dinner & a promenade in torre del mar

Saturday, July 13:  This evening we head out to the town of Torre del Mar, a largish seaside town and busy summer beach resort on the Costa del Sol, boasting one of the longest and widest beaches along the coast.  We meet Ross and Daniella, Marianne and Michael’s neighbors, and wander along the streets of the town, trying to decide where to eat.  We come across some alien-looking plants along the way.

strange and ancient plant on the street of Torre del Mar
strange and ancient plant on the street of Torre del Mar
tree trunk on the street of Torre del Mar
tree trunk on the street of Torre del Mar

Marianne wants to go inside the bar section of El Yate, which means The Yacht, because it’s a lively place and has great ambiance.  Tonight it’s so lively, we can’t even find a table or a place at the bar.  Instead we opt to sit outdoors.

Daniella, Ross, Michael and Marianne at El Yate
Daniella, Ross, Michael and Marianne at El Yate

I’m wearing one of the new “Spanish skirts” I bought in Barcelona, which makes me feel like I fit right in.

Michael, me and Marianne at Al Yate
Michael, me and Marianne at Al Yate
Daniella, Ross, Michael and Marianne at El Yate
Daniella, Ross, Michael and Marianne at El Yate
Tinto de Verra at El Yate
Tinto de Verano at El Yate

El Yate is a marisqueria, which is an open-air seafood restaurant.  We order some tinto de verano and some seafood tapas, including Rosada.

the menu for El Yate, which means The Yacht
the menu for El Yate, which means The Yacht

Rosada is a white fish, flaky and juicy like cod but of denser texture.  The full name is Rosada del Cabo, which means “rosy thing of the cape.” The Cape refers to South Africa.  Tonight it is cooked á la plancha (gently braised in a persillage of finely chopped parsley and garlic in olive oil).  (Al-Andaloose: What is Rosada?)

Rosada del Cabo
Rosada del Cabo

I can’t remember the second type of fish we eat, but it’s slightly breaded and fried.  However, my favorite is the Rosada.

another fish
another fish

A man walks by selling some aromatic jasmine, heady in the cool night air.

sweet-scented jasmine
sweet-scented jasmine

For dessert, we have chocolate cups filled with a sweet liquor.  It’s delicious. 🙂

chocolate cups for dessert
chocolate cups for dessert

After dinner, we take a long stroll through the town, where we find whole Spanish families out having a grand time.  Everyone from elderly grandparents to little children are out gallivanting into the late hour.  We browse in the market stalls of the night market.

the outdoor night market in Torre del Mar
the outdoor night market in Torre del Mar
strolling on the promenade
strolling on the promenade
the beach promenade in Torre del Mar
the beach promenade in Torre del Mar

After stopping for a gelato, we drive back to the house.  I have to get up early tomorrow morning, as I’m catching a 7:20 bus from Torrox to Seville, and then from Seville to Tavira in Portugal.   It’s certainly been a lovely time visiting with Marianne and Michael in their whitewashed house perched on the mountainside in Andalucía. 🙂

nerja: balcón de europa, beachside paella & the acueducto del águila

Saturday, July 13:  After leaving Frigiliana, we head to the town of Nerja, a tourist town with a large foreign population, including over 2,000 Brits. The white villages climbing the mountains around Nerja are relatively new and inhabited by hordes of foreigners. In the summer months, tourists swell the population even more.  The town sits on a steep hill and has several small beaches set in coves beneath cliffs.

Nerja and its surrounds used to produce sugar cane, but now there are widespread plantations of semi-tropical fruits such as mango, papaya and avocado.  The sugar cane factory is still on the eastern edge of town but is now empty, as the main industry is tourism.  (Wikipedia: Nerja)

Marianne wrote about the abandoned sugar cane factory in Sweet memories: San Joaquín sugar mill, but we don’t have time to see it today.  We do however make a stop, after lunch, at the Acueducto del Águila (Eagle Aqueduct), which supplied the sugar cane factory with water.

We head straight for the Balcón de Europa, a mirador or viewpoint which gives panoramic views across the sea and along the coastline, with its sandy coves and cliffs.  It’s in the center of the old town.

me on beneath some archways on the Balcón de Europa
me on beneath some archways on the Balcón de Europa
looking west from Balcón de Europa
looking east from Balcón de Europa
views of the coastline from Balcón de Europa
views of the coastline from Balcón de Europa
view from Balcón de Europa
view from Balcón de Europa

Its name is popularly believed to have been coined by King Alfonso XII, who visited the area in 1885 following a disastrous earthquake and was captivated by the scene. Local folklore says that he stood upon the site where the Balcón now stands, and said “This is the balcony of Europe.”  Local archive documents are said to show that its name predated this visit, but this has not prevented the authorities from placing a life-sized (and much photographed) statue of the king standing by the railing.  Of course, I get a picture of myself standing with King Alfonso XII.

me with King Alfonso XII
me with King Alfonso XII
plaque about the King
plaque about the King

The Balcón area was originally known as La Batería, a reference to the gun battery which existed there in a fortified tower. This emplacement and a similar tower nearby were destroyed during the Peninsular War.  In May 1812, three British vessels supported Spanish guerrillas on the coast of Granada, against the French. On 20 May, two of the vessels opened fire and the forts were destroyed. Two rusty guns positioned at the end of the Balcón are reminders of these violent times.  (Wikipedia: Nerja)

a cannon left from past
a cannon left from past
parting shot of the coastline from the Balcony
parting shot of the coastline from the Balcony

We walk back through the little town of Nerja, where we come across the picturesque 17th century Church of El Salvador, or Iglesia El Salvador.  It sits opposite the Balcón de Europa and close to what used to be the old Guards Tower.

Church of El Salvador
Church of El Salvador

The original church was erected in 1505, although the existing structure was not actually built until later, in 1697, and it was then further extended during the period 1776 – 1792.

inside the Church of El Salvador
inside the Church of El Salvador

Marianne tells me some of the statues inside the church are carried through the streets by parishioners during festivals.

inside the Church of El Salvador
inside the Church of El Salvador
statues inside the Church of El Salvador
statues inside the Church of El Salvador

Right in front of the church is a huge Norfolk Island Pine, brought back from South America at the beginning of the century.  (Nerja: El Salvador Church).

the Norfolk Island Pine in front of Church of El Salvador
the Norfolk Island Pine in front of Church of El Salvador

We walk back through the town to head to the beach, but first we make a stop at Marianne’s favorite store, La Cueva.  She is very restrained, but I end up buying two cute long knit “Spanish-looking” skirts, one coral and one white.  🙂  More stuff to add to my already heavy luggage!

walking back through the town
walking back through the town

Then we head to Playa de Burriana to have lunch at one of Marianne’s favorite beachside paella restaurants, El Chiringuito de Ayo. which has been a presence on that beach since 1969. Before we can eat, though, we must find a parking spot, which is no easy feat.  Marianne calls for her “parking angels” to come to the rescue, and they don’t disappoint.  She’s one of those lucky people who I would describe as having parking karma. 🙂

looking for a parking spot
looking for a parking spot
The beach!
The beach!
beach volleyball :-)
beach volleyball 🙂

The restaurant describes itself thus on its website: Huge paellas prepared over wood fire under a thatched roof, during the whole day. It is not necessary to reserve them, because there is always a freshly prepared paella at your disposal. During the years, the restaurant often changed without loosing its excellent preparing and original touch, in order to offer the client the best and to satisfy the demand of the guests. Surrounded by palm trees , and covered by an immense thatched roof, this is the ideal location to enjoy a beautiful day on the beach.

Walking into the restaurant, we can see the huge pans of paella being prepared by the cooks in the sweltering heat.

huge pans of paella
huge pans of paella

The restaurant is packed and there is no one to seat us, because all the employees are frantically running around juggling plates of paella and drinks.  Marianne and I split up and hover over the seated customers, waiting to pounce on a seat as soon as we see someone finishing up.  We finally do find a little family paying their bill and as soon as they vacate, I’m all over those seats like honey on toast.

the restaurant is packed!
the restaurant is packed!
Marianne at Ayo
Marianne at Ayo

The paella is delicious, and the great thing is that you can go back for refills as many times as you like.  I go back for a second helping even though I’m not that hungry, just because it tastes so good!

Paella!!
Paella!!
me with paella :-)
me with paella 🙂

The lunch is lovely and lively, and the restaurant is great for people-watching.  People come in right off the beach in their bathing suits, covered in sand and sunscreen and suntans.  Whole families are out on this nice hot day.

After lunch, we head back to Marianne’s house to relax a bit before we go out for dinner tonight.  Before we leave the area, we stop to take pictures of the Acueducto del Águila (Eagle Aqueduct), built between 1879 and 1880 (the exact date is not known) to aid the industrial revolution; it was intended to carry water from Nerja town to the local sugar refinery in Maro, Fábrica San Joaquin de Maro, built in 1884, for irrigation.  The factory is now closed but the aqueduct continues to be used for local irrigation.

Acueducto del Águila
Acueducto del Águila
looking from the bridge south of the aqueduct to the sea
looking from the bridge south of the aqueduct to the sea

The design of the aqueduct is typical of the period of its construction (19th century), when the Mudejar style (copied from the ornamental architecture originally used by Muslim craftsmen in Spain between the 13th and 15th centuries) was very popular. The aqueduct is four stories high; each tier is constructed from a series of brick, horseshoe-shaped archways, of which there are 37 in total. These are topped with a mudejar-style spire, on top of which is a weather vane in the shape of a double-headed eagle, from which the aqueduct takes its name. The origin of the eagle symbol is not known for certain, but it is rumored that during the time of construction eagles were seen nesting in the hills of Maro.  (Nerja — Acueducto del Águila)

Acueducto del Águila
Acueducto del Águila

When we get back to Marianne’s house, I put on my bathing suit and go for a dip.  I lie on the chaise lounge and fall promptly asleep.  This place is heaven. 🙂

a morning with marianne in frigiliana

Saturday, July 13:  This morning, Marianne and I head off for a girl’s outing to a number of places, the first of which is the lovely whitewashed village of Frigiliana, nestled in the mountains in the easternmost region of Andalucia.

First glimpse of Frigiliana
First glimpse of Frigiliana

She takes me for a scenic drive along the back road from Torrox pueblo to the village.

Me with Frigiliana in the background
Me with Frigiliana in the background

We make a stop at the snail-shaped bungalows of Los Caracoles Restaurant & Hotel for views of the village, blurred slightly today by a haze.

the view of Frigiliana from Los Caracoles Hotel
the view of Frigiliana from Los Caracoles Hotel

As we approach the village, the haze seems to burn off and we get a better view.

getting close to Frigiliana
getting close to Frigiliana

We walk into the old district inhabited by the Moors before and after the Reconquista. The name Mudéjar is used to describe not only the Moors or Muslims who remained behind after the Reconquista without converting to Christianity but also the architectural style used by Arab craftsmen working in Christian territory. The quarter is made up of steep cobbled alleyways winding past white houses resplendent with flowers. (Wikipedia: Frigiliana)

We begin the uphill climb into the old district.  I love the pebbled walkways with their interesting patterns.

walking up the streets of Frigiliana
walking up the streets of Frigiliana

Many of the houses have door knockers in the shape of the hand of Fatima. Usually depicting the open right hand, an image recognized and used as a sign of protection in many societies throughout history, the hamsa is believed to provide defense against the evil eye. The symbol predates Christianity and Islam. In Islam, it is also known as the hand of Fatima, so named to commemorate Muhammad’s daughter Fatima Zahra (Wikipedia: Hamsa).   The door knockers in Frigiliana don’t quite fit the profile of the open right hand, as these seem to be a closed left hand.

Hand of Fatima door knocker
Hand of Fatima door knocker
hand of Fatima on a bright blue door
hand of Fatima on a bright blue door
hand of Fatima
hand of Fatima

Door knockers also have other interesting shapes.

Foxy door knocker
Foxy door knocker

We also see some interesting door bells.

interesting doorbell
interesting doorbell

Most charming and pleasing are the doorways, patios and windows decked out with flowers and greenery.

pretty entry
pretty entry
interesting flower
interesting flower
Frigiliana
Frigiliana
Frigiliana
Frigiliana
pretty entryway in Frigiliana
pretty entryway in Frigiliana
pretty window in Frigiliana
pretty window in Frigiliana

This is Calle El Zacatin, one of the most photographed streets in Frigiliana.  This view is taken from the top.  According to Marianne herself, in her blog, the steep street reveals “the original Arab layout of the village – winding streets, secret corners and adarves (little squares shared by a few houses and belonging only to them).”  The street “is the original site of a Moorish street market, filled with merchants and artisans, over a thousand years ago.” (Photographs I love …. and why! [Part 9])

El Zacatin in Frigiliana
El Zacatin in Frigiliana

Calle Alta is another steep narrow street in the old district.  Too bad the shadows make the street a little difficult to see.

Calle Alta in Frigiliana
Calle Alta in Frigiliana
sunflower at an entryway in Frigiliana
sunflower at an entryway in Frigiliana

Plaques along the walls of the streets tell the history of the village, in Spanish of course.

a plaque telling the history of the village
a plaque telling the history of the village
another pretty doorway in Frigiliana
another pretty doorway in Frigiliana

We stop at an overlook and admire the terra-cotta rooftops of the village.  Here’s Marianne. 🙂

Marianne in Frigiliana
Marianne in Frigiliana
rooftops of Frigiliana
rooftops of Frigiliana
Frigiliana
Frigiliana
Frigiliana
Frigiliana

Here’s me at a convergence of two streets, a great metaphor for my life right now.

me in Frigiliana
me in Frigiliana
Frigiliana cafe
Frigiliana cafe

We stop at a little wine shop to sample Vino Dulce Moscatel, a sweet Muscat wine.

two glasses of Vino Dulce Moscatel (Sweet Muscat wine)
two glasses of Vino Dulce Moscatel (Sweet Muscat wine)

And I enjoy looking at the colorful jams, sauces and dressings on the shelves.

sweets for sale in the wine shop
sweets for sale in the wine shop
more jars of sweets
more jars of sweets
dressings in pretty bottles
dressings in pretty bottles

Wall art is a big thing throughout the south of Spain, and Frigiliana has its share.  I am tempted by the geckos, and I end up buying two for my sons before we leave the village.

wall art in Frigiliana
wall art in Frigiliana
streets of Frigiliana
streets of Frigiliana

We drop into Frigiliana’s church where Marianne points out the statues that people actually carry through the streets during festival days.  People consider it an honor to carry these statues even though they are heavy and cumbersome.

church in Frigiliana
church in Frigiliana
church in Frigiliana
church in Frigiliana
one of the statues carried down the streets in festivals
one of the statues carried down the streets in festivals

We also stop in a little courtyard to admire La Fuente Vieja, the old fountain.

La Fuente Vieja (the old fountain)
La Fuente Vieja (the old fountain)

And Marianne points out the manhole covers that are engraved with the name of the village and a representative picture.

manhole cover with the city's name and picture
manhole cover with the city’s name and picture

Marianne has written much about Frigiliana.  Here are a few of her posts:

Photographs I love …. and why! [Part 9]

Looking across to Frigiliana

After leaving the village, we head to Nerja where we’re going to sample some paella at a seaside restaurant after we visit the Balcon de Europa.