Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Pleasures of Everyday Life

In Between Excursions and Adventures, we enjoy Everyday Pleasures , too....

The white towns are one of our passions.


This new post in our blog is trying to give the reader some understanding of our everyday life in Andalucia, Spain starting October 2013. We have lived in Costa del Sol since June this year and enjoyed enormously our stay. Andalucia has rapidly become familiar to us and we cannot stop admiring the nature, the cultural life, the kind people and also e.g. excellent roads that are congested mainly near large cities. In fact some highways with toll are having difficulties because of low income and may be facing bankruptcy unless the government step in. Fuengirola has many advantages to offer; good train connections, a fantastic seaside parade,  cheap flights to/from Malaga, a central location, suitable climate, assistance from other immigrants if needed etc.

THE VILLAGE FIESTA in Fuengirola is organized annually in October when many things in the town stands still, but the FERIA is very busy until late at night. The Fiesta lasts for a week with program every day including bull fighting, concerts, amusement park, official ceremonies and parades. The Fiesta is held in honour of Nuestra Señora la Virgen del Rosario, patron of Fuengirola.

Due to our visit to CABO DE GATA in eastern Andalucia we had limited time for the Fiesta but did participate in one concert by José Manuel SOTO, a very popular singer of "rumba al corazon". The music was strong in rhythm so that even a stiff Finn simply do what everyone else was doing; clapping hands in various ways that you felt somehow followed the rhythm. Shifting legs in a dance like movement came into use at the end of the show. Our CD collections was replenished with two CD's. Another night we had booked for a symphony concert in the same place. The previous time we only just got a parking place and felt that this would happen again the following evening. Well, on a Saturday night (and at Fiesta time) YOU DO NOT find a parking place in the downtown area. We did not either and had to change our plans and choose to visit hotel Florida Spa where our barber and hairdresser Amador sings every Tuesday and Saturday evening. He was happy to see us coming. We had a gin tonic / Nestea, visited the dance floor and returned by around midnight. On the final day of the Fiesta we went to the bull ring to see a show with Andalucian horses and Flamenco. 

José Manuel SOTO on stage in Fuengirola

A lively audience that was easy to join.


Andalucian horses.

And a jumping pony

24.10.2013 A day in Morocco

Flag and Coat of Arms of Morocco

When our son Mathias and his fiancée Anna had decided to visit us there was a wish that we should visit Morocco, a short boat trip from Tarifa, Spain. We booked into an English group that really proved to be a Spanish-French-Finnish-Swedish-Russian-English group. Our guide from Fuengirola (Juan) was a veteran and spoke (fluently) all mentioned languages except Russian. Yes, also Finnish having studied in Helsinki and practiced his Finnish with his Finnish girl friend. He made sure we understood everything "Tuliko selväksi". Mrs. T had planned the very early morning departure by preparing a take-along breakfast. We got up in good spirit and made for the coach. First issue: stop at first cash dispensing machine to collect some cash (Mr. T's credit card had failed the tour operator) and pay for the trip. Second issue: Eat your breakfast to increase blood sugar values. Juan pointed out that he is well aware of the Finnish habit of buying MACCARA at the kioski. Third issue: Doze off to get energy for the day. Why then did my eyes feel so tired when we reached Tarifa?

FIRST SIGHTSEEING. Our tour guide swiftly moved us from the bus waiting in the harbor. The local guide was on time and we first moved through the new part of Tanger where we had arrived. If this was the new part what is then the old part like? We soon discovered this when the local guide (let´s call her Fatima) took us there. Fatima spoke several languages ..... and all of them at the same time. You only needed to pick the one you preferred. Mostly I preferred English. She only not knew the Town and its history well but she also knew everybody in the town .....especially the shop owners that wanted to sell us something. We had no real spending plans as this was just a day off to a more exotic environment completely new to Mathias, Anna and Mrs. T. BUT WE DID NOT REALLY KNOW BEFOREHAND THE MENTALITY OF A MOROCCAN SALES MAN. At one point we stopped and ALAS! CHAMEAU!  But before Mr. T was able to approach the camels for some pictures he was surrounded by local sales men all with "authentic-local-tings-to-sell-at-no-price". Only to discover that things in Medina was only a fraction of the price you had paid.

Mr. "Ali-Baba" on the left was our main supplier.


Fruits and vegetables

Fresh coriander

Mrs. T did not fancy this guy

A shop we passed

THEN LUNCH in a local restaurant (for tourists) that offered soup, shish kebab, couscous and mint tea off course. Nice lunch - no complaints whatsoever and music was local, too. After the lunch visit to MEDINA FOR SHOPPING. If the local sales men had not found us earlier they NOW did when we left the restaurant. And they stuck like flies, didn't they!!!!!  We where supposed to have some free time but all we did was to try to hush off "the flies".

Musicians at the restaurant

Mrs. T thoroughly enjoyed herself

A traditional restaurant (for tourists)

Our time ashore was ending. And so was whatever little money we had brought along. That had changed into a (very nice) table cloth, jewelry, clothing and hats, health products and....well you name it. We left for the ship and set off for Tarifa. All border checks had went without any huzzle but in Tarifa the frontier official decided to take a good look at MY passport. Must be my slight tan over the summer that made him check whether I was part of the Foreign League or Polisario or something similar.




Day excursions to Malaga, Mijas and Benalmadena

Malaga on a hazy day when the city was covered in a mist but the mountain tops anyway could be seen clearly.

We had a few more days together with Mathias and Anna and spent them according to their wishes. This meant shopping but also visiting the small nearby mountain villages and the butterfly house Mariposario as well as the falconry site on the mountains of Benalmadena. The early part of the week had been busy and interesting and we understand that the mountains had particularly impressed Mathias and Anna while Morocco was something of a cultural shock. We took the train to Malaga on Friday. Malaga is a large city with some 600.000 inhabitants (see our post on MALAGA) and as with all large cities the security can sometimes prove an issue - at least the potentiality is there. The trains from Torreblanca to Malaga carry a security guard as a standard service. This service is well visible and well equipped and maybe therefore seldom needed :)  The deterrence is obvious and preventive in a positive sence :)   Once in Malaga we could spot the normal police activity in the old town shopping area and other security elements both outside and inside of the shops that made our shopping relaxed. Well, putting jokes aside and speaking seriously....security is NOT a problem in our opinion and we have never stumbled over this problem in any way.

Blue is not the standard colour for the Spanish police force. HDR technique adds some special flavor.
The Team on the streets of Malaga old town.......where next?
 Mathias "safeguarding" ladies shopping.

Shops close for SIESTA at 14.00 hours and re-open between 17-18.00 hours even in a busy town like Malaga. During the closing hours we decided to show Mathias and Anna a larger picture of Malaga by taking the HOP ON - HOP OFF sightseeing bus. We hopped on near the old town just to hop off again at Gibralfaro castle. After an hour or so we hopped on again and then hopped off at the same place where we had left. It was then lunch-time at a favorite restaurant before continuing with the shopping.

Siesta closes all shops at 14.00 hours
Gibralfaro castle. Mathias and Anna view the city from "the balcony".
Lunch at a favorite restaurant....gambas pil-pil, tapas, paella and alike.

Once finished with the lunch we continued with the shopping where we had left it. Mr. T needed some zink tablets from the pharmacy. These where not available from a pharmacy but we needed to visit a "homeopathy" shop around the corner that offered several kind of zink preparations. I do not like capsules so I chose a 10 mg tablet which is below daily recommended dose. This was a good alternative because I could try to reduce the dosage provided that the clinical response remains the same. A single patient (that's me) clinical "non-randomized study" is soon going to start.

Mrs. T having a relaxing moment during shopping tour.
Mr. T has time for some extra shots
Main shopping street is welcoming

We left Malaga fairly late in the evening. On the following day we showed Mathias and Anna a local shopping mall / market as we needed to stock up with any energy providing articles in the fridge. Mathias insisted on Pina Colada. I had to try the local Crema Catalana. Let´s not be misguided - we also bought some food stuff. We had earlier booked a table at a better restaurant in MIJAS, a very nice small mountain village just up the road from Fuengirola. Juan, whom we knew from before, kindly took our reservation for an outside terrace table with the best possible view. When we arrived he very politely asked if it is too windy outside and if so, he would have a nice table for us inside, too. The table cloths on the other tables on the terrace had turned upside down due to the wind so we opted for Juan´s polite suggestion.  Juan also showed us a room they reserve for weddings and WHAT A ROOM. See the enclosed picture.

"I give him all I can so why then is he stuck....."

Anna: A Lions donation is not supposed to run about....;)
Another well known attraction at Mijas attract loads of tourists.
Dinner at La Alcazaba. EXCELLENT service and food. Juan,  the head waiter and a great personality attends to Anna and Mathias.
If you have been looking for this facility you now have found it.

This Saturday evening offered us a chance for "fine dining" and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Juan and the rest of the staff including kitchen made it perfect. Menu?  Clams, Sea Brass in a salt bed, steaks.....and cava plus home made desserts. On Sunday we decided to visit Benalmadena and its Mariposario (butterfly house) that offered new photographic challenges. Butterflies fly freely and stop occasionally for you to try to get a decent picture of them. Sometimes you manage. The iguana verde was a new "amigo" also for Mrs. and Mr. T. He did not move an inch so we had all the time for taking pictures. Finally Mathias discovered the Telecabin system that take you up to the top of the local mountains. Up we went only to find that there where a lot of activities on the top including a falconry site that we had to visit. Mr. T knew what falcons are. Two of them had been sitting in his arms at Arcos de la Frontera (see separate post). BUT THESE BIRDS WHERE EAGLES. The Golden Eagle, The Blue Eagle, The Condor and others....they offered a fantastic show. When they where allowed to fly freely in the sky they made stunning diving performances. The Condors actually landed among the spectators and created a slight chaos....deliberate? I do think so!

A Condor watching for pray

Not a member of the Eagle family but huge in size anyway.

Not listed in Mariposario broschure

Attacus Atlas lives only for one week as is born without mouth and stomach.

Papilio Rumanzovia?

Iguana verde

Telecabins that took us up to the mountain top.

Mathias and Anna above Benalmadena.

This week together with you, Mathias and Anna, was a shear delight for us "old foreign crows" and we hope you feel likewise. We appreciate your interest in Andalucia and for taking the time for a shared experience. Now you know where we are and that there is more waiting for you.....maybe starting with Sierra Nevada. Ann-Sofie, how does this sound to you and when can we expect you again? 

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