Spain 2016 – Day 7

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The morning of our final day in Spain, we were bright and awake at 6:20am. Determined to finally get out and see this sunrise we had planned at the start of the week.

Sat on the beach for 20 minutes or so in the cold, watching and waiting for the sun, the sky was actually pretty good, with a few clouds but not too many –  allowing the sun to light the edges of them and just generally make the sky a little more interesting. Plenty of fishing boats and seagulls out as well. Sun finally rose, took a bunch of pictures, and then headed straight back to the hotel to sleep again (had a dream where I was batman fighting against John cena, also Hideo Kojima was my Nick fury).

Didn’t have much else planned for the day, we didn’t want to do anything too strenuous so we headed to the pool for a bit of sunbathing and a swim, before once again heading into town to finish up all of the food we had eyed up over the week (but hadn’t eaten yet).

Lunch and dessert was grilled sardines and seafood, and some ice cream at a place we had walked past practically every single day. Slow walk back after, and then cleaning and packing suitcases, drinking the cider leftover in the fridge and so on.

Check-out, taxi to the station, cheeky waffle and ice cream, train to the airport, random search at security, and now I’m typing this because our plane is delayed.

Another successful holiday! Loved the sun, loved the food, loved the beach even though it was like walking on hot coals. See you next time!

Spain? 2016 – Day 6 – Gibraltar

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Okay so the title, Gibraltar isn’t actually technically in Spain, but today starts and ends in Spain so deal wit it.

We booked an excursion on a prior day to go to Gibraltar, it’s pretty far and impossible to get to if you are doing it on your own, but our resort offered a tour bus thing for around 22eur return per person so we took it, the bus was late of course, which was a bit of a slap in the face considering we had woken up so early for it (8am or so)

The journey was around 90 minutes, and actually involved showing passports to get through immigration into the country, Gibraltar is a small British colony off the south of Spain, and thus was kind of like being home away from home. Our tour guide talked pretty much the entirety of the way there, though I lost interest after approximately 20 minutes.

Gibraltar is best described as a gigantic cliff that people decided to live around, a tiny peninsula which with what may as well be mount Everest in the middle of the island.

We only had 5 or 6 hours to spend before having to get back to the bus, so we quickly set out for the main attractions of the island,  while many of the other people on the bus were still slowly waddling around waiting for direction.

Grabbed the cable car up to ‘the rock’ (as they call it), it was another 20 quid or so per person (yes quid). The view was incredible as expected, at around 400+ meters high, the top of the rock is taller than the Empire state building,  or 70 additional meters higher than the Eiffel Tower. We spent a long time just staring out at the visas from the top, looking back at the Spanish mainland, and to foreign continents (what we assume was Morrocco/Africa).

The mountain paths of Gibraltar are home to many macaques –  fuzzy mountain Monkeys smaller than the knee,  they were  numerous and completely unafraid of humans. We had plenty of opportunity to photograph them, and actually saw a bunch of people sitting next to them and reaching out to touch them, though we didn’t fancy doing this ourselves as they are prone to scratching/biting/stealing. There were a few Monkeys just kind of clamouring onto cars as they drove past –  the mountain paths are very hilly and thus the local taxi’s have seen an opportunity, even though the paths are tiny.

I actually had a monkey jump on my head briefly while I was photographing another, thankfully only a small one, as I imagine one of the larger ones could have knocked me off balance, with any luck I can finish this holiday without rabies or whatever they might carry.

Further along the mountain path was St Michael’s Cave, arguably Gibraltar’s largest attraction aside from the rock itself, a gigantic natural cave formation which descends a few stories down.
The inside of the cave was almost comically lit, with multicoloured lights coupled with dance music over the speakers in the main area, the music thankfully chilled out a little bit as you got further in, an the coloured lights actually really helped to prevent all of the pictures from looking the same and functionally were quite helpful as it made them easier to snap. The caves themselves were sadly over a little too soon, not quite as long as some of the other caves I’ve been to, though Gibraltar is certainly winning in terms of dance music

There were a few other attractions on top of the rock, they were some kilometers away, and the path was hilly and rocky, our time before needing to head back to catch the bus was soon running out so we headed back down the mountain to explore the town a little.

Gibraltar town is honestly a lot like it was described in our brochure, “the great British High Street, but with sun”, it’ worth noting however that it’s a good deal more scenic, with the sea on one side and an epic mountain on the other.

We wandered around and visited the cathedral before heading further north and exploring the plaza, we came across a glass shop with some really impressive stuff, and attached was a full glass blowing workshop with demonstrations. We stuck around for a while to watch the glassblowers do their thing, forming patterned bowls from glowing globs of molten glass dipped in what I can only describe as shrapnel.

Little more exploring later, and it was already back to the bus to go back to Spain. Of interesting note, we had to disembark at one point to walk across the border through immigration and customs –  so I can technically say I’ve been to Spain by foot now.

Finally back on the resort after a nice little siesta, we took a long walk into Fuengirola looking for food. We fancied some tapas and so had a good search on tripadvisor and walked around for literally hours trying to find a place. The first was too expensive, the second was closed for refurbishment. We passed by a bunch of other restaurants, but our indecisive party didn’t want to make any real decisions, eventually we hit the third place and ate there, a nice selection of fancy tapas and a pizza. It was pretty late by the time we finished, as the food service was slow, so it was another long walk back to the resort and straight to bed ready for the next day.

 

 

Spain 2016 – Day 5 – Malaga pt2

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Yet another accidental late start, our early morning plans had yet again slipped out from under us,  and we were now in a bit of a rush to get to Malaga. We had planned to visit the food market this morning, however it is only open between 8am and 2pm, and as it’s a market, they aren’t exactly bound by these working hours at all.

We aimed to catch the midday train from Fuengirola to Malaga, though we got to stop at a nearby bakery for some pseudo breakfast in the form of what I will assume is a Spanish custard slice – 3 thick crispy wafers sandwiching a ton of custard cream, biting into it obviously causing the entire thing to smush together and get cream absolutely everywhere.

We reached the food market eventually, at around 12:50, and spent some time walking around and looking at all of the produce on offer. The large Hall was roughly divided into 3 sections for meat, fish and fruit/veg respectively. Seafood in particular was numerous and looking very fresh, with prawns in particular having incredible variety. Bought some chopped fresh fruit for lunch, before getting drawn into one of the seafood bars for some fresh fried calamari.

Cordelia had kindly sussed out the bus route to get to the botanical gardens in Malaga, and with Google’s help,  we found our way to the correct bus stop and was on our way again – the botanical gardens were pretty out of the way to the north and kind of in the middle of nowhere really, a 25 minute bus ride and 15 minute walk and we arrived.

The gardens were huge, a massive collection of flora dating back to the 1800’s from various countries around the world. We spent hours walking up and down the gardens, there was heavy forested areas, an arty exhibit in the middle of the forest, tons of trees and palms, and a massive cacti section.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Back to Malaga, and then to Fuengirola for dinner. We had stumbled upon ‘food street’ practically every day we had walked through town, but never actually eaten on it, so today seemed like a good chance to change that. We eventually found it again through some wandering and was promptly bombarded by people trying to force sell us their menu – the street is filled to the brim with restaurants from all cuisines, and they sit basically opposite each other and have to fight hard for customers.

We were swayed by a calm smooth talker for a meat specialist restaurant called Casa Castellated who was providing a 4 course menu for 14eur, he suggested there would be some surprises but didn’t say what, it turns out it was copious alcohol.
They started with a fruity champagne on the house, and a small soup thing, I had beef capraccio for starter, picked because I had no idea what it was, it turned out to be like raw beef slices with cheese and was really good. A free pina colada next followed by our main course (had fish of the day),  then cheesecake and a final free massive cauldron of baileys.

Me being a complete lightweight,  and having had a cider along with the meal, was pretty much out of the party for the next hour or two,  we met up with our counterparts (who we are staying with) and went to a tapas bar for more drinks and food,  before having a long stumble along the beach back home.

 

Spain 2016 – Day 4 – Beach

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Really really nothing much happened today.  We woke up late,  went into reception to check excursions and booked a trip to Gibraltar for Wednesday and then headed into Fuengirola for some small bits and pieces.

Lunch at semi-fancy Italian place for some prawn and chorizo tagliatelle,  turns out it was on the higher side of tripadvisor’s restaurants in the area.

Cordelia needed to try and work out a way to store her sharps as her sharps bin was full, and had some fun trying to talk to the local pharmacists in Spanish.

We came across a small church in the middle of town,  with a new little innovation that I’ve yet to come across..
They had electronic candles in front of the statues! For those not familiar, usually there are small red candles that you can take and light for your loved ones and then donate some money,  this was literally a big electronic box with coin slot,  and a bunch of electronic lights with half of them lit,  and you put a coin in an it lights a bulb for you for a while.  Lame.

PSA. Uncompressed Phone pictures, may take a while to load in full size if you maximized

Had a little shop around in one of the larger supermarkets in town,  though didn’t buy too much as our hotel is so far away,  I wanted to buy a quarter watermelon but it would have been so heavy to carry back,  and I don’t think they taste anywhere near as good if they aren’t cold…

Back to the hotel for a freshen up and change into beachwear,  and then back to the beach for some sunbathing and paddling.  Initially planned to go for a swim but oh god the water was some cold.

Nothing much happened after this, lazed around for ages and then went for dinner at one of the resort restaurants which was semi fancy again. Had some nice olives and then a mixed grill which was literally a small cut of every meat they could get their hands on.

Spain 2016 – Day 3 – Malaga

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We had initially planned to wake up at 6am to see the sun rise over the beach… This obviously went exactly as planned,  and by that I mean we woke up at 6am, and promptly curled back up and re-woke at 9:30, like normal holiday goers.

Roll around to 11am and we finally started to head out by way of a 45 minute walk to Fuengirola and then 45 minute train from there to Malaga.

First expectations were that Malaga was much larger and more built up than Fuengirola,  which I suppose was to be expected but still surprising to see.  I actually thought the city and it’s streets looked more like Italy than Spain to me, with bright white paved streets and significantly more clothes/jewelery shops than normal Spain,  perhaps it was just because it’s a fair tourist hotspot, and standard stop for cruise liners passing through.

We just kind of aimlessly wandered around for a while, heading through the shopping streets and small alleyways filled with bars and cafes. We wanted a break and stopped in a small bar near the cathedral for some frappes and churros.

The cathedral was an obvious spot to be visited,  though the interior was closed as it’s Sunday so we only got to look around the outside of it and check the gardens.

Kind of wandered upwards from there to check one of the plazas which I forget the name of, it was peppered with little craft stores run by locals.

Castillo de Gibraltar could be seen from afar through the city,  a large old style Castle overlooking the entire city up on top of the city’s main Hill.
We saw it from afar and began to climb the hill to get to it,  it was fairly high but didn’t seem too far initially…  The path however kept veering to the right around the outer wall,  what initially was the top of the castle wall was suddenly below us and half a mile in the distance..  What the hell were we actually climbing towards? The path eventually got incredibly steep and we began needing pretty periodic breaks just to keep going.
Some 30 minutes later we finally reached the summit,  and the large Castle at the very very top of the hill,  it turns out what we saw initially was some different ruins which were –  relatively speaking,  right at the bottom of the hill.

The interior of the castle was a little disappointing,  with only some basic structures still intact, the walls were all scalable however and provided some fantastic views of the entire city.

A slow descent later,  we stopped for lunch by the Colosseum (nothing compared to Rome of course) and then thought we would check out the beachfront and marina before looping back up towards the core of Malaga and starting to make our way back too Fuengirola. The beach was very picturesque but overly crowded due to it being a Sunday, the port was particularly nice,  again filled with small shops and bars.

Way back in Fuengirola for dinner, we weren’t feeling particularly hungry so ended up in a small place called Pomodoro by the station which was probably the perfect definition of ‘Cheap and cheerful’ –  with 4 euro pizza and 4 euros for 2 pints of beer and a small dish of chicken wings and chips.

Had plenty of fun playing around with camera exposure times on the way back before coming back for a clean up and general calm down.

Spain 2016 – Day 2 – Fuengirola

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Nice little lazy start this morning before heading off to our local beach. Wasn’t really sure what to expect and as such was maybe a little bit disappointed by lack of golden Sands, but the beach was a little on the rockier/shellier side however still nicer than all of the English beaches (not that this is any achievement).

We’d lounge on the sand for a few hours or so, until I got a little too restless (Cordelia seemed pretty content with her kindle). Sun was slowly starting to heat up, and the sand was rapidly going from nice to scalding. Got rinsed for ice creams a little bit at a somewhat extortionate price of 5 euros for two…

Headed back to the hotel just for a quick freshen up, swapped beach towel for camera and headed back out to explore the town and find some lunch.

Our resort is a kilometer or two walk along the beach away from the nearest town/city called Fuengirola, a name I fail to spell every time without fail. We had a nice slow stroll along the beach side path for a half an hour or so before hitting the majority of the city. Started feeling hungry and ended up going into one of the beach side restaurants –  the food of which was decent but the views were fantastic,  sat in a shady spot outside with an open view of the beach and sea.  We ordered grilled squid and Hake,  which both came served with salad and potato.

We’d spend the next few hours aimlessly walking around the city Streets and back roads,  just trying to find anything interesting.  We came across a small covered outdoor market, some quirky alleys, a few parks,  but mostly just lots of bars and restaurants selling the same stuff catered towards foreigners.

We did try something i’ve never seen before which the bakery had translated into ‘Glass cake’, it was like a sweet pastry poppadom thing, brittle and yet slightly chewy in the mouth. There was a frozen yogurt place we came across as well which was great, 3.5eur for a big cup of frogurt mixed with fruits and cookies (or cereal if you prefer,  but y’know, who the hell wouldn’t want crushed oreos in place of granola).

Dinner was probably the highlight of the day, I had taken note of the number 1 rated restaurant on tripadvisor earlier in the day,  a small place called Restuarante Palangreros, we strolled up and asked for a table for 2 as we normally do and was told they were fully booked until next month! Slightly upsetting, but oh well. Cordelia was desperate for the toilet and the host let her use it at least. While she was in there though, the host received a phone call and came out to speak to me…

Turns out someone wants to push back their booking,  and we can have the table provided we can finish in 2.5 hours, easy!
The restaurant itself was small, with maybe 8 tables, as we sit, a near constant stream of people turn up and promptly get turned away just as we did earlier, felt pretty good to be on the lucky side for a change.
They serve 3 course set meals for a very reasonable 16/20EUR, I had both of the specials for the day, a starter of Foie gras (which I had never tried before), and a main of Argentinian Angus ribeye steak – already getting incredible value for money considering a similar steak in the UK would cost around or over £20 alone.

The food was absolutely amazing, and probably one of the posher meals I’ve had in my life, each dish was delicious and the steak in particular was one of the best of my life. A dessert of something called ‘Catalena creme’, followed by truffle and a shot of malaga wine, we were stuffed.

The remainder of the day was spent walking back to the resort, working out what to do with the remainder of the holiday (as we’ve not planned anything at all) and typing this up…

Spain 2016 – Day 1 – Arrival

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Surprisingly early start for a 12:50 flight to Malaga for Luton Airport.

The flight itself was around 3 hours and would have us arriving around 5pm Spanish time.

We’d catch a train to the nearest city to our resort, fuerengir… Something.. Oh dear.
The train journey was pretty nice, giving us a little taste of the local terrain, consisting of bright buildings and plenty of hills and mountains.

We arrived in the city and promptly grabbed a cab to the resort we would be staying at, a resort South of Fuengirola called Club La Costa world.

Checked in and was taken to our 2 bedroom apartment thing, pretty nice, no aircon but plenty of fans and enough space to store all of our things, food, etc etc. I do worry about the heat a little bit though. Time will tell.

Quick freshen up and then a trip to the local supermarket to grab some supplies for the week, for me, mostly eggs and some chorizo for breakfast. The prices were probably a little on the high side, Cordelia bought a bottle of sun lotion which cost her 13 goddamn euros which is ridiculous.

Now around dinner time, we walked to the neighbouring resort to find something to at and ended up in a restaurant called Safari.
The prices were kind of on the high side but the decor was nice.  We were without a doubt the youngest people in the restaurant – a terrifying reminder that people who stay at resorts are 40-50 and very British.

The menu was fairly basic and kind of overly British, but thankfully there was Paella on the menu, a fantastic way to start our week in Spain. We ordered the mixed Paella for 4 and was shortly greeted by a massive dish of the stuff filled with chicken,  fish,  pork,  prawn,  clams,  mussels…

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Overate of course, and promptly waddled back to the accommodation. Fairly uneventful first day, but then I guess It always is.

Probably beach and some town exploring tomorrow…

 

New Forest

Spent majority of the weekend down near southhampton in New Forest national park.

Only last week at the aforementioned strange BBQ, was invited to go camping with some folk down at new forest, didn’t have anything already pencilled in, so I thought I’d take inspiration from that Jim Carey film ‘Yes Man’ and signed up for it, despite not really knowing how to camp.
I don’t think i’ve been camping since my days in scouts or primary school.

So we set out on Saturday morning and hit the camping area around 10:30ish, to which everyone was like “alright, time to go hiking to the nearest pub!”

2 hours and a hell of a lot of walking later, we finally arrived. Nice little lunch, drink and lay down and we were back on the long trail to return to camp, we took a different route of course.
Of worthy note is that one of the guys with us, Tim, had an OG paper map and compass, and without him we would have been very very lost, as google maps doesn’t really have hiking trails on the map, and tbh we weren’t following the paths all the time anyway.

Finally returned to camp around 6:30 (we left at 11:30), literally stumbling out through the forest and straight towards a beautifully timed ice cream van.
I was absolutely exhausted after all the walking, I think we totalled approximately 10 miles (up and down hills, over streams, through woodland and all sorts).
We didn’t actually bring any food with us, so we popped back in the car and went the local shop to buy some food, and came back with one of those disposable BBQ’s, Meat and Ciders. We threw the tent up with everyones help and then got to BBQing (the charcoal didn’t catch fire very well, so it was a lot of effort fanning the flames).

We were sitting in the dark for fairly long until maybe 11pm or so, when a sudden shower started and we were all forced back into our tents.

The night went about as expected, fairly hard ground coupled with a sleeping bag which was simultaneously too cold and too hot, the real problems began around 5am when I was woken up by birds and the sound of rain on the top of the tent. Needed to piss really badly because of the cider but oh my god the rain just refused to let up. Thus ended up laying in bed drifting in and out of sleep until 7am or so. God those birds were noisy.

Keto Diet and the strangest BBQ I’ve ever been to

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i’ve started trying to get in shape (again), there is no gym round the corner this time, so i’ll likely just be doing some kettlebell/bodyweight routines and then trying the keto diet – which is pretty much minimal carbs and lots of meat/fat, the logic of it being that your body switches from burning carbs to burning fat instead. I’ve actually wanted to try this diet for a while, but living at home or not having enough money was a bit of a struggle, as you wouldn’t get to pick your own meals or I wouldn’t be able to afford the necessary food due to it being so meat dependant.
I’m about a week in so far, and i’m not sure how I feel about it,
– I absolutely adore being able to eat pork scratchings and pass it off as part of my diet
– I love bacon and eggs in the morning
– I love being able to add salt to my food because I need to for my diet
However…
– I miss cake and chocolate, especially because there is ALWAYS something sweet to eat in my office
– I miss crisps and being able to eat whatever I can get my hands on
– Girlfriend is diabetic, which as you can imagine, is a bit of a pain when she comes over and i have fuckall carbs in the house.

 

While we’re talking about food, I was invited to a BBQ the other day, it was pretty close by and I thought it would fit in well with my diet so we went, the host was vegetarian (why even host a BBQ) so we had to pick up our own meat to cook.
We turned up to a lovely roaring fire pit and grill so that was nice, she put on some tofu, potato and veg skewers and promptly burnt them all to a crisp… Whatever, I aint judge.
So we basically put on all of our food afterwards, I practically ended up taking over the BBQ. There were about 10 people, I had brought 13 chicken legs, 8 sausages, 4 burgers and 8 mini corn-cobs, expecting other people to bring stuff too. Nobody brought anything! Okay then, whatever, we have enough to share anyway.
Throughout the night we cooked off all the chicken, corn and sausages… The other 8 people at the BBQ/party ate a total of about 5 chicken legs and 1 sausage.
Literally ate about 4 or 5 chicken legs, 2 sausages, and 5 Corn-cobs, along with whatever cake, crisps and chocolate that happened to appear in my hands.

I can say with 100% certainty that this was the first BBQ i’ve attended that was bring your own food, bring your own mixers (she only had spirits), cook the food yourself, and eat it all yourself because nobody is hungry. Why have these other people even turned up? Was it even a BBQ or was the fire just there for a centrepiece? Did other people just get told it’s a birthday gathering? I’ve never been so confused…. The corn was hella fuckin good though.