Local Cheese & Wine in Jaen, Andalusia

I don’t know whether it’s ever happened to you but on a recent outing with visiting family we headed to a local winery for some more of their fabulous Syrah grape red wine. The nicest Spanish Red I’ve had, and living in Spain I’ve tried a few of them – and then we find some great cheese to go with it.

Bodegas CampoAmeno

This winery or bodega – CampoAmeno – in the Sierra Sur de Jaen bordering on Granada province produces four reds, three whites and a rose with locally grown grapes. I’d had one of them in a restaurant in Alcala la Real and rather liked it. Then while visiting the fabulous Fortress La Mota there were a couple of different ones in the shop – we had to try them. My stepfather took a bottle of the CampoAmena Syrah back for a wine conoisseur friend who very much enjoyed it. So we then had to visit the winery shop to try all the reds before his next visit.

Bodegas CampoAmeno

Having sampled three of the reds, both hubby and I liked the same one best (always handy that!) So with stepfather visiting again the winery was definitely on our visiting list. We bought several boxes, not all for us, a presentation pack for said wine conoisseur and happy with our purchases headed into  Frailes for a much needed bar and beer. But as things happen and as wine goes with cheese, there was a cheese factory on the way selling it direct and – Quesos Artesanos de Frailes was open. We had to go in.

After sampling two – a cured and a semi-cured goat’s cheese made on the premises from the neighbouring goat herd’s milk we all liked the smooth and creamy texture of the semi-cured one, which has won many a prize, best.

Quesos Artesanos de Frailes

So back to the wine laden car laden with the cheeses we had the best pairing possible of locally produced and bought slow food and slow wine, both exquisite.

Quesos Artesanos de Frailes

Sadly to say neither lasted long and one of the cheeses took a journey to the UK and so adding a few food miles and making it not so slow. Ours didn’t.  It went from factory to car to fridge to stomach and there it was gone.

The up side of that is we live near enough and so have to go again – the down side we’re probably always going to have to do it now we’ve discovered both!

If you like cheese and wine I know a very good spot to shop.

Visit the Cheese shop website (in Spanish) the winery website  (in Spanish) read about Fortress La Mota and here’s where to stay in Alcala la Real – Atelier 88.

Starlight Reserve in La Gomera, Canary Islands

Where better to contemplate the universe than on an island which has the cleanest and clearest skies in Europe? La Gomera one of the seven larger Canary Islands offer fantastic starlight reserves for star gazing. Two of the world’s widest range observatories are on another of the Canary Islands – Tenerife because of the low level of light pollution over the Canaries.

La Gomera is least touristy of the Islands and it has many viewpoints with far-reaching vistas for both day and nighttime.

Playa del ingles, La Gomera, Canary  Islands

 

Star Gazing Apps

To experience the incredible star parade you should  download a virtual observatory app. Some of the popular ones are Star Walk 2, Sky Map or SkyView all of them provide detailed information and all you have to do is face your smartphone towards the constellations you want to learn about.

Cesar Manrique Viewpoint

A good place to  start in La Gomera is the Cesar Manrique viewpoint on the road to Valle Gran Rey. A perfect spot to spot the easily recognisable groups of stars –  Orion.   February and March are a good time for spotting stars  when see the contrast in colours at the edges of the stars, the reddish Betelgeuse in the shoulder of the giant and the blue Rigel in his foot.

Mirador de Santo Viewpoint

The next viewpoint is the Mirador de Santo in the hamlet of Arure. When it’s moonless night the complete absence of any light gives you a front row seat of the Milky Way galaxy.

Looking northwards in the early evenings of February and March you’ll be able to see Gemini, one of the 48 constellations of the zodiac.

Fortaleza Juan Jose Barrera, La Gomera, Starlight

Mirador de Alojera Viewpoint

The Mirador de Alojera viewpoint is the next stop on your stargazing journey and it is accessed by a narrow dirt track. From here you’ll see  two mythical and easily recognisable constellations, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor  which are also known as the Big Dipper and Little Dipper.

Garajonay Summit

The last stop on the La Gomera viewpoint route is the Garajonay summit which rises to 1,487 metres high and is an incredible spot, nearer the sky to see the panoramas of space.

The treasures of La Gomera go far beyond it’s beautiful beaches and its natural spaces, all you have to do is look upwards to see its stars.

 

Best Cocktails in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

If you’re heading to Fuerteventura The Mirador Bar at the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahía Real 5 * G.L is the place to go. It was selected as the best mixology bar in the Canary Islands, in the ‘World Class’ last year. World Class is the most prestigious bartending competition in the world.

So if you enjoy a cocktail or two while on holiday try the diverse and innovative cocktail menu at the Mirador. As mirador means view or viewing point you’re sure to have a great outlook while sampling your world class cocktail.

El Mirador, Fuerteventura

The two most popular of the cocktails that The Mirador serves are:

‘Walk in the Garden’ is a romantic selection which combines artichoke Amaro, fresh grapefruit juice, ginger infused syrup and fresh herbs and stirred the old fashioned way then served over crushed ice.

‘The Mermaid’s Pot’ a beautifully presented cocktail served in a seashell which offers a pleasing mix of bourbon, sugar, fresh mint and champagne and comes served over an apple liqueur ice ball.

El Mirador, Fuerteventura

The Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahía Real 5 * G.L, Fuerteventura’s most salubrious hotel, has a selection of six restaurants. one of which is the award-winning “La Cupula” led by Michelin star chef Carles Gaig.

La Cupula is one of Fuerteventura’s Repsol Sun restaurants, so as well as a fabulous spot for cocktails it’s also a great place to dine.

Chill out on Fuerteventura one of the seven larger islands that form the Canary Islands. Great destinations for winter sunshine, beaches and that touch of luxury.

Four Best-located Boutique Hotels in Granada City

Granada has plenty of lovely, boutique hotels so how do you make a choice? My suggestion is by location. The areas that most people want to see are along the River Darro, Sacromonte and the Albaicin. The Alhambra, of course, will be on your to do list but the hotel, so you can enjoy the best of old Granada, should be on or near the river.

Here are four lovely, boutique hotels in prime locations so you can step out of your door and begin to explore the delights of Granada city.

Hotel Boutique Gar Anat

Next to a tiny plaza on the edge of the Realejo district, Granada’s Jewish quarter it’s a great location for exploring on foot. Five minutes from the shopping area, the River Darro and the cathedral.

A charming hotel with a beautiful wooden, inner patio with its own ‘wishing tree’ and flowing fountain. The 16th century house was a pilgrim’s hostel in the 17th century.

Hotel Boutique Gar Anat

The fifteen rooms are all unique and decorated with ‘literary or musical’ themes. The best room in the house and the only one with an Alhambra view is Leyenda de la Rosa de la Alhambra in the turret.

Hotel Palacio de los Navas
In the Realejo district this 16th Casa Palacio, house/palace has an imposing stone surround door leading into a typical patio with original wooden beams, shiny marble pillars and that ever-present Moorish feature – a tinkling fountain, which on hot summer days you will appreciate.

Hotel Palacio de los Navas

Choose the high-ceilinged Deluxe Double at the top as it’s the best room of the house.

Shine Albayzin

This 16th century mansion is right on the River Darro with the Albaicin climbing behind. Choose a front room and you’ll have stunning views of The Alhambra’s Nazari Palace and Alcazaba on the hillside across the river.

Ideal for the Hammam Baths, a short walk to the cathedral and in the most sought-after part of the city.

Hotel Shine Albayzin

Its twelve rooms are all pale chic with splashes of colour and glitter around. Go for the best and ask for the Superior room 103 with two cute balconies for those fabulous views.


Hotel Casa Morisca

Located in the lovely Albaicin district of steep Moorish streets, tiny plazas and gorgeous old buildings Hotel Casa Morisca is in one of the best spots. Only ten minutes walk from the cathedral and a short hop, although uphill, from the gypsy caves of Sacromente.

Hotel Casa Morisca

The fourteen-room Hotel is a 15th century townhouse which has been stunningly transformed into a Moorish style Boutique Hotel. Complete with a typical Andalusian interior patio with pool, gurgling fountain, a well and beautiful floor tiles.

Check out hotels in the best areas in Granada on Booking dot com.

See my Spanish boutique hotel collection – OnlySpain.

If you want to visit the Alhambra with a guide or fancy a walking route around the Albaicin, seeing a Flamenco show in Sacromonte or a photographers tour of Granada look at Visitfy.com if you book a tour and use the discount code – SPANIOLA you will get a 10% discount off many of the tours and I will get a small commision for introducing you.

Rural Hotel Hacienda El Santiscal

There’s nothing I like better than when I’ve seen a hotel that I know I’m going to like very much, added it to my ‘want to visit’ list and then get invited to stay. That’s what happened with Hacienda El Santiscal, I’d already got my eye on it for my growing collection of Boutique Hotels – Only Spain.

So when I was approached by them to be part of my hotel portfolio we fixed the dates and off hubby and I went. It’s always a joy driving in Spain and leaving our mountainous olive-tree covered province of Jaen behind. Heading south-west the land flattens. Green fields, sunflowers and golden wheat plateaus flow into one another.

We touch on the Sierra Norte de Cadiz and head to Arcos de la Frontera one of Spain’s many beautiful villages, one of the ‘Pueblos Blancos’ the famous White Villages which straddle the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga.

Hacienda El Santiscal is not only the oldest Hacienda, dating from XV century, but also Spain’s longest running hotel. With this wealth of experience in a gorgeous historical building with lovely views this is a charming, really rural escape.

Enter the enormous, built for carriages, doorway to a typical square, traditional open Andalusian patio. Around the square there’s a restaurant, reception and bar, through to the back and a sparkling, round pool. With on-going views behind the pool and grassy lawn with sunloungers you instantly feel like relaxing on one.

See Hacienda El Santiscal on my Only Spain Boutique Hotels site.

Handmade Spanish Mediterranean Fashion

Tongue Bags the handmade in Mallorca collection of stunning Mediterranean bags and T-shirts shout summer, style, coolness. And everything has that light, bright Mediterranean feel.

Tonguebags Mallorcan Fashion

Handmade in Mallorca the bags collection is a fine example of a Young Mallorcan fashion label who use the distinctive “llengües” fabric which has been made on the island for hundreds of years.

TongueBags

These handmade casual bags originated from two young Majorcan brothers who are interested in contemporary design and the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle.

Tonguebags

All the designs are handcrafted in small workshops near the Mediterranean and all the supplies are sourced locally.

Each carefully produced product made by the craftspeople is hand elaborated making each unique.

The material “llengües” which translates as cloth of tongues is made by complex ancient weaving techniques passed down through generations of craftspeople.

The result is a fabric which is exclusive to the island of Mallorca which is the only place in the world where it’s manufactured and has been so since 1854.

tonguebag-mini-artisanal-fabric

To see the full range of colours and designs from this young, vibrant fashion team’s collection of bags and T-shirts see Tonguebags.

36 Hours in Granada

At the end of May we paid a visit to Granada, a city that I like more and more each time I go. This trip we were staying overnight so leaving home in Jaen province fairly early we left our car in a central car park, took a taxi and were having second breakfast (hubby’s choice) next to the River Darro by 11am, very civilised indeed.

Hotel Zawan Bar, Granada

At 12pm we headed to the Hammam Baths just over the river for a session of pampering. Moorish design, low lights, fabulous tiles and background music all set the scene to transport you back into the Moorish era. Between horseshoe arches, mint tea, a sauna and the succession of hot, warm and cold baths it’s hard not to unwind. Peace reigns.

To finish our time we had a super relaxing massage and left feeling ready to face our day of sightseeing. Thinking about it now we should have done the walking and sightseing first then have a Hammam and massage to end the day. Next time.

Just down the road we lunched at La Cueva a decent restaurant with a good choice and decent wine list. Then a stroll around the Moorish quarter of the Albaicin followed by a teashop visit with a menu of teas making it very hard to decide.

We then went to our lovely little hotel Posada de Quijada which is up the windy cobbled back streets, which is where I choose and why we had only brought rucksacks.

A charming hotel with only six rooms around a central patio where we had an early breakfast in very pleasant temperature. When we checked in the girl noticed it was my birthday and left a bottle of cava, some tiny peaches and a birthday card on our bed. I was impressed.

Posada de Quijada, Granada

We walked back down to the River and Le Chien Andalou where we’d booked a front row table for a Flamenco Show. I adore live Flamenco. It was good. Very good. After sampling some more wine we found our hotel again without too much difficulty!

The next day having been inside the Alhambra before we chose to take the bus up to the main gate and wander back down to town via the outside walls. A lovely shady, plant-filled path snaking it’s way around the walls with views of the palace and back onto the River Darro at the far end in what I think is called Paseo de las Tristes.

As we wandered along the river strains of guitar music called us to a young man with a huge smile playing some incredibly beautiful classical piece. It was time to sit and have the first beer of the day serenaded by skillful playing.

Further along the riverside we again heard a guitar and through the dappled trees on the other side saw a man on a tiny metal-railed balcony head down, finger-picking the strings so intently we automatically stopped, mesmerized. When he finished he looking up, saw us and nodded to a basket on our side of the river. We added to his collection while wondering how safe it was there.

A very pleasant, music-enjoyed, wine-mellowed, relaxed moments two days. It felt longer. We’d packed our time in Granda with many memories and a longing to return.

On our previous visit we stayed at the lovely Hotel Boutique Gar  Anat. See it on Only Spain Boutique Hotels where I’ll soon be adding the Posada de Quijada too.

Did you see the 36 Hours in Cordoba post?

If you want to visit the Alhambra with a guide or fancy a walking route around the Albaicin, seeing a Flamenco show in Sacromonte or a photographers tour of Granada look at Visitfy.com if you book a tour and use the discount code – SPANIOLA you will get a 10% discount off many of the tours and I will get a small commision for introducing you.