Monthly Archives: September 2013

A great send-off!

We should have posted this one nearly a week ago–but we’ve been busy traveling!! Our last day in Estepona was a great beach party!  Cloudy weather made for gorgeous skies and allowed us to leave the sun for awhile and hang out at Chiringuito Lolailo where we enjoyed their Sunday barbecue.  Check out the video in our previous post–what a great time!

The friendly owner and staff make you want to stay and stay.  And we did!


Others who made our time here great are server Neichy (from Cuba) and master of the barbecue, Zaggy (from Pakistan).  Check out Neicy’s moves in the video below!


The beach cooperated by offering a cloudy day and beautiful skies.   A fitting farewell beach party for our time on the Costa del Sol!



Ten Things We Love About Estepona

Estepona, on the Costa del Sol, was our home and launching pad for the month of September.    Our apartment is a very short walk to two beaches, has harbor and sea views, and everything we could possibly need, including a fully-stocked kitchen and great modern bath.  And the real kicker is an indoor garage—quite a luxury for this part of the world and a great convenience for all of our side trips.  This marvelous location made it easy to visit Marbella, Torreguardia, Benalmadena, Malaga, Córdoba, Sevilla, Jeréz, Ronda, Nerja, and Antequerra, with plenty of beach and relaxation time in between.    We will definitely be back—maybe to stay someday!

Ten things we love about Estepona:

IMG_0451   IMG_0430IMG_0435 Fresh Fish-grilled over an open fire     IMG_0404  IMG_0431

1 -The chiringuitos (beach bar/café’s)  – Great inexpensive food, casual  toes-in-the sand atmosphere, and  fun!  Most have grills that they’ve made from old fishing boats, where they grill freshly-caught fish over an open fire.   Yum.

2 – The Paseo – Every evening, people of all ages and nationalities take their evening constitutional.   I especially enjoy the older ladies, often in groups, hair done, earrings on, dressed up and strolling along the beach promenade, which stays fully-lighted until the wee hours.


3 – Playa del Christo – steps from our place, with clear, still water and views of Gibraltar.   Swimming here (Ray) or walking the beach (Anita) for the morning cardio workout sure beats the treadmill.


4 – Three sizes of beer – Caña, Jarra, or Pinta.   Ray used to call me the “queen of the half beer” because I rarely finished a whole one.  Until now.  He gets a pinta, I get a caña, everyone’s happy.

5 –The hours –  Most places serve breakfast and say “Buenos dias” until 2 p.m.   Afternoon really isn’t until after siesta.  And the sun doesn’t set until 9-ish.

6 –The Wednesday farmer’s market –  Fantástico!???????????????????????????????

7 – Roundabouts – People complain about all the roundabouts—but when you don’t really know where you’re driving, it’s great to have a second chance at the right turn.  Or when you’ve gone the wrong way, it’s so much easier to go back a step.   Plus, they cut down on four-way stops and traffic lights.roundabout


8 – The old town.    Pretty, lively– a real Spanish town, not touristy.  Full of murals, sculptures, and fountains.  Lots of nice bars and cafés with TV’s outside facing the patios and sidewalks for watching fútbol matches. Great for a tapas crawl.

9 – Menu del dia      Most places have a fixed price menu from between 8 and 12 Euros.    Three courses, sometimes including a drink and/or coffee.   It’s cheaper than cooking! (although not as much fun)

10 –de la Mar   Café, bar and restaurant, just around the bend from our apartment in the Puerto Deportivo.  Every morning we’ve been taking advantage of their free Wi-Fi, drinking their delicious coffee, occasionally enjoying a nice hardy English style breakfast, and visiting with the friendly people there—both staff and regular guests.  Owner Mar remembered our names and our orders after just one day-and she does that for everyone, in several languages.  Kat is our regular server most days—she is sweet and funny and we’re going to miss seeing her smiling face every day!   PS: they also do drinks, tapas, dinner, etc.  A great home base for many of us.


For the last few days we traveled to Córdoba and then to Sevilla.   Córdoba was a first for both of us, and I wonder why it took us so long to visit this city with it’s amazing sights and history.   The highlight, of course, is the famous Mezquita, an enormous former mosque which is now a 16th-century church.   Cordoba’s cultural history includes contributions by two 12-th Century Córdoba natives and renowned scholar/philosophers—one Jewish, (Maimonides) one Arab (Averroes).   The Mezquita, the unfinished Renaissance arch leading to a Roman bridge, the Jewish quarter and 14th Century Synogogue, and the modern part of town with Art Deco architecture gives a little of the sense of the passage of time and the many violent changes of power that Córdoba has survived.

…And, as I said on the facebook page—anita and ray—I was followed around the Mezquita by a group of English tourists.  Apparently, having read the scholarship of the Dean of Sarah Lawrence College—Jerrilynn Dodds—I fooled them into thinking I was some kind of expert!   Thanks, Jerri!

Another Day, Another Grape (or two)

ImageSince my last wine post, we have enjoyed quite a few bottles both at home and in restaurants. (What a surprise!) Starting with the wines we bought retail at one of the markets, as before the costs are between 4 and 8 Euros. The most inexpensive, at 3 Euros, from the OpenCor market right here in the Puerto Deportivo, is a Rioja from Casa Antono. It is a little young, a 2010 , but quite good. A Marques de Caceres 2009 Crianza  was excellent. This bottle was only 7 Euros. I have seen it in the U.S. for $20+. One of the best bargains so far was a Campo Viejo 2009 Crianza for 5.50 Euros.  Really very tasty. When enjoying tapas in Sevilla it was actually the house red at a couple of the Santa Cruz area taverns.

The wines in the restaurants and Chiringuitos continue to surprise with their quality. There is a tapas bar around the corner from our apartment called the Taberna del Puerto. You sit outside where there is a big screen TV, something the local Spanish as well as English and Dutch expats really appreciate. One evening there, we watched a Champions League game between Barcelona and Ajax. Messi had the hat trick (three goals in one game). I don’t think they call it a hat trick in Spain, but the shouting and celebration required no translation.  The routine is to walk inside and pick out your tapas, then have them served to you as they are ready. They leave the bottle on your table, and charge according to your consumption. It was a non-vintage Rioja bottled for themselves. Believe me it was great. We had four tapas and 1 1/3 bottles of wine. The cost 19 Euros. You can truly live cheaply here.

 We’ve had a few splurge dinners, one of which was a good Italian-style dinner at El Rincon Toscana in the old town of Estepona. A bottle of Baron de Ley 2008 was 28 Euros but an absolutely perfect pairing with our pastas.

The last two days consisted of our side trips to Cordoba and Sevilla. We had a terrific lunch in Cordoba  near the “Mezquita” but paired it with sangria. Our most expensive meal was in Sevilla before the bullfight at the “Corral del Agua”. Anita had the merluza while I had a magnificient  rabbit stew washed down with a Luis Cana 2009 Rioja that was great at 18 Euros. ImageWe’ll be leaving Estepona for San Sebastian in a couple of days.   We’ll miss this place.

Wolf Night at Lobo Park in Antequerra, Spain

On September 19, 2013, the moon was full. So what did we do? We went howling with the wolves!
There is a wonderful wolf preserve called “Lobo Park” in Antequerra. It was a great adventure for us (not the least adventurous part trying to find the place—in the middle of the mountains in Andalucía with nothing around except some olive groves.
I have an audio recording of the howling—quite impressive when they all get going at once. Really something to hear. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to load it to the blog—will have it on our fan page on facebook–anitaandray. The animals are amazing. If you’re ever in this part of Spain, it’s worth the side trip. You don’t have to wait for a full moon, but it did add a certain atmosphere to the enterprise! We were invited to howl along—very cathartic!

Balcon de Europa–Nerja

Yes—another beach. A place we would happily spend a week or two.    The video gives a little idea of the breathtaking scenery–in spite of the lack of skill of the videographer.  (Anita–with her finger in the first several frames!) 

Nerja is an absolutely gorgeous place just east of Malaga on the Costa del Sol.   We loved it because of two things—the amazing caverns discovered 225″ class=”size-medium wp-image-219″ /> Balcon de Europa[/caption]about 60 years ago –Las Cuevas de Nerja are impressive.   The the town itself manages to be a real Spanish town and a seaside retreat at the same time.   Very special.   The video was taken standing on the “Balcón de Europa” –Balcony of Europe, central to the Nerja waterfront.  There are several beaches along the coves  on either side.  It seems you can see the entire Med from there—and once again, we got very lucky with incredible weather.

We also walked to the 4th beach east of the Balcón for lunch, Playa Burriana.  We headed for AYO—an terrific  restaurant with hundreds of tables set up under a canopy right on the beach—apparently,  a Nerja institution for 50 years.  (I was immediately attracted by the name—AYO—my initials!) They cook paella over an open fire in pans FIVE FEET in diameter.    From about 1 to 5 pm, people pop by for Sangria, wine, or beer and the all-you-can-eat paella feast—for 6.50€.   What’s could be better?  We pigged out before heading for the caves.   Wish you were here!

Click on a thumbnail below and use the arrows to toggle through to all the pictures.

These are a few of our fa-vor-ite words.


The first time Ray and I went to Spain together was more than 30 years ago.    We were in Marbella, way back before Marbella looked like the East coast of Florida—when you could see the beach from any point on the coast road.  Now, you just see high-rises and cars. But the old town is still gorgeous.  But I digress.  

Ray spoke not a word of Spanish at the time, so he would frequently ask me “What’s the word for _____?”   Our first evening at the Puente Romano, we were lounging in the courtyard with a cocktail of ron con limón, when the waiter delivered a little bowl of peanuts for us to munch on.     “What’s the word for peanuts?” Ray asked me.    I told him it was cacahuetes.   “C’mon, stop messing with me—what’s the word–really?” 

 “Cacahuetes,” I answered.    If English is your primary language, it’s a pretty giggle-worthy word.   I managed to convince him that it was the actual name for peanuts, and I didn’t make it up in order to set up a comical dialogue between Ray and a server sometime in the future.  (I have been known to do such things.) 

After a few minutes, the same waiter passed by and dropped off a bowl of olives.   “What’s the word for olives, hon?”

 “Aceitunas.” I tried and failed to stifle a giggle.   

“Okay, now I know you’re messing with me.”     

To this day, we serve peanuts and olives with cocktails at our home.    Being a sherry lover, I find nothing better with a cold glass of amontillado. (Well, maybe marcona almonds, but that’s a special treat.)   For all these years, in our house, nobody says “nuts” or “olives.”   They are always “cacahuetes and aceitunas.”   Maybe it’s because the words still make us smile after all these years, but non-Spanish speakers always think we’re just making a joke.  

One more recent “favorite word.”   Jubilado.   There are deep discounts to museums, shows, etc. for the jubilados.  We love that the Latin root for “retired” translates as “to exult; to shout with joy.”  Woo-hoo!  I keep repeating that I’m not retired, but I like the idea of being jubilada.    

Appropriately, this evening we will be howling with the wolves.  Literally.   More on this to follow.   Owoooo!!!


Come with us to the Kasbah…

Entrance to the Kasbah

Entrance to the Kasbah

Come with us to the Kasbah!

Come with us to the Kasbah!

On Monday, we drove to Tarifa and took the high-speed ferry over to Tangiers, Morocco.  We had a fabulous time and really enjoyed seeing the old town, the Kasbah.  Walking the Medina with a guide who grew up there and seemed to know every person, doorway, and little interesting street.   The Souk (marketplace) was truly amazing–butchers, an incredible fish market, bakeries, etc.

Every neighborhood needs five things–the hamam (baths), a public fountain for water, a bakery, a school, and a mosque.  We’ve included photos of each of these from just one small neighborhood in the Medina.

I think the photos speak for themselves.  Enjoy the slide show.  Click on the first small thumbnail photo and then toggle through using the arrows.   
Oh–one other funny note–we met the manager of the Continental Hotel–one of the fancy hotels right near the harbor. He is a childhood friend of our guide’s. He is born and raised in Tangiers, but has a home in Elachove—in the Basque country just next door to my family in Ibarrengelu. He took one look at me and said, “you’re not American–where are you grandparent’s from?” And then he proceded to speak to me in Basque! Agur!