Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Driving in Ibiza

I said when they tarmacced our street that it would turn into a racetack for speeding drivers. I was right!

The Times they are a-changin' agin!

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

Combining filial and work duties yesterday I took the old'uns on a tour while I took photos. We called in at Cala Mastella to have a look at the 'Bigote' restaurant featured in the Times' article the other day.

I've made a reservation for Friday lunch

From the top: Cala Mastella beach, the little harbour, the restaurant, the kitchen and the view.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Ibiza: The Times they are A-changin'

They certainly are too! It's not often I can boast that I've actually been in an Ibiza place as recommended by The Times, but now I can.

Insiders' guide: Ibiza on a budget
The jetset may have pushed the prices up, but you can still have fun without breaking the bank. Six
island insiders show you how

Anyway, one of the places is Destino, just down the lane from us, and coincidentally, where we dined with my parents on Thursday night.

The old codger opined that he always feels like he's in real Spain when eating at Destino. The irony of his statement is that other than its position in a Spanish village and two waitresses who are Spanish, Destino could be in an affluent suburb of Frankfurt!

Its owner is German/Moroccan, its chef Brazilian, its customers affluent Boho northern Europeans and its food North African/Pacific rim fusion.

I like it very much! Allow €25 a person for a right good stuffing with wine.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Blogs, Beer and Rulers of the Known World

Hands up if you thought Spanish beer was all just like sweet-toothed girlie fave San Miguel. Fortunately, there are alternatives for non-southern shandy drinking softies, as my tales of Alhambra drinking demonstrate, and I discovered yet another one yesterday.

It's Yuste Belgian style beer, produced by monks in the monastery of the same name and weighing in with a beefy 6.5% alcohol content. Recommended by its brewers as a fine drink to accompany game dishes, I personally recommend Papas Vicente crisps, whose only ingredients are potatoes and oil, as a fine snack to accompany this beer.

So, what's it got to do with rulers of the known world? Well, our old blog friend, Chinful Charles V, used to live at this monastery after he took early retirement and a lump sum from being Holy Roman Emperor, and he sorted the monks out with brewing rights. And why is it Belgian style beer? Well, the Netherlands at that time were part of the Hapsburg Empire and ruled by Spain.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Ibiza Summer Swimming

Chalk it up! Today, 10.5.09 I went into the pool for the first time this year. It served as a pre-match warm up and gave me an appetite for the second BBQ of the year.A fab boned leg of lamb from our local butcher. This was about a third of it that was left in the freezer from before our holidays

Ibiza Summer Sailing

Summer's here and the shade sails are up in the side garden. Well, almost, because a shortage of rope to secure my triangular sail has left it billowing under the square sail.
I couldn't get any suitable rope in the village so Jaki suggested I use some of her garden twine. It was totally inadequate for the job and would have snapped in twain should a gentle zephyr or force 1 gale have blown up over the field.
I was surprised at her lack of knowledge in this matter as her favourite programme at the moment is Hornblower and I'd seen her sit through Hero Horatio's frigging in the rigging of a captured French Corvette only yesterday.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Alpujarras: Suspiro del Moro

Once upon a time in the deep south of Spain lived a Moorish king, Boabdil. He lived a life of luxury and Riley in the Alhambra Palace from where he ruled the last bastion of the Moors – the kingdom of Granada (today's Granada, Malaga and Almeria)

Obviously, the Spanish Catholic rulers, who'd just spent the last few hundred years trying to reconquer the country in the name of Christianity were a bit razzed off that there were still Moors about swanning around like they owned the place.

So in 1491 they blockaded Granada from their nearby HQ Santa Fe (where Christopher Columbus was given the go ahead for the catholic conquest of America.) Anyway after 18 months Boabdil gave up, handed over the keys to Ferdinand and Isabella and with much wailing for joy, the cross replaced the crescent moon on the Alhambra.

Boabdil hands over the keys to Granada to Ferdinand and Isabella

In return for his cooperation in not coming out for a scrap in the pub car park with the Catholics, Boabdil was given land in the Alpujarras. On his way there, going through a mountain pass, he turned to look back at Granada and his pleasure palace and sighed deeply. His mother, ever one with a cheery repost, retorted,

"Now you weep like a woman over what you could not defend as a man."

because she obviously had the better plan of going out and nagging to death the half a million Catholics camped outside the city walls.

To this day, this mountain pass is called Suspiro del Moro, (the Moor's Sigh) and it even has its own motorway signs.

And to finish this tale, when I related the story of our visit to the Alhambra (when we couldn't get in because the queue resembled the besieging Catholic armies in size and number) to my mother who had actually been, her cheery summing up of hundreds of years' worth of Moorish architecture was,

“you've missed nowt.”

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Furry First XI

You'd be forgiven for thinking that we were trying to start a feline football team in our house. Our Ibiza Villa was home to 11 furry friends last week. Our permanent five-a-side team, Spook, Charlie, Mouse, Flossie and Tillie were joined by one of the feral cats, Baby Bear Head who gave birth to four little kittens and Little Black Coal Face who we captured in a trap ready to go off to the vets to be spayed.

Here are the kittens

Mum's now moved them off to another place and Coal Face had a successful op and is now back on the street.

Alpujarras Trip: Observations, Tips, Advice and Opinion

A personal narrative containing things we learned and things we didn't from our trip to the Alpujarras in Granada province.

The Alpujarras was, not that long ago, Spain's poorest area, and the one where the Moors stayed longest - I think they were finally shown the puerta in 1609.

So in no particular order here we go.

Nerja: The town obviously had its traffic sign budget slashed by 50% just as they were starting to put the signs on the 700 roundabouts in the town. The solution to get where you want is to drive 360 degrees round the roundabout so you'll see the signs which are visible form only one direction.

Spanish towns and cities: A general rule I've formulated over the years travelling round the country is this. No matter how uninviting the place looks driving in with gaunt tower blocks, industrial estates, tips, and out of town supermarkets, the city centre will be full of life, quaint buildings, tapas bars and Atmosphere.
The exception and exact opposite to this rule is Orgiva, capital of the Alpujarras, which has all the charm of Widnes but unfortunately without a Greggs on every corner.

Guardia Civil: want to catch some drug traffickers in Ibiza? Then your policy of sidling about the ferry queue in plain clothes jeans and t-shirts should pay off. My tip would be to ditch the fluorescent green waist coats with GUARDIA CIVIL in giant letters.

Drug Traffickers: want to avoid being thoroughly frisked by the GC in green waist coats? Then choose another car apart from an enormous gangsta black Mercedes and don't lounge about with your mate wearing shades and constantly make calls on your mobile to a Sr. Grande.

Driving: Standards are far higher than Ibiza. The highway code is obeyed everywhere, people appear able to join a motorway on the slip road seamlessly and easily and when a sign says one way street, you never meet anyone coming the wrong direction. I don't know how it would be if there was anyone else on the roads though as most days we drove for miles without seeing another car.

Coffee: Europe's strongest coffee is brewed in the south of Spain. Here's a tip for girls, ask for a 'cafe con leche muy flojo.' It's a white coffee with lots of milk. Blokes beware, all the hard work I put in one evening swigging beer and red wine came to nought when, two minutes after downing a Cortado (no muy flojo) I was frigging sober again!

Weather: do check the forecast. Our return trip to the Costa del Sol, where we first went 30 years ago on our first holiday together, and where we last went 25 years ago on our honeymoon, the whole bloody place was shrouded in fog so we couldn't see a thing.

Driving: Get a satnav. Spanish roads have not one, not two, but three different names and Spanish maps tend to use the ones which are different to the road signs. It will avoid disconcerting situations like travelling at 150 kph with each side of the road looking like luminous spaghetti and your co-pilot pipes up, 'which airport was that?'

Engineering: The road tunnel under Lorca castle is exactly 1850 metres long. Nothing unusual in that, but the spooky thing is that Spanish engineers have got it to be exactly the same length in the opposite direction.

Parking: Nobody has to pay to park in the Alpujarras!

Warning Signs: Are spookily true. I'd never seen a wild deer in my life until just after one of those deer boinging over the road signs last week. More sinister were the falling rock signs, and as Alpujarran hills seem to be constructed of slate shale, the road to Cadiar from Torvizcon had the appearance of a Welsh slag heap come to town.