Everyone’s a Winner, Baby, That’s the Truth!

It’s been quite a winning day for my blog, East of Málaga, today.

First of all, I received the Bronze Award in the Expat Blog Competition for Spain – and I want to say a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me.  I am truly humbled by your many kind comments and words of support. 

blog-award-2012-spain-bronze

There were 55 expat blogs taking part from Spain, so to come third at the first time of entering is quite an achievement.   East of Málaga received a staggering 77 votes which would have been enough in any other country category to have won a Gold Award.

Considering I was pitted against blogs by professional journalists and book authors, I am extremely proud to have won the Expat Blog Bronze Award for Spain 2012.

                      Alhambra from San Nicolas

My second piece of good news for today is that Josh at Spain for Pleasure became the 1,000th follower of this blog.

1,000 followers – WOW!

Josh lives in the beautiful city of Granada in Spain (pictured above), is a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language and has only been blogging for six weeks.  I’d love you to pop over and say hello to Josh and give him some tips on How to Survive a Spanish Winter!  Poor thing – he’s freezing!

Eagle Owl at medieval market in Torrox pueblo
Do you remember this beautiful Eagle Owl I photographed at a Medieval Market in Torrox village earlier this year?  There are several ways of saying “owl” in Spanish – el búho,  la lechuza or el mochuelo, to name but three – but however you say it, they are pretty spectacular, aren’t they?

As a way of saying THANK YOU to all my blogging friends, followers and supporters I’d like to give you all an early Christmas gift that will last you throughout 2013.

owl

I found this gorgeous Owl Lovers Calendar for 2013 at The Owl Barn.  The calendar is completely customizable; you can select the images for all the months you want to print and create your own free calendar or you can simply download the pre-made versionJust click on the owl calendar above or in the sidebar and all the instructions for how to download your Owl Lovers Calendar are there.

THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR CONTINUING SUPPORT AND ENJOY YOUR CALENDAR!

Last chance to vote for East of Málaga for an Golden Expat Blog Award!

Looking at the coast, east of Málaga, Spain

There are only a couple of days left to cast your votes, and I’m currently in SECOND PLACE, but with some very stiff competition.  

I NEED EVERY VOTE I CAN GET!

CAN YOU HELP ME WIN?

ExpatsBlog.com trawl the net dishing out awards to the very best expat bloggers they can find for each country.  They have gold, silver, bronze and runner up awards for the Top 5 blogs in each country.   The competition is in the final assessment stage right now, so I need your help (and votes!)

Can you help East of Málaga become an

Expat Blog Medal Winner?

 Here´s how:

Click on THIS LINK

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page you have just clicked on.
  2. Vote by leaving a review about East of Málaga blog. Be nice :)
  3. Share this post with your friends and help me get more votes.
  4. Let me know you have voted/reviewed, in my comment section below.

Thank you for your help and continuing support – YOU GUYS ROCK!

Vote for East of Málaga and then spread the word!

Driving in Spain: Speed

Last month, new speed limits were introduced on roads throughout Spain in an attempt to cut fuel consumption after oil prices soared following unrest in the Middle East.   The maximum speed on motorways is now 110 kilometres (68 miles) per hour instead of 120 kph, with this restriction likely to remain in place until at least the end of June 2011.

However, many Spaniards believe the change is a ruse to raise funds through more speeding fines.

Talking of which, hundreds of drivers were caught during the first operational month of the “average speed” radar system installed in the tunnel on the A7 between Torrox and Nerja.

Cameras photograph all vehicles´ number plates when entering and exiting the tunnel and, if the average speed of the vehicle over the one kilometre distance is calculated to have exceeded 100kph, a fine of up to €600 is issued.   Offenders will also be given six points on their driving licences.

At the present time, the radar speed trap is only operating in the eastbound (Torrox to Nerja) tunnel.  There are no cameras in the westbound tunnel.

You have been warned!

Christmas in Spain: Feliz Navidad

The holiday season begins in Spain on December 22nd, the day of the El Gordo Christmas lottery draw.   This is one of the oldest lottery draws having been established in 1812, and El Gordo has the biggest prize pool of any lottery in the world, last year totaling over two billion euros!

Family often gather at the grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve, known in Spain as Nochebuena to have a meal together and drink cava, the Spanish equivalent of champagne.

There are no traditional dishes served,  with menus differing from region to region.    As we are so close to the sea,  a typical meal in the Axarquia may be prawns, followed by lamb or suckling pig.   What is certain to make an appearance at this time of year is turrón, a kind of nougat made from almonds, honey and sugar.   Supermarkets have special displays of the many different kinds of turrón available, although strangely this confectionery is nowhere to be seen for the rest of the year.

Another of the many traditional Christmas goodies in Spain is the mantecado, a type of shortbread biscuit.

After the Christmas Eve family meal, the bells will begin to toll at the village church, calling the faithful to La Misa del Gallo (the Rooster’s Mass), which owes its name to the idea that a rooster would have been among the first to witness the birth of Jesus, and thus be the one to announce it.  This is a candlelight service where the children act out the journey to Bethlehem.

Christmas Day is a national holiday in Spain, to recover from the excesses of the previous evening and a typical mid-day meal will consist of left-overs from the previous day, followed by a walk or meeting up with family.   Adults may exchange gifts on Christmas Day, but children receive their gifts on January 6th (Epiphany) when presents are brought by the Three Kings.

December 28th sees El Dia de los Santos Inocentes (the day of the Holy Innocents), which is the Spanish equivalent of April Fool’s Day.   The difference being that instead of the trickery ending at noon, it carries on throughout the day.

The fiesta continues on New Year’s Eve with La Noche Vieja (The Old Night) when the most important items are cava and grapes.  As the midnight hour arrives, you are expected to eat a grape and take a sip of cava with every stroke of the clock at midnight, all the time making wishes for the coming year.

Whilst many people stay in their homes for midnight, in the centre of Nerja, as in many towns throughout the Axarquia, there are thousands of people crammed onto the Balcón de Europa.   Having listened to a lively concert during the evening, on the stroke of midnight, the crowd is treated to a wonderful firework display.  This is when the party really gets going! Despite the number of people, the atmosphere is always very friendly and I have yet to see the slightest trouble.

The parade of the Three Kings takes place during the evening of the 5th January, when Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar, who parade on their camels, horses, lorries or skis depending where you live, throw boiled sweets for the children.  On the night of the 5th January, children put gifts of food out on the windowsills of their homes and, if they have been good, in the morning, the food is gone and replaced by presents.

Festivities end on January 6th, known as  Dia de Los Reyes, or the day of the Three Kings, when it is the children that become the centre of attention. Family gather together once again for a meal at lunchtime and finish with Roscón de Reyes, a ring shaped pastry flavoured with cinnamon and decorated with nuts and crystallised fruit.  Inside the pastry is baked a small toy and whoever is the recipient gets to be King for the day.

You might also enjoy:

10 Spanish words to help you through Christmas: Las palabras navideñas

Spain’s Christmas Lottery: ‘El Gordo’ or ‘The Fat One’