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Spanish towns. Betting on white.

Spanish towns. Betting on white.

White towns of Alicante and Malaga are a hallmark of rural Spain. How about a weekend getaway?

Narrow streets, wooden windows, flower pots on each balcony, nature, sun and lots, lots of white. White is present in many Spanish towns in the south and southeast of the country. Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol are the best examples.

But why so many white facades? The reason is simple: to avoid the buildup of heat. White reflects sunlight and keeps the walls cool. In addition, the lime used to paint them is also anti-bacterial and acts against parasites. That is why, in times of epidemics, it was used as a disinfectant. Hence, many churches in Andalusia that used to house the sick remain white inside.

Beyond their usefulness, white facades make these Spanish towns a spectacle of light and beauty. We have chosen some of our favorites. It’s your turn to keep on discovering!

Alicante

Altea.

Altea

Altea is the king of Alicante’s towns. Climbing to the top through Altea la Vella is a constant surprise. Be careful, photographers: you run the risk of losing yourself in its streets forever. Upon reaching the top, the church of Nuestra Señora del Consuelo gives the color note: its blue-tiled dome is a symbol of the Costa Blanca. And below, the town flows into an intense coloured Mediterranean.

Polop de la Marina

Not everything is coast and sea. Polop de la Marina hides among the mountains of Mount Ponoig, surrounded by slopes and rocky walls. Green shades are the ideal background for white facades, but also yellow, pinkish, ocher… Artist Gabriel Miró spent his childhood summers here, and Polop inspired part of his work. Climb the Muslim castle and look down to the valley. Can you ask for more?

Jávea.

Jávea

Jávea has everything you would ask of a fishing village. Gravel beaches, coves, cliffs, promenades along the seashore… Painter Joaquin Sorolla wrote: “Xàbia has everything I want (…) Emotion still dominates me (…). It is the place I always dreamed of, sea and mountains, but what a sea!”. Without forgetting Gothic style bourgeois houses, stone walls… and the ubiquitous white.

Malaga

Mijas.

Mijas

The Moorish heritage of its streets makes Mijas a unique and peculiar town. Nestled in the hillside, Mijas looks like a white oasis among mountains. The best thing you can do is walking (get ready for the slopes!) or tour around the town on the famous donkey-taxis. Pots give touches of pink, yellow, violet … and the views of the Mediterranean from the Paseo de la Muralla will take your breath away.

Estepona

Estepona is more like a city, but it deserves a place in this list for its 16 kilometers of pedestrian streets and 18 of coastal path. Walking is a pleasure. The restoration of its streets has turned it into a collage of bougainvillea, pots and white facades. Seville Street is our favorite, with the tower of the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios church in the background. To enjoy the sunset: the beach, always the beach.

Frigiliana.

Frigiliana

Since 2014, its old town is a Historic Artistic Site. No wonder: it is so well preserved, it seems it was built yesterday. It is very popular among foreigners, which gives it a very curious cosmopolitan air. Flowered corners, hidden squares, terraces with views, small fountains … and our beloved white facades. For the sweet tooth: cane honey from Ingenio Nuestra Señora del Carmen – the only cane honey factory in Europe – is spectacular.


5 things to do when visiting Marbella

5 things to do when visiting Marbella

If a German prince hadn´t decided to buy some land in the obscure fishing village where his car broke down in 1946 it is likely that few people outside of Spain would have heard of the name Marbella. As it happens, he did, and soon began inviting his A-list celebrity friends to visit him there – think Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. The Finca in which he hosted them became the Marbella club in 1954, the first of many luxury hotels that would become synonymous with the city that grew up around it. To this day the lustre hasn´t worn off and Marbella remains a showcase for the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Not everybody can afford to buy in Marbella but as a tourist destination it does have something for everybody, not matter your budget…

1. Old Town

Marbella Old Town – Photo by: Kamyar Adl

One look at Marbella´s “old town” and it is easy to see why the Prince fell in love with the place. At its heart is the Orange Square, which takes its name from the orange trees that surround the pretty fountain in the middle. On three sides the square is fronted by architectural gems which grant the square its unique beauty: the hermitage, the town hall and old governor´s house, all dating back to the Baroque era and beyond. Sitting down to lunch or a coffee in Orange Square is the natural place to begin your sight-seeing trip to Marbella.

2. Shopping

Having soaked up the history in Orange Square the next item on people´s agenda in Marbella is to hit the shops. There are several large shopping centres with high street brands like Zara, Mango, and H&M, but what Marbella is really famous for its it chic designer outlets. The likes of Versace and Gucci have their own stores here and many other high couture labels can be found in high end complexes. Window shopping along the “golden mile” is a tourist activity in itself.

3. Beaches

Marbella Beach

On the south of Spain it is a given that you are not going to have to look far to find a beautiful beach and Marbella does not disappoint. From Nagueles beach which is uber popular due to its central location just off the golden mile, to Funny beach with its carnival attractions, and the diminutive Venus beach, there is a stretch of sand to suit every kind of visitor, be they young families, large groups, or singles looking for some sea-side seclusion.

4. Mosque

Mosque Walls and Palm Trees at Sunset 1996 Marbella, Spain – Photo by: Zest-pk

For those interested in more cultural pursuits a trip to the Marbella Mosque is well worth the time. Unlike the mosque at Cordoba this building does not date back to Moorish times, it is a modern construction that harks back to the great mosques of old. It´s clean white lines, and gleaming courtyard planted with orange trees is the perfect blend of the modern with the traditional.

5. Parks and Gardens

Marbella Natural Beauty

Apart from all the material wealth on display Marbella also has a wealth of natural beauty to boast of. Parque de las Medranas in San Pedro de Alcantara is especially worth a visit as it offers the opportunity to water ski by cable which is a really fun way of taking in the surrounds. For a more central zone of relaxation try Alameda Park with its tropical plants and shady seating areas. Surrounded by cafés and restaurants it´s a popular place for locals to meet up and for tourist to enjoy a romantic horse and carriage ride.

Costa del Sol, local culinary specialties

Costa del Sol, local culinary specialties

Today’s post is especially aimed at you, foodies all over the world 😉  Costa del Sol is no exception to Spaniards’ love of good food and the so-called sobremesa (table talk). Read on to find out more on the gastronomic delights Costa del Sol offers.  

When it comes to Málaga’s gastronomy , tradition, innovation and a pinch of international flavour, all merge together. When thinking about Andalusian dishes the first ones that comes to our mind are probably the wold-famous gazpacho, a cold soup made of tomato, cucumber, pepper, garlic, bread, olive oil, salt and vinegar, and the pescaíto frito, deep-dried fish. However, Costa del Sol is a truly melting pot and this multiculturalism is reflected in its cuisine, hence the great number of international dishes which are served up at local restaurants. Baklavas, a Moroccan sweet pastry, is easily found all along the coast and the British Carrot Cake can be considered to be a traditional cake of Western Costa del Sol.

Sit down on any of the terraces of the local restaurants set along the coastline and enjoy the tasty tapas while taking a cooling sip of any of the local wines. Tapas are an excellent option to sample the variety and high quality of Costa del Sol’s cuisine. They are small portions of food which can be eaten any time of day. The idea is to order different tapas and share them with your partner, family or friends. The so-called chiringuitos are beach bars set along the seafront promenade or even on the beach itself. They serve up pescaíto frito and other savoury fish dishes as well as a wide range of cooling drinks. Enjoy a piece of crunchy fish spiced up with a scent of salty air.

If you really want to soak up Spanish culture, a visit to local markets is a must. You will find different stalls offering an exquisite selection of fresh meat and fish, colourful fruits and vegetables and crusty and delicious bakery and pastry products. Grab some stuff here and there, and dare to cook some of the local dishes listed down below.

Here you have a selection of 5 regional dishes. All of them are based on traditional recipes using fresh ingredients and offer a unique punch of flavour. They will make you want to lick your fingers!

Espeto de Sardinas: sardine skewers which are grilled in the salt air in a sand-filled boat on the beach. They are simply yummy!  Here is how to do it at home.  You will need:

  • Sardines
  • Olive oil
  • Salt.

Sardines to be grilled must be super fresh and we recommend cooking them outdoors. Leave them whole and sprinkle them with a pinch of coarse salt. Heat the grill, add some olive oil and cook the sardines until roasted. Serve hot. Perfect for BBQ’s with friends J      

Berenjenas fritas con miel de caña: fried eggplant with cane honey. Ingredients:

  • 2-3 eggplants
  • Milk
  • Flour
  • Olive
  • Honey

Slice the eggplants, cover them with milk, add a pinch of salt and let soak for 1 hour. Drain and cover the slices with flour, shake to remove the excess and fry them in a deep pan with olive oil. Drain on paper towels. Drizzle with honey and serve hot. Watch out! They are highly addictive.    
Ensalada de pulpo:
 a refreshing octopus salad perfect for the hottest days of summer. You will need:

  • A medium-sized octopus
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 4 tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • Jerez vinegar

Dip the octopus into a pot filled with boiling water for 5 seconds, repeat this 4 times. Let the octopus cook for 45 minutes. When done, place it on a plate or board to cool. Chop the vegetables into cubes and the octopus into slices and mix them all in a bowl. Dress with olive oil, vinegar and season with sea salt.    
Jibias con garbanzos:
 cuttlefish stew with chickpeas. A delicious strew with an unmistakable sea flavour.

  • 1kg chickpeas
  • 1 or 2 cuttlefish
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tomato
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 potato
  • 1 head of garlic
  • Bay leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Sweet paprika
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Put the chickpeas to soak the night before. Chop the cuttlefish into squares. Put the chickpeas, the cuttlefish, the potato, the roasted head of garlic, 1 onion, the bay leaves and the tomato into a steam pressure pot. Season with salt and blak pepper and add water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Chop the onion and green pepper into cubes. Fry the minced vegetables in a frying pan drizzled with olive oil and let it cook for a few minutes. When cooked, sprinkle with paprika, add the sofrito into the pot and stir. Serve hot.     

Roscos de vino: wine ring cookies for those who have a sweet tooth. Eat just one

  •  6 cups of plain flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 30ml sweet Spanish aniseed liqueur (or 2 tbsp. of anise extract)
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup Muscat grape wine
  • 2 dessertspoons sesame seeds
  • Grated lemon rind
  • 1 cup icing sugar

Pre-heat oven to 180ºC. Add sesame seeds and lemon rind onto a frying pan and heat for 1 minute, set aside. Mix all dry ingredients + seeds and lemon rind in a bowl. Slowly add the oil, wine and liqueur and mix gently. Take out a small amount of dough and roll out on a floured board. Cut pieces out of the dough and form a ring/ doughnut shape. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool and toss the icing sugar to coat the tops. ¡Qué aproveche! 

Costa del Sol, an all-year-round golfer’s paradise

Costa del Sol, an all-year-round golfer’s paradise

Costa del Sol is also known as Costa del Golf and there is a good reason for that. There are ca. 60 golf courses located along this sought-after stretch of coastline, of which 4 are ranked in the Top 10 in Europe:  Valderrama Golf Club, San Roque Golf Club, La Reserva and Los Naranjos. These golf courses have been designed by renowned names such as Severiano Ballesteros, Robert Trent Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Dave Thomas. But let me tell you that it is not only the high quality of the golf courses themselves what attracts golfers from all around the world to this area.

The unrivalled climate Costa del Sol offers with over 320 days of sunshine a year and low rainfall makes it perfect to fully enjoy a round of golf anytime without being worry about the weather 😉 On top of that, the courses are surrounded by stunning natural landscapes which are a treat for the senses. You can even benefit from jaw-dropping views overlooking the deep-blue Mediterranean Sea. Picture yourself in this paradise-like setting playing a round of golf with the sun shining bright and the sea breeze blowing gently to soothe the heat on the hottest days. So, do not think it twice, pack your golf clubs and discover Costa del Sol. Here is a list of some of the golf courses you will find along Costa del Sol.

  • Alcaidesa Golf: It offers 2 golf courses Links (designed by Peter Allis and Clive Clark, Alcaidesa’s flagship since 1992) and Heathland (designed by Dave Thomas and opened in 2007), putting green, golf lessons, buggies, clubhouse and restaurant. It is located close to San Roque, La Linea and Gibraltar. A spectacular setting boating views of the Mediterranean Sea and Gibraltar.
  • Aloha Marbella Golf Course: This course designed by Javier Arana and opened in 1975 is to be found in Nueva Andalucía. It offers spectacular views of La Concha Mountain and the Mediterranean Sea. This 18–hole golf course is considered to be one of the most beautiful and outstanding ones in Spain.
  • Atalaya New and Old Course: 2 magnificent 18-hole golf courses with superb views of the Sea. This course situated in Estepona is with no doubt an oasis of peacefulness dotted with trees and beautiful Mediterranean flora.
  • Baviera Golf: an even course known for its wide greens. Designed by José María Cañizares, 5 European PGA Tours and 2 World Championship, this superb golf course offers a wide range of facilities and lovely views over the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Cabopino Golf Marbella: located midway between Marbella and Mijas Costa, opposite Cabopino Port boasting breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding pine forest. An 18-hole golf course equipped with several facilities such as driving range, pro-shop, clubhouse, putting green, golf academy, lessons, hotel and restaurant.
  • El Higueral Golf: it is a 9-hole, par-36 golf resort on the slopes of the foothills in Benahavís. Nestled in a stunning natural lanscape offering views which will leave you breathless.
  • Finca Cortesín: it is one of the longest courses in Europe (almost 7,000metres!). This 18-hole course is equipped with a great array of facilities including spa, a sport club and one of the best hotels in Europe. Finca Cortesín is an eco-friendly golf course where both flora and fauna are absolutely respected.
  • Flamingos Resort Estepona: a 18-hole golf course beautifully designed by Antonio García Garrido with spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar and Africa. It is home to Villa Padierna Hotel which become very famous back in 2010 when it was chosen by Michelle Obama and her youngest daughter to spend their summer holiday.
  • Guadalmina Golf Marbella/ Real Golf de Guadalmina: it consists of two 18-hole golf courses and a 9-hole course. It was awarded Royal Appointment by King Juan Carlos I in 2008. The facilities include 40 bay grass driving range, locker room, cafeteria, pro shop, sauna, swimming pool, tennis courts, paddle tennis court and practice bunker.
  • La Duquesa: a hilly course nestled between the mountain and the Mediterranean Sea. A beautiful blend of design and nature created by Robert Trent Jones. It features: putting green, pitching green, driving range, pro-shop, restaurant, cafe, Jacuzzi, sauna, indoor swimming pool, and tennis court.
  • La Quinta Golf Marbella: a fantastic golf course right in the heart of the Golf Valley and 5 minute drive from Marbella and Puerto Banús. It is considered to be one of the best and finest golf courses on Costa del Sol. It hosts the Benahavís Senior Masters every October. It offers: 27 holes, putting greens, hotel, golf academy, bar-cafe, restaurant, spa and gym.
  • La Resina Golf & Country Club: a 9-hole, par 3 and 4 golf course located in Estepona. Its lanscaped semi-tropical gardens with lakes and ancient olive trees makes it one of the most outstading courses on Costa del Sol.
  • Los Arqueros Golf Marbella: a challenging par-71, 18-hole course designed by Severiano Ballesteros. This excellent golf course merges with the exceptional natural environment and offers lovely views of the sea.
  • Los Naranjos Marbella: this course designed by Robert Trent Jones is one of the best golf courses in Spain. The courses set amidst orange groves was indeed voted Course of the Year in both 2005 and 2008. Los Naranjos has been the host of several mayor competitions since the opening in 1977.
  • Río Real Golf: a fantastic 18-hole par 72 course spread over an undulating terrain sloping gently towards the sea. It is set in a valley with a river crossing the course. Río Real Golf is regarded as one of the best golf courses in Marbella. It is equipped with hotel, club house, bar, tennis/paddle court and driving range.
  • Santa María Golf Elviria: it runs through 2 valleys and offers fantastic views of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a very popular golf course situated midway between Fuengirola and Marbella. Facilities include: restaurant, pro-shop, tennis court, bowling, golf academy (inc driving range), clubhouse and putting green.
  • Torrequebrada Golf Benalmádena: a masterpiece considered to be one of the most beautiful golf courses on Costa del Sol.  The course constructed in the late 70’s is located in a resort 3km inland from Benalmádena Costa.
  • Valle Romano Golf Resort Estepona:  it is the newest course on Costa del Sol. An 18-hole golf course inaugurated in 2010 and constructed to meet the highest quality standards used by the United States Golf Association. Designed by Cabell B. Robinson, one of the best golf course designers in the world who also created Valderrama and Santana Golf. A spectacular setting where sport, nature and peace merge. It is open 365 days of the year!
Estepona: the New Golden Mile

Estepona: the New Golden Mile

Estepona is a thriving town nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and Sierra Bermeja range. Well known as part of the “New Golden Mile” of Costa del Sol, Estepona has turned into one of the most exclusive towns in Costa del Sol.  The New Golde Mile is the name given to the area between San Pedro del Alcántara and Estepona, a new expanding area where nature and luxury meet. One of the advantages of this area, is that its development has been carefully planned, without any high-rise constructions and respecting the environment.

This city is a tourist destination well known for its stretch of spotless beaches and the unrivalled amenities and services offered. Its 21km stretch of golden sand and crystal clear water are complemented by several trendy beach bars perfect to sit on their terraces and sip a local wine while having some tapas. The promenade joining the marina and the city center is specially lively in the summer with all sorts of stalls along it.

Take a stroll down the town centre and soak up a truly Andalusian atmosphere. Its charming streets will offer you the best picture of the traditional Spanish style, with its narrow streets full of geranium pots.

Culture buffs are lucky since Estepona is a town exuding a vast cultural heritage displayed in worthy sights such as La Virgen de los Remedios tower which dates from 18th century. The bustling harbour is packed with a great variety of restaurants and bars where you can taste the delights of Estepona’s gastronomy while enjoying the splendid views. You will find different high standard residential complexes offering several leisure areas to practice sports such as golf and water sports.

You won’t get bored here, this is a perfect destination for both couples and families, for golfers and beach lovers. And, of course, for luxury seekers. These are some of our recommendations on what can be done here:

  • Safari at Selwo Aventura: Selwo Aventura proposes a great adventure in Africa on the Costa del Sol and make an exciting expedition for its wild territories, to meet the most representative species of the legendary continent such as lions, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, cheetahs, hyenas
  • Sailing, diving and other activities related with the sea
  • Guided routes by the city centre in Segway and Bikes
  • Watching a flamenco spectacle
  • Playing Golf: Estepona enjoys optimum weather conditions for golfing. You can enjoy any of its 8 golf courses with varying degrees of difficulty.  
    • Albayt Resort & Spa – Golf Academy
       
    • Club de Golf El Coto
     
    • El Campanario Golf & Country House
     
    • Paradise Golf Club
       
    • Resina Golf & Country Club
     
    • Valle Romano

So, don’t miss the opportunity of knowing Estepona. It’s quite easy to get there. There are 2 airports nearby. The Málaga airport, 80km away and the Gibraltar airport 45km away. Both airports have regular flights to the main european cities. Once at the local airport, Estepona can be easily reached by car, mainly by motorway in a very comfortable journey. You may want to hire a car once you have landed, and have the freedom of exploring yourself.