Benalmadena, Costa del Sol

There are many reasons to visit Benalmadena, the beach and world class Arabian styled marina being just two of them. Eating out is a pleasure, the pueblo a delight to see, and the parks a relaxing distraction.

Amongst the best known attractions of Benalmadena is the marina with its village atmosphere, yachts berthed under sun soaked apartments, and the boulevard along which many of Benalmadena’s best restaurants and bars are located.

Either side of the marina are miles of golden sand beaches stretching to Torremolinos in the East, and to Fuengirola in the west. The town is a popular summer holiday destination for Spaniards and foreigners alike, in fact Benalmadena is home to one of the greatest concentrations of foreigners who make up 35% of the city.

Historically the village traces it’s first inhabitants to neolithic people who fished along her shore, and made homes for themselves in sheltered parts of the hills above the coast. A visit to the Archelogical Museum will shed light on stone age cave paintings, Phoenician trading, Roman ruins, and the Islamic port town that existed until 1485.

Benalmadena’s favourite son was an Islamic era scientist and botanist, Ibn al Baitar, whose statue can be seen on the boardwalk nect to Bil Bil castle.

The church of Santo Domingo across from the railway station sits on the location of the former Moorish castle of Ben-al-Madina, the former name of the town which means children of the mines, a reference to the iron ore and ochre mines of the area.

Being a coastal city which is close to Malaga and the international airport, you’d expect Benalmadena to be a popular tourist destination, and this explains the huge number of leisure activities situated on the city’s doorstep, including Selwo Marina, Sea Life Aquarium, Tivoli Park, Paloma Park, Benalmadena Golf, Butterfly Park, the Torrequebrada Casino, the Cactus and Succulents Garden, the mountain cable car, as well as the many hiking trails in the mountains above the town.

Watersports are popular, yachting being the most obvious, and within the marina complex tickets can be bought for dolphin and whale watching excursions. The beaches around Benalmadena are also popular for wind-surfing and kite-surfing, whilst the boulevard itself is a mecca for casual cyclists and roller-bladers.

Getting to Benalmadena isn’t difficult. From Malaga’s international airport simply use the suburban train going west toward Fuengirola, or head west on the E-15 after picking up your hire car.

Daytrips to Benalmadena from Ronda are just as easy, use the train from Ronda to Malaga’s Mario Zambrano station, then change to the suburban.


Malaga Cruise Ship Terminal

Malaga’s cruise ship terminal is one of the newest and fully featured in Spain, despite the 3000 years of operation of the port, and is located only a few hundred metres from the main pedestrianised part of the city centre.

At present the terminal is able to accommodate two ships at a time, though it isn’t uncommon to see as many as four cruise ships, two under anchor, and two berthed at the termninal gangways.

Regular departures occur all year yound, and with Malaga’s Mediterranean climate makes a fantastic port of call that passengers should look forward to. Weather in Malaga is mild all year round with the best weather being between March and mid-November.

The terminal is a new building, very similar to an airport, with customs and immigration services, a cafeteria, and a small tourist gift shop. A city bus service passes by the terminal entrance every 30 mins on weekdays and less frequently at weekend and public holidays.

Dedicated shuttle services are provided whilst ships are in port, the most common destination being the port entrance which is at the western end of Parque Alameda, across the street from McDonalds, and at the beginning of the main shopping precinct. There are several hotels within 200m of the port entrance.

Between the terminal and the port entrance there is a lovely promenade with restaurants, bars, and nearby a small Supersol supermarket, all within 400m walking distance of the teramnal.

Ships berthed at Malaga will have views of the city including the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castle.

Daytrips from Malaga to the Costa del Sol, Nerja and the caves, Antequera, Ronda, and Granada are all possible, check with the pursor on board ship for details.

Within Malaga most visitors won’t want to miss seeing the castle and Islamic era palace, the cathedral, the Roman ampitheatre, the Picasso Museum (a MUST see), or the Plaza de Toros. All are within a 1km walk of the port entrance and easily accessible for most levels of fitness.

Cruzcampo Gran Reserva

Cruzcampo Gran Reserva, a Premium Spanish Lager

Back in 2009 Cruzcampo’s premium product, the Gran Reserva won gold at the awards for the World’s Best Strong Lager, and whilst the beer is available for sale internationally there can be no doubt enjoying an ice cold glass in Spain is preferable.

Even in winter if the sun is shining you’ll see connoisseurs of fine lagers sipping the Gran Reserva appreciatively with a plate of Jamon Iberica and Queso Curado in front of them. Ronda’s Plaza del Socorro, the Plaza Alameda, or Calle Comandante Salvador Carrasco are three of the best locations for enjoying the sun all year round.

Cruzcampo Gran Reserva (6.4% alcohol) is served chilled, the bottle recommends temperatures between 5 degrees down to -7 degrees celsius, and will be brought to your table in an ie bucket as if it were the finest Cava or Champagne. Most likely your glasses will be chilled as well. Beer in Spain is generally served ice cold.

The bottle describes the Gran Reserva as “A bright amber color, stylish foam, compact and creamy. A pleasant aroma derived from roasting the malt.”

A first taste suggests the lager is slightly sweet, reminiscent of a subtle touch of a mousse with hints of dried fruit, honey and a little licorice.

The aftertaste is long and bitter, all in all an excellent combination of aromatic hops and a selection of the best malt species with an intense flavor and balanced body. Cruzcampo Gran Reserva is the result of a long and traditional maturation in the beer cellars of Cruzcampo.


Daytrip from Ronda to Gibraltar

Most of the visitors who stay in Ronda for a few days or more also want to see other parts of Andalucia, and the tiny British colony of Gibraltar with its quaint charm is often high on the list.

Most British expats who live in Ronda or the Costa del Sol will visit a couple of times a year to shop in Morrisons supermarket, but visitors want to see the rock and her Barbary monkeys, Europa Point, or just wander around and experience the curiously British colony that confuses with it’s native Spanish dialect and English fish and chip shops.

Things to do and see in Gibraltar include the Moorish Castle, St Michael’s Cave, Main Street, Alameda Gardens, Our Lady or Europe, the 100 tonne gun, the Mediterranean Steps, the Great Tunnel at Catalan Bay, the Great Siege Tunnels, Parson’s Lodge, Casemate Square, the Lighthouse at Europa Point, the Southport Gates, Trafalgar Cemetery, the Cable Car Ride, or head out on a Dolphin and Whale Tour.

Getting to Gibraltar from Ronda can be as easy as hopping in your hire car and taking the Gaucin road through to Jimena de la Frontera and then follw the signs for La Linea, but the easiest and less stressful way is to hop on the train from Ronda to Algeciras, then take a 30 minute bus to La Linea and walk across the border.

Be aware the entering Gibraltar means leaving Spain, so you will need a satisfactory form of government issued ID, in the case of British citizens this means a passport or service ID, and in the case of continental Europeans your normal identity card. Spaniards can cross the border using their DNI.

Despite there being a border crossing, most pedestrians are waved through by police if you hold your ID up for them to see. Returning to Spain involves passing through the red or green customs lanes, and random searches should be expected, especially if you attempt to use the green lane and you have bags of shopping. Tobacco is cheaper in Gibraltar and a lot of people try to re-enter Spain with more than their allowance.

Entering and leaving Gibraltar by car can be a real hassle with queues often timed between an hour to two hours as customs officials inspect vehicles. Quite frankly, unless you really need to take your car into Gib, don’t bother, there is plenty of parking on the La Linea side.

Trains from Ronda leave at 07:30, arriving in Algeciras at 09:15, and the next bus leaves Algeciras for La Linea at 09:40 meaning you could be in Casemate Square at 10:30 for breakfast. Return trains from Algeciras leave at 15:00, 16:00 and 19:00 so ask at the bus station for an ‘horario’, a printout of the bus service times.

Gallery of Gibraltar Photos


Plaza de Toros, Sevilla

Bullfighting has a proud history and tradition in Andalucia, and no more so than in Sevillawhere the Plaza de Toros is still used to this day. Owned by the Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Sevilla, the plaza competes with Ronda for the title of oldest bullring in Spain.

Before construction was completed, bullfights in Sevilla would take place in the Plaza de San Francisco in a rectangular shaped arena specially erected and then dismantled for each corrida.

Designed by Francisco Sanchez de Aragon and Pedro y Vicente de San Martin, the current plaza is built was completed in the mid 1880s from stone and brick, and then renovated again in the 20th century by the renowned architect Anibal Gonzalez who also designed Plaza de España in the city.

Unusually, Sevilla’s Plaza de Toros isn’t a perfect circle as is more common, with the rueda actually being more oval in shape. MAny visitors don’t notice this at ground level, but the shape is clearly seen from above, for example by climbing the Giralda tower in the cathedral.

Within the enclosure is housed the Real Maestranza, a chivalric order created originally as a military cavalry, the museum dedicated to bulfighting, and a chapel used by the toreros to pray before entering and leaving the ring.

During the April feria in Sevilla is when the most popular fights of the calendar are seen, with tickets sometimes selling for many hundreds of Euros.


Trams in Sevilla

Any visitor to the old part of Sevilla will no doubt notice the sleek silver trams that run the length of Avenida Constitucion past the cathedral terminating in Plaza Nueva. In the other direction the tram terminates at the San Bernardo railway station.

It’s tempting to ride the tram just for the experience, but unless you live in Sevilla you’ll find the route quite limiting. Plans are afoot to extend the service over the Guadalquivir River and into Triana but as at November 2011 this hasn’t happened.

Tickets for the tram costs 1.30€ for a one way trip, and if you’re staying in the city for more than a day it’s better to buy a bonobus ticket (3.75€ for a day) which lets you travel by tram and bus simply by swiping your card.

Future plans for the tram involve extending the line to Santa Justa AVE station, and through the main shopping precinct to Santa Catalina.

Current stops are Plaza Nueva, Avenida Constitucion, Puerta de Jerez (university), Prado de San Sebastian (bus station), and San Bernardo.

Torre del Oro and Guadalquivir

Torre del Oro, Sevilla

Sevilla's Golden Tower
Sitting on the city side of the Guadalquivir River in Seville, visitors to the city flock to the Torre del Oro, translated it means Gold Tower, and was built during the 13th century by the Almohad rulers of Al-Andalus to protect the city from Castillian invasions.

Originally the tower was part of a pair, the other being located across the river in Triana, and together they were the end points for a solid chain that could be lifted or lowered in the river to prevent ships from passing.

The reason for the name Torre del Oro has two possible origins, one being that precious metals arriving by ship could be stored in the tower until their owners could transport them into the city proper. The second possibility is that the tower which to this day has a gold leaf covered top may have originally been covered from top to bottom in gold leaf.

This second explanation is given widen credence, especially given the tower has a twin located on the city walls on the opposite side of the city which is known as the Torre del Plata (Silver Tower).

During the Middle Ages the tower was restored by the Castillian kings and used for a time as a prison, as well as defensive tower with cannons located on the riverside aimed downriver.

Sevilla’s Torre del Oro commands an impressive vista of the river, Triana, and parts of the old town, and it is well worth the effort to visit the top level for the view.

Directly below the tower there are also open decked tours buses that leave every 30 minutes or horse and carriage tours on demand, whilst on the river there are tourist ferries that ply the port and scenic sections of the Guadalquivir.

Visits to the tower and the Maritime Museum contained within at are possible daily.

Tortilla Española

Before we proceed to making this simple and delicious dish, let’s clear up a couple of confusing points. Here in Spain, a “tortilla” is an omelette. It has nothing to do with thin wraps of unleavened bread. Those are Mexican tortillas.

Secondly, an omelette pure and simple, consisting of nothing more than beaten eggs, is known as a “French omelette” (tortilla francesa). Much more substantial, with chunks of potato, is the meal we are about to prepare – the Spanish omelette, or “tortilla española”.

This filling dish is nothing if not versatile. It is delicious hot from the frying-pan, but can also be kept and eaten cold. A “wedge” of tortilla española makes an ideal snack or starter, and it can be complemented with salad, fish or just about anything.

Ingredients (serves four)
1 kilo (35 oz) potatoes
5 eggs
30 grams (1 oz) chopped onions (optional)
half a litre (just under 1 pint) olive oil

Peel the potatoes and dice them into cubes (this is very much the traditional way to prepare them). Get the olive oil very hot, then add the potato cubes and the onion. It is important to make sure that the potato pieces are completely sealed by the oil. Reduce the heat slightly, and cook the potato until the cubes turn golden. This should take about fifteen minutes.

Once the potato cubes are soft and cooked through, drain off the oil, save it, and place the potato in a bowl. Now beat the eggs, adding salt, and when they are evenly mixed, add this to the potato cubes and stir thoroughly.

The retained oil can now go back into the frying-pan. Heat it up again, then add the mixture of potato and egg. Really, you are making a standard omelette now, so do as you would normally do – keep freeing the outer edge of your mixture, using a spatula, and ease any uncooked mixture towards the outer edges, where it will get more heat. Don’t let the omelette brown too quickly.

Now comes the fun part. The upper half of your tortilla española is not cooking as rapidly as the underside, so you now have to turn it over. When you’re sure that it is no longer too runny, place a plate over the frying-pan and (holding the plate, of course!) flip the whole thing upside-down.

If you’ve done it reasonably deftly, the omelette will pop neatly onto the plate. It’s a simple matter now of sliding it back into the frying-pan; with the well-cooked side on top! Return it to the heat, and very soon the whole tortilla española will be evenly cooked, and ready to serve.

¡Buen provecho!

Antonio Marin Lara and Former Councillors Arrested

This morning Antonio Marin Lara, and three other PSOE councillors Francisco Cañestro, Rafael Lara, and María José Martín de Haro were arrested and will be charged with corruption and money laundering offences.

Agents from the National Police division, the Unidad de Droga y Crimen Organizado (UDYCO), the drugs and organized crime unit, this morning arrived with warrents to arrest the four former councillors at the offices of the town hall and the Office of Urban Develepment, both of which have been registered as crime scenes.

The investigation against former town councillors has been ongoing for more than 12 months with specialist agents drafted in from Malaga to collect and assess evidence against the accused.

Ronda Today understands that all charges will likely be related to urban planning discrepancies. This morning staff arriving for work in both of the offices affected were prevented from entering the premises as further police arrived with large numbers of empty boxes to remove files and documents.

Police have confirmed that they will be widening their investigation and that the private homes of the accused will be sequestred to collect further evidence. Court approved wire taps have been used, and police say several other people, including civil servants and private citizens will be questioned with possible further arrests.

Update 12pm: The regional PSOE-A of Andalucia moved this morning to suspend all four of the accused, meaning that their seats in Ronda’s town council will shortly be filled by other list candidates from the recent municipal elections.

Update 3:30pm: A further three people have been arrested and will join the first four detained in Malaga where all will be formally indicted in court. The police have further announced that crimes being investigated also include forgery, malfeasance, destruction of evidence, and bribery.


Estepona Golf Club

18 Holes, Par 72, and 6,001 metres

Situated on the Costa del Sol, this course was inaugurated in 1989 and makes the most of the beautiful natural surroundings, at the foot of the Sierra Bermeja mountains, to offer a round of wide fairways and very long greens.

It is a very beautiful course with an abundance of vegetation and water, with large lakes skirting the greens. The design of the course follows the natural layout of the terrain, including the hazards, and the wide fairways are the pride of Estepona.

It’s a fast round and the greens have been described on numerous occasions as the best on the Costa del Sol.

Estepona Golf once boasted the longest hole in Spain. Known as the “Ski-run”, the par-5 3rd measuring exactly 568 metres, which has now been shortened to a par 4. If you get a good bounce with the drive the green is reachable in two. Beware thick rough on the left and shepherds pastures on the right.

Many water hazards, dangerous rough, long par 3′s and lots of sloping fairways make for a challenging day. This relatively short course offers a good test, mainly narrow fairways with many ups and downs.

Estepona’s splendid clubhouse has terraces which offer spectacular view of the sea and the mountains. Buggies Recommended!

Address: Estepona Golf. Arroyo Vaquero, Ctra. de Cadiz, Km 150, Apdo. 532, Estepona (Malaga) Spain
Tel: (+34) 952 937 605