Tag Archives: Spain

malaga christmas lights, spain, spanish christmas

It’s Christmas Time in Malaga

Time for a festively themed guest post…

The beach season is well and truly over and most of the tourists have gone home but as many of the coastal resorts virtually go into hibernation in winter time, the city of Malaga comes to life.

Every year hundreds of thousands of Euros are spent on a fantastic display of Christmas lights and 2014 is no exception. People come from miles around to see the famous Malaga lights, enjoy the excellent winter weather Southern Spain is famed for and to take in the festive atmosphere.

The last Friday of November is usually when the lights are first switched on and traditionally this is the when the majority of people head into Malaga. Calle Larios and the area around Plaza de la Constitutión are the main attraction as a live band performs next to the huge Christmas tree which towers over the plaza.

xmas tree malaga 2 It’s Christmas Time in Malaga

In December, Malaga really comes into its own and yes… I know I mentioned the ‘excellent winter weather’ earlier; it was actually a very wet and rainy Saturday night when we took the short train ride into the city to join in the festivities.

A bit of rain clearly doesn’t put the Malagueñans off as every bar and restaurant appeared to be packed with young locals enjoying tapas and catching up with friends, and this was early evening before the lights had been switched on.

la plaza tapas It’s Christmas Time in Malaga

Tapas in La Plaza

So we wandered through some of the familiar streets and discovered some not so familiar little streets, that’s the great thing about this city, no matter how many times I come here I always find something or somewhere new.

Some of the coolest hang outs in Malaga can be found just off the main drag so don’t be afraid to wander down the narrow side streets where you will find tapas and drinks are usually a little cheaper. Look out for the more boutique style shops selling fantastic individual items off the beaten track too.

Tip: If you see something you like buy it! You might not find your way back through the maze of streets of you decide to go back later for it.

Seeing as we arrived early for the lights, we headed to an old favourite restaurant of ours, La Plaza in the recently revamped Plaza de la Merced. We shared some excellent tapas and a festive glass of wine before heading back out into the busy rain soaked streets and down towards Plaza Constitutión for the big switch on.

It seemed thousands of others had the same idea as the square was packed with people; we didn’t have to wait long as at 19.30 prompt, suddenly the huge Christmas tree was gleaming with beautiful gold lights. To our left into Calle Larios and as far as the eye could see, was the most stunning display of Gothic Cathedral style arches made up of thousands of the same tiny gold lights with dots of red spanning the width of this famous street.

prof lights It’s Christmas Time in Malaga

Malaga switched on for Christmas…

xmas tree malaga 3 It’s Christmas Time in Malaga

Arbol de Navidad

The whole area was illuminated beautifully, even the cold damp evening couldn’t spoil this magical display and as people people around us took out their phones or cameras to take pictures, everyone seemed to forget about the rain.

As we strolled down Calle Larios among the crowds looking up to admire the lights we noticed from every arch hung a huge ornate chandelier which seemed to be suspended in mid air. We reached the end and as I looked back I realised that this year’s display was the best I had seen in all of my 8 years of coming to see Malaga’s Christmas Lights.

malaga lights 3 It’s Christmas Time in Malaga

Facts:

  • The display running from Calle Larios down to Plaza de la Constitución is made up of 2 million tiny LED lamps.
  • The cost of this year’s Christmas Lights is 600,000 Euros.
  • The lights are switched on between 28th November and 6th January from 6.30pm until 2am.
  • On the first night many of the shops celebrated Black Friday sales offering huge discounts.

  It’s Christmas Time in MalagaAuthor Bio: Anna Collins, a British expat, is a lover of all things Spanish, she is especially passionate about her home town of Malaga and the Costa del Sol.  Anna is a writer and blogger and is the lead content writer for www.malagatravelguide.net

catalan independence, catalonia, independence vote, barcelona, #CatalanWay #ViaCatal

Catalan Independence: What are Spanish teens saying about it?

“Unwanted, leaching burden to bear” says one. “Lowly, ignorant and harebrained deserters” says the other. Or something to that effect– I’m sure there are plenty of even more colourful ways of putting it in both Castellano and Catalan.

Whichever side you’re on though, one thing’s for sure: this is a political shooting match that will regularly take place in Spanish media, Spanish homes and old-Spanish-man bars for a very, very long time.

To me it looks as though there will never be any sort of Catalonian referendum, whether legitimate or otherwise, given that the Spanish government will never– ever, ever, ever –gainsay the words of their precious constitución. But the Catalans– or at the very least 80% of those that voted in last month’s straw poll –will keep on fighting and gaining support, from within and beyond their region, for as long as Rajoy and his tumbling government fail to justify why Catalonia should remain a part of Spain.

As an expat living in Andalucía, I would hate to see Catalonia break with Spain, yet I can understand perfectly why on the whole they so desperately want to, and their exasperation with a relentlessly obstinate government.

 Catalan Independence: What are Spanish teens saying about it?

Source: WIkicommons

In my experience, whenever I have raised the nettlesome matter of Catalan independence with Spanish adults, there has seldom been room for compromise or understanding; ‘son antipatriotas’, ‘irrespetuosos’, ‘no valoran la constitución’, or so it often goes.

Thus, we are brought to the point of this blog post.

Following the poll, which– for those of you that missed it –counted for nothing other than to exhibit the leaning towards severance from Spain, I decided to pick my advanced (English-speaking) students’ teenage brains, all of them 100% Granadino, in the hope of educing something a little more discerning. It is purely due to my own lack of organisation and recent blog neglect (been busy) that it has taken me until now to publish my findings.

Their task was to write a 250-word opinion piece, in the style of– ironically –a blog post. I thought it about time to test their blogging skills, despite it being a pen-to-paper assignment and blogging not being even closely relevant to the C1 level of English they are striving for (even though it should be). I should charge extra I tell you!

Anyway. The results?

Well, the teacher in me could not bring himself to publish grammatically/orthographically incorrect English, so any instances of poor spelling and verb choices have been duly rectified. The content, however, remains the same, and is a rather intriguing mix of balanced, considered, exaggerated and extremist…

What do you think? Are they right or wrong?

“We’re currently experiencing an economical crisis so public spending has been cut, despite the taxes staying the same. Catalunya may pay more in tax but we all need to work together, and suffer together, in order to overcome this crisis”.

“If Catalunya wins independence, it would not be an EU member, so recovering from the crisis would be even harder for them”.

“If Catalonia wins independence, it will not be able to sustain itself; it will go down the pan”.

“I can understand the Catalans’ desire to become an independent state because right now there are difficult times in Spain, but where was this burning desire when things were going well? Those in favour of becoming independent were a minority then. Now they want to desert a country who has supported them and their region’s economy. They would regret it in years to come”.

“Catalans do not realise that they are in fact being robbed by their own government; the Generalitat is full of corrupt politicians who exploit the independence movement for their own personal gain”.

“Dirty, fraudulent politicians are using the Catalan spirit to hide their crimes”.

“One of their main arguments is the matter of paying too much tax and not receiving enough in return. This may be true but tax is higher there for a reason; tourism generates millions of euros every year– much more than anywhere else in Spain –so I think they should pay more. Poorer provinces such as Extramedura and Murcia need support from richer provinces like Catalonia, in order to survive through these difficult times”.

Just a walk in Gran Canaria... (Source: FlickrCC BlinkIng Idiot)

5 Gran Canarian Treasures Off The Beaten Path

Gran Canaria is well known for its amazing beaches, but what if you want to venture beyond the obvious tourist magnets? The more adventurous visitor will be rewarded with wonderful flora and fauna, and a chance to discover the island’s secrets – all just a short hike away.

Here are five fairytale locations you can find in Europe’s paradise if you venture off the beaten path:

One: La Selva de Doramas

Selva de Doramas 5 Gran Canarian Treasures Off The Beaten Path

La Selva de Doramas (Source: TelaTelleva)

Your expedition through Gran Canaria’s jungle (but without snappy snakes or other creatures) starts in the north of the island, near Moya’s Centro de Interpretación de los Tilos.

Carve your way through a thicket of up to 20-meter-high tilo trees, laurel, and lots of species you can find only in the Canary Islands.

Kids will love this fairytale forest with lots of little spaces with stones to sit on and have a picnic — all while surrounded by nothing but trees and singing birds.

Two: El Barranco de los Cernícalos

Barranco de los Cernicalos 5 Gran Canarian Treasures Off The Beaten Path

El Barranco de los Cernícalos (Source: FlickrCC JFMFOTO)

Start your 12-km route through this unique gallery forest from Lomo Magullo near Telde. Follow the watercourse on its left side until you reach a couple of little ponds with fresh spring water.

From here, search for the most comfortable way up to the wellspring through the brushy canyon.

Don’t forget good hiking boots and your camera. Some water and food wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

If you’re a newbie wanderer, hire an experienced hiker who can guide you through the Barranco de los Cernícalos.

Three: El Charco Azul

Ruta al Charco Azul 5 Gran Canarian Treasures Off The Beaten Path

El Charco Azul (Source: FlickrCC Azuaje)

To enjoy this piece of natural beauty close to Agaete in the northwest of Gran Canaria, you should visit during the rainy season from October to January. (This is the time you’ll have a greater chance of seeing many waterfalls.)

An easy and small hiking path will guide you through a lonesome wilderness with high grass and extraordinary valleys until you reach this little pond with its idyllic waterfall.

Can you imagine anything better than taking a refreshing bath in crystal-clear, ice-cold water and just relaxing in this movie-like environment far away from civilization?

Four: El Pinar de Tamadaba

Pinar de Tamadaba 5 Gran Canarian Treasures Off The Beaten Path

El Pinar de Tamadaba (Source: FlickrCC Pablo F.J.)

The Gran Canarian pine forest is a place of absolute silence and peace.

Close to the Roque Nublo, you can start your walk up to the forests’ highest point from the beautifully located picnic spots.

Once you’ve reached the top at 1,440 meters, Mother Nature provides you a heavenly view of the island and the endless Atlantic Ocean.

And with a bit of luck, you’ll experience the “Ocean of Clouds” when the complete island below your feet is hidden by clouds until the horizon.

Five: La Playa de Güi-Güi

Playa de Gui Gui 5 Gran Canarian Treasures Off The Beaten Path

La Playa de Güi-Güi (Source: FlickrCC Ricardo SB)

The adventurous sun-seeker has only two ways to reach this treasure. First, by boat starting from Mogan, known as Little Venice. Second, a short walk from the village of Tasartico of more or less one and a half hours through breathtaking volcanic landscapes and green valleys with hills up to 600 meters.

La Playa de Güi-Güi (pronounced Wiwi) is truly one of the most spectacular and untouched paradises in Gran Canaria. You will feel like Robinson Crusoe in an undiscovered place on earth.

It will be just you (and whoever is with you), nature, the gentle winds blowing eastward from the Atlantic Ocean, and sometimes the sound of a dog barking from far, far away.

Now you know five very special island treasures most visitors never even hear of. So get off the beach, tie on your boots, and turn your holiday in Gran Canaria into an unforgettable adventure!

 

Sven 150px 5 Gran Canarian Treasures Off The Beaten PathAbout the author: Sven von Scheidemann is a writer, living in the Canary Islands since 2004. He fell deeply in love with Gran Canaria and wants to share his passion for this paradise with travelers on his blog adventuregrancanaria.com. Download his latest Free Travel Guide “Triana y Vegueta in one day.”

rio genil, granada, spain

The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

A lot of people who contact me through this blog do so because they are thinking of coming to live in Granada. This means I am reaching my intended audience (woo!) and I always answer each enquiry as best I can, but there is one question I am asked time again: How much does it cost to live in Granada?

I thought it was about time to answer this properly by way of blog post, but I want to make it clear that this is a rough guide and based on my own personal spending habits (and I spend more than I save!)

I (like most guiris in Granada) earn a living by teaching English, which– give or take a couple of hundred –generally yields around €1,000 per month, post tax. In my experience, this is enough to pay the rent, pay the bills, buy your essentials, go out about three times a week, splurge every now and again and keep a bit back, but it is of course all relative. I earn a bit more money through blogging and DJing so perhaps I spend a bit more than the average, English-teaching guiri in Granada. I don’t know, but if I earned less, I would spend less; If I earned more, I would spend more, etc.

Monthly Budget

To fully enjoy Granada you really need at least €700 p/m– any less than this and you’ll almost certainly find yourself scrimping desperately come the end of the month. If you earn more than €1,200 p/m you’re generally pretty well off! (Though if you’ve got mouths to feed then you’re probably at your limit).

That’s a general overview, but this is what it looks like if we break down my monthly budget:

Groceries: €50

I tend to ‘buy as I go’ when it comes to basic essentials, which probably leads to spending more money than is necessary. Occasionally– when my housemate and I are trying our best to be organised –we might buy in bulk, which consequently saves us a few pennies. We use Mercadona’s delivery service (we live far away from our nearest store), which, sadly, doesn’t come for free but does save you a hell of a lot of time! Here is a fantastic, up-to-date prices list for a few standard items at Mercadona, posted by Marianne on East Of Malaga.

469984295 64353ce107 b The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

Rent/Bills: €310

I pay above average to live where I live, so (try to) cut down in my spending in other ways, but for €220p/m you can expect to find a more than adequate shared apartment. Geneally speaking, the more people you share with, the lower the cost of the bills, which tend to arrive bimonthly.

Going Out: €320

This is a very rough estimate, but either way could be dramatically reduced if I didn’t have such a fondness for gorging myself on tapas and either the beer or wine that comes with them. One tapa sets you back about €2; I have three or four tapas per session; I might go out for tapas three or four times a week. You do the maths!

Al Sur de Granada The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

Tapas at Al Sur de Granada, C/ Elvira (Source)

Phone Bill: €15

For years I’ve avoided a contract deal for my phone since I can never be sure when I will be leaving the country for good. Instead I use Pay As You Go + 500MB internet bundle with Yoigo, who, to be fair, have always been very reliable. The main advantage to using pay as you go is that you don’t have to continue paying when back in your home country.

Splurging: €150

At least twice a month I will find a good reason to part with a hefty sum of money, be it for new clothes, an expensive restaurant meal, a ticket for a concert/live event or a trip to another part of Spain. It’s money I don’t need to spend but what would be the point of living in Spain if I didn’t push the boat out from time to time?

IMG 2867 The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

Best steak ever had in Spain at El Castaño, Pampaneira

Transport: €20

The new bus system in Granada has confused many of the city’s inhabitants. We’ve only just come to terms with it, realising that it is in fact much better than the previous one, despite having to take two buses to the bus station from the centre (there are still a few unconvinced abuelas). A bus card, which can be easily topped up at the brand spanking new swipe machines at every stop, costs €5. Each trip costs €0,79. However, taxis (for when you’re running late) trains, coaches and Blablacar rides to other parts of Spain all add up.

lac granada The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

The new and much talked about LAC bus of Granada!

Other: €100

Of course there are always little things here and there that we can’t account for and change gets frittered away in no time. I try to keep receipts for everything but they are all ultimately lost or accidentally left in jeans’ pockets and thus destroyed in the washing machine. Spanish Classes and flights to and from the UK and other countries fall under this category too.

Total Average Expenditure: €995

Leftover: €250

img 1120 copy The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

This makes me happy.

What’s cheap?

Generally, basic supplies are much cheaper than they are in the UK. Household items from Chinese-run convenience stores (‘chinos‘) are especially low-cost. And then there is tapas, which comes free with any drink in most bars!

What’s expensive?

Designer clothes and electronic equipment. When it comes to buying luxury items I either wait until I am back in the UK or order online and pay the relatively inexpensive postage fee.

One word of advice?

Get drunk less, travel more icon smile The Cost of Living in Granada (on my budget)

torre de la vela, alhambra, granada, spain

My Top Places to Visit in Granada

Granada offers visitors a wealth of attractions, through culture, entertainment, architecture and its renowned tapas scene. I have picked out a few of my favourite spots around town and pinned them on the map below so you that know exactly where to find them.

This map will be permanently pinned to the site’s homepage from now on, so if you ever want to come back for another look it will be very easy to find…

Explore and enjoy Granada!

This map was made with the help of Eurobreakdown.com, who provide specialist insurance for taking your own vehicle to Europe with you, so that you can enjoy more of beautiful Spain!

Eat-Guides-Cover-Barcelona-2014-cropped

Barcelona Guidebook Giveaway!

Each year, something between seven and eight million people visit Barcelona, the world’s eleventh most visited city, ahead of the Spanish capital, Madrid.

It has everything, from old world charm and dazzling Gaudi architecture to contemporary swagger, vivacious nightlife and footballing brilliance.

And then there is of course the food!

Naturally, one is overwhelmed with choice, and often inclined to stick to La Rambla, the lively focus of Barcelona’s tourist circuit, for fear of getting lost or wasting time in other, less glamorous parts of the city. Yet there are so many authentic tapas and wine bars out there waiting to be discovered, which is where The Spain Scoop‘s new and exhaustive guidebook ‘Eat Guides: Barcelona‘ comes in.

Eat Guides Cover Barcelona 2014 Barcelona Guidebook Giveaway!

Co-authored by The Scoop’s co-founder and editor Regina Winkle-Bryan and her Catalan-cuisine-mad companion Adrián Benítez MartosEat Guides: Barcelona presents a meticulous list of personally tried and tested eateries and bars, covering high-end to budget venues and a wide range of cuisines.

The guide is informal with a distinct personal touch, offering more than just the usual blurb and street address and/or anonymous TripAdvisor reviews…

“Too often travellers in Barcelona end up at mediocre restaurants eating overpriced meals. As locals living in the city, we’ve been there, and wanted to do something about it. We’re not food snobs. We’re not chefs. We’re two people who love to eat and drink, whose aim is to offer a little something for everyone, though sharing our own experiences and stories from chowing down in Barcelona.” –Regina Winkle-Bryan.

slider 2014 eat guides 6 Barcelona Guidebook Giveaway!

This week I am running a giveaway of the guidebook, usually costing $4.99. There are two copies up for grabs and all you need to do to enter is follow the link below and enter into the raffle, which will last one week only.

Click here to enter

This is a great resource for those who plan to visit the Catalan capital or for anyone already living within the region. You will not find a more exhaustive nor passionately/honestly written guide!