Ronda is one of the few cities in the world to have a deep gorge running through the heart of the city, and is luckier still to have the Puente Nuevo (new bridge in Spanish) spanning it. The gorge also served as the most formidable defence Ronda’s enemies have ever tried to attack. Known as El Tajo, the gorge was created by constant erosion of the rio Guadalevín which is fed by mountain streams and melting snow high in the mountains of the Sierra de las Nieves. Continue reading Puente Nuevo and El Tajo Gorge
Olvera is known as “the King of the Pueblo Blancos” (white towns) and it was declared a Protected Area of Artistic and Historical Importance in 1983. It is a friendly town with a population of around 10,000 and has all the amenities you will need to enjoy your holiday including numerous shops, banks, internet cafe, bars and restaurants. There is also a municipal swimming pool and bar which is open during the summer months.
Pablo Picasso, native of Malaga, and one of the world’s most popular artists whose pieces regularly sell for hundreds of thousands, or even millions of Euros, is not beyond the reach of ordinary folk intent on appreciating his work, as witnessed by the recent addition of 43 Picasso works to the Picasso Museum in Malaga.
Malaga city isn’t often considered a major tourist attraction compared to cities such as Sevilla, Granada, or Ronda, but with over 108 million Euros invested in Malaga’s Picasso Museum, the city council and government of Andalucia are already seeing more and more people coming to Malaga for cultural reasons beyond the traditional flamenco or Easter parades.
Puerto Banus offers the best night life and most exclusive shopping on the Costa del Sol, but that is after all the main attraction for a village in sunny Spain that didn’t exist until the 1970s.
Built as playground for the rich and famous, Puerto Banus, or known by residents as ‘Banus’, still manages to attract the wealthiest jet setters. Created by Jose Banus, whose name the village borrows, the developer was a close personal friend of General Franco, and built the town to appeal to those with money and discerning tastes.
This is a delicious, filling paella perfect for lazy afternoons and an even lazier cook. Okay, making a paella isn’t like making a toasted sandwich, but it’s very easy to do for a meal with so many ingredients.
You’ll be making a meal fit for four people, with plenty of rice, chicken and jamon iberica (Iberian ham), and a flavour that will leave your taste buds begging for more.
Paella has a mixed history, and the most common recipes require seafood (see our traditional paella recipe), however this isn’t to everyone’s taste, and inland Spain has adapted the paella with other ingredients. The renowned British chef Jamie Oliver also has his own chicken paella recipe.
By the way, paella is usually served during the day, and many Spaniards will think you’re a bit strange if you eat paella for dinner. Heavy foods with rice or pasta are not usually eaten by the spanish before bedtime.
Chicken Paella Ingredients (serves 4)
2 cups of arborio rice (white short grain)
4 cups of chicken broth or chicken stock
2 onions thinly sliced
6-7 cloves of chopped or pressed garlic
2 cups of pale dry sherry (fino)
1/2 a cup of chopped red pepper (pimento)
1/2 a cup of garlic stalks or substitute with scallions
2 large chicken breasts diced (skin on is preferred by Spaniards)
1/4 cup of diced Iberian Ham (or substitute with bacon)
Large pinch of saffron threads (or fine grade powdered saffron)
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
How to Make your Chicken Paella
We first need to prepare our saffron, place the saffron in a small dish, and add a tablespoon of boiling over it. Heat some oil in a 10 inch paella pan or skillet, and sauté the onion till soft and translucent. Add the garlic and stir well, then remove both.
Top up the oil in the pan, and saute the chicken till lightly browned, then add the ham. If you wish, you can also add some slices of chorizo. Remove the chicken and ham, and add to the previously cooked onion and garlic.
With a little more oil, add the rice and cook till it starts to change colour. Add the chicken, ham, onion, and garlic to the rice, stir, then add the chicken broth, saffron, and paprika.
Bring the paella to a boil and stir well. Now add the sherry, the garlic stalks, and the pimienta. Return to the boil for a few minutes, stirring well.
Season with salt if needed, and simmer covered for another 30 minutes, with occasional stirring. The only ingredient that may cause any problems will be the rice. Stir to avoid sticking, and if need be, add more broth. Once the rice is soft, the paella is ready to serve.
Garnish with parsley.
Many other tasty ingredients can be added if desired, for example chopped mushrooms, or the more traditional seafood such as prawns, mussels, and baby squid.
Alan Pearson, a retired maintenance engineer from the UK discovered a passion for painting as a young boy, and has developed his art around the scenes he sees in his daily routine. Many of the canvases in Alan’s portfolio date back to the 1980s while working in England, although he has been at his most prolific since moving to Spain.
The bespoke El Gecko Hotel, just 50 metres from the railway station serving Cortes de la Frontera, in the tiny village of La Cañada del Real Tesoro, is a small haven of peace and tranquility with its own tree covered terrace and private pool for long lazy Andalusian summer days.
From the jacket, “At the Strait of Gibraltar, where Europe touches Africa, Spain shoes its rugged side. The jagged mountain chain that lies at the very southern end of the peninsula is one that harbours many delights. Dense, fern-draped forests alternate with unexpected bare mountaintops and dazzling steep cliffs. Flowery rock fields on windswept crests overlook picturesque white villages amidst green oak groves. These are the Sierra of Western Andalusia, an enchanting region with an incredible natural diversity.”
The first thing that stands out when picking up a copy of the Crossbill Guides Andalusian Sierras, is the heavy paper, and full colour photos and maps. The quality of the paper makes a huge difference to your enjoyment of this guide, which should accompany you in the car. Buy a second copy to keep on the coffee table, for easy reading at home.
At 208 pages, this is a meaty guide that is also only slightly wider than a paperback novel, and very easily fits in a daypack when you’re walking or hiking around the district. Though district might be too localised a description, since the area covered in Andalusian Sierras stretches from the Bay of Gibraltar, through the Alcornacales, Grazalema, Sierra de las Nieves, Torcal and Ardales-El Chorro parklands.
Visitors to the area are often struck by the contrasts between differing parts of Western Andalucia, that in such a small geographical area there can be so many ecosystems bordering each other. The terrain is unique in being the meeting ground where Africa is pushing into Europe, with high limestone mountains, rolling sandstone hills, and low fertile valleys.
Needless to say, the flora and fauna of the area can differ quite substantially. In Andalusian Sierras we are first introduced to the landscape, written in an appealing descriptive style, and heavy on facts. Climate and geology is discussed first, and includes schematics of the terrain explaining the various habitats to be found.
For the infrequent visitor to Andalucia, a book with 30 walks of the Serrania de Ronda is useless. Far batter to invest in Andalusian Sierras: From Malaga to Gibraltar (Crossbill Guides) with 14 excellent walks covering a wider area, that take in a broader variety of habitats. The majority of visitors to Andalusia are after all, only here for a week or two, and it would be a shame to not experience El Torcal, Grazalema, or the lowland walks of the Campo de Gibraltar near Tarifa.
Nature lovers who travel the world in search of new experiences will thoroughly enjoy the treatment of the the natural spaces in Andalusia by the Crossbill Guides Foundation. Whilst this guide only covers the nature of Malaga and Cadiz provinces, anyone familiar with the district would confirm that the native and migratory flora is amongst the richest in Europe.
Pages are colour-coded, and roughly divided into four sections, Landscape, Flora and Fauna, Walking Routes, and Tourist Information and Observation Tips.
The walking routes are graded, include a map, description of terrain, colour photos of highlights, and itinerary. The routes are; bird Migration along the Strait of Gibraltar, the Southern Alcornacales, the Northern Alcornacales, Climbing Aljibe Mountain, El Pinsapar Spanish Fir forest walk, Salto del Cabrero, La Garganta Verde, Along El Bosque river, the north slope of the Pinar mountains, the karst landscape of Villaluenga, the fir forest of Luis Ceballos, the hight mountains, El Chorro, and walking in the Torcal de Antequera.
The back of the book gives a species list for plants, mammals, birds, invertebrates, and reptiles. Curiously, the editors have decided to provide English, Latin, German, and Dutch, but not Spanish. This isn’t a huge oversight, but does mean when speaking to Spaniards about fauna and flora, you’ll need to use the latin name to find common ground.