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Five ways to improve your Spanish skills

Five ways to improve your Spanish skills

Buying a home in Spain is more than just a financial investment. This is especially true if it’s your intention to move to Spain full-time, in which case it’s a complete change of lifestyle, and one that will only be enhanced, and made a lot easier, by the being able to speak the language. Thankfully, with the advent of the internet, learning Spanish is no longer just a matter of sitting in a classroom and being ‘taught’ the language by a teacher. While the traditional methods are still important, nowadays, they only form part of a more varied and stimulating learning experience. Below are Sonneil’s tips for the five best ways to improve your Spanish skills.

Apps

Apps have revolutionised our world in ways we never could have imagined before they became as ubiquitous as they are today. This is as true when it comes to learning a new language as it is in any other aspect of our lives. This being the case, here are some of Sonneil’s favourite apps for learning Spanish.

Duolingo

This is an excellent language learning app because its game-like format with satisfying bleeps every time you get an answer right, coupled with the feeling of rapid progress, is perfectly calculated to hit the reward centre of your brain and keep you coming back for more.

You start with simple vocabulary and progressively move to more complex sentences, all the while developing your reading, writing, listening and communication skills. The idea is to improve your language skills in just 5 minutes of training per day. This application is extremely popular because it is very effective!

Memrise

Developed by a group of scientists specialising in the study of memory, Memrise ensures that every new word, once learned, will never be forgotten. A nice feature of this app is that it allows you create your own learning paths (courses) and add the words you need to know. You will be amazed, how quickly you will make develop your vocabulary. Another advantage of Memrise is its offline mode that allows you to continue to train even when you have no internet connection.

Google translate

Don’t forget the much-maligned Google translate – some of its results can be hilariously wrong, but there’s no denying that over the years it has improved exponentially. In its app form, it has a nifty feature which allows you to highlight text on any website and automatically translate it for you. This allows you to quickly check the meaning of a word you might be stuck on and move on quickly, without disrupting the flow of your reading by having to reach for a dictionary. You can even take a photo of an entire page of text and Google will translate the whole thing for you.

Change the language on your devices

This piece of advice doesn’t relate to an app as such, but to all our digital consumption in general. Given that our phones, laptops and other devices are such an integral part of our lives, consuming a large part of our visual attention, it’s surprising how often people overlook the language learning possibility that this presents.

Many of the operations we perform on our devices are done almost by muscle memory – we are constantly hitting the ‘send’, ‘reply’ or ‘post’ button without so much as a second thought, so changing the language shouldn’t cause much confusion, but will definitely help to embed these commonly used words in your memory. Of course there will be times when you are performing some less common task on your computer, so you might have to take out a dictionary or use a translator to get you through it, but this will only serve to reinforce what you have learned.

Television

The arrival of high-quality online streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have been a blessing for people trying to learn a foreign language. The ability to turn on subtitles from a host of foreign languages transforms a leisure activity like watching a tv show or movie into a learning opportunity. For those further along the language-learning path, you can watch Spanish-language content with English subtitles; and for the really advanced, Spanish-language content with Spanish subtitles. A bonus of doing the latter is that by watching movies and shows produced in Spanish-speaking countries you get the added value of an insight into those cultures and societies.  

Now, if you really want to turbocharge your language learning experience with Netflix, there is a new Google Chrome extension called Language learning with Netflix (LLN) which lets you watch shows with two sets of subtitles on at the same time – one in English and one in your target language. It comes with added features to turn your binge watching into a more active learning experience; for example, if you hover over a word it produces a pop-up dictionary, and clicking the word lets you hear it. You can also slow down the dialogue or automatically pause playback at the end of every subtitle, so you can learn line by line. There’s even a catalogue of recommendations for movies and shows that are good to study.

Another wonder of the internet is the access it gives you to many of the world’s tv channels, enabling you to watch live tv from just about anywhere in the world. In Spain there are more than 20 public channels, many of which stream at least some of their shows online. Here are some of the best to choose from:

RTVE: Radiotelevisión Española is Spain’s national broadcaster. It hosts several channels on its platform, each dedicated to a different theme: kids, sports, politics and music. Much of its news content and some of daily scheduled programming is freely available on the world wide web.

Mitele: This is a Mediaset online platform where you can find lots of talk shows, reality shows and much more. You can watch channels like Telecinco, Cuatro, FDF, Boing, Energy and Divinity.

Atresplayer: Like Mitele, Atresplayer is a privately-owned network of channels known for its dramas and political debates. Included in its package are popular channels like Antena 3, laSexta, and other minor channels like Atreseries, Neox, Nova and Mega.

For beginners to the language, much of what is broadcast on Spanish tv maybe too fast and advanced to comprehend, so it might be best to start off watching kids tv, which after all, is how young Spaniards learn their own language. With its simple vocabulary and repetitive nature, kids tv is perfectly suited to a beginner’s audience.

Podcasts

Podcasts really are the ideal format for language learning on the go, and further evidence of how modern forms of communication have revolutionised the experience. Here are some of Sonneil’s favourite for learning Spanish.

Coffee Break Spanish

This popular series of podcasts are, as the name suggests, perfect for enjoying during a break at work or whenever else you might find yourself with 20-30 minutes to spare during the day. Produced by Radio Lingua it features Spanish lessons led by experienced teachers. They have been going since 2008, so there is an enormous back catalogue of material to listen to where they walk you through all the elements of the Spanish language through teaching, dialogues, and interesting stories. The Podcast slowly works its way up and gets more and more advanced over time.

SpanishPod 101

SpanishPod101 offers free Spanish audio lessons every week ranging from beginner to advanced levels. The weekly lessons are available free for a certain amount of time before they are archived in the library, which can only be accessed by subscription. Besides access to the library archive, paying members also get access to other materials to accompany the podcasts. Each episode features a dialogue in Spanish, followed by a discussion in English of the main grammar points and new vocabulary. Whether you use the free or paid version, these podcasts are great for listening to interesting conversations from different parts of the Spanish-speaking world. Most of their lessons are quite short, ranging from a few minutes long to about 15 minutes or so.

News in slow Spanish

If you want to keep up to speed with the latest current affairs but you can’t quite keep up with the pace at which it is delivered on Spanish tv or radio, this podcast is an ideal stepping stone. It gives you news bulletins read at a much slower and more intelligible speed, making it perfect for students of Spanish. There are podcasts at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels and you can choose between listening to Iberian or Latin American Spanish. Basic access is free; however, paid subscribers get access to premium content such as episode transcripts and bonus grammar lessons that are not included in the free version.

Read

With all this talk of modern approaches to language learning, it mustn’t be forgotten that old-fashioned methods like picking up a book or newspaper remain indispensable to the process. So here are the most important newspapers (printed and online) in Spain:

El País, El Mundo and ABC: These three constitute the newspapers of record in Spain covering the latest national and international news. They more or less occupy the centre-ground in terms of their editorial outlook.

Público: This is another widely read daily to the left-of-centre politically with a focus on social issues.

Eldiario.es: Politics and economics are the main themes here.

La Razón: A business daily with a focus on economic matters.

Conversation exchange

When it comes down to it, the point of learning a language is to speak it. And while this is the most daunting part, the fear of saying something stupid or being hopelessly unintelligible can only be overcome by getting out there and practising the language in conversation, preferably with native speakers. Now when you first move to Spain you may know very few people, or you may very easily find yourself stuck in an expat bubble. But don’t let these things hold you back. If needs be, there is always the option of language exchange – or intercambio de idiomas – as it’s called in Spain. There are a number of options for how to do a language exchange, depending on your circumstances and what suits you best.

Group exchanges

In this type of exchange, you meet in a bar or cafe to practice your Spanish in a group. Sometimes activities such as darts tournaments or film sessions are organised. This is ideal for extroverted people, who seek to make new friends and have fun learning. To get the most out of them, it is better that you have at least a medium level of Spanish, as group conversations in bars with background noise can be harder to follow. If the group chat isn’t your thing then find someone willing to meet one to one. There are many websites dedicated to language exchange, so it won’t take long to find people to meet up with, either as a group or in a one-to-one setting.   

Language exchanges by chat

If you live in a remote area or you are more interested in practicing your written communication skills, you can avail of language exchanges via webchat. There are many free websites where you can get in touch with people from all over the world without having to leave home. You also have the option of using Skype to talk.

Conclusion

When you learn a language, getting started and talking with locals can seem completely terrifying. We are afraid of ridicule, of people laughing at our grammatical mistakes, or being frustrated by our limited vocabulary. But if you really want to improve, you have to say goodbye to these fears. And in the end, most people will be impressed – and even grateful – to see you make the effort to communicate in their language. It’s inevitable that you will make mistakes, but don’t let your fear stop you from interacting with the locals – It is, in the end, the only way to improve.

Five places on the Costa Blanca with guaranteed sun all year round

Five places on the Costa Blanca with guaranteed sun all year round

When it comes to weighing up the benefits of buying a property on the Costa Blanca, what better recommendation could one hope for than a nod from the World Health Organisation, which has several times named the region as one of the best places in the world to live thanks to its perfect climate.

What it all comes down to, of course, is the weather – with around 320 days of sunshine a year and temperatures generally ranging between 16 and 28 degrees celsius, there are few places that can compete with the Costa Blanca for those who want to buy a second a second home in the sun.

Below are five extraordinary locations where you can expect to find good weather all year round on the Costa Blanca.

Alicante

Alicante, the capital of the province, is situated along the Levantine coast, in the bay formed between Cabo de las Huertas and Santa Pola. With around 3,000 hours of sunshine and 97 cloud-free days a year, it boasts of an exceptional climate, with mild winters, hot summers and very little rain. The average annual temperature is usually a pleasant 20°C, which makes it an ideal place to buy a second home.

The first thing that catches the eye when arriving in the city is the imposing sight presented by Santa Bárbara Castle, perched on the highest point of Mount Benacantil, overlooking the entire Bay.

The stand out feature in the city itself is the promenade, Explanada de España. Composed of six and half million, red, black and cream tiles set in a wave-like pattern that runs for 500 metres between two rows of palm trees, it has become Alicante’s most emblematic image. Running parallel to the seafront it is the busiest area of ​​the city, with ice cream shops open almost all year and concerts in summer, it connects Canalejas Park at one end with Postiguet Beach at the other.

With its privileged climate it is no surprise that the people of Alicante enjoy their beaches all year round; besides Postiguet beach there are other fantastic beaches such as San Juan beach, with 3km of white sand, or Albufereta beach which is filled with tourists and locals during the summer season.

Out in the bay, facing the city of Alicante, we find the charming Tabarca island. Located 22 km from the coast, it’s the largest and only inhabited island in the Valencian region. You can enjoy a beautiful walk around this picturesque island and bathe in its crystal-clear waters.

Alicante has become especially popular among retired expats as a location for buying second home on the Costa Blanca, with foreigners now making up around 23 percent over the over 65s population.

Altea

Altea is one of the most beautiful corners of the Levantine coast. Located on a hill, its cobblestone streets descend gently towards the sea, dotted with towers and lookouts from which splendid panoramic views can be taken in.

Its location could not be more charming: south of the Rock of Ifach – a 332 metre outcrop rising from the sea that’s every bit as impressive as the Rock of Gibraltar – and north of Alfaz del Pi in the incomparable setting of the Sierra Helada Nature Park. It’s here we find this town of cobbled streets, dotted with white houses.

Its pure Mediterranean atmosphere and its spring-like climate during most of the year, have made it an extremely popular location for expats to buy a second home. Its charm has attracted numerous artists and writers such as Rafael Alberti or Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, who have made it their base. As such, Altea is a town infused with a bohemian aesthetic.

The Old Town (“El Fornet”), with its cobbled streets and white houses, adorned with black wrought-iron window bars and colourful geraniums is one of the most beautiful areas of the city. Apart from the viewpoints, there are numerous art galleries, bars and restaurants, which still preserve the traditional Mediterranean atmosphere. The Church of Our Lady of Consuelo can also be found in the old town, which with its two large domes, is undoubtedly the most prominent and visited monument in the municipality.

On the seashore is the fishing port. Here the morning tranquillity of fishermen tending their chores contrasts with lively atmosphere at sunset. The nearby beach of La Olla is full of small boats and the occasional beach bar. Facing l’Olla there is a small island that can be easily be reached by kayak.

Other beaches include Cap Negret, which is surrounded by volcanic rocks.

Due to the high standard of living and quality developments, Altea attracts some of the most discerning second home owners anywhere on the Costa Blanca.

Javea

According to The World Health Organisation, Javea is one of the healthiest places in the world to live. It is protected from harsh winds in winter, and it enjoys a unique microclimate that is regarded as one of the world’s healthiest. Average temperatures are 15°C during December and January, rising to an average of 30ºC in August, so a property in Javea isn’t going to run up any heating bills. It also has more recorded hours of sunlight than any other place in Spain, which is great for vitamin D levels and keeping you cheerful!

Its 25 kilometres of coastline boast some of the greatest variety of beaches and coves in the entire province of Alicante, making it ideal for a range of water sports. Its most outstanding beaches are the Playa El Arenal and Playa La Grava, both blue flag winners thanks to their quality. Arenal Beach is the most popular due to its soft sand and shallow waters. La Grava is a pebble beach, located between the mouth of the Gorgos River and the port, which is popular among families with children. Montañar beach, with its sandstone rock and beautiful sea beds full of aquatic flora and fauna is popular for diving and snorkelling.

Among the many coves found along the Javea coastline is that of La Granadella, located between steep cliffs, it has several times been named as best cove in Spain.

Javea is generally one of the more upmarket resorts on the Costa Blanca, a status reflected in the cost of living. A second property on the outskirts of the town, particularly in the developments around the Cabo de la Nao such as Portichol and Balcón del Mar, will come at a premium price.

Denia

Denia is a historical and cultural city that has remained free of mass tourism and has grown organically while preserving all its authenticity. Its spectacular beauty, its lively and cheerful atmosphere and the cordial and hospitable nature of its people are just some of reasons Denia has been attracting artists and intellectuals since the beginning of the 20th century.

Its location in a bay sheltered by an impressive mountain massif, the “Montgó”, from where on clear days you can see the silhouette of Ibiza, gives it a privileged climate with about 300 days of sunshine per year.

In the centre of the bay is the Port with its charming Mediterranean air, adorned with palm trees. Despite its importance as a port to Mallorca and Ibiza, which is only 3.5 hours away by boat, it has not lost the charm of a traditional fishing port.

Due to the wind that sweeps across the area from the sea, Denia is also a paradise for those who enjoy water sports.

Built on a cliff and overlooking the port since Roman times, the castle of Denia is the symbol of the city. An attractive must for those who spend their holidays in the area.

The castle is the main tourist attraction and often hosts cultural events and theatrical guided tours. At the top you can enjoy an incredible view of the old town, the coast and the Montgó massif, the highest mountain in the area.

Around the castle the whole old town extends with its narrow and picturesque Moorish streets, while in the lower city, modernist architecture dominates.

Once in the harbour area, you can visit the Baix la Mar neighbourhood, the old coastal district. Located just below the castle, this neighbourhood is made up of narrow streets and traditional fishermen’s houses, with picturesque facades of pastel colours. In the area closest to the port there are many bars and restaurants where you can sample the excellent fresh fish.

The beaches of Denia are, for many, the main attraction of the region. The city has a coastline of almost 15 km, divided into two different sections: Las Rotas, characterised by rocky coves and Las Marinas, with its long and comfortable sandy beaches.

Both offer a plethora of activities: you can dive or snorkel to discover the magnificent seabed of Las Rotas, or practice water sports in the area of ​​Las Marinas, such as windsurfing, kite surfing, rowing on foot and kayaking.

The landscape around Denia is dominated by the imposing figure of Montgó, a mountain 800 meters high located a short distance from the coast. It forms part of a Nature Park that houses 650 different species of flora and is rich in fauna – eagles, peregrine falcons, owls, foxes, wild boars, to name some of the most emblematic. The park has numerous trails that are worth exploring by bicycle or on foot.

Denia is also closest mainland city to the Balearic Islands: less than 100 km from Ibiza.

There are up to three daily trips to the Islands during the high season and it takes between two to five hours to reach Ibiza, depending on the type of ferry. Those seeking out a holiday home or second property in an area still immersed in a traditional Spanish lifestyle need look no further than Denia.

Torrevieja

Located to the south of the province of Alicante we find Torrevieja, a destination made unique by the famous salt lakes of the Laguna de la Mata and Torrevieja Nature Park.

Torrevieja also boasts of 20 kilometres of Mediterranean coast where you can enjoy great beaches with calm waters and endless walks. Its longest beach has 2.3 kilometres of fine sand and is known as the Playa de la Mata. It is in the vicinity of the Laguna de la Mata Nature Park and near the Water Mill Park, the latter formed by the sand dunes that lie behind the beach.

But if you are looking for the tranquillity of a near-deserted beach, Torrevieja offers an abundance of coves, such as Cala Ferri, with crystal clear waters, surrounded by palm trees and small dunes.

The most outstanding feature of the area however are the pink and green lagoons that make up 52 percent of the local landscape.

The lagoons form a protected nature park visited by all sorts of wildlife including Flamingos, but they also welcome people from all over Europe who come for the natural mud baths, which are said to be very good for the skin, joints and general wellbeing.

Thanks to the health-giving benefits of these two lagoons, the WHO has named Torrevieja as one of the healthiest places in the world to live. It’s no surprise then that Torrevieja has one of the highest populations of expats in Spain, with thousands of UK nationals making it their number one choice to buy a second property.

With its superb climate and positive health factors, what’s stopping you from buying that second home on the Costa Blanca?

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.

5 Traditional festivals not to be missed on Costa Blanca

5 Traditional festivals not to be missed on Costa Blanca

Whether if you live in Spain or just come to visit, there are at least 5 traditional festivals you have to know and visit in Costa Blanca. Summer is high-season, so you will be able to find party and celebrations almost in every town of Alicante. As we cannot assist to all of them, here you have our 5 most favorite ones:

Las Hogueras June 20-25

Of all the feast days celebrated in Spain few burn as bright as Las Hogueras de San Juan (we have already spoken in depth about them here). Marking the culmination of the feast of St. John celebrating the summer equinox massive bonfires of wood and papier maché are constructed on the beaches of Alicante and fireworks erupt overhead. Traditionally celebrants would have jumped over the fire seven times but given that they now grow to several stories high it best advised to enjoy the show from a safe distance.

La Nit de L´Alba Aug 13

Photo: elchenews.com

This festival originated as a ritual offering by the people of Elche to the Virgin Mary which involved the launching of a small rocket for each child in the family, but has in modern times developed into a thundering pyrotechnic display that takes place on the 13th of August each year. Throughout the city people let off their own fireworks, but the main event begins at 11:00pm and ends just before midnight when everything goes quiet, a white light is shone from the Santa Maria Basilica, and a traditional hymn is played.

Moros y Cristianos (From April on)

The long history of Arab, or Moorish, occupation of Spain has left a deep imprint on the culture of the country, from the Great Mosque of Cordoba, to the Alhambra in Granada and countless other traces to be found in the food, architecture, and language of modern Spain. Although this period was famous for its conviviencia, or peaceful coexistence, many wars were also fought, during the initial invasion and in the subsequent reconquista. These epic battles are re-enacted to this day in the form of the Moros Y Cristianos which are celebrated throughout Spain but nowhere more religiously than in the Alicante region. The most famous are the ones from Alcoy, Petrer and Elda.

Carnival – February/March, depending on the date of Easter

Carnival is a festival most almost synonymous with South America, and in Europe with the masquerade balls of Venice, but Spain also has a strong tradition of celebrating this winter festival, and in Alicante it is celebrated in style. The high point of the festivities is reached on the Saturday night when thousands of revellers take to the city´s main Rambla in elaborate fancy dress to let loose and make merry.

Els Enfarinats Dec 28

Photo: www.Copealcoy.es

What is it about living on the Costa Blanca that makes people want to throw food at each other? In Valencia they have the Tomatina, the tomato throwing festival, and in Ibi near Alicante they have the enfarinats where flour bombs and eggs become the projectile of choice. Maybe it´s best not to ask as you will probably just end up with egg on your face. It all has something to do with staging a mock coup d’état where flour wielding revolutionaries take over the city and…but there´s no point in overthinking it – just join in with glorious messy madness of it all.

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!
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