer spectacular flora & fauna, historical walking routes and are havens for birds watchers & wildlife lovers. Although all the white villages may look the same, white and all, they each have their own characteristics and charms to experience and explore.

The “route of the white villages” is a tourist route that spreads from region of la Sierra, the region of Janda, in the province of Cadiz and the Serrania de Ronda, in the province of Málaga. The official route goes through many villages and towns but we will introduce the most popular ones.


1. Arcos de la Frontera. Gateway to the Pueblos Blancos. 


Sitting on a spectacular sheer cliff, Arcos de la Frontera is a picturesque town full of small reminders of its Arab inheritance. Its old town has been declared Property of Cultural Interest. Towers, churches and splendid viewpoints with views of the River Guadalete are just some of the countless attractions offered by this area. 


A few kilometres from the village is the lake Arcos, which offers the possibility of water sports and take a dip if the heat squeezes.




2. Grazalema: A High-Mountain Village in a Natural Park. 



Grazalema is a picturesque high-mountain village nestled in a valley and surrounded by the Parque Natural de Sierra de Grazalema. This expansive natural park covers more than 53,000 hectares and is listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, as well as a "special protection zone" for birds.

The rugged scenery of limestone mountains, pine forests, oak groves, and rushing rivers inspires outdoor activities. Favorite things to do at the Sierra de Grazalema nature reserve include hiking, fishing, and bird-watching.






3.  Zahara de la Sierra. 


The town is found in the heart of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, offering views of the valley that you can not miss.  The views are stunning and best appreciated from the look-out balconies or by climbing higher up to the Moorish castle. Zahara is also well known for its beautiful turquoise lake. The water that comes from mountain springs is clean and inviting and the reservoir is a popular venue for swimming in the summer months.





4. Setenil De Las Bodegas.


For many it is the most charming town of the route.What really drew attention to Setenil de las Bodegas is the town itself – the beautiful streets and its intriguing houses. The streets go down from the castle taking the path of the river and locals have learned to take advantage of the cliff that the river forms on the rock to build houses. This type of housing is known as “abrigo bajo rocas” (rock shelters) and in contrast to other Andalusian constructions (for instance the caves in el Sacromonte de El Albayzín) it is not carved into the rock, instead the walls are enclosed by the rock and then made into houses. Quite an impressive and ingenious way to get close to nature.





5. Ronda 


Ronda is one of Spain’s oldest towns and the name comes from its position surrounded by mountains. It’s been inhabited by Romans and Moors and you can feel history all around you in its cobbled streets, old mansions and stone churches. The town is perched precariously on top of a cliff with views of rolling hills and Andalusia’s white villages. It’s the hilltop location that’s made Ronda famous.


It was a big favourite with the 19th century Viajeros Romanticos, aka the romantic travellers. Orson Welles, Alexander Dumas and Ernest Hemingway all loved Ronda and spent their summers here. Hemingway even said “Ronda is the place to go if you are planning to travel to Spain for a honeymoon… the whole city and its surroundings are a romantic set”.
The town also has one of Spain’s oldest bullrings, which is allegedly the home of modern bullfighting.




6. Casares



More about Casares you can find in our previous post HERE



Friday, 21 June 2019

The night of fire - Noche de San Juan



San Juan is the festival celebrated on June 23rd, a magical night that welcomes the summer season.  The celebration takes place during the shortest night of the year; the summer solstice. It is a celebration that is usually held on the beach with roaring bonfires, drinks, food and friends. This welcoming of summer involves a little of everything you should expect from summertime in Spain, but amplified. In Spain, people are said to live outdoors, so the start of summer is a huge excitement. Everyone is ready to have fun, be with friends and family, and celebrate with food, drinks, and bonfires.



Massive bonfires are built on the beaches in Marbella and the Costa del Sol, which represent purification of the spirit. Huge papier mâché figures and faces are then burned through the night, sometimes starting only at midnight. There is also a tradition, which states that if you jump over the bonfire three times on San Juan Night, you will be cleansed and purified burning all your problems away. Water is also brought into the equation to recuperate and rejuvenate. According to tradition, people jump into the water at midnight in order to wash away evil spirits. You may see others washing their faces and feet three times so they may be granted three wishes and have a successful and happy year ahead.



The festival has ancient, pagan origins. Originally a summer solstice celebration, bonfires were lit to honor the sun and to protect against the evil spirits who could roam freely for the night. Overall, San Juan was a celebration tied to nature, honoring the change in season.
After the introduction of christianity, the celebration became linked to the birth date of Saint John the Baptist, the 24th of June.



If any town in Andalucia knows how to celebrate this magical night, it’s San Luis de Sabinillas. Every year, huge, colourful statues are waiting on the beach to be set ablaze in a party that will light up the sleepy town, bringing hoards of party goers from all over.




It is also a night full of Superstition. If you want to be lucky for the next 12 months you may want to:
  • Jump over a bonfire.
  • Burn a piece of paper with your lovers name on it.
  • Burn something old and personal to leave behind bad spirits from the past and start a new phase.
  • Swimming in the ocean after midnight purifies soul and body.
  • Fountains and natural water resources become magic and have healing properties.


Every region in Spain has different local traditions, however all of them are related to fire and water.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Easter in Malaga


Easter in Malaga is one of the most important and busiest times of the year in the city. Also known as Holy Week (Semana Santa in Spanish), Easter in Malaga is characterised by long, solemn processions that parade through the city for 7 days. There is an official procession route in Málaga City where you can watch all the different brotherhoods when they come out, without missing a single detail. Accompanied by bands of bugles and drums, they carry their floats and images, with a high historical and artistic value.

This year Semana Santa takes place from 14th till 21st of April.

All the processions (about 40 of them) start and finish in their own churches or chapels, but they all share a common route along the Alameda Principal, Calle Larios and the start of Calle Granada. Many also go past the Cathedral.






Everyone has their own favourite procession and they’re all spectacular and moving in their own way. Highlights in Malaga include:

Sunday 14 April – Palm Sunday – the most cheerful and made up mostly of children carrying palm leaves.

Monday 15 April – Los Gitanos. Gypsies accompany their Christ and virgin figures with song and dance as they make their way round the city centre.

Tuesday 16 April – Las Penas. This virgin’s cloak is made entirely of fresh flowers.

Wednesday 17 April – El Rico. The Christ figure is accompanied by a pardoned prisoner, recently released from prison. La Paloma. White doves fly to and from the virgin while this procession is in the city centre.

Thursday 18 April – Cristo de Mena. Legionnaire troops accompany this Christ figure as they make their way round Malaga. This is one of the most popular processions in Malaga.

La Esperanza. Another hugely popular procession, this one has the heaviest float – the one carrying the virgin weighs 5 tonnes.

Friday 19 April – all processions are solemn and mostly silent. Las Servitas is the last one and the city lights go out as it parades through the streets.

Sunday 21 April – the black and purple gowns are replaced by white and green for the Sunday of Resurrection procession.

You get the best views from the Alameda Principal and the wide street here gives a good perspective.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Cities of Andalucia

Cooler weather, light crowds, long days, and plenty of tourist and cultural activities - from fall to spring is the best time of year to visit the most beautiful cities of Andalucia.

MALAGA

Malaga, the 5th largest city in Spain, a gateway to southern Spain and the Costa del Sol, birthplace of Picasso and city with one of the best climates in Europe. It is one of Spain’s hottest cultural, gastronomic and leisure destinations. The city’s mix of Moorish, Renaissance and Modernist cultural landmarks, vibrant streets of the old town and 15 golden sand beaches create a destination of excellence. 



Alcazaba of Malaga – Moorish palace

Santa Iglesia Catedral


Puerto de Malaga



Museo Picasso



Plaza de toros de La Malagueta


      SEVILLE

Seville is the capital city of Andalusia. Located in the South of Spain, Seville, or Sevilla in Spanish, is one of the largest Spanish cities with over 700.000 inhabitants. The city of Seville is famous worldwide for its culture, monuments, traditions and artistic heritage. This is also the birthplace of Flamenco and the city where the most amazing Easter processions take place.



Real Alcazar



Plaza de Espana



Catedral de Sevilla



Parque de Maria Luisa


      GRANADA

A city of fascinating history and exquisite beauty, Granada is one of Spain's most cherished treasures called the "Moorish jewel." Situated in the south eastern part of Andalucía, Granada comprises an important pillar of Spain's most folkloric region. The city location at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain makes it a unique place where you can ski in the morning and take a warm Mediterranean swim in the afternoon.



The Alhambra



Generalife



Court of the Lions



Cathedral and Royal Chapel



Sierra Nevada


     CORDOBA

Cordoba is one of the eight provincial capitals of Andalucia, and is located in the north of the region, at the foot of the Sierra Morena Mountains. It’s a city with a spectacular old town perfect to explore on foot; Cordoba is also known for its great food and the many bodegas where you can enjoy the local wine.




Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba & Puente Romano



Jewish Quarter


Palacio de Viana


Madinat Al-Zahra



      CADIZ

The province of Cadiz nearly touches nose to nose with Africa. Stretching from San Roque, passing the British territory of Gibraltar, and finishing at Cadiz city. Here the Mediterranean Sea ends and the Atlantic Ocean starts.  It’s capital city, Cadiz, is the oldest inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula and possibly in all of south-western Europe found by the Phoenicians in 1.100 BC.



Torre Tavira



Catedral de Cadiz



Yacimiento Arqueologico Gadirion



Park Genoves