Thursday, July 25, 2013

A beautiful day in Malaga, Spain

 We visited Malaga twice during our recent summer holiday in the coastal resort of Nerja. After Seville, Malaga is the second largest city in Andalucia and has a thriving port which is a popular destination for cruise ships.

The city has a lot to offer and is much more than a gateway to the Costa del Sol. The Cathedral, above is one of the major attractions. Begun in 1528 by Diego de SoloƩ, it is a bizarre mix of styles. The half built second tower which was abandoned in 1765 when funds run out gave the cathedral its nickname; La Manquite (the one-armed one).

Malaga's former Museo de Bellas Artes has been adapted to house a new Museo Picasso displaying works by the native artist as well as temporary exhibitions. This was one of our reasons for visiting Malaga and despite neither of us really liking his work, we both enjoyed the experience. There are many tourist information kiosks around the city that will give you directions to the Museo which is on C/ San Augustin. Its well worth a visit and there are some great places to eat in the lovely streets outside.

While we were there, there were two temporary exhibitions, one of which as you can see below was showing the work of Dennis Hopper. Most people know him for his work as an actor in movies such as Apocalypse Now, however as we learnt he was much more  than a talanted screen actor, he was also a passionate photographer and a very talented artist. If you find yourself in Malaga before the end of September 2013, this exhibition is well worth a visit.

On the hill overlooking the city lie the remains of the Castillo de Gibralfaro, a 14th century Moorish castle. For some fabulous views of the city you should take the time to explore the Castillo. You can reach it from a winding path from close to the other main attraction, the Alcazaba. Its quite a climb up,  if the sun is beating down as it was when we visited, bring some water with you. The easy way is to hop on one of the Red tourists buses as the Castillo is one of the stops on the city tour.

Inside the Castillo de Gibralfaro

Having visited the Castillo de Gibralfaro on a very hot morning, then the Museo Picasso and wandered round the streets of Malaga enjoying the sights and sounds of this attractive city as well as some of the delicious foor, our next destination was the Alcazaba. By the time we arrived at the entrance, quite hot, sugar levels low, we looked at each other with the same thought in our minds, "time for a break". So I have to be honest and say we left the Alcazaba for our next trip and hopped on the tourist bus to take in some more of the city at a leisurely pace before getting off at the Castillo to collect our hire car.

As close as we got to the Alcazaba, the entrance...TBC
With lots to see, some great shops, and a plethora of places to eat and drink, Malaga is well worth a visit. So rather than flying in, collecting your hire car and heading off to the beach be sure and take some time to explore this city.

Roasting slowly on the walls of the Castillo de Gibralfaro
To read our blogpost on the holiday resort of Nerja simply click on the following link Nerja town and surroundings

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Frigiliana, one of Andalucia's most beautiful white villages

During our recent holiday in Nerja, we spent a lovely morning wandering round the lovely streets of this beautiful white Andalucian village. Frigiliana is situated about 5 miles inland and is clearly signposted from Nerja and the motorway.

The village itself is a labyrinthe of winding narrow whitewashed streets with lovely Andalucian houses. Around the village you'll see a series of tiled wall displays telling the story of the village during the Moorish occupation and the Reconquista (the expulsion of the Moors from Spain).

The village is a big tourist attraction in the area and can get pretty busy, especially we found in the evening. As you get closer to the village you'll see parking on the left of the road, there is a small public carpark in the centre of the village which gets very busy so don't rely on getting a place there. Grab one early if you can. The above photo shows what you'll see when you arrive by car in the centre of the village, the old centre is located left of the large building middle right which is a market for local artists products.

You can't really get lost in Frigiliana, just wander to your hearts content and if you like taking photos, you'll love it here. Be warned it can get very hot, so be prepared.

There are lots of great shops to stop and browse in whilst you wind your way round the village. If you are looking for somewhere to recharge your batteries, cool down and have something to eat, try La Esquina. We had a wonderful lunch at this tapas restaurant run surprisingly by a French couple, delicious food and friendly service and yes, they speak great English if your French or Spanish isn't up to scratch.

View from La Esquina's terrace

Looks good and tastes delicious

Hopefully you'll have seen that Frigiliana is a wonderful place to spend some time relaxing and enjoying a flavour of Andalucian life. Yes, it is a popular tourist attraction however it still retains a feeling of authenticity.

Cooling down in the shade

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Enjoy the coastal resort of Nerja, Spain

We're just back to reality after a great two week holiday in the resort of Nerja in Andalucia, Spain. Built on a cliff above a collection of sandy coves, Nerja lies at the foot of the beautiful Sierra Almijara. There are some great sweeping views up and down the coast from the El Balcon de Europa (Balcony of Europe).

El Balcon de Europa

San Salvador Church
Nerja is first and foremost a tourist resort and lacks the shopping and cultural attractions of the nearby city of Malaga. That said, in no way does it resemble many of the other tourist resorts on the Costa del Sol. It is smaller, more relaxed and the skyline is less dominated by ugly apartment blocks and package holiday hotels. There are a lot of holiday apartments on the outskirts of the towncentre and built up into the hills overlooking the town,  however more care seems to have been taken into planning their look than in other Spanish coastal resorts. 

There are around 13 kilometres of beach around the coast of Nerja, broken into 7 individual beaches or coves. The two largest are called Burriana and Playaso. Burriana beach is located about 10/15 minutes walk west of the Balcony of Europe, it has plenty of bars, restaurants and icecream shops to keep you going through a long day on the beach. From what we could see, it seems to be mainly covered in tourists. Our favourite by far was Playaso beach, situated in the opposite direction to Burriana, it is the largest and most secluded beach in Nerja with some great views of the mountains in the background. Monday to Friday Playaso is generally relatively quite up to about 4:30pm when more of the locals start to arrive as work ends for the day. There are a couple of bars along with a great beach restaurant called Pepe Mese, be warned on Sunday it gets very busy.

Pepe Mese Merendero on Playaso beach

Delicious seafood kebab
As you'd expect from a seaside resort there are an abundance of places to eat out, catering for all pockets and preferances from traditional Spanish to Indian cuisine. Whilst we were staying in a friends apartment in the hills overlooking Nerja and cooked at home some evenings, we still took the opportunity to eat out when we felt like it. If you like seafood and tapas, look no further that El Pulguilla on Calle Almirante Fernadez. You can enjoy a drink and tapas at the bar or a simply delicious plate of seafood in the restaurant at the back. With a high percentage of Spanish customers, this feels like real Spain.

El Pulguilla

Another great destination for Tapas is La Marina on Plaza La Marina, perhaps a little more basic than El Pulguilla but great value and full of Spanish locals so you know the food is good too. Close by you'll find a restaurant called Pata Negra offering excellant Spanish cuisine and tapas. It has a great wine list, something to suit all wallets. We went there twice and really enjoyed the food although on the second time, a busy Friday night, the service did let it down. If you are looking for something a little more upmarket, two great options are Restaurante Oliva on Pindada 7 and Restaurant 34 on Calle Hernando de Carebeo. Both offer great food and service with Oliva perhaps edging it on both counts, 34 wins when it comes to location with their beautiful open air terrace. If a full Irish or English breakfast is your thing on holiday, don't worry there are more than sufficient establishments offering these and similar meals.

Outside Hotel & Restaurant 34
So what else is there to do in Nerja apart from enjoy the beach and restaurants. The answer is plenty, there are some great walks nearby, you can get a map from the tourist office. If you need some emergency treatment for your nails after a long day on the beach then the abc nailstore is the place to go.

Just a 15 minute drive away you'll find the beautiful village of Frigiliana, and only 50 minutes away you should take some time to explore Malaga.

Inside Nerja Caves
 Perhaps the biggest attraction of Nerja other than its beaches are the Caves or Cuevas in Spanish. Discovered in 1959 by a group of local boys they are well worth a visit, in fact don't miss the opportunity as they are truly impressive. Unfortunately as flash photography is not allowed our photos in no way do them justice.

So if you're looking at a beach holiday in the south of Spain, take a look at Nerja. Yes there are plenty of tourists from all over Europe, yet Nerja still retains the feel of Spain something which many of the other resorts along the coast don't. 

Adios from Nerja