As a reader of our blog and Family Life in Spain Facebook Page, you will know that we spend the long, school summer holidays in Cadiz. Our days are filled with surfing, beach visits, playing padel (me, Lisa, that is!) enjoying delicious local food and basically enjoying summer living.
So, when we were asked to review a Tesalate Sand Free towel, we jumped at the opportunity.
Although I must admit, until it actually arrived we were not exactly sure what a “sand-free” towel actually was.
In our busy beach lives, a sand-free towel was simply an oxymoron.
So, by checking out the Tesalate website we learnt about their sand-free towels:
Our exclusive AbsorbLite™ fabric has been specifically engineered to create a towel that makes your beach days more awesome than before.
Sand free. Leave the beach at the beach.
Full sized beach towel: 160cm x 80cm / 63 x 31 inches.
Ultra absorbent; over 1 litre of water.
Rapid-drying. Half the time of a regular beach towel.
Compact when rolled. Fits in your bag.
Our first challenge was choosing the design … with so many great, fun designs to choose from (I think there are currently around 62!) To simplify the choice and the fact that all four of us loved four different designs, we made our lives easier by opting for the family-sized towel, of which there are currently 10 designs.
Look at the wide choice colours and design here: Have a look!
It was a close call between The Alchemist and Bohemian … but for us, Sancti Petri in Cadiz, where we spend our summers is always about the colour of the sea. The colour blue … The Alchemist was a clear winner!
What did we like about our Alchemist XL sand free towel from Tesalate?
Super light and compact.
Very easy to fold away
Great design and lovely colours. It definitely caught the eye of many fellow beachgoers.
Comfortable to lie on
Absorbent and quick dry
A quick flick of the towel and the sand disappears!
What did we dislike about our Alchemist XL sand free towel from Tesalate?
This isn’t really a dislike but more of an observation that requires time to decide … the price!
€89 is quite a lot to spend on a beach towel. However, if it continues to look as good as it does now and perform as well as it does, in 12 months time … we will definitely be purchasing another one!
Have you used a sand-free towel? What did you think?
When people think about going to Spain, they often think about packing their sunglasses, making sure they have a hat, and the number of beaches they’re going to enjoy. But actually, Spain has much more to it than just beaches and balmy evenings. There are several things that you should know before you head to Spain.
Of course, you want to plan your hot look with gorgeous sunglasses, a beautiful summer dress or some cool linen shorts, but like everything is better when you’re prepared.
Learn some Spanish
Like almost all countries, many people speak some (or fluent) English, however, learning a few key phrases is just proper etiquette. You’re going to want to be able to ask some questions like Donde Esta…? Where is…? And some simple greetings like Buenos Dias or Hola. And yes, you’re going to want to finish with gracias, because it’s just nice.
What is important to note, is that Spanish is not the only language; in fact, some regions have a second official language like Catalan, Basque, or Galicia. And while you don’t need to learn these extra languages, as almost everyone will speak Spanish, it wouldn’t hurt either.
Many people who visit quite a few European countries still don’t know that you can actually drink the tap water. Big cities like Barcelona and Madrid both have very safe tap water to drink. In fact, in Madrid, it comes fresh from the Guadarrama mountain range – if you like cool facts. So you’ll be much better off bringing a reusable water bottle, then you will keep buying bottles of water in the local stores. It will save you money in the long run.
Spain is famous for its Tapas culture. This means when you order a drink in almost all cases, it’s going to arrive with a small bite to eat. Sometimes it’s potato chips/crisps other times its olives. It may even be ham or cheese, depending on where you are.
This is a polite gesture and is an indicator of how hospitable Spain can be. This free and tasty snack is simply meant to be enjoyed alongside your drink.
The siesta was historically common throughout Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and even in mainland China. That traditional daytime nap has been put to bed. It has been reported in previous years that Spaniards actually work some of the longest hours in Europe, making a siesta something that most of them are not likely to see.
However, if you’re there on holiday, or have a very generous working schedule, you can feel free to nap. But you’re unlikely to see people taking a siesta.
When you arrive in Spain, whether it be for a holiday or for a relocation you’re going to notice the Spaniards are pretty snappy dressers. And you can spot a tourist a mile away with flip-flops and jogging bottoms.
Choose lightweight fabrics and you too can deal with the heat while looking fabulous.
It’s not uncommon to find that many shops and businesses will close for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. So ideally try not to plan to have anything done between 1pm – 4pm while you are on holiday; other than enjoying the fact that you are on holiday.
Many people enjoy long lunch breaks, especially when the midday heat is so hot. In the bigger cities, supermarkets and larger stores are often open, but you can’t guarantee that you’re going to find a smaller shop open in the middle of the day if you live in a village.
Although you will find the shops do stay open later in the evening. And many people, especially people who enjoy shopping, enjoy the fact that Barcelona and Madrid usually stay open until around 10 pm in the evening.
Ditch the Sangria
Unless you really love Sangria, then it’s quite a tourist drink. Most locals instead enjoy a Tinto de Verano, which is a summer wine. It consists of red wine and lemonade mixer.
Ideal for those long warm evenings. If you’d rather blend in with the locals than tourists and avoid paying a premium for that overpriced Sangria, go for the Tinto de Verano.
If you are a meat-eater, there is something that you simply cannot leave Spain without sampling. You will find it on most menus because it is one of the most beloved foods, called Jamon. Jamon is cured ham, and the most likely one you’ll find is Jamon Iberico. This is the best quality that you can get, and that comes from Blackhoofed Iberian pigs.
These pigs are quite luxurious and are fed extensively on acorns, which gives them their unique flavor.
Public transport is efficient and fast. The Spanish train system is ideal for getting between major cities, however in the south of Spain and certainly, towards some of the smaller cities, there aren’t always those connections. Here buses are equally fast and efficient and certainly are the best option if you’re going off the beaten path.
It should be noted that the train can be the most expensive option for public transport.
When the shops are closed, lunch is on. This means you will enjoy a wonderful lunch between 2 and 3:30 pm, but that pushes evening meal hours to much later in the day, typically from 9 pm till 10.30 pm. So you have to plan trips accordingly or take snacks in your bag if you can’t get with the schedule.
Tipping isn’t required and isn’t expected, it’s really something that you should just do anyway. Outstanding service or service, in general, should always be respected.
Indulge in the Culture
Many people when they get to Spain want to eat as much paella and drink as much Sangria as possible. And while that’s fun for many, there is a better way to enjoy Spanish culture. You will notice that the Spanish culture is much more about taking your time, enjoying the people in your family that you are spending time with, and the scenery. Relaxing and enjoying life. Go with the flow rather and fall into the tourist traps.
Rest on a Sunday
You are unlikely to find anything that is open on a Sunday, this is a designated day to get lunch with friends, visit family, relax and unwind. So if you’re planning on being in Spain for a Sunday, or you really want to make the most of that Spanish culture while you’re integrating; then plan Sunday as simply to be a day of family, food, and fun.
Big Cities and Little Villages
Large Spanish cities are busy and modern and filled with people from all over the world. They’re exciting and have a lot to do. It will give you a considerable taste of Spanish culture, but there are many tourist traps to keep an eye out for.
The smaller villages remain a space for century-old traditions that can still be found to this day. Spain is known as a country of traditions and culture. But to understand all of the different facets of that, try a few days in the city followed by a few days in smaller villages.
Spain is exhilarating and welcoming, with a rich history and the lives of culture. If you like spending time with family and friends and indulging in wonderful food, then it might be just time that you spent a little bit longer in Spain.
Have you heard about the Three Gifts at Christmas tradition? Do you know where the idea originates from?
If you are looking for a way to enhance yet declutter your festive season, the Three Gifts at Christmas idea may be for you.
I think it is a great way to ensure money is wisely spent on gifts that are both required and desired rather than simply buying for the sake of it, as can sometimes be the case.
Our children are growing up fast and as much as we loved our old festive traditionsof Christmas Eve Boxes and fun Family Stockings, I have become increasingly aware of the frivolity of it all and the waste we create. Maybe I am becoming even more Bah Humbugand grumpy in my years … I’ll leave that one for you to decide.
So, what is the origin of the Three Gifts at Christmas idea?
As we have mentioned before, despite the fact that Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Papa Noel (and whatever else you may call him) has been growing in popularity in Spain over the past years, The Three Kings (Los Reyes Magos) are still the most respected and celebrated in this country.
After all, it wasn’t a well sized, jolly, white bearded man in a red outfit that bore gifts to the newborn Jesus was it? Or was that just in the Simpsons or whatever else they told our children… (joke ;-))
However, I don’t want to dwell on that too much as I appreciate we all have our own beliefs and interpretations of events. I am here to share our ideas and interpretations with you.
The three gifts at Christmas idea appears to have originated from the gifts brought by the three kings, that of:
What is the Meaning of the Three Gifts?
During research for this idea, I googled the three gifts at christmas idea and found many interpretations. I thought that this post on Keeper Of The Home offered a clear explanation of the meanings of the three gifts
The gift of gold symbolizes something of great value. It’s to be something the child wants – something precious to them.
You can let your child choose this gift or you can simply buy something you know they really want. This is the one you can really have fun with…but don’t go overboard. I’ve always found great deals on my “gold” items – and most of the time I buy used things. Buy used and save the difference.
The gift of frankincense symbolizes something spiritual. Frankincense was burned in the temple as part of worship. For this gift, we give something that helps with the child’s spiritual walk.
Our interpretation: As we are not religious, something for the mind / educational / learning
Myrrh was a medicinal item back in the day. This gift symbolizes something for the body. I’ve heard it told that the Wise Men brought this gift to Jesus in preparation for when he would die for us. This item can be any number of things: clothing, shoes, cologne, underwear.
Our Family In Spain Version of Three Gifts at Christmas
So, this year, we are limiting our gifts to three per person. There will be no Christmas Eve box nor family stocking. There will however be lots of homemade decorations and naughty foods. After all, both Nana and Granny are coming to visit so we cannot kill the festive spirit totally … I’m waiting for next year to do that (but Shhhh for now, that’s a new blog post for in the new year 😉 )
Our three gifts will be:
Something for the HEART
Something for the BODY
Something for the MIND
As our children are now older and thankfully, incredibly thoughtful, we will all participate in selecting gifts for each other. We like to keep it interesting!
What will we end up with? Who knows. And, to be honest, that does not really matter at all. It is the general build up and anticipation that is still exciting. Amusing threats and insinuations have already begun. Imagine what 15 year old Joshua thinks would be good for his dad’s body and his mum’s mind! Ha ha ha!
Have you tried the Three Gifts at Christmas idea? What do you think?
Kids Adventure Activities in Tenerife: Our Top Three “Want to do” activities …
If you’re planning a family holiday with kids in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, don’t miss our “want to do” Top Three Fun, Kids Adventure Activities in Tenerife. We’ve researched the incredible amount of activities and day trips available on the island. We’ve consulted with friends.
After lots of research, these are the Top Three Adventure Activities in Tenerife that we’d like to do, as chosen by our children …
Described as the best water park they have been to, by friends, Siam Water park was also voted as the number one attraction in Tenerife in 2015, by Tripadvisor.
The number of adrenalin rides is what makes this water park an essential addition to our Family in Spain Top Three List.
The Adrenalin rides for the crazy family members are:
Kinnarree: A 213 metre tunnel slide ending in a tornado wave.
Mekong Rapids: Hurtle down the water slide on an inflatable boat. Room for all the family!
Dragon: A slide with a totally vertical drop. Yikes!
Tower of power: A 28 metre high water slide meaning you can reach speeds as fast as 80km/h. At the end of the ride you pass through a huge aquarium full of sharks and rays.
Singha: 240 meters long! The newest at Siam Park! A water roller-coaster with high-speed curves and 14 direction changes which guarantees a real injection of adrenalin and fun. 6 meters per second ascending and 18 meters per second falling. This speed hasn´t ever been seen in a water park before!
I am happy to say that there are several options for the more relaxed family members too 😉
Forestal Park is Tenerife’s Largest Zipline Thrill Park.
Voted as one of the top things to do in Tenerife, Forestal park gives you the chance to climb up the walls and rope ladders, enjoy high rope obstacles in the treetops, leap off Tarzan Swings and fly down giant ziplines, at the gates of Teide National Park.
Our little monkeys love to fly through the trees … It will be interesting to see how it compares to our regular treetop park, Entre Ramas in Cadiz.
Xplore Tenerife are a small locally owned nature-based outdoor activity company. They promote the observation and appreciation of nature and traditional cultures in natural areas. As they offer exclusive and specialized, small group tours that minimizes the negative impacts upon the natural and socio-cultural environment, we feel that we would maximise our enjoyment of the new areas we discover.
Having set up and managed our own snorkelling business in Fuerteventura, we know what marvels the underwater world in the Canary Islands has to offer.
The calm waters of the south of Tenerife provide excellent conditions for a great snorkeling experience. There are a couple of bays that are inhabited by the turtles, so there is a chance to swim up close with these beautiful animals. Swimming with them in their natural habitat is a wonderful experience.
Joshua has recently returned from an activity adventure holiday, with his school. Canyoning is now one of his favourite new activities.
Canyoning is a great way to get into the more inaccessible but beautiful places that form part of Tenerife’s stunning landscape.
A canyon is a natural water park, carved into stone and located in the wilderness. Anyone who loves sliding, jumping and playing in water, exploring, abseiling and technical problem solving will love canyoning. What a great way to discover and explore new places!
So there you have our Family in Spain “want to do” Top Three Fun, Adventure Activities in Tenerife. We must also add that we are researching the best Jeep Safari as a fun way to visit some of the popular tourist hotspots.
If you have any recommendations, please drop us a line 🙂
These are not all your typical travel websites, promoting what they are paid to promote. These are some of the best blogs for planning your holidays in Spain. Most of the authors are people who live here and are true lovers of each destination.
This is in no way an exhaustive list. We will be adding to it, so make sure you pop back soon.
Don’t forget to visit the blogs about the areas you are planning to visit in Spain and let us know which is your favourite.
Alicante and the Costa Blanca have more than 200 kilometres of beautiful coastline with sandy beaches stretching further than the eye can see. More than 20 million holidaymakers from across Europe head for the region every year because of its warm welcome and tourist attractions. Sarah’s My Destination Guide to Alicante is jam packed full with everything you need to know for having a great holiday in Alicante and the Costa Blanca.
Almeria is their passion which they would like to share with you by means of writing about it in this Smart Insider Almeria Travel Guide. Although Christina is the webmaster, all family members (including the Spanish ‘abuelos’, brothers in law and sisters in law) are taking it very seriously, checking out every corner of this province for you and hopefully giving you that insider knowledge you won’t find in any traditional Almeria travel guide.
Simon lives and breathes Catalan life in Barcelona. On his website Barcelonas.com, not only does he provide more practical information that you thought you needed, but also a real insight into the real city. Simon digs deep below the surface of this wonderful city.
Jessica is from England and grew up in California, and now lives in beautiful Barcelona. Read about her adventures in Spain, on her blog Barcelona Blonde and discover why this California girl is so obsessed with the Catalan capital.
Craig shares his knowledge of Galicia on his blog, Journey to a Dream. Scribbled on those electronic pages you’ll find a little bit about him, something about Galicia; and a whole host of photos – some old and some new.
Note: You can’t follow Craig on Twitter (Get the hint Craig 😉 )
Playa del Ingels
Alex and Lex have managed their informative website online since 1998, Gran Canaria Info . It is the island’s biggest independent guide. It’s packed with great photos, local tips and useful info.
Whether you be a visitor, looking for things to see and do on Gran Canaria both on and beyond the tourist resorts, or an expat who’s relocated to make a new life on our tropical shores, Matthew is here for you. His website Gran Canaria Local is full of insider hints and tips.
Although Molly lives and loves Granada, her blog Piccavey, shares great insights into many parts of Spain. She shares her own on the ground approach, things as locals see them.Any hotels or restaurant which she recommends is made sincerely.
GranadaSpain is the essential insider’s website for planning a visit to Granada. Sophie and the creators and contributors are all based in Granada and can offer the local knowledge you need to get the best out of your trip.
Lanzarote Information is run by Julie and Mike who are Brits who have lived on the island for over fourteen years and who get involved in as much of Lanzarote life as they can. Having brought up two children on the island, and run several businesses, they are in a good position to help others with their in depth knowledge about Lanzarote and life here. They believe in making the most of living in paradise, and you’ll find them at events and attractions all over the island, all the time! They are both triathletes and scuba divers, avid readers and they love good food and great company.
Naked Madrid is a budding blog written in English by a multinational group of passionate Madrid transplants. They started this blog because they think Madrid is one of those cities that can best be enjoyed if a local shows you around. If you don’t know any locals, Naked Madrid bloggers can fill the role! They write about their favourite restaurants, spots to hang out at and nearby, day or overnight trips.
Not surprisingly, we are difficult to please when it comes to talking about our beloved province of Malaga. There are so many websites but how many are we happy to recommend?
Although not dedicated solely to Malaga, Andalucia.com has over 10,000 pages of useful informationon Andalucia and Southern Spain. Andalucia.com is one of the most established websites in Malaga and Andalucia. Visit their Malaga information pages.
Alicia writes about her adventures in Andalucia on her blog Andalucia Inland. She shares articles, photos and videos about news, people, places, and things to do in inland Andalucia – Alicia en la Andalucia de las Maravillas
Again, not solely a Malaga website, but we cannot not mention SpainHoliday. John Kramer lives in Malaga and is passionate about the area. You can find many great articles about Malaga on the Spain Holiday website.
Debs website is Native Spain is about living and working in Spain and enjoying your time here. It’s more than just a tourist guide, she aims to help you settle and enjoy your new life as a Native in Spain!
Marti isa writer and cook living in San Sebastián, Spain. Currently, she spends her time photographing, teaching cooking classes and various other culinary endeavours in San Sebastián, and writing about all of it in both print outlets and on her blog Travel Cook Eat.
Cat is a Chicago girl who turned down a job in radio and turned up in Seville, Spain. Especially akin to tapas, siestas and frilly flamenco dresses. Her blog, Sunshine and Siestas is her virtual love letter to Southern Spain.
This is a great summary article from the Guardian, written by the lovely Annie Bennet (Read Here)
Annie spends most of her time mooching around Spain, ostensibly researching articles for national newspapers and magazines, but really just sitting in cafés, reading the paper and drinking wine. Read more of her informative articles on her blog Mooching around Spain
Andrew’s comprehensive insider’s guide to Andalucia, Andalucia Diary, began some years ago, as his desire to share his passion for his new adoptive home, southern Spain. He started it with a dedicated focus on Andalucia, but over the years he has extended the travel notes and photos to include Iberia and Morocco.
El Boqueron Viajero offers a bilingual, bicultural point of view on travel.A couple from two different cultures telling their travel stories from around the globe. Pedro is originally from Malaga and Abby from Pennsylvania in the USA. They both share their passion for Spain.
Get more from your Canary Island Holidays by listening to the locals …
If you’ve been following our story, you’ll know that our children were born in the Canary Islands, on the island of Fuerteventura. They are little “Majoreros”.
We keep saying we should organise a trip back to Fuerteventura so the children can discover the place where they were born. So, in preparation, for this still-to-be-planned trip, I decided to give a shout out to the lovely “Canary Island” Facebook friends we have. These are a wide range of people who have lived or are currently living on one of the Canary Islands. We know that travelling is so much more interesting when you get insider advice and travel tips from people that live in the area.
This is what I posted:
“Calling all my Canary Island friends … If you had to recommend 1 place to visit/thing to do on each of the islands, what would you say?”
Needless to say, these very knowledgeable people shared some excellent tips and suggestions with us. Far too many to share on in this post alone. So, we’re going to share some of the best ones with you.
Here are Our Top Tips for Canary Islands Holidays: From Locals That Know (ie. Not the typical tips you may find in mass produced tourists guides 😉 )
Stunning scenery on La Palma
Fuerteventura: If you are a beach lover, head South and enjoy an away-from-it-all walk from Cofete beach to El Islote. Don’t forget your sun hat, sun cream, camera and plenty of water!
Cofete, Fuerteventura by @AlexBramwellGC
La Graciosa: Visit the tiny island of Graciosa, off Lanzarote. Great for children and walkers as there are very few cars that use the dirt roads all over the island
Lanzarote: Take a Cesar Manrique tour and visit Jameos del Agua, the Mirador del Rio, the Monumento al Campesino, Valley of a Thousand Palms, a Cactus garden and the César Manrique Foundation which was the artist´s home until 1988.
Fresh Fish from Lanzarote, by @grancanariainfo
La Gomera: Visit the Hermigua Valley, walk and then eat in Tasca Telemaco.
Tenerife: walk the forests of the Anaga Mountains & visit World Heritage city of La Laguna.
Vews of Tenerife by @madreislena
Anaga by @madreislena
El Hierro: Visit the coastal village of La Restinga, it so peaceful and wonderful and offers deliciously fresh fish.
La Palma: Drive to Roque de las Muchachos and then walk into the Calder, a 5 mile-wide crater, and a national park. You will want a camera! And we had to include an extra one here … Go stargazing with one of the firms that take out small groups with good amateur telescopes. Unforgettable!
Gran Canaria: Drive the GC 200 from Mogan to La Aldea, then cut inland to see the centre.
The GC 200 in Gran Canaria by @AlexBramwellGC
With each of the islands having such a variety of experiences to offer, island hopping is a great option. There are companies who offer Canary Islands Cruises, an easy way to visit several of the islands in one trip. You can also opt for a self-drive option, although, travelling by car, to all the islands is not an option. However you chose to travel, plan your trip carefully. Don’t let complicated logistics detract from your enjoyment!
We have not yet decided on a date for our trip down memory lane with our children, but when we do, we know it is going to be an unforgettable experience. We’ll keep you posted.
Mis pequeños Majoreros, by @familyinspain
Before we go, we’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who shared their ideas with us. If you are planning a trip to the Canary Islands, you may want to get some input from these wonderful Canary Island residents, via Twitter: @AlexBramwellGC @grancanariainfo (http://www.photosgrancanaria.com/) @madreislena @MatthewHirtes @sheilacrosby403
Do you want a taste of what Madrid is really like? Don’t waste time visiting tasteless places. Follow our 6 Tips for a Tasty Trip to Madrid, you’ll be licking your lips and your taste buds will be screaming for “más”!
I recently enjoyed a short visit to Madrid. The last time I visited the city was almost ten years ago. That time I’d arranged a surprise trip for my mum’s 60th birthday. We enjoyed the more touristic side of Madrid. This time, I was visiting with my friend and travel companion, the lovely Annie B from Annie B’s Spanish kitchen. Needless to say, in addition to meeting up with some great people I’d met thanks to social media, it was a food-focused trip!
One of the advantages of having foodie friends is that you get to visit and sample the tastiest parts of a place. No hardship there!
So, here are my 6 Tips for a Tasty Trip to Madrid …
Tip 1. Take a Devour Madrid Food Tour
Seriously, if you want a real insight into the flavours of this majestic city, taking one of Devour Spain’s tours at the start of your visit will enhance your whole experience! Don’t leave it until your last day. If you do, you’ll be kicking yourself!
We were invited by the food-loving and very knowledgeable Lauren and James to take part in one of their Madrid food tours. After lots of deliberation, we decided on the Tapas, Taverns & History Tour. It’s an unbeatable combination of food and history– two tours packed into one fantastic evening!
We were guided by the fun loving Joy who plied us with as much historical information about the City as she did with delicious food and alcoholic beverages.
We visited 5 traditional tapas bars, trying a delicious assortment of homemade tapas including some of Spain’s best acorn-fed Iberian ham, Madrid’s most famous garlic & chilli prawns , and mouth-watering hot-off-the-grill stuffed mushrooms. At each tapas bar our food was paired with a delicious drink (Spanish wine, draught beer or vermouth).
At the end of the tour, everybody was suitably stuffed, in high spirit and grateful to Joy for a fantastic evening. As an added bonus, every guest receives a Devouring Madrid mini guide, packed with recommendations to keep eating well for the rest of your stay!
This is more a food court than a traditional market, located in the district of Chueca, known for its nightlife and shopping. Its 22 vendors sell everything from fresh produce and meats to cooked regional specialities.
The top floor restaurant has a terrace with views across the city, where we enjoyed a wee glass of cava.
Calle Augusto Figueroa 24. Open Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-3pm.
One of Madrid’s oldest markets. Mercado de la Paz was built in 1879 and is located in the smart Salamanca barrio. Despite its location, however, it is a very friendly, local neighbourhood market selling day to day foodstuffs. If you are in this neighbourhood, make sure you pop into Casa Dani for breakfast. If you order tortilla, you won’t be disappointed! Thanks for the tip @theSpainGuy
Calle de Ayala 28. Open Mon-Fri 9am-2.30pm and 5pm-8pm, Sat 9am-2.30pm
Located in Plaza Colón, this was originally the Carlos III cinema. I can only describe it as “spectacular”. There is a food market, a myriad of food counters serving a wide variety of fancy foods, overseen by three Spanish chefs with a total of six Michelin stars between them. If you get the timing right you will also enjoy live music and other forms of entertainment. There was a live DJ playing cool tunes whilst we were there.
Keep an eye out for live music concerts too. A great evening out!
Calle Goya 5-7. Open Sun-Wed noon-12.30am, Thurs-Sat noon-2.30am
The historic wrought-iron-and-glass Mercado de San Miguel, just off Plaza Mayor, has become one of the liveliest culinary spots in the city since it reopened in 2009 after a nearly six-year restoration. Alongside stalls selling fresh produce are tapas bars offering a wide variety of treats.
Prices are higher than Madrid’s more traditional markets, but neither the atmosphere nor the food at the market’s 33 stalls disappoints.
The market aims to become a Centre for Culinary Culture, where the product is the key. A place where people continue to do their daily shopping, as well as participate in activities, sample the products, or simply drop in for a drink and a bite to eat. A traditional market with all of the current-day advantages.
Plaza de San Miguel. Open Sun-Wed 10am-midnight, Thurs-Sat 10am-2am
Tip 3. Take a Cookery Course.
We enjoyed a morning’s cooking with Spanish Masterchef contestant Gonzalo Ribot. De Olla y Sarten offer a wide range of cookery classes, including for children. It was great fun, very good value for money and we enjoyed eating what we cooked!
Mushrooms, setas, champiñones …. you will find them all here, in various disguises and forms. As this understated shabby looking little establishment, nestled between gourmet bistros and bars, proudly boasts, they have “Fresh Wild Mushrooms all year round”.
Don’t be surprised if you have to queue either, tables are far and few between. But it will be worth the wait … especially if you like mushrooms, setas, champiñones 😉 Also, be careful not to be drawn to the fancy new restaurant with the same name, further down the street. The original place offers the original experience, for sure!
Calle de Gravina 19, 28004, Madrid Metro: Chueca Line +34 915 21 37 99
Tip 5. Go In Search of The Perfect Tortilla!
Seriously, I was so impressed with the tortillas ( Spanish potato omelette) we ate in Madrid! Like many people, I dislike undercooked runny eggs. However, the consistency of so many of the tortillas we tasted in Madrid was incredible. They are a lot less cooked that the tortilla we usually enjoy in Andalucía. They look runny and undercooked but are not. They are totally delicious.
And the winner of our favourite tortilla in Madrid was served at …. (drum roll please!!!) Casa Dani in Mercado de la Paz.
Tip 6. Enjoy a Gin & Tonic at Sunset, on the Rooftop Terrace at the Círculo de Bellas Artes
Despite being impressed with Madrid, I did have that forever present feeling of slight claustrophobia that I often have in big cities. I had to keep looking up to see the sky and was constantly searching for open spaces. That was until we visited, what I must say was my favourite spot …
Once again, the excellent advice from our incredibly knowledgeable Madrid contacts meant that we saw the city at it’s best, from this wonderful viewpoint … as the sun set over the majestic city of Madrid.
The 4€ charge for taking the lift to the roof terrace is well worth it.
Last year, it was more challenging and despite booking a long holiday in Cadiz, my work spoilt what could have been a wonderful holiday. That, of course, has now all changed and I am free to enjoy this time with our children, and enjoy it we have.
In this post, we will share with you how we planned and spent this year’s school summer holidays in Spain. Hopefully, this will give you some ideas how to enjoy rather than endure this time with your children. It’s all about planning…
Silly string fighting with family & friends in the UK
So, how have we enjoyed our 12 Weeks of school summer holidays in Spain?
Click each of the links below to read the related articles, including information, directions and insider tips we want to share with you.
(NOTE: If the links are not active yet, it means that I haven’t managed to post the article yet … I’m out of practice following our 12 week holidays remember 😉 )
A trip to the UK: Avoid the queues as UK children are back at school! Legoland Windsor & Science Museums in London.
See how quickly that went! Where did those three months; 12 weeks; eighty days go?
Beautiful beach days in Conil de la Frontera, Cadiz.
We have had such a wonderful summer and are already thinking about how to enjoy next summer. The only problem now is that I have to get back into work mode. There are only so many times you can tell people that you are “de vacaciones” … Maybe I’ll send them a copy of this post so they will understand. After all, it is one of the many reasons we chose to live and love our Family Life In Spain.
How do you spend your summer? Do you enjoy it or endure it? Send us your stories and ideas.
For the past three years, we have spent our August family holidays in Cadiz.
It’s so great that we are already planning to go back next year.
Many people ask us what there is to do in Cadiz, apart from enjoying the miles of amazingly, clean, white sand, clear water beaches. (It was actually Monica from Mum on the Brink that got us thinking!) This year, we’ve decided to share what we discovered with you.
So, what about our 2014 August family holidays in Cadiz? Here we go …
Caños de Meca
Conil de la Frontera
Cabo de Traflagar
How did we travel to Cadiz?
Cádiz is a province of southern Spain, in the southwestern part of the autonomous community of Andalusia, the southernmost part of continental Western Europe. In the region also referred to as Costa de la Luz.
It is bordered by the Spanish provinces of Huelva, Seville, and Málaga, as well as the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar and the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. It has an area of 7,442 square kilometers.
Its capital is the City of Cádiz, which has a population of more than 128,000. The largest city is Jerez de la Frontera with 208,896 inhabitants (as of 2010), and another important city is Algeciras with just over 114,000 inhabitants. The entire province had a population of 1,194,062 (as of 2006), of whom about 600,000 live in the Bay of Cádiz area. Its population density is 160.45 per square kilometer.
From our home in Mijas, it is only a two and a half hour drive. So, as with our trip to Alicante in June, we packed up our faithful Volkswagen Transporter and drove to Cadiz. Surfboards, boogie boards, bikes and beach toys included, of course 😉
Journey times from local Airports to Cadiz:
Malaga airport is approximately 2 1/2 hours
Gibraltar airport is approximately 1 1/2 hours (excluding border queues!)
Jerez airport is approximately 45 minutes
We strongly recommend you hire a car for your stay to allow you to discover the surrounding towns and villages.
Where did we stay in Cadiz? What did we think about the accommodation?
A great pool
Outdoor bbq area
Private and quiet
Fully fitted kitchen
Simple but comfortable
Plan your days to relax …
This year we could not fault our accommodation. It had everything we wanted for a fun, family holiday in Cadiz.
We rented a private villa in the area known as Roche, about 5 minutes from the popular resort of Conil de la Frontera.
Roche is known as one of the most prestigious residential areas of the Costa de la Luz region of Cadiz due to its clean, lush and natural landscape. Its location between pine trees and the sea means it enjoys an ideal year round climate.
Our rented accommodation was a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom detached villa with a lovely lush garden, good sized pool and outdoor barbecue area. It was equipped with everything we needed and was immaculately clean. The fact is was accessed by a shared private driveway within a quiet urbanisation and was totally enclosed meant that it felt totally private and safe for the children. We were able to enjoy family bike rides from the house into the local pine forests …
Meeting the locals
Bike ride selfie with my kids!
Our host, Manuel, could not have been more helpful. He was keen to share his knowledge and love of the local area, where he was born and has spent most of his life.
We were spoilt for choice for places to either eat out or take away, within a short distance of our rental house. Food in the Cadiz province is not expensive and is generally, very tasty.
We will tell you more about the local cuisine in the articles about each of the areas we visited. (See links below)
The best breakfast bar!
Taste: your tastebuds will be bursting with all the gastronomic experiences
Tortas de aceite
Simple and scrummy
Where did we visit in Cadiz? What did we think of each place?
Get ready for it … Yes, we ventured out this year. We made it further than the amazing local beaches. In fact, due to a little research, we had so much to do that we ran out of time. Hence, our excuse for going back for longer next year (not that an excuse is ever needed for holidays in our house 😉 ).
To break it up for you, we have written articles on each of the places we visited and the places we researched and are yet to visit. This way you can use them to plan your own trips and adventures in Cadiz.
( NOTE: We will add direct links as soon as the articles are ready for you to read … just click on the name of the place you want to read about in the list below)
Conil de la Frontera: beaches, great food and surf school.
Vejer and El Palmar: a beautiful whitewashed hilltop village, probably our favourite beach and a live beach display by the fire-fighter planes.
Cadiz City: An open top bus tour, great fried fish and steeped in history.
Sancti Pectri: A boat trip and a place still to discover.
Jerez de la Frontera: Sherry museums, a zoo, karting and museums for children.
Chipiona and Sanlúcar de Barrameda: The tallest lighthouse in Spain and horse racing on the beach.
What was our favourite part?
Are we allowed of say “all of it”?
The province of Cadiz is such a great place to visit and to share with friends. This summer it was at least 7 to 10 ºC cooler than the Malaga province in the month of August. The temperature of both the air and the water was ideal.
What was our least favourite memory?
The fact that we only had two weeks to enjoy it all 🙁Never mind, it will be at least three weeks next August 🙂
Random observations and thoughts:
If you would like more details of any of the places we visited or of the villa we rented, just email us at : firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are looking for a beach based holiday then traveling to Cadiz is best done from April to October. Outside of those months the beach resorts such as Conil de la Frontera can be like ghost towns. The cities and towns such as Cadiz Capital and Jerez de la Frontera can be visited all year round.
Pssst … As I’m writing this post, we are excited to have just booked a long weekend ( a puente) in October at the villas in Roche. We are checking out the 3 bed house and friends are staying in the 2 bed house next door. More to follow upon our return …
As you may know, we currently live in the beautiful Andalucian, whitewashed village of Mijas. It is a popular destination for visitors from all over the world. We decided it was about time to share our Top 5 Holiday Activities for Kids in Mijas. Please keep number 5 quiet though, or we will be in trouble with the locals.
So, what are our Top 5 Holiday Activities for Kids in Mijas?
In no particular order ….
1. A visit to the Mayan Monkey Mijas Chocolate Factory
Do you love chocolate? Did you know you can make your own chocolate bar in Spain? Did you know that there is a chocolate factory in Mijas pueblo?
As self-confessed chocoholics, it was obvious that we would be visiting the new chocolate factory in our village, however we had not imagined actually making our own chocolate bars.
Parque Aquatico Mijas is a great day out for children of all ages. Keep your eye out for discount vouchers given out at supermarkets and in hotels in the area. The vouchers can save you around €20 on the entrance fee for a family of four.
The water park offers rides and slides to suit all ages.
The Isla Lagartos (Lizard Island) allows the younger children to swim and play in fountains, slides and water jets.
The Lago Azul (Blue Lake) and Jacuzzi is where you can lie back, relax and let the water refresh you.
Everybody can have fun in the Piscina de Olas (Wave Pool).
For the more adventurous, there is: the 15 metre high Kamikaze; the 300 metre long winding slides of the Laberinto de Toboganes; the 40 metres of water madness of Rio Aventura and the Pistas Blandas where you can set your own challenges as to how to launch yourself in to the water.
Watch out for our next post with lots of crazy photos of water based fun at Parque Aquatico Mijas.
3. The Miniatures Museum: Carromato de Mijas
The Miniature Museum Mijas, Carromato de Mijas, is the first of its kind. It is a must for visitors to Mijas pueblo, no matter what your age.
From the outside, the Miniature Museum Mijas does not look like anything special. It actually looks a bit like a carriage off an old train. However, once you discover its treasures you will be happy you decided to visit.
The collection of miniatures was founded in 1972 by a famous hypnotist Juan Elegido Millán, who went by the stage name of Professor Max. This miniatures museum has pieces from over 50 different countries, many of them utterly remarkable in their attention to detail and microscopic artistry.
Photographs are not normally permitted inside the Miniature Museum Mijas. However, when the local photography competition takes place, all visitors can take pictures. We were in luck when we visited …
My mum and my children were fascinated.
It is incredible to think that somebody has the patience to paint, using an eyelash, for months, to produce some of these amazing pictures.
There are some other interesting pieces such as: dressed up fleas; the seven wonders of the world painted on a toothpick; a shrunken head from the Jivaros Indians and some stunning Japanese artwork.
Dried and dressed fleas.
Please also be advised that this museum is managed by AFESOL and all monies paid as entrance fees go towards this very needy cause. The Mijas ayuntamiento do not charge any rental fee to AFESOL and contribute to running costs.
AFESOL (Association of Families and Persons with Mental Illness in the Costa del Sol), is a non-profit association formed by families and people with mental illness, together to find solutions to problems that arise with mental illness.
Address: Avenida del Compas, s/n .29650 Mijas Pueblo.
Opening times: every day from 10am.
4. Mijas Donkey-Taxis
Some people may not agree with the use of Donkey Taxis in Mijas Pueblo, however the children tend to love the experience. It is said that inMijas,inthe early60’s,someworkersreturningto their homeson theirdonkeys,wererequested, byvisitors,tophotographortake a walk.
As with most tourist attractions, thetips paid by the visitors exceededthe worker’s salaries. As a result, theDonkey–Taxis are todayan institutionin Mijasandone of its mainattractions.
Steps have been taken to ensure the well being of the donkeys. To boost the quality of their tourist taxi rides, the famous Mijas donkeys must now be registered with brand new ID plates. This will also aid recognition of individual animals and improve the service.
5. The Municipal Swimming Pool in Osunillas (summer months only).
This is a beautiful outdoor pool that is free during the week! Shhh … don’t tell too many people though please.
It is located in the area of Osunillas near Mijas Pueblo. It is generally open from the first week in June. For non residents the entry fee is €3 at the weekends. There is plenty of shade beneath the trees if you do not want too much sun and there is a snack bar to purchase drinks and snacks. A plate of paella is only 5 euros!
Location: Carretera de Mijas a Benalmádena, Km 1. 29650 – Mijas.
So, there you have them. Our Top 5 Holiday Activities for Kids in Mijas. What do you think? We’d love to hear your suggestions and to receive your feedback once you’ve done any of these things in Mijas.