Posts tagged Andalucia

12 Grapes

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Our new friends in France gave us a great tip about where to spend New Years Eve, so we hurtled down the coast of Spain to Benalmadena.  David had picked up another bug from the kiddies in Manses so he spent two days in the back of the van suffering with ‘man flu’ whilst I drove endlessly southwards.

Benalmadena, like most towns on the Costa del Sol, is full of British (and Irish) pubs, betting shops, greasy cafes and the usual seaside shops we try to avoid at all costs.  However, unlike other towns on the Costa del Sol, it is not inundated with high rise apartment blocks and still has a pleasant holiday feel.  We parked the van near to the main drag and, in preparation for our hangovers-to-be, stocked up on groceries.  We went for a very reasonably priced Chinese restaurant for dinner, followed by complimentary shots – a warm up for what was to come!  After dinner we headed to the Alien bar where we met a great crowd, mostly made up of pub owners, and partied into 2011.

It is a Spanish tradition to consume 12 grapes, one for each chime at midnight. We chose instead to down some ‘herbal’ tasting shots recommended by our fellow pubbers and to let off some massive party poppers.  At 1am we celebrated new year all over again on British time.  It was a great night and we’d thoroughly recommend the bar and its crowd.

“Gorge”ous Ronda

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Ronda manages to combine kitsch tourist shops with dramatic views. The town is built on the edges of very steep and high cliffs, and was one of the last Muslim strongholds in their war with the Christians. It is the busiest tourist area we have visited so far, this due to the fact that it makes a good day trip from the Costa Del Sol. The center of the town has beautiful old buildings well preserved. You can also visit the old bull fighting ring, for a reasonable entry fee.

The odd moment of the day was watching an Afrikaans mother and daughter fight over a camera in harsh guttural tones while a busker played sweet harp music in the background.

It is definitely worth a visit, just get there early. Parking is easier on the southern side of the town.

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Very Sherry Merry

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We wanted to explore a sherry bodega and chose Terry as there is no need to book. It turned out we were the only people on the tour. Unlike the sweet stuff sold in the UK authentic sherry is quite savoury. It’s an acquired taste, and I have yet to acquire it! Terry also makes the brand Bristol Cream which they export – the locals won’t touch the stuff.

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We drove on to Ronda with a very quick stop for lunch in Arcos de La Frontera, another town precariously perched on a mountain slope. Our picnic spot was next to a horse. Dave fed it an apple, after which it was keen to stay close to us. Bad move – horses are buzzing with flies and before we knew it we had around twenty of the annoying critters racing around the inside of the van. A fly swot went straight onto the shopping list!

Battles

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Staying in Zahora we have discovered a wonderful beach and the cabo de Trafalgar. The Lighthouse pays tribute to the strategically fought battle of Trafalgar which happened close to this coast.

At the lighthouse we saw flock of flamingoes pink against the sky. They are almost the same colour as our sunburn – must stick to factor 30 from now on.

We also discovered small burrowing beetles which we raced on the sand (with a little guidance from a blade of grass) and snails that love to eat the prickly pear cactuses growing all over the area. On our homeward trek we encountered the local equivalent of a can recycling bin – a shelf with holes in it for beer cans and bottles.

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Tarifa

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We waved at Africa today from Tarifa, wonderful to see the homeland if only from afar. Tarifa is windy! And subsequently very popular with kite surfers, looks like a funky, relaxed beachside town. Unspoilt coastline worth exploring if you have time.

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