Wednesday, 20 May 2009
From the top: Cala Mastella beach, the little harbour, the restaurant, the kitchen and the view.
Sunday, 17 May 2009
The jetset may have pushed the prices up, but you can still have fun without breaking the bank. Six island insiders show you how
Saturday, 16 May 2009
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
Sunday, 3 May 2009
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
Mum's now moved them off to another place and Coal Face had a successful op and is now back on the street.
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.