Just the King and I on the Balcón de Europa, Nerja

Tree lined promenade on the Balcon de Europa, Nerja

The Balcón de Europa (the Balcony of Europe) is a well-known landmark in the coastal town of Nerja.

Leading to the semi-circular viewing point with a circular marble, geometric patterned platform overlooking the sea is a lovely palm-tree lined promenade, often packed with visitors strolling along enjoying an ice-cream.

Balcon de Europa, Nerja

Viewing point on the Balcon de Europa, Nerja

I was particularly fortunate the other day, when I was visiting Nerja and popped along to gaze over the railings of the Balcón, to pretty much have it all to myself.

Well, other than the King, of course!

King Alfonso XII stands on the Balcón de Europa, Nerja

A bronze statue of King Alfonso XII stands leaning on the railings near the end of the Balcón de Europa, commemorating his visit to the town in January, 1885.    The King came to see the damage caused by an earthquake that devastated the region on Christmas Day, 1884.

He was captivated by the beauty of the area and legend has it that he was responsible for naming it “Balcón de Europa”.

It’s not true, of course!

One of the old cannons on the Balcon de Europa, Nerja

There are two old cannons on the Balcón, near to the statue of the King, which serve as a reminder of the strategic importance of the Balcón in days gone by.

Monument to the 5 boys who discovered the Nerja caves

I was particularly drawn to this monument to the five boys (Francisco Navas Montesinos, José Torres Cárdenas, Miguel Muñoz Zorrilla, José Luis Barbero de Miguel and Manuel Muñoz Zorrilla) who discovered the Nerja caves in January 1959.  

The town is so proud of them that their names are also written on a plaque at the entrance to the caves, where there is a much bigger monument to honour them.

White arches on the Balcon de Europa, Nerja

Looking through the arches on the Balcon de Europa, Nerja

To one side of the Balcón is this white arched structure, covered with pots of plants which is the perfect place to shade from the hot sun on a summer’s day and admire the view of the east of Málaga.  

I’ve seen newly-married couples having their bridal photos taken here, too – but not on that particular day!  A perfect spot, don’t you think?

How lucky was I to get the Balcón de Europa to myself?  Have YOU ever seen it so quiet?

 

Whilst you’re here, you might enjoy reading:

Orange Trumpet Vine heralds warmer weather

Glass and Crystal Museum, Málaga

 

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Photos from 35,000 feet: Axarquía coast and inland

 

Love flying 9

I love flying and whenever possible I’ll jump at the chance of a window seat. It’s fascinating to see the land below from a totally unique perspective and particularly if you know the area well, at ground level.

Last Thursday lunchtime I flew back to the UK to see friends and family for a few days. As is often the case, my plane took off from Málaga airport and headed out to sea before banking left to cross back over the coast of the Axarquía. From my window seat on the right-hand side of the plane, I had a bird’s-eye view, and the best and clearest view I have ever had.

Caleta harbour and Torre del Mar

We crossed the coast over Benajarafe, giving me a great view of the harbour and marina at Caleta de Vélez with Algarrobo Costa just above (and slightly to the right in the photo) and Torre del Mar below.

Torrox point

From the wider angle, you can also see the point of land sticking out which is where the lighthouse is at Torrox Costa, with the start of Nerja beyond.

Velez-Malaga and Torre del Mar

As we continued to fly inland, Vélez-Málaga came into view and, if you look closely, you can just about see the motorway (Autovía del Mediterraneo) cutting across the landscape before Torre del Mar begins.

Cómpeta

The white mountain village of Cómpeta was instantly recognisable, as the tops of the mountains above the village suffered and remain scarred by the devastating fire last summer.  

Mount Maroma, highest mountain in Málaga

We flew directly over the bare, pointless peak of La Maroma, the highest mountain in Málaga province – standing at an impressive 2065m (or 6775ft), and dominating the skyline of the Axarquía.  You can clearly see the village of Canillas de Aceituno in the lee of La Maroma (towards the bottom right of the photograph).

Lake Bermejales

And finally, after flying over Mount Maroma, we left the Axarquía region where the distinctive shape of the reservoir of Lake Bermejales came into view, and the town towards the bottom left of the photo is Alhama de Granada.

So, are you a window or an aisle seat person?  Do you enjoy flying or is it just a means of getting from A to B?  Let me know, won’t you?

You might also enjoy:

Photos from 35,000 feet: Approaching Málaga

 Taking the fast train (AVE) from Málaga to Madrid

Watching English-Language films at the Cinema in the Axarquía

 

Cinesur at Velez-Malaga

The only cinema regularly showing English language films in the Axarquía region is Cinesur in the El Ingenio shopping centre at Vélez-Málaga.

Address:  Avda.Juan Carlos I S/N, Vélez-Málaga.

Tel: 952 547 309 – 952 547 267 – 902 504 150.

This is an air-conditioned cinema complex featuring 12 screens and is upstairs, near the restaurant area, in the El Ingenio shopping centre.

Price: 7.50 € (4.40 € on Wednesdays, only).
Website: Cinesur

There is a discount card available at Cinesur called Tarjeta 5, which reduces the price of all shows to 5 euros.  This means there is no need to wait for a Wednesday to get a good deal (though if you do go on a Wednesday and use your Tarjeta 5 card, you will get in for 3.90 € instead of the usual 4.40 €).

Cinema entrance

Cinesur cinema was showing English language films ten years ago when I first came to Spain, but because of dwindling numbers of film-goers, Cinesur stopped showing them.  Fortunately, we have them back now – but when I went to see “EVEREST” a couple of weeks ago, there were just three of us in the cinema.

Can I just say – please support our local cinema showing original version films – because if we don’t, they will stop showing films in English.

USE IT OR LOSE IT!

I’ve got a special offer to encourage you to go to Cinesur at the El Ingenio centre.  (Other cinemas throughout Spain are also taking part, details HERE).

On the 3rd, 4th and 5th of November the twice-yearly “Fiesta del Cine” will be held throughout Spain, when tickets will cost just 2.90 €. First, you’ll need to register online at the official website to receive your personalised discount voucher.  Then, between the 3-5 November when you go to the cinema, take along your voucher PLUS photo ID, and your ticket will cost you just 2.90 €.

Cool, huh?

Register here: Fiesta del Cine

everest
Other places to watch English language films:

The Cultural Centre in C/Granada, Nerja have a Cineclub showing original version films.  Check their website for details or telephone 95252 3863.

The Yelmo Cineplex at Rincón de la Victoria show the occasional English language film, but they are not usually a regular feature there.  Yelmo are, for example, showing Ed Sheeran – Live from Odeon Leicester Square on October 22nd.

This is a 16-screen cinema, open daily.
Address: Centro Comercial Rincón de la Victoria, Ctra Totalan, Málaga
Tel: 952 978 707
Website: Yelmo Cineplex

Other than that, you will have to go into Málaga city:

CINE ALBENIZ

Address: C/ Alcazabilla 4, MÁLAGA
Tel: 952 121 031

4-screen cinema next to the Roman Amphitheatre, at the foot of the Alcazaba.

Price: 6.50 € (approx.)
Website: Cine Albeniz 

YELMO CINEMA, PLAZA MAYOR

Address: Calle Alfonso Ponce de Leon 3, Plaza Mayor, MALAGA
Tel: 902 220 922
This is a 20-screen cinema complex at Plaza Mayor, the huge shopping centre near the airport.  Yelmo usually have at least a couple of the latest-release movies showing in English.

Website: Yelmo Cines

Language Options to look out for:

VOSE = Versión Original Subtitulada en Español which means Original Version Subtitled in Spanish.
**VO = Version Original means Original Version without subtitles.

You might want to look if the original version was filmed in English!
Always check the cinema’s website and/or telephone for timings, before you set off (especially if you are travelling to Málaga).

You can usually buy your tickets online or, of course, at the cinema.

 

Are you a film buff?  Do you mind watching films with subtitles or do they distract you?

 

While you’re here, you might also like to look at:

Coast, Villages or Countryside: The Inland Villages

Death in the Afternoon: The Round Cemetery at Sayalonga

 

An Inspector Calls: Only this time it’s Alex Polizzi, the HOTEL Inspector

Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi with Karen and Sarah outside Hotel La Casa

Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, with Karen and Sarah outside Hotel La Casa in Torrox pueblo. Photo: Twofour/Channel 5

Following last night’s airing of the show as the finale of the current series, I can finally reveal a secret I’ve been bursting to tell you!   Alex Polizzi, also known as “The Hotel Inspector” came calling, east of Malaga and, as someone who knows the area well, I was offered an opportunity to work with her.

The Hotel Inspector is a UK documentary television series featuring hotelier and business-woman, Alex Polizzi, in her quest to turn flagging hotels into profitable ventures. The programme usually features some of Britain’s worst-run hotels and bed-and-breakfast establishments, whose owners appear to have no idea how to run a hotel.

So why, you might ask, would the Hotel Inspector come calling in southern Spain?

The background to this particular episode evolves over several years and focuses on two British sisters who, from 2005 to 2008, transformed a dilapidated building in the charming town of Torrox in the foothills of the Sierra Almijara and Tejeda mountains, into a stylish 8-bedroomed boutique hotel.

On the face of it, whether you love mountains, beaches, the hustle and bustle of the big city or the peace and tranquility of a white-washed Andalucían town, this hotel has it all. With spectacular views of the mountains, proximity to blue-flag beaches, many interesting places to visit nearby, being only a 40 minute drive from Malaga’s vibrant city and airport and, to cap it all, the town of Torrox is officially recognised at having the best climate in Europe.

However, soon after the doors of La Casa hotel opened to guests in 2008, the global economic downturn took hold, resulting in a fall in tourism and leaving the sisters struggling financially. Despite working long hours, the situation has changed little in the intervening years, with occupancy rates still low.

The cast of characters in this particular three-act drama includes British-expat sisters, Sarah Melton and Karen Atkinson, (with a quiet, behind-the-scenes role played by Sarah’s husband, Neil); Hotel Inspector Alex Polizzi; various international journalists and bloggers from such publications as Condé Nast and The Telegraph; Andalucía-based luxury travel writer, Andrew Forbes …. oh, and Yours Truly!

Alex, Sarah and travel writer Andrew Forbes on the terrace at La Casa Hotel

Alex, Sarah and travel writer Andrew Forbes on the terrace at La Casa Hotel

ACT ONE involved one of the sisters getting in touch with the show after seeing an advert in a local English language newspaper on the lookout for expat hoteliers. After being chosen to feature in the programme, the hotel was visited by Alex Polizzi together with a camera crew, to make her assessment of how to transform the hotel’s fortunes.

It soon became apparent that La Casa was not the usual type of establishment featured on The Hotel Inspector and, in this particular case, the problem appeared to be the marketing and branding of the hotel (and the local area), rather than its service and quality.

ACT TWO began towards the end of March 2015 and featured the return of Ms Polizzi and her camera crew, together with a string of travel writers, in an attempt to market the area to them.

At the same time, the hotel was being rebranded with the launch of a new website, logo and promotional literature, plus the main players were interviewed on local radio about La Casa featuring on the Hotel Inspector show.

ACT THREE saw the sisters leading the group of journalists around some of the delights of Torrox village, as well as giving a taste of what this ideal location has to offer today’s more discerning traveller.

Our tour began in the main square of the village before moving on to the local Nevaillo olive oil factory where we were given a demonstration of how the oil is produced and bottled.

Next, we were whisked back-in-time to the 17th century hamlet of El Acebuchal – known locally as The Lost Village where, after a brief look around, we headed to the local tavern where we were treated to a sumptuous tasting-menu featuring home-made bread, tropical salads, wild boar, venison and chicken. Antonio's tavern, El Acebuchal Our final stop of the day was a guided tour of the famous caves in Nerja, discovered by five boys in 1959 and which has now become one of the most visited attractions in Spain.

After a brief rest and just enough time for a shower, our evening continued back at La Casa hotel with a delicious A La Carte dinner. The menu was extensive with a choice to suit all tastes including antipasto, prawns pil-pil, pork with mushrooms, oven-baked cod and lamb shanks followed by such delights as “icky-sticky pudding” and platters of Spanish cheeses and hams.

Of course, every step of the way, we were filmed and interviewed about what we had seen and experienced. At first this proved rather daunting, but it was amazing how quickly you got used to having a fluffy sound microphone hovering over your head and/or having a camera crew nearby.

It was an absolute delight working with Alex Polizzi who is a lovely lady and comes across just as naturally as she does on TV.  She is outgoing, very friendly and willing to pose for endless photos or exchange a few words with people who recognised her from the show.

Gaudi room at Hotel La Casa

Gaudi room at Hotel La Casa

La Casa hotel features seven individually designed double/twin rooms (mine was named Gaudi, after the famous Spanish architect) and a spacious suite with a private terrace. The en-suite rooms are comfortable and spotlessly clean with A/C for cooling or warmth, whatever the season.

There is a beautiful sun terrace with amazing views of the mountains and valley, a bistro restaurant serving delicious food and, rave reviews from people who have stayed have earned this #1 rated hotel in Torrox a Travellers’ Award on TripAdvisor for the past four years.

Early morning view from La Casa

Early morning view of the mountains from La Casa’s terrace

From 5th June, the hotel’s restaurant (also used by many people not staying as guests) will be moving to a new venue in the main square of Torrox, so if you are in the village, I’d certainly recommend a visit.

Karen and Sarah are attentive hosts, and whilst I arrived as a guest we parted as friends – testimony of which is obvious by the many people who return to stay at La Casa hotel, year after year.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Karen, Sarah and Neil all the best with Hotel La Casa and their new venture – the restaurant which will open shortly in Torrox village.

La Casa hotel is situated at Calle Baja, Plazuela de Barajas 3, just off the main square of Torrox village, with free parking nearby.   Telephone: (0034) 95253 5471    Website: www.hotellacasatorrox.com 

Disclaimer: Whilst I stayed at the hotel as a guest of La Casa Hotel/Twofour Productions, I was not asked to write any reviews or recommendations in return. Any views expressed here are my own, and I am happy to do so because I enjoyed my stay and would genuinely recommend a visit to the hotel or restaurant.

Come and visit La Axarquía, east of Málaga – it’s the AUTHENTIC Spain you’ve been looking for!