Direct bus service from the Axarquía to Málaga airport

Alsina Graells bus

If you’re searching the internet for information about buses from Málaga airport heading to the eastern Costa del Sol, here’s the current situation for Summer 2014 (until 28th August).

Yes, there´s good news for visitors arriving at Málaga airport who don´t want to hire a vehicle to continue their travels.  During the summer months, Alsina Graells (ALSA) operate an airport bus service along the coast between Málaga airport and Nerja, with lots of stops along the way.

The bad news is that the service only operates twice a day in either direction, though that’s twice as many buses as there were last year – so I guess there is some progress!

Travelling from La Axarquía to Málaga Airport (AGP)

Starting in Nerja at 8.10am and 3.10pm, the bus visits Torrox Costa, El Morche, Lagos, Mezquitilla, Caleta de Vélez and Torre del Mar before proceeding to the airport without further stops (arriving at 9.40am and 4.40pm respectively).

The cost (from Nerja) is €4.52 one-way (ida) or €8.18 return (ida y vuelta).

Bus timetable Nerja - Malaga airport

Although there are only two buses each day direct from the Axarquía region to Malaga airport – don’t let this worry you.  There are plenty of buses to Málaga bus station in the city centre, from where you can get a further bus to the airport.   This second bus will drop you off right outside the new terminal (T3) building.

If you prefer to continue your journey from Málaga city to the airport by train, right next door to the bus station in Málaga is the Maria Zambrano railway station, where you can jump on one of the frequent trains direct to Terminal 3 of the airport.   You will need to catch the local commuter train (known as Cercanias) C-1 in the direction of Fuengirola.   Trains to the airport leave every half hour between 5:23am and 10:33pm.  The journey only takes 10 minutes and the fare costs between €1.70 and €2.60 depending on the time and day of travel.

Travelling from Málaga Airport to La Axarquía

The journey on the direct-bus to the coastal areas of the Axarquía begins at Málaga airport, Terminal 3 (Arrivals Llegadas) at 11.45am and 5.15pm travelling via Torre del Mar, Caleta de Vélez, Mezquitilla, Lagos, El Morche and Torrox Costa and finally through to Nerja (arriving at 1.20pm and 6.50pm respectively).

The cost (to Nerja) is €4.52 one-way (ida) or €8.18 return (ida y vuelta).

If the limited direct-bus times don’t fit in with your schedule, then just hop on the C19 Malaga city bus (every 20 minutes) from right outside Terminal 3 and for approx.€1.20 you’ll soon be at the Estación de Autobuses (bus station) in the city, from where you can catch a bus to anywhere in Spain (including Nerja and the Axarquía).

Alternatively, to get into Málaga city from the airport, jump on the local train (the station is just across the road from the bus stop) heading towards Málaga Centro and get off at Maria Zambrano railway station (the journey takes approximately 10 minutes and costs between €1.70 and €2.60 depending on the time and day of travel).

The bus and railway stations in Málaga city are next door to each other.

ALSA bus itinerary, Nerja - Malaga airport

The Alsina Graells (ALSA) website is in English, where you can study bus schedules and often purchase tickets in advance of your trip.

Disclaimer: It says on the ALSA website “These timetables are for guidance purposes only”, so please check the times before you travel as they may be subject to change.

 

 

WARNING: Malaga’s Atarazanas market will EXPLODE your sensory perception

 Fruit and veg in Atarazanas market, Malaga

I’m a HUGE fan of food markets.  They are something I seek out, wherever I am in the world – from Barcelona’s Boqueria and Melbourne’s Queen Victoria to local street-markets in Cambodia and Thailand, I’ve visited them all.  So, a trip around Malaga’s Mercado Central de Atarazanas is always a pleasure, every time I’m in Malaga city, as well as featuring high on the list of places to take visitors to.

The Moorish arched entrance blends seamlessly with 19th century industrial design and the huge, colourful stained-glass window, to create not only a beautiful back drop but also to tell the history of the origins of this bustling market-place.


Stained glass window of Atarazanas market, Malaga

Set near the heart of the city, Atarazanas has undergone many transformations since it was originally built in the 14th century as a shipyard, when the waves of the Mediterranean Sea lapped at its entrance.  Over the years, changes have seen the building used as a convent, military arsenal, hospital and medical school before finally being demolished in 1868 and re-built using the current iron structure, as the city food market, in 1879.  Further renovation took place from 2008 to 2010, when Málaga’s Atarazanas market was once again restored to its former glory.

Wild mushrooms for sale in Atarazanas market, Malaga

You might not expect to be given a warning when you visit a city food market, but as you walk through the main entrance, which is the only remaining marble archway of what was once a seven-arched shipyard, I can guarantee your senses will explode!

Taste, sight, smell, hearing and touch – the clean interior of Mercado Central de Atarazanas has it all, from pig’s ears to pink Himalayan salt!

The market is structured into three navesfish, meat and fruit and vegetables, and with more than 250 stalls there is surely something to tickle your tastebuds.

Fresh fish for sale in Atarazanas market

As you wander around, take in the dazzling displays of freshly-caught fish with their scarlet gills and scales glistening under the spotlights.   Marvel at the kaleidoscope of colours in the artistically displayed fresh fruit and vegetables that smell like they’ve been picked only that morning.  And savour the counters of aromatic cheeses, spices, bread, olives, dried fruits, nuts, sausages and hams, where the stall-holders are usually happy to let you taste before you buy.

Fresh seafood for sale in Atarazanas market

A cacophony of sound fills the market, as the competing stall-holders call out to prospective customers and in turn are interrogated by discerning shoppers, eager to discover where the produce is from and how it should be prepared.

I love to watch the locals, who are not only trying to buy the freshest seasonal produce but also socializing with their neighbours as they block the aisles with their roller-trollies, discussing the latest gossip.

Shopping is a much more personal experience in Atarazanas market and, with so many stalls to choose from, cheaper than most supermarkets, too.

Tapas of skewered tuna and prawns

If you have time and are ready for some lunch after feasting your senses on all the wonderful produce, then make your way to one of the tapas bars at either end of the market, El Yerno or Cafe-Bar Atarazanas – they are both equally good.  Stand near to the bar and you will soon be noticed by one of the staff who will make a space for you.  It’s standing room only and always crowded, but well worth it to taste the freshly-cooked, mouth-watering pinchos de gambas, atun o cerdo (skewered prawns, tuna or seasoned pork), boquerones al limón (deep-fried whitebait with lemon) or frito de verduras (tempura-battered vegetables), which you can wash down with a caña (small beer) or vino tinto (red wine).

Tapas of freshly cooked mushrooms

Whether you are a foodie visiting Málaga or a local living nearby,  you won’t want to miss a visit to this authentic food market.

Where is YOUR favourite food market?

 

Mercado Central de Atarazanas
Calle Atarazanas 10
Malaga

Open: Monday to Saturday, 8am – 2pm.

 

 

STAR OF THE SEAS: VIRGEN DEL CARMEN

Virgen del Carmen, Torre del Mar, Spain

Over the past couple of days, various festivities in honour of the Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of fishermen and sailors, have been in full swing.

Around 16th July each year,  many of the coastal towns and fishing villages of Spain celebrate by parading the statue of Virgin del Carmen through the streets, accompanied by the steady rhythm of a brass band, the resounding thump of a drumbeat and the cries from the crowd of “guappa” or “viva” as the statue passes by.

At dusk, after the procession arrives at the water’s edge, the Virgin del Carmen is taken out to sea on a flower-decked boat, accompanied by a flotilla of fishing boats (jábegas),to bless their fishing grounds.

The Virgen del Carmen is of great importance to the inhabitants of Axarquían towns and villages such as Caleta de Vélez, Nerja, Rincón de la Victoría and Torre del Mar because many larger towns and holiday resorts along the coast were once small fishing villages where the sea provided their daily existence.

But we need to look back to the scriptures of the Old Testament, centuries before the birth of Christ, for the origin of the Virgen del Carmen.

The Bible tells us that the prophet Elijah went up Mount Carmelo near Haife, in Israel to pray for rain to relieve a great drought that had parched the lands.  Whilst Elijah was on Mount Carmelo, he saw white clouds forming, which would bring the much needed rain.  Elijah interpreted the clouds as a sign of the coming of a Saviour who would be born of a Virgin.

In gratitude for the rain, the community dedicated itself to praying for the mother of the Saviour to come, and the Order of the Carmelites was formed.

On 16th July 1251, the Virgen del Carmen is said to have appeared to Englishman, Simon Stock, who was responsible for building Carmelite monasteries throughout Europe in the 13th century.   The story goes that when she appeared to him, the Virgen was holding a scapular and she promised that Carmelites who show their devotion should use this as a sign of privilege that they would be “granted the grace of final perseverance and be delivered from eternal Purgatory”.

Scapular worn for Virgen del Carmen, Torre del Mar, Spain
A scapular was originally an apron, forming part of the dress of a religious order, but for the lay-faithful, scapulars usually bear images, or verses from scripture.  Devotional scapulars typically consist of two rectangular pieces of cloth, wool or other fabric that are connected by bands. One rectangle hangs over the chest of the wearer, while the other rests on the back, with the bands running over the shoulders.

The Virgin Mary of Mount Carmelo (the Virgin of Carmen or Virgen del Carmen) is also known as Stella Maris (Latin for Star of the Sea) which is the name given to the Pole Star (Polaris) used by mariners for centuries as celestial navigation.

EDITED TO ADD: These photos were all taken during the evening of 16th July 2014 in Torre del Mar.  I had to wade out into the sea, above my knees, to take them because there were so many people on the beach, it was the only way of getting the chance of some good shots without thousands of heads or bodies in the way.   My sundress was soaked and I had to try to hold it up with one hand and take photos with my other.   Happy days :) 

Which is your favourite Spanish festival?