One of the many things I love about living in rural Andalucia is the quietness. Peaceful countryside, vast vistas and empty roads. Open roads, sweeping views, gorgeous scenery. Mountains, valleys, olive groves and swathes of sunflower fields. Each small white town, lies as if planted in nature and can be seen as a dot in the distance growing larger. Narrow streets, plants cascading from balconies and pots…….. Read More.
There’s Malaga city and Malaga province, so when booking a small, luxury hotel in rural Malaga you can be sure it’s not in the city. But only 35 minutes or so drive from the airport into rural countryside, mountains and olive groves you’ll find an enchanting small, luxurious, owner- run hotel that you might just want to stay in forever.
Hubby and I visited on a rather wild and windy February weekend. We loved the location, decor, roaring log fire, dinner and Airedale dogs. Our trip was to check out the lovely-looking Cortijo Sabila for addition to our Only Spain ~ Boutique Hotel portfolio of gorgeous little places to stay in our adopted homeland of Spain.
How did we find it? After a little detour, I was driving hubby map reading (or phone reading) without glasses and not being able to check signs, follow the map and communicate with me at the same time (know this one ladies?) we missed it the first time around. But no worries, we got there, approached the rather grand entrance rang the bell and open sesame the gates withdrew. We entered the grounds and gardens of Cortijo Sabila and found it very much to our liking.
The day, a little dismal, was brightened by our new furry-friend-doormen who ushered us to the gorgeous wooden door (if you read my Andalucia Explorer blog you’ll know I love wood) which was opened, and we were welcomed, by the friendly owner and our host Yvonne.
After seeing several of the lovely, uniquely decorated and laid out rooms we chose the upstairs room with cute terrace and windows on two sides. Brimming with lovely furnishings, tons of details and unique antiques we grabbed our cameras and took lots of photos before our bags were unpacked and things generally became less photogenic.
The plush purple towels and lovely large wet-room bathroom with his n’hers sink and again lots of lovely touches including big refillable toiletries which the recycling-green-me loves to see and avoids the necessity of taking home semi-used small ones.
See small, luxury Cortijo Sabila on Only Spain Boutique Hotels.
Book Cortijo Sabila on Booking.com (and give me a small comission to keep writing, exploring and checking out great hotels)
Disclaimer: As the weather wasn’t good and our trip was in February some of photos are ours and some (it’s obvious which) the courtesy of our hosts Yvonne and Ray and are on their Cortijo Sabila website.
Barcelona has around forty food markets but the most famous, probably because of its location is La Boqueria or Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. It’s a thriving hub of shoppers and eaters and if you are going there to eat you’ll be lucky to find a bar stool at any of the eateries and there are many. Don’t you just love those light fittings?
The choice of stalls from Seafood Restaurants to Tapas take-outs is fun and makes for a difficult decision. If you’re going there to buy fresh food or cooked food for a takeaway picnic you’ll while away plenty of time oohing and ahhing over the incredible array on offer.
I found everything so enticing and even though it was too early to eat I came away with several tasty morsels such as bite-sized chunks of fresh pineapple and my favourite snack – again mouth-sized coconut pieces.
La Boqueria has a long history with locals selling meat by the city gate in the 1200s, it was opened offcially as a market in 1840 and has since undergone many alterations to became the amusing, interesting and tasty place it is today. From dried spice stalls to sweet counters, meat, dairy, fresh vegetables the 200+ colourful and attractively arranged stalls make it a great place to visit if only to look.
Just off La Rambla La Boqueria is quite mesmerizing, hold onto your wallet or handbag and enjoy the throng of people the shouts of the vendors and the atmosphere. It’s one of those great places to visit but do try to eat there if you can, the atmosphere is just amazing.
Have you been to Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria in Barcelona? Would you like to go? Share your experience or tell us why you’d like to go in the comment box below.
At just over an hour from my home in Jaen province Cordoba is a frequent day trip and often an overnighter too. The Casco Historico I know pretty well, but not so the new sprawling town, which is where the train station is. If you’re heading to Cordoba by car there’s lots of on-street free parking on the other side of the bridge from the main monumental area.
Cordoba – Lots to See and Do
Crossing from this side makes a great start to a visit, walk across the Roman bridge that straddles the River Guadalquivir. Although called the ‘Roman bridge’ what we see today is mostly an Islamic re-construction built on the ruins of the 1st century Roman Bridge.
As you pass over the 9 metre wide 247 metre long bridge into historical Cordoba a first glimpse of the incredible Mezquita is in front you and the Royal Fortress or to give it its full name – Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Monarchs) to your left. Both are must visits. The Mezquita, an enormous Islamic Mosque has a huge orange-tree-filled courtyard with a minaret tower and an enormous prayer hall. If you can, go at the beginning or the end of the day to it’s appreciate its size and splendour in almost solitude and silence.
Visit the Alcazar fortress and palace with beautiful Moorish design gardens and a great many Roman mosaics recovered from the Plaza de la Corredera. Adjacent to the fortress in the Royal Stables where Andalusian horse shows are regular features. Do try and see one if you can, horse lover or not it’s an incredible display of human and animal interaction which I thoroughly enjoyed.
For garden lovers the Cordoba Patio or Courtyard Competition at the beginning of May, is a glorious riot of colours and great time to visit. Many private patios are open to the public for two weeks while the competition is on, some are open year- round and you can have a guided tour instead of trying to find them yourself with a map. The range, style, design and flowers of these, unique, patios are stunning, even my non-gardener, flower-ignorant hubby enjoyed it. Although I only took him once, each year would be pushing it! Some of these historical patios give a glimpse into the past, with tiny patios, wells, communal wash rooms it’s easy to imagine neighbours sitting out in the cool of the night singing and dancing flamenco. In recent years some of the patios have opened over Christmas and New Year too.
One of my favourite spots for coffee, if the weather is fine, is the amazingly large Plaza de la Corredera. Some spots like this can only be seen on foot or possibly by Segway. I have done a Segway tour (great fun when you learn how to stop) and a sightseeing bus tour which we took when we just did not want to walk anymore! I recommend both but enjoyed the segway tour more as we went through the narrow streets (only just avoiding tourists) and saw interesting corners and buildings which we revisted on foot afterwards. It’s a great way of having an overview of the city and getting your bearings.
Plaza de las Tendillas is another lovely old square, more commercial than Plaza Corredera with restaurants and not just bars, for another refreshment stop. If you like Spanish Tortilla then you’ll love the enormous ones made in a tiny little bar near the Mezquita – Bar Taberna Los Santos, famous for their tortillas made from 30 eggs and five kilos of potoatoes. Where to Eat near the Mezquita. Stop here for a tortilla tapa and a fino wine, if only to see the size of the Tortillas!
Another great eating place is the gastromarket Mercado Victoria in a lovely old forged metal structure dating from 1877. Around 30 stalls provide tapas and rations from Oysters to T-bone steaks. Buy your drinks from one stall and food from others. A lovely way to try lots of different dishes, meat for one, fish for another, and a lively fun atmosphere too. I prefer visiting at lunchtime as the evenings are for the younger crowd and much noisier.
One of my favourite visits is to the Palacio de Marquises de Viana or Viana Palace a gorgeous house/museum dating from the 14th century with, you guessed it, lovely patios! In fact there are twelve unique patios ranging from Roman and Arabic to Renaissance styles and the museum is really interesting too.
Heading Out of Town
About 6km to the west of Cordoba by Abd-ar-Rahman between 912- 961, a huge, costly and time consuming project. The restoration and Unesco site, Medina Azahara, are the ruins of an Arab palace, more like a city, buildings are ongoing but it’s an incredible eye-opener to the way and wealth of the times. The on-site museum holds many treasures discovered on site and is the first port of call, then you take the bus up to the ruined city. You can park at the museum, but can’t take cars up to the ruins, a bus runs constantly between the two. There are also buses that run from Cordoba city to the site several times a day, if you don’t fancy the drive.
Hotels I recommend in Cordoba
With such a choice of hotel in Cordoba it’s difficult to know where to start, but I’ve got two great suggestions for you – Hotel Balcon de Cordoba and Hotel Viento 10 they are both on our sister site Only Spain ~Boutique Hotels and you’re sure to like one if not both of them.
If you have any questions about Cordoba that I can help you with don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the comments box below.
Ruben Cabrera, Head Chef at the gourmet restaurant La Cupula on Tenerife, has won the ‘Best Chef in the Canary Islands’ award. Cabrera’s passion for gastronomic excellence in fine dining, which you can experience at Hotel Jardines de Nivaria, earned him the title of ‘Best Chef’ at the regional ¡Qué Bueno! Canarias Heineken gastronomy awards.
La Cupula, located in the five-star Hotel Jardines de Nivaria, has become a must-do dining experience for all foodies and fine-diners on the island of Tenerife. Cabrera’s innovation and passion for gastronomy excellence keeps winning him awards.
As well as being the chosen chef to represent the Canary Islands in last month’s Madridfusion Gastronomy Summit, he has had an impressive culinary career so far. Cabrera won the ‘Best Chef’ award at the National Gastronomy Contest for the second year in a row in 2016 and he also won the first prize at the International Creative Cuisine Competition ‘Gamba Roja de Denia’ in 2015.
Cabrera, Head Chef at La Cúpula since 2007, conjures up his delicious dishes on the fourth floor of Hotel Jardines de Nivaria. An eclectic mix of fusion, French and local Canarian cuisines. Not only does the chef have several awards under his belt but the restaurant had a full refurbishment in 2016 and you can dine with floor-to-ceiling windows giving panoramic views over the Atlantic Ocean.
The Hotel Jardines de Nivaria is part of the Adrian Hotels group which has another two hotels on Tenerife:
5* Roca Nivaria Gran Hotel
4*Hotel Colón Guanahani
If you are looking for a private and gorgeous rustic holiday home this is the place for you. Just three minutes walk to the nearest small, white Spanish village and only fifteen minutes from lovely beaches, this historical house oozes peace, calm and charm.
Privacy abounds at La Huerta del Angel which translates as the Orchard of the Angel. You can wander through the avocado orchard and, if ripe, pick your own avocados. This 250-year old Spanish cortijo is rustic, rural and absolutely charming.
Celebrate a family holiday or get together or just as a couple you’re sure to relax and enjoy the peace, quiet and history of this beautiful vacation rental. You’ll instantly feel at home in this house which oozes character.
Have a bbq on a huge plant-surrounded terrace, take a dip in the pool and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful countryside. It’s great for walking and cycling, chilling out or exploring this lovely corner of southern Spain and the history and gastronomy of the area.
There are five pretty bedrooms, some with their own fireplace, old wooden roof beams and lots of delicious details, the house can sleep 8 – 10 people.
Great decoration and attention to details reach every nook and cranny from the 3 bathrooms to the rustic kitchen. If you like away-from-it-all that is exactly what you get. Away from boring, modern villas, noisy beach fronts to clean country air and idyllic peace.
To see more visit their website La Huerta del Angel.
I’m probably showing my age here but when I was young my dad loved golf and played frequently. Severiano Ballesteros or Seve as he was usually called was a big name in world golf and I enjoyed watching him on TV when a big tournament was on.
As a child my dad took my brother and I on crazy golf and pitch and putt courses, the odd 9- hole one too, but I never had time or chance to learn properly or play on an 18-hole golf course. I’d love to one day. So when musing over which Spanish golf courses to write about, as there are so many, the Spanish Golf Courses designed by Severiano Ballesteros came to mind.
Here are some of Spanish courses by Severiano, he would probably have gone on to design many more had he not died at only 54 years old.
Severiano Ballesteros Designed Golf Courses in Spain
Alhaurin Golf Resort, Malaga
Alicante Golf Club, Costa Blanca
Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club, Malaga
Real Novo Sancti Petri Golf Club, Cadiz
Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort, Valencia
As you can see some of the best golf courses in the most fabulous surroundings and designed my favourite player.
All photos @ each golf club.