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A Visit to the Malaga Lake District

The lakes in Malaga are divided into three different areas referred to as: Embalse de Gaitanej; Embalse del Conde de Guadalhorce and the biggest of them all Embalse del Gualdalteba-Guadalhorce.

If you head inland, away from Malaga Capital, towards the town of Ardales, you can access the lakes by following the signs to El Chorro or Embalses de Guadalhorce.

The following map shows our route from Mijas to the lakes in Malaga:

lakes in malaga

The route from Mijas …

The lakes are a great place to spend the day at any time of the year. For us, we love visiting the lakes in Malaga in the hot months of July, August and September when we love swimming and renting the waterspouts equipment.

If you visit in the cooler months there are plenty of places to walk around, have a coffee or even enjoy lunch. The shores of the lakes are great places to picnic or you can have lunch at a number of excellent and very reasonable ventas and restaurants around the edge of the water. There are also barbecue areas where you can cook your own lunch. Ensure you adhere to guidelines and restrictions here please!

For the more adventurous, rock climbing and hang gliding are possible in the area, whilst the reservoirs provide the focus for more gentle activities such as fishing and canoeing – but power-driven boats are banned here.

The natural park offers wonderful terrain for walkers, with shaded paths through oak forests and olive groves and gentler, scenic routes along the shores of the lakes.

In the summertime we take a picnic and simply lie by the waters edge. Our usual spot is a place called La Isla. At La Isla you pay to park your car, but it isn’t expansive at all. Current 2014 prices are as in this picture:

lakes in malaga

The cost of parking and rentals at La Isla …

As you can see form the picture above you can rent  kayaks, pedalos, stand up paddle boards and the biggest of all pedalo with a slide on it … guess which one we rented?

Here’s a video of our latest visit to the lakes in Malaga …

There are plenty of other places to visit in the area too. The neighbouring villages are Alora, Antequera, Pizzara, Bobadilla and Campillos. El Torcal is close by, this is  a “must see” attraction but better saved for another day.

So if you fancy a day on the water, away from the hustle and bustle of the Costa del Sol, head to the lakes in Malaga, you will not be disappointed!

lakes in malaga

Can you spot our son, Joshua?

For more photographs from our previous visits, and great shots of areas around the lakes, have a look here: Family in Spain on Flickr

Read more about the area in this great post by Andrew Forbes : HERE

Have you visited this part of Malaga? What did you think?

Our Family in Spain Best Summer Songs of All Time

Do you have a list of your Best Summer Songs of All Time?

You know, the songs that remind you of summer holidays, having fun in the sun. The songs that when you hear them,you just need to crank the volume up every time. The songs that make you tap your feet or even shake your stuff. The songs that make you smile.

We had a wee family conference and came up with the following list of our own Best Summer Songs of All Time.

Have a listen, a sing along and let us know which would make it onto your own list.

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me, like food or water.– Ray Charles

 

In no particular order…

Aí se eu te pego by Michel Telo : (in Spanish and Portugese) “Oh if I catch you”

The bit we sing most:
Nossa, nossa
Assim você me mata
Ai se eu te pego, ai ai se eu te pego

Translation:
Wow! Wow!
You’re killing me
Oh if I catch you, ai if I catch you

We Are One (Ole Ola) [The Official 2014 FIFA World Cup Song] by Pitbull feat. Jennifer Lopez & Claudia Leitte

The bit we sing most:
Put your flags up in the sky
(Put them in the sky)
And wave them side to side (side to side)
Show the world where you’re from
(show them where you’re from)
Show the world we are one (one love, life)

 

Shakira – Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) (The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Song)

The bit we sing most:
Tsamina mina, eh eh
Waka waka, eh eh
Tsamina mina zangalewa
This time for Africa

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime

Fave lyrics:

school is out and it’s a sort of a buzz
a back then I didn’t really know what it was
but now I see what have of this
the way that people respond to summer madness

Martha and the Muffins – Echo Beach

Fave lyrics:

I know it’s out of fashion
And a trifle uncool
But I can’t help it
I’m a romantic fool
It’s a habit of mine
To watch the sun go down
On Echo beach, I watch the sun go down

The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon

The bit we sing most:

‘Cause I love to live so pleasantly,
Live this life of luxury,
Lazing on a sunny afternoon.
In the summertime

Chris Rea : On The Beach

The bit we sing most:

Takes me back to the place that I know
Down on the beach

Don Henley – The Boys of Summer

Fave lyrics:

But I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun.
You got your hair combed back
And your sunglasses on, baby.
I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone.

Get Lucky by Daft Punk

The bit we sing most:

We’ve come too far
To give up who we are,
So let’s raise the bar
And our cups to the stars.

Toploader – Dancing in the Moonlight

Fave lyrics:
We like our fun and we never fight
you cant dance and stay uptight
It’s a supernatural delight
everybody was dancing in the moonlight

Kid Rock – All Summer Long

Fave lyrics:

Splashing through the sand bar
Talking by the campfire
It’s the simple things in life, like when and where
We didn’t have no internet

The Drifters – Under The Boardwalk

Fave lines:

And your shoes get so hot, you wish your tired feet were fireproof

Astrud Gilberto With Stan Getz – Girl From Ipanema (1964)

Fave lyrics:
When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
That when she passes, each one she passes leg “ooh”

“Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful

Fave lyrics:
Cool town, evening in the city
Dressing so fine and looking so pretty
Cool cat, looking for a kitty
Gonna look in every corner of the city
Till I’m wheezing like a bus stop
Running up the stairs, gonna meet you on the rooftop

Wham – Club Tropicana

Our fave lines:

Watch the waves break on the bay.
Soft white sands, a blue lagoon,
Cocktail time, a summer’s tune,
A whole night’s holiday!

 

So, there you have it. Our Best Summer Songs of All Time. We tried to make it our Top Ten but there were too many we couldn’t exclude. Do you think there are any other songs we should include in this list?

Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it.- John Lennon

Have a fabulous Summer everyone!

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Our Top 10 Best Family Travel Games

As our children get older, we are travelling more frequently and more further afield. As I’m sure any parent will agree, keeping the children entertained whilst travelling makes it a much smoother ride. For this reason, we have decided to share out Top 10 Best Family Travel Games with you.

Whether it is a flight back to the UK to visit family or a road trip down to our beloved Cadiz, or any other place we choose to visit, most of the items on out Top 10 Best Family Travel Games list are usually with us. Remember, we are not known for travelling light, although these games are probably the most compact we have.

We’ve included links to Amazon.co.uk  and .com where you can browse and purchase any of the Family Travel Games you like the look of…

The Creativity Hub Rory’s Story Cubes (For all ages)

9 cubes, 54 images, over 10 million possible combos, unlimited stories! Recipient of Dr. Toy’s “10 Best Games” Award, the “Major Fun Award” and “People’s Choice Award”. How it works…Simply roll all 9 dice, examine each of the face-up images and let them guide your imagination through a story that begins with “Once upon a time…”. The secret is not to think too deeply. Simply ‘gulp’ in the images and start talking. And remember, there is no wrong answer! The nine dice, each with a unique image on all six sides, hold a total of 54 images. This means that with every roll, there are over 10 million combination’s for you to use as the inspiration for your story. The uses for Rory’s Story Cubes are boundless. Play them while traveling, waiting in a restaurant, in the classroom, as an icebreaker, for idea generation, or to make learning a new language more fun.

Read our post about these HERE: Storytelling and using Story Cubes.

Travel Guess Who (For all ages)

The classic guessing game comes in a compact size for plenty of fun on the run. Quick set-up and a self-contained storage tray make it a great game to play anytime, anywhere. Which face has your opponent picked? Someone with brown hair? Someone wearing a hat? Someone with both? Just one good question could eliminate several faces at once-be the first to figure out your opponent’s mystery face and you win the round.

Sort it Out Game Travel Tin (For all the family)

Sort it Out!™ is the new award-winning party game from Australia that’s sweeping across the world. A great ice breaker for groups of new friends and a battle of wits for old friends and family. Can you sort these animals by their top speed–a bat, a zebra, a crocodile, a salmon and a golden eagle? How about sorting these house-hold inventions by when they were created—flushing toilet, electric vacuum cleaner, disposable razor, bath and facial tissues? In Sort It Out!™, finding out the correct order is just as much fun as getting it right.

How to Play: The winner is the first player to reach 20 points by knowing the biggest, fastest, loudest, earliest, smallest and longest of everything, or just being a lucky guesser. Place a topic card in the middle of the table and all players answer the question at the same time by placing their five coloured tiles in the correct order on their tile holder (see example question image). When it’s time to see the answer you don’t just get the correct order, we back it up with some facts too (did you know James Murray Spangler invented the electric Hoover in 1908?). For each answer you get in the correct place on your tile holder, you get 1 point towards your target of 20 points. A great, fun after-dinner game and ideally packaged to take on your travels. For 2 to 4 players.

Pass the Pigs (For all ages)

The original party animals. Try your luck using pigs for dice. Will you roll a sider or start makin’ bacon? This game, in its elegant silver-coloured case, remains an- all time classic game to be played anywhere, by anyone. Using the two little pigs as dice, your objective is to score 100 points before your friends do. How those little porkers land determines the points you score. Roll a Double Snouter and score 40 points. Roll a trotter get another 5 points and you’re well on the way to 100. But, do you bank those points or risk rolling again? Roll a Pig Out and you lose all your points for that turn. A roll of a makin’ bacon and you lose all your accumulated points. You’ll need hog-sized helpings of luck and nerve if you’re going to get your snout in the trough… These pigs are truly addictive–a classic game for generations.

Smart Ass Game Travel Tin (For older kids and adults)

Smart Ass is the ultimate trivia game where even a dumb “ass” can win! This quick-moving, fun party game involves everybody on every turn and as soon as you think you know the answer to a question, just shout it out! There are four main question categories: Who am I?, What am I?, Where am I? and Hard Ass. Each question is made up of a series of ten clues which get progressively easier (see example question image). The first person to shout out the correct answer wins the round and keeps that card. If anyone blurts out the wrong answer then they’re out until the next question. The first player to answer four questions correctly wins the game and is crowned the ultimate Smart Ass!
This tin version of Smart Ass makes a great after-dinner game and has all the fun of the Smart Ass board game – just without the board! Its portable size means it can be taken on your travels and brighten up any journey. If you already own the Smart Ass board game, it will make a great booster pack of fresh new questions to extend the fun. For 2 or more players and ages 12 to adult.

Bananagrams Game (For all the family)

Bananagrams is a fast and fun word game that requires no pencil, paper or board. All you need is a table. One hand can be played in as little as five minutes. It is great for family fun as well as being educational. Bananagrams’ portability makes it perfect for travel. Just grab the pouch and go. (Imagine a game of Scrabble without the need for a board!)

LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra (Great first tablet for the younger ones!)

Everything mums want; everything kids will love

Built for children, inside and out, the LeapPad Ultra is a kid-friendly tablet with a 7 inch high-resolution screen and safe WiFi that works with hundreds of fun educator-approved games and apps. The tablet is designed for children aged 4 to 9 years, and works with all LeapFrog Explorer cartridges and downloadable apps (sold separately).

Looks like yours; plays like theirs

LeapPad Ultra is built from the ground up to be ultra-tough for kids, and has all the features they want. Play, draw, and write on a 7 inch high-resolution screen, designed with feather-light responsiveness for a kid’s touch or for stylus-based play. Capture the world in two ways with front and back cameras and video recorders.

Kids can add cool filters and effects to photos with Photo Fun Ultra, and create crisp, colourful masterpieces with the enhanced Art Studio Ultra app. They can also rock out to included learning songs, or jam to their own music with the built-in MP3 player.

Nintendo Handheld Console 3DS (These keep out two occupied for hours!)

Nintendo 3DS is a groundbreaking hardware release that brings 3D gaming to the handheld market for the first time. The fourth major release in the DS product line, the Nintendo 3DS utilises 3D Slider functionality and an improved top LCD display to present a glasses-free 3D effect on compatible games, while giving players the option to moderate the effect as they see fit. Taken together with additional features including full analogue control in 3D game environments, motion and gyro sensors that transfer the movements of the handheld into the game, 3D camera functionality, an adjustable stylus and full backwards compatibility and you have not only a must-have system, but a revolution in handheld gaming.

All-New Kindle Paperwhite (Mainly for mum but dad and kids get to read it too. Great for reading by the pool or on the beach!)

Unlike reflective tablet and smartphone screens, the latest Kindle Paperwhite reads like paper – no annoying glare, even in bright sunlight. (And that includes by the pool and on the beach!)

Paperwhite guides light towards the surface of the display with its next generation front light – unlike back-lit tablets that shine in your eyes – so you can read comfortably without straining your eyes. Adjust your screen’s brightness for great reading in any light.

Kindle Paperwhite is a great choice if you already have a high-speed internet connection and wireless router set up in your home. If you do not have Wi-Fi set up at home, Kindle Paperwhite 3G may be a better option – 3G connectivity lets you download books anytime, anywhere.

So there you have our Top 10 Best Family Travel Games from Amazon. Would you add any others?

We have lots of silly, fun, family games that we have made up too. We’ll share them with you another time.

Happy Family Travels everyone!

All About Our Family Holidays in Alicante

We have just returned from our family holidays in Alicante and we wanted to share what we discovered with you.

This was an extra bonus week, thanks to Ed’s mum, so it was a bit last-minute and not a lot of research was carried out before we went. I (mum) had just returned from a quick trip to the UK at 1am of the day that we departed … sleepy was an understatement. I did manage to navigate us there though.

This is the first in a new series of trips and holidays that we plan to share with you. If you have any specific requests for places for us to visit, just drop us a line. We are always open to ideas. Read all about what we can offer you: HERE.

So, what about our family holidays in Alicante? Here we go …

How did we travel to Alicante?

family holidays in alicante

The faithful, family van.

As we like to take as many toys as we can, whenever we can, we decided to travel to Alicante in our van. A Volkswagen transporter. Fully loaded with clothes, toys, foodstuffs, family bikes, boogie boards, two adults, 2 children and the mother in law (Mika, our german shepherd was in the kennels this time), we hit the road as soon as the school bus dropped the children off at the end of our road.

The road journey was very easy, but not the most scenic we have driven, over 250 kilometres was on one road. We headed towards Malaga, then inland to Granada, it was strange to see so little snow left on the summits of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We then headed towards the East coast towards Murcia and then up to Alicante. A slight disagreement with our Tom Tom navigator, I am known to do this on a regular basis, bypassing the centre of Alicante caused a slight delay, but aside from that it was plain sailing.

The villa was rented through a holiday management company, Premier villas, and their representative phoned us shortly before our arrival and we met him as agreed, a short distance from the villa. Their instructions were very clear and it was a nice painless end to a six-hour drive.

Whilst Ed and his mum were given a tour around the villa, the children checked out the most important facility …

family holidays in alicanteWhere did we stay in Alicante? What did we think about the accommodation?

We stayed in Casa Mimosa in the sleepy village of Parcent, approximately 25 kilometres from the coast (the towns of either Dénia or Javea), in La Vall de Pop, in the Alicante region.

 

The villa had a great 10 x 5 metre pool which was a huge hit with the children. Lots of room for more inflatable toys …

There were lots of outside seating areas that we enjoyed at different times of the day. Early mornings and evenings on the raised open terraces, daytime sunshine was easily avoided under the large covered terrace, we even enjoyed a lunchtime bbq in the pouring rain!

The sleeping arrangements were challenging, to say the least. One of the reasons why I (mum) usually take charge of booking our trips and holidays. However, as this was a last minute treat, we made it work. Family bed swapping is always fun for the children and is often the best way to get a decent nights sleep. As the company website clearly explains, “all the bedrooms have separate, external entrances”. What we hadn’t realised was that they were not internally connected in any way. For this reason alone, we would not recommend this villa to anyone with younger children. For couples and teenagers, it would be great.

A couple of other observations we feel we need to share are:

  • there was no wi-fi in the villa
  • at the weekends there is a nightclub that plays music very loud until the early hours
  • the glass tables are a bit of a liability for young children too

I don’t want to appear negative about the villa, but I prefer to be honest and share our thoughts.

With regards to location, we loved it!

It was very private and quiet (apart from the weekend nights!). We could go for walks and bike rides from the doorstep. The village of Parcent was a ten-minute walk away and so was the local bodega (wine shop).

family holidays in alicante

Family Bike Ride

Read more details about the villa here: Casa Mimosa

About the Food and Drink in Alicante:

We love to try new food and drink when we travel. We research the local produce and specialities of the region. However, during our family holidays in Alicante, we found this rather challenging.

Let me explain.

We read that, in La Vall de Pop region, the specialities included:

  • ”espencat” a salad of roasted vegetables
  • “cocas” pizza like savouries
  • “minxos” savoury pastries
  • “pilotes de dacsa” cornflour and meat dumplings
  • “arròs amb caragols i naps” rice with snails and turnip
  • “putxero amb pilotes” stew with meatballs
  • “arroz al horno” baked rice

Unfortunately, we struggled to find the local specialities. We put this down to lack of preparation and will ensure we are better prepared for our next visit to the area. The restaurants we ended up in, some recommended by family friends, offered fixed menu style meals. Admittedly, they were good value for money, but not what we like to eat.

A rather unfortunate discovery, for our preferred taste, was this lovely looking, traditional Spanish style (or so we thought) restaurant in Alcalalí, called Casa Pepe. We should have left when we read the “Kid’s Menu”: sausages and chips, nuggets and chips, fish fingers and chips … It got worse. When, in Spanish, we asked the waiter if the sausages were English or Spanish, he looked at us in utter embarrassment and replied “Iceland sausages” i.e. the frozen food shop, not the country.

family holidays in alicante

Josh was not impressed!

The value for money could not be questioned. Three-course meals with drinks for around only 12 to 14 euros. However, we were surprised when we discovered that it is the Nº1 restaurant in the area on Trip Advisor: Read here for more reviews. It is at this point, as on many occasions, that we need to remind ourselves that everyone has their own tastes and ours may not be the norm.

Another day we visited La Piscina on the road from Parcent to Taberna. This had been recommended by family friends. Again, it was a fixed menu at a very cheap price. A cold buffet starter reminded me of 2 star hotel dining options. The mains were better than Casa Pepe but not to our usual standard. We enjoyed a reasonable Paella a la Valenciana and dad had wild boar. Read Trip Advisor reviews here .

Needless to say, we were not as quick to eat out in the surrounding area on the remaining days. We did enjoy a great lunch in the Andalucían Meson Tresmall in Moroira  and a classic fish lunch, with friends in Denia. They were our least adventurous meals but they were good. After all, we do believe that you generally get what you pay for, especially where food is concerned.

So, what about the local wine?

Much to mum’s surprise, we discovered that La Vall de Pop enjoys an abundant grape harvest and there are many wine cellars, co operatives and museums in the area. Despite not having a lot of time to sample the local wine, we did manage a quick bodega visit in Xaló. Our excitement was slightly quashed though, on seeing large plastic bottles containing, not only the locally produced wine, but also spirits such as gin, vodka and whisky. The excitement to taste soon wore off.

We did manage to bring a few home to taste though …

family holidays in alicante

Wine, cava and rasins

We decided that, from now on, wherever we go:

  • Dad will taste something completely different, as a local speciality, all body parts included (Challenge on! Tee hee!)

  • Mum will sample the local beverage (usually wine 😉 )

  • Joshua will learn a phrase in the local language / dialect

  • Francesca will discover an interesting fact and/or story about the area

Where did we visit in Alicante? What did we think of each place?

As this was only a five day break, our aim was to get a taster of nearby places in order to plan future trips and future family holidays in Alicante and the surrounding areas.

We visited:

Castell de Castells: Petracos. Neolithical cave paintings. These cave paintings were declared World Heritage as they are a unique representation of macro-schematic art. Standing looking at them, it was incredible to think that they were painted over 8000 years ago.

Xàbia/Jávea  was a bit of a disappointment, having seen the beautiful beaches in the tourist brochures. Our first impression was that it was a little Britain in the sun and we did not wish to investigate further. It was quite a cloudy and cool day though, so we will reserve judgement for another visit.

Moraira was an attractive area. There was a nice obvious mix of nationalities. The town itself offered great beaches, clean promenades and an abundance of restaurants. This is a place we will investigate further on a future trip.

Dénia was our favourite town/resort. We enjoyed visiting the rocky snorkelling area of Les Rotes, the view over to Ibiza, the huge harbour area and the long, sandy beaches that line the length of the resort. The water was so warm and clear. It is a great location for a family holiday. We will be back, for sure.

 

What was our favourite part?

Aside from a great family and friends beach and bbq day in Dénia, our favourite day was snorkelling at Platja Els Pinets in Benissa . The beach was only 20 metres wide and 6 metres deep but the scenery and surroundings were beautiful. The water was crystal clear and abundant with fish and sea life. Francesca entertained local sun bathers with her shrieks of joy resonating through her snorkel. Josh loved clambering over the rocks and feeding the resident crabs. Dad swam for miles and miles, enjoying the warm water and seabed views. Mum took lots of pics, relaxed in the sun and watched everybody having fun.

Mum was also secretly happy that the beach she’d randomly chosen, from the many options in the tourist guide, was a success.

What was our least favourite memory?

The long drive home.

 

Random observations and thoughts:

Although we were still in Spain, the local dialect caught us out a few times during our family holidays in Alicante. Valenciano,  a variety of Catalan, is spoken in the Alicante region. This caught us out when looking for street names and locations. It did not cause any real problems though as Castillian in also spoken by locals.

We were surprised at how few local, Spaniards we met. There is without doubt a major British expat community in this area. Unfortunately, this had a negative impact on our first impression of the area where we were staying and some of the places we visited.

The towns and villages we drove through, at varying times of day, seemed very quiet. It was not unusual to see only a few individuals shuffling along the streets. Only Moraira and Denia appeared to be hives of activity and excitement.

The scenery was beautiful. The stone buildings and vineyards were reminiscent of France.

family holidays in alicante

Fields of grapes …

The sea is generally clear and warm and there is a wide variety of sea life to discover.

Despite our initial disappointments, the whole experience left us with a wonderful taste of the Mediterranean and a desire to return and discover more.

Can you help us?

Do you know the Alicante region well? Where should we visit? What should we do? Where should we eat? Where is seriously not to be missed?

Please add your suggestions as a comment and we will start planning our next family holidays in Alicante with your help

¡Gracias amigos!

quiz about spain

CLICK HERE to take our fun Quiz about Spain

School Holiday Calendar Spain 2014 2015 Andalucía

school calendar 2014 2015 jpeg

Here is our printable School Holiday Calendar Spain 2014 2015 for Andalucía

At last it is here!  You can now use our printable school holiday calendar Spain 2014 2015 dates to plan any trips and holidays for the coming year. What trips have you got planned this year? As we have previously mentioned, every year it seems that the Spanish school holiday dates are published later. We are always eager to start planning all our holidays and visits to new places in Spain so this printable School Holiday Calendar Spain is an absolute essential tool. Please remember that most provinces may also have local holidays, such as Semana Blanca in Málaga. Semana Blanca 2015 is not mentioned in this School Holiday Calendar Spain, as published by the Junta de Andalucía, so please make sure you check with your own school before making any travel plans. (Semana Blanca is usually the week that coincides with Día de Andalucía, February 28th).

For a printable version for your wall: Click Here  School Calendar 2014 2015

If you are thinking about Moving to Spain, our book will answer a lot of your questions …

To BUY on Amazon.es Click Here!

To Buy on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk Click the corresponding image below

  

quiz about spainCLICK HERE to take our fun Quiz about Spain

For more information about living in Spain with children, visit our YouTube channel…

Snorkelling in Nerja

We think this is the best place to go snorkelling in Nerja…

Our children love the water. They are not yet the strongest of swimmers but they are confident enough to try new water sports. We are always looking at places to visit where they can try all different activities.

If you read Steve’s post My Top 5 Things to do in Nerja,  you will know that Nerja is a popular spot for water sports, including snorkelling.

Whenever the conditions are right, we love to jump in the car and go snorkelling in Nerja. It takes about an hour from our home in Mijas.

Although we agree that La Herradura is a great spot, particularly for scuba diving, we prefer to go to the beaches where Torrox Costa meets Nerja.

The pictures below should help you to find the right spot.

snorkelling in Nerja

Look out for this landmark

snorkelling in Nerja

The steps down to the beach

This weekend we were lucky to get to the beach before if was too busy and before the waves became too big.  (The conditions weren’t ideal but they were good enough!) The children were able to swim for a short time as the water was still pretty chilly but there was plenty of sea life and they thoroughly enjoyed it. If you have wetsuits, it is always good to use them for the children. In the months of May and June, the wetsuits allow the children to stay in the water for longer and in the hot summer months, they help prevent the children form burning in the sun.

snorkelling in nerja

Into the water they go …

 

This beach is not only good for snorkelling but you can also go searching for crabs and small fish in the many natural rock pools. We took some bread to encourage the sea life to come out of hiding. There are also plenty of mussels on the rocks that you can pull off and break open to feed the crabs who put up a pretty good fight when the food is offered!

snorkelling in Nerja

Fishing in the natural rock pools

snorkelling in Nerja

A multitude of colourful sealife

If you do catch anything, please remember to be very gentle with them and to always carefully put them back where you found them!

There are plenty of rocks here to use for drying out wetsuits … and children!

snorkelling in Nerja

Wetsuits drying in the sun

As the Levante wind arrived, so did the tidal swell. When the water is choppy, not only is it more difficult for the children to snorkel but the visibility is greatly reduced. It is always worth checking the local forecast before planning your snorkelling trip.

So, it was time for playing in the waves and chilling at the waters edge.

snorkelling in Nerja

Playing in the waves

snorkelling in Nerja

Chilling …

As it was May 2nd and our first snorkelling trip this year, we all had a great day. As this spot is popular with locals, it is often busy, however there are lots of little corners and coves so you can enjoy your own little part of the beach. It is however best to visit before the crazy months of July and August when you will probably feel like sardines squashed into a small tin!

snorkelling in Nerja

A picnic lunch

Although there are no toilets or bars on the beach here, there are two restaurants within a short walk of the snorkelling spot so you can have lunch there. We prefer to pack a picnic a and a chilly bin with lots of cold water and maybe a chilled beer or two!

We’ll share our other favourite spots with you soon. We look forward to your suggestions too!

snorkelling in Nerja

My snorkelling dudes 🙂

See you soon!  ¡Hasta pronto!

St Georges Day in Spain: Sant Jordi

st georges day in spainAs an expat, do you celebrate St Georges day in Spain? Do you celebrate it English or Spanish style? Did you know that Sant Jordi is also a big celebration in Catalonia,  Northern Spain?

Following our recent trip to Barcelona and our fascination with the the architecture and the history that is found in every street and building around the city, we decided to invite Matthew from Barcelona to tell us a little bit more about St George’s Day in Spain.

 

Over to you Matthew ….

St George’s Day – The most romantic day of the year?

We all know the tale of ‘St George and the Dragon‘. The knight in shining armour who comes to the rescue of a damsel in distress about to meet her demise at the hands of a monstrous dragon. Apart from maybe retelling the tale to their kids, the average reader from England and the UK sees St George’s Day more as an event to celebrate national pride, which of course, is brilliant! However, apart from the increased presence of flags and bunting, very rarely is the day truly celebrated and there is no official way to rejoice in the occasion.

Meanwhile 700 miles south, Catalonia – whose patron saint is also St. George – do have their own official celebration for the day, and it centres around the aforementioned tale. You see, in the Catalan version, after Saint George (or Sant Jordi as he is known here) slays the dragon a red rose bush grows from the blood of the beast, which he gives to the princess and they live happily ever after. Today, men all over the region try to make their own happily ever after by presenting the one they love with a rose, just as the brave knight was said to have done.

st georges day in spainWhether you’re in Barcelona or Girona, all around Catalonia you’ll find that the streets are absolutely chockablock with stalls selling roses of all kinds of colours from red, white, and pink to blue, black, and even multicolour. Locals stroll hand-in-hand as pairs, taking in the vibrant atmosphere. You’ll also see men nervously carrying roses along the street as they’re preparing to present them to someone special, and women walking home with a spring in their step, roses in hand and a person in their hearts.

The celebration doesn’t end there though! At the beginning of the 20th century, a bookseller noticed that the day coincided with both the death of William Shakespeare and the apparent burial of Miguel Cervantes. While men were buying roses, this bookseller proposed that women buy their partner a book, and so it has since remained. You only have to walk down Las Ramblas to see the masses of book stalls on the street, as well as various book fairs being held around the city. This Catalan tradition caught on so well that at the end of the century, UNESCO took note and officially declared April 23rd as World Book Day.

st georges day in spainIf you’re looking for family-friendly things to do, there are many events held specifically for this day. For instance, it’s open-house at Barcelona’s City Hall and Parliament buildings which are usually closed to the public on Plaça Sant Juame. There is also a free workshop for families at Carrer Buenaventura Muñoz, 21 where children can make objects related to the story of ‘St George and the Dragon’. All in all though, the celebration of St George’s Day takes place on the streets because the entire city becomes an attraction thanks to the lively and cheerful atmosphere. So if worst comes to worst, simply take a relaxing family stroll and let the magic of the celebration fascinate you…

About the Author: Matthew Debnam

A London ex-pat who made the move to Barcelona 4 years ago. He writes part-time for various local businesses including OK Apartment, who provide holiday apartments and monthly rentals in Barcelona, but is a full-time tourist at heart.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Matthew_Debnam
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Summer Work in Spain with Suncare Central

Are you looking for fun and rewarding summer work in Spain? Do you enjoy meeting new people and helping people of all ages?

If so, Suncare Centrals latest offer of summer work in Spain may be the job for you.

summer work in spain

If you have read our  Sun Safety Tips post,  you will know that I have previously worked for this company. Had I not now had children of my own, who are on holiday for practically the whole summer, I would probably still be working for them. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Suncare Central in Fuerteventura and so am more than happy to recommend them to you.

Currently, the increase in skin cancer is being plastered all over the UK press …

“Rates of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, are five times higher in the UK than they were in the 1970s, new figures show.

More than 13,000 people are now developing the disease each year compared about 1,800 in 1975.

Incidence rate has shot up from just over three per 100,000 of the population 40 years ago to around 17 per 100,000.

The dramatic rise is partly down to the huge increase in package holidays to sunny European destinations, a boom in sunbed use, and the fashion for a “healthy” tan, according to Cancer Research UK which released the figures.

Malignant melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK and more than 2,000 people die from the disease each year.

Sunburn is known to increase the risk of skin cancer, especially in people with pale skin or large numbers of moles or freckles.”

Source: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/malignant-melanoma-rates-increase-230135453.html#yrfCIhN

Working as a suncare advisor, you are not only helping people to get a great tan you are also teaching them how to keep safe in the sun.

So, if you are looking for summer work in Spain, contact Suncare Central and see if they have positions available in your area .. if you’re lucky, you may get sent somewhere exotic for the winter months too!

Don’t forget to let us know how you get on!

Here is a basic job description …

Seasonal & Full Time Positions Available

Working overseas is a great opportunity for anyone who is a confident communicator, has a flair for sales and a commitment to delivering excellent customer service that will ensure that our customers have the best advice possible.

We need people who can deliver a high level of customer service so that they will do all they can to make our customers feel special.

In an overseas role as a Suncare Advisor you can begin an adventure using your current skills while developing new ones a long the way. You will meet a vast range of people, experience life in a foreign country with an excellent working environment to make sure you succeed.

We currently have operations in the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Mainland Spain, Mexico and Florida – so there’s plenty of scope for progression, development & travel.

You’ll be encouraged to develop your skills so your journey with us can be as long and varied as you want it to be.

As well as a fun and rewarding job you will also benefit from the following:

Spanish contract of employment 
High earning potential – Based on commission (average weekly salary 150 to 250 euro per week)
Accommodation
Additional incentives will apply to both sales and service
A friendly working environment
Discounts on all products
Possibility of winter work in other destinations

Requirements are: 
Fluency in English
A team player
Previous customer service or sales experience an advantage although full training will be given
Good communication skills

If you think you have what it takes to join our team then Apply Now!

Suncare Central, Spain’s exclusive Suncare Advisory Team who’ve been giving tanning and sun safety advice to holiday makers in the Canaries, Balearics and Mainland Spain for over 15 years are now recommencing their summer programme in the Costa del Sol and are looking for enthusiastic people to join their team of pool side Suncare Advisors. Their team is diverse but shares the same qualities: the desire to help people, motivated by success, positive, professional, out-going and dedicated! Customer service and sales experience is useful but not essential as full training will be given. Excellent working conditions with contract and great earnings. For this fun in the sun opportunity your CV and photo to Coral at cgonzalez@suncarecentral.com

School Holiday Activities Malaga: Planeta Explora

Who isn’t always on the look out for school holiday activities in Malaga for the children? Not only do we have the longest ever summer holidays, (although they do seem to fly by!), we also have an extra exclusive Malaga only week “Semana Blanca“, shortly before the Easter holidays of “Semana Santa”.

This Semana Blanca the children are keen to go back to Tivoli World to have more fun with science and Planeta Explora. We introduced them to you in our Christmas 2013 post here. Here is a video giving you a sample of what they got up to … be prepared for lots of noise and excitement!

Here are details of what they offer and their up coming school holiday camps …

“What we do:

Our specialty is in entertainment. However, our camps are not day-care facilities, they are educational spaces in which each day we work to illustrate a different area of basic scientific knowledge. 

We are able to adapt our activities to the needs of the clients in terms of: the location of venue, scheduling, and size of event. 

 We achieve positive results through our proven experience, and in our offering of a variety of high-quality formats.”

school holiday activities malaga

As I have previously mentioned, the enthusiasm of Germán, the organiser of the events is contagious. His knowledge and passion for teaching children is commendable. I loved watching them play and listening to the stories and inventions the children came back with … I am just very glad that I am not tidying up all the mess the children made!

Don’t just take my word for it. Read what other parents have said …

“My kids didn´t want to come home, both of them. They were thrilled from the first day and sorry when it all came to an end.” Mercedes Dorado, mother of Manuel and Miriam Munuera, ages 7 and 8.

“Very fun and engaging for children. Congratulations on a great product and thanks.” Cristina Moreno, mother of Diego de Miguel, age 4.

“Super fun and entertaining! They were so good with the kids.” Soledad Diaz,  mother of Rachel Sanchez, age 6.

“Excellent! The children, because the instructors are so great, are excited about what they learn. Thanks for everything. We´ll need to book for longer next year.” Mrs. Belén Arroyo, mother of George and Lucia Jimenez, ages 4 and 10.

“I love the fact that children enjoy themselves while they take away scientific knowledge.”  Marcela, mother of Jewel, age 4.

Here are the 2014 prices … It really is great value for money!

school holiday activities malaga

So, who’s coming with us ?

If any of you fancy joining us, just call Germán Bernal, who speaks English ,albeit with an American influence, on 697 141 657 or email german@cienciadivertida.es.

Guest Post: My top five things to do in Nerja

things to do in nerja

Nerja is a town that’s getting an increasing amount of attention as a tourist destination with all the official figures showing that more people, from an ever increasing number of countries are not only hearing about the little seaside town on the eastern edge of the Costa del Sol but visiting it too.  With a little bit of research on the internet you can quickly put together a short-list of places to visit if you’re staying here but the obvious places are not always the best.  With that in mind and after living in and around the town for almost twelve years I thought this might be an opportunity to highlight some of the corners of Nerja that tourists often miss but are known and loved by the locals.

The Nerja Caves

Ok, so I admit that after an introduction like that the caves are not exactly a ‘hidden’ gem, after all, they’re what put Nerja on the tourist map but as an attraction to the town that registers almost half a million visitors each year they absolutely have to be included in any top five list.

They’re likely the most well-known of all places to visit in Nerja, along with the Balcon de Europa, however there really is no more fascinating a way to spend an hour or so whilst you’re here.  The series of caverns which are still being explored and studied continue to reveal more surprises and may even contain the oldest discovered images ever created by man!  Unfortunately, not all of the caves are open to the public, partially because of the sheer difficulty in accessing some chambers but also due to the on-going research that is taking place at the site.  Irregardless of this you’ll be more than satisfied by a stroll around the Nerja Caves.

things to do in nerjaKayaking from Burriana

Nerja is fortunate enough to be bordered on two sides by natural parks one to the north which covers the mountain ranges that insulate the town from the cooler northern air and another to the east which is a protected area of coastline.  The Acantilados de Maro – Cerro Gordo natural park is a beautiful section of coastline, with stunning plunging cliffs and mountain rivers that flow and cascade straight into the Mediterranean.  A trip by Kayak is a wonderful way to view the park at your own pace either with or without a guide.  You can explore the hidden corners of the coast which are only accessible from the sea, glide through the crystal clear waters which this area is known for, paddle past Andalusia’s best beach of 2013 at the neighboring village of Maro and watch the wildlife which thrives in the area.  It’s also a great activity for the kids with the local hire company which has both double and single person Kayaks available also being closely involved with the annual Burriana beach children’s summer camp.  Their monitors are qualified to a high standard and regularly take children of all nationalities on Kayak trips from the beach.

things to do in nerjaThe Chapel of the Virgin of Anguish

Most visitors to Nerja will automatically be aware of the church of El Salvador.  Its prominent location right next to the Balcon de Europa in the centre of town means it’s difficult to miss, however not so many tourists will be aware of this little chapel which is arguably of far greater importance to people of the area.  The chapel or Ermita in Spanish is the year round resting place of one of the Patron Saints of Nerja, the Virgin of Anguish (Nuestra Señora de Las Angustias), a figure still very much admired by the Catholic faithful of Nerja.   As you enter you get the feel of a simple humble little chapel next to a taxi rank, indeed upon my first visit the TV program ‘Little house on the prairie’ popped into my mind however as you approach the alter that image quickly fades as you take in the magnificence that surrounds the figure of the Virgin Mary.  A fantastically adorned golden arch, flanked by patterned walls beneath a frescoed dome ceiling featuring an image inspired by Pentecost.  The chapel was recently renovated and many of its decorative features painstakingly restored so don’t leave without seeing it.  It was years before I went to take a look and it turned out to be one of my favourite places in Nerja.

Maro Tower

The tower in Maro is a great place to visit if you’re a little bored of the beach and fancy a short walk in the countryside.  Located on the eastern side of the village of Maro it’s clearly visible from the road and surrounded by the coastal natural park.  The tower itself is one of the watchtowers which are common along the Costa del Sol, once used to warn of marauding pirates, however this example was restored a few years back and is now in pristine condition.  You approach the tower along a well-used path, making your way through typical Andalusian scrub and Aleppo pines.  If you happen to be here at the right time of year you might also be able to pick wild asparagus or see some of the large and colourful butterflies which thrive in the area.  The real reward will come as you approach the tower though with fantastic views to the east along the natural park coastline and to the west Maro and Nerja.  There is, at least in my opinion, no better view in the municipality whether you’re visiting on a perfect summer or stormy winter’s day.

things to do in nerjaSnorkeling at El molino de papel

A few years ago I was introduced to a beach on the outskirts of Nerja by a girlfriend (now ex) whose family originated from the area.  She told me that although the beach was a little out the way and not at all popular with tourists it did have its plus points and was a place that all the local families knew well. The beach is known in Spanish as ‘El Molino de papel’ or in English ‘the paper mill’ thanks to the non-functional although inhabited paper mill that you pass on your way down to the shore.  You’re probably expecting at this point to hear a story of a fantastically unspoilt beach boasting golden sands that stretch off into the distance as far as the eye can see.  Well I’m afraid that this isn’t one of those beaches.  In short, it’s ugly.  No fine sand here, no life guards, no showers, no facilities of any kind.  It’s rocky and frankly a bit worn torn by the elements however my ex-girlfriend was accurate in what she said.  For all its negatives it does have some super positives when it comes to snorkeling.  Its waters are crystal clear and teaming with shoals of fish.  The rocky bottom allows plenty of anchor points for sea urchins which litter the sea bed as do thousands of sea shells and on the western edge of the beach the sheer cliffs, eroded at the base, provide a perfect habitat for crabs and even Mediterranean lobsters!  All of this kept me thoroughly entertained on my first visit and gave me an excellent reason to return each year in summer.  If you’d like to do a bit of snorkeling whilst you’re here my advice is to forget the popular tourist beaches of Burriana and Torrecilla, jump into the car and head towards La Herradura until you reach this beach.  You’ll be glad you did!

So that’s the end of my top five things to do in Nerja, I’ll admit that there were a few more things on the list and it was surprisingly difficult to choose what to include and what not to but hopefully I’ve managed to point you in the right direction to getting the very most out of a visit to Nerja and the surrounding municipality.

Thanks to  Steve Simons from www.Explorenerja.com for these great ideas!

Remember if you would like to know more about living in Nerja … read this article.

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