WEEK 2 – DONA LOLA RESORT, SITIO DE CALAHONDA PART 4

Friday – Estepona here we come. One of my favourite places on the coast, it has changed so much over the years from being a drab seaside town it has evolved, with the help of an ambitious Mayor, into a place that is a must to visit.

We parked the car in the car park under the paseo and tried to find the local tourist office. We had trouble last time we visited Estepona, because they’d moved it from close to the paseo into the old town. Once again, no signage and we were trying to remember where we had gone before, we even asked someone – a Scots guy but he wasn’t sure although he gave general directions to where he thought it was. So we decided to stop for lunch and sat down outside a Heledaria (ice cream parlour) and a couple walked past with what looked like tourist map. We asked them if they knew where the office was but they were less than helpful 😦 A young waiter from the café next door then came over and offered to take John after we’d finished our lunch.  Then the couple came back and said that they had got the map from a friend and finally showed it to us so we could get our bearings. We still weren’t sure so we got the young waiter to take John round (it was only round the corner doh!) and we were very grateful. After lunch we walked around to the office and found it hidden away, not very well signed in a square where we think the Scots guy was talking about! Anyway, in we went, very few leaflets on show and a woman sitting at a desk right at the back of the office not taking any notice of us for a good couple of minutes. We finally asked her to help as we wanted a map of the murals around the town, we also wanted to see the Orchid Centre but didn’t get a chance to mention it. She handed us a map, said “this is where we are, the murals are here, here, here etc” then she gave us a smaller leaflet with details of where they were. We felt dismissed and went of into the street to find the murals. unfortunately the two leaflets didn’t tally lol! So, off we went following the route as best we can, it was amazing, seeing the back streets of a town with such amazing artwork on the walls of buildings.

We found the Orchidarium and wanted to go inside but it was closed! They were setting up for a special even for the Alzheimer’s society and we thought it was because of that but, apparently, it closes for siesta! Would’ve been really nice if the woman in the tourist office had been proactive and told us that, she knew we would be passing it! Still its a good reason to go back to Estepona in the future plus there are still murals to see too!

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WEEK 2 – DONA LOLA RESORT, SITIO DE CALAHONDA PART 3

Wednesday and we were supposed to be going to Estepona but my leg is really bad so decided to pop into Puerto Cabopino instead in the afternoon.

We really like Cabopino and on Jay’s advice decided to explore it further inside and away from the port and the beach. First of all though we looked at where the wooden walkway along the coast would continue towards Marbella, its certainly a fantastic construction project and such a brilliant tourist attraction.
The sea was quite choppy and it was so windy the windsurfers were having a great time out on the water. We paddled in the shallows and walked along to the port and around and up towards Dona Lola and stopped at a little chirringuito. I had my stick with me so we sat at a table facing the sea so we could have a nice view. A very grumpy looking old man came up to us and said were we eating and we said no just want a drink. He got very funny with us gesticulating that we couldn’t sit there and would have to sit on the bit where there was no shade. Safe to say we walked away and wouldn’t go back as he was so rude.

We walked back to the marina and around to the bars and restaurants overlooking the marina and we finally got to see a cicada! It was sitting on a potted palm outside a restaurant. It was amazing and it didn’t move even when John was snapping away with his camera! After that we took a walk where Jay had recommended and it was a nice change to see the little hidden away part of Cabopino.

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Came home to find that there was a huge cockroach munching on the bread in the bag that I’d left on the table before we went out! Suffice to say he was duly dispatched and we made sure we put things up out of the way before we went out.

Another great meal in Devines, I had the spinach and mushroom crepes again followed by their chicken escalopes with garlic butter (same as I ate on Saturday!) it was yummy! John had the homemade mushroom soup which I loved too, followed by the garlic chicken. We shared a dessert of Belgian waffle and icecream and we were given 2 of the after eight shots each! Oh the treat, loved it. Oh and I also haggled with the Looky Looky man and bought a lovely “Mulberry” black handbag! Wish now I’d bought another colour too, its leather,lovely and all for €15!

WEEK 2 – DONA LOLA RESORT, SITIO DE CALAHONDA PART 1

Saturday – left Mijas after lunch

So, here we are 2nd week of our very eventful holiday. Although it is on the same site as the Macdonalds Resorts Leisure timeshare resort, the apartment we are renting is a private rent on the first phase of Dona Lola. It is a small studio apartment (Marianne F) that is owned by someone I know through Facebook and we booked through http://www.Holidaylettings.co.uk. It is smaller than we are used to but it has everything we need and as we spend most days and evenings out and about it will serve as a useful base.

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View from the apartment

P1040693 P1040688 P1040687We met the local black and white cat who seems to like the family in the apartment next door but he allowed me to pet him and he certainly isn’t keen on the other 2 or 3 cats in the area coming on his patch lol! The people in the two studios to our right (Spanish families) have done some amazing renovations and I know that the person we rented from is in the process of updating the kitchen area and the other facilities in the apartment. Wifi would be a good addition as would a few more English tv channels but its not a deal breaker as there are lots of bars and restaurants with wifi in the area.

Although on the private side of Dona Lola the owners had left us their passes to use the facilities on the MRL timeshare side. We didn’t make use of them this time as we had so much else on during the week and didn’t find the time. There is a bar/restaurant, a pool side restaurant, outdoor pool and children’s pool, a small adult only pool and an indoor pool and gym etc so well equipped for a great holiday. We’ve stayed on the timeshare side several times and have always had a great time when we’ve been there.

Outside the main part of Dona Lola there are several bars and restaurants and you could actually spend your whole week never having to go anywhere else to eat! However, there are also some fantastic bars and restaurants over the main road at El Zoco too! I will do a quick review of the ones we ate at as I go through this blog.

Decided to go to Devines on our first night. Its a great family restaurant run by a British family and Deborah is the main host but the staff and the food is great. After the meal we always get served with their “after eight” shot which is Baileys, Creme de Cacao and Creme De Menthe! Oh it is lovely!

IMG_20150912_203357227 2015-09-12 20.40.36After dinner we went to Oscars bar, apart from free wifi they have a great atmosphere and I fancied a gin and tonic! Now everyone that knows me knows that if I have too much I get an itchy nose but they do serve an exceedingly nice G&T there. The owners Dave & Lisa are fantastic hosts, remember everyone’s names and their favourite tipple. We got chatting to someone who was staying at Dona Lola in a rental from someone I also know from Facebook (who’s facebook group I help admin)! Lovely guy and we had a great time chatting to everyone, I got a bit tipsy and we rolled home at 1.30am to find 2 dead cockroaches on the kitchen floor! The owner of the apartment had plug in things that are supposed to put the cockroaches off coming in but it wasn’t working lol! We managed to pick them up and stick them down the loo! However, as much as we don’t like them, they are a fact of life living in a hot country.

WEEK 2 – DONA LOLA RESORT, SITIO DE CALAHONDA PART 2

Monday is the day we do the Calahonda to La Cala walkway! My knee is holding up so we’re ready to go! Unfortunately the walkway isn’t complete all along the coast as Macdonalds have apparently been holding up the building of the bit by Dona Lola so we have to walk along the main road towards Max Beach bar and restaurant (although we did realise later there was a closer place to pick it up!).

The walk is amazing, you see bits of the coastal residential and holiday home areas and chirringuitos you wouldn’t even know were there if you didn’t stay in the places close to them. A lot of people don’t seem to stop and take time to see what’s going on out to sea but we stopped every so often to look at the rock pools and the bird life. It was really hot so we had plenty of water with us and I was wearing my new Skechers Memory foam trainers so it felt like I was walking on a cushion! LOL! We started out wondering if we could do the walk its around 5km but we did it and reached La Cala from a direction that we’d never seen before and saw some really nice villas right on the beach.

P1040714 P1040713 P1040712 P1040710 P1040708We walked into La Cala and stopped at a little pizzeria next to a restaurant where we always used to eat but it had changed! It always felt homely before and they had a cat that would visit all the tables. Now it is white and very modern called El Turreon. The place we ate next to it seemed quite reasonably priced for paninis so we ordered one each and it turned out it was only a half of one each! Still, it was ok (had a lot better) and we decided if we came again we would eat at El Turreon.

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OMG! You can see the gap where my tooth broke! No more smiling for me LOL!
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Waiting for lunch in La Cala.

Had a short walk around the town and then back along the walk way to Dona Lola. So glad my Ultrasun was working well, it was so hot. I did start to flag a bit when we almost got back to Dona Lola and realised that I’d probably had too much sun, despite all the fluids and the sun hat!

Back at the apartment as we opened the door, in scurried a 2½” cockroach, zapped it with the spray and stuck it down the loo. Can’t stand the things but luckily they don’t scare me!

Decided to eat over at Meson de Calahonda at El Zoco, I follow them on Facebook and am Facebook friends with Rafael and Manuel who run it, so was really interested to see if it lived up to the recommendations on Trip Advisor and Facebook. Well all I can say is ……. what a fantastic place! I didn’t introduce myself to Rafael, he was extremely busy but he did look as if he thought he recognised me from my Facebook photo! John decided to have the sea bass in almond sauce as he doesn’t usually have fish when we eat out and I had the grilled turbot, all washed down with a jug of sangria followed by coffee and a liquer. The food was exceptional and we decided to book for the night of our anniversary on the Thursday, which we did before we left the restaurant. We could see it was really popular with lots of people who were obviously regulars coming in and out and booking for other nights too. When we paid the bill we were given a shot of caramel vodka! Well the ones I’ve had in the past were very synthetic tasting,  but this one was delish! Will need to buy a bottle! After our lovely meal it was back to Oscars for a night cap and another lovely chat with Jay and Lisa & Dave then back to the apartment tired and happy.

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Grilled Turbot – my main course
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Creme Caramel (Flan) – my dessert
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John’s almond tarte dessert
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John’s Sea bass in almond sauce

WEEK 1 – MacDonald’s Timeshare resort – La Ermita, Mijas Pueblo – Part 4

Friday – So our last official day! Easy morning packing and sorting then off to Fuengirola to the Bioparc (zoo) for our usual pilgrimage ;). I love the zoo, its so small and compact but so much to see. The animals are so well kept and in such beautiful surroundings, you wouldn’t believe its in the middle of a town. Had a fright though, when we left the apartment to go to the underground garage we couldn’t find the car! OMG! We thought it had been stolen and couldn’t understand it, then we realised we were on the wrong floor! Doh! Talk about a senior moment!

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So tonight is our last night here, we have had such a wonderful week and can’t believe that we’ve never stayed in the Pueblo before. Our last night was extra special because we went back to the Secret Garden. This time we had a lovely table in a beautiful corner of the garden,. John ordered the pork fillet with Serrano ham and Malaga wine sauce and I had the slow cooked pigs cheeks! Oh my, talk about melt in the mouth such a delight. Shared cheesecake for dessert and then I had a Baileys coffee and John had a Café Bonbon made with condensed milk! A wonderful end to a wonderful stay. Tomorrow Calahonda beckons!

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John's pork fillet wrapped in Serrano Ham with Malaga wine & plum sauce - delish!
John’s pork fillet wrapped in Serrano Ham with Malaga wine & plum sauce – delish!
My slow cooked pork cheeks - melt in the mouth!
My slow cooked pork cheeks – melt in the mouth!

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WEEK 1 – MacDonald’s Timeshare resort – La Ermita, Mijas Pueblo – Part 3

Wednesday – After the excitement of last night we woke up to another wonderfully sunny and warm day. It was definitely very hot on the balcony and my Ultrasun SPF 50 once a day was certainly working hard.

Ultrasun protection all the way
Ultrasun protection all the way

We had heard about some cave houses so in the afternoon we decided to go for another walk around the Pueblo (getting our bearings now!) and try to find another museum that John had read about. Before the walk though we went to Mayan Monkey to do a chocolate bar workshop and made our own 3 bars of chocolate each! If you are ever in Mijas do go and try their ice cream, its to die for!

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John’s chocolate making – can’t find pic of my effort but it wasn’t so neat lol!
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Trainee Chocolatiers! Get the hair nets!

So, we went off on our walk whilst the chocolate set.

Mijas Pueblo is such beautiful place, here’s a few more shots of the back streets! Note inone of them there is a very old man walking down a very steep hill. The only time we saw mobility scooters they were being ridden by Brits, the elderly Spanish use their sticks and rollators and don’t seem to want to invest in them.

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Realised on our last day that this was where the cave houses were (we just couldn't see them!)
Realised on our last day that this was where the cave houses were (we just couldn’t see them!)
Old man walking down the steep hill.
Old man walking down the steep hill.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find either of the places John wanted to see, but found the Secret Garden Café where we had a cool drink and decided to go back that night for a meal. Back to the Mayan Monkey to pick up our chocolate and to have another ice cream! Any excuse! Got chatting to one of the staff who’s grandparents own a timeshare at MacDonald’s Leila Playa so I gave him details of the Owners Against Group as they want to get out of their week

And so to the evening! I can’t praise the restaurant, The Secret Garden, highly enough The food, is brilliant, the staff amazing, the value excellent and the place itself – heaven! We had a voucher for a free bottle of wine too and it was great wine!At the front it looks like any other bar/restaurant, go through the bar and the indoor patio and out into a huge garden with trees, canopies and lighting which makes you feel like you are stepping into fairyland. They even provide fleece blankets in case there’s chill in the air! This was one of the best meals we have had in Spain and we felt as if we were in a truly magical place. So much so, we booked again for Friday night!

Cheers from the Secret Garden
Cheers from the Secret Garden
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Our free bottle of red wine! Excellent!
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Best fish stew I’ve ever had!
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The Secret Garden – magical
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Wonderful night!

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WEEK 1 – MacDonald’s Timeshare resort – La Ermita, Mijas Pueblo – Part 2

Monday -Thinking of the grandkids today, Katie goes back to school in year 1 and Charlie has his first day in reception! Feels strange being so far away on such an important day for them 😦

The mornings in Spain seem a lot darker than in the UK at this time of year, even allowing for the added 1hr, and with the curtains closed its easy to think its earlier than it is! Got up around 9am to grey skies and damp,  we hoped it would clear like it did on Sunday but we were in and out of cloud until the afternoon so we stayed in the apartment and went to the indoor pool for a swim and then despite the weather we had to go and get some supplies!

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Indoor pool at La Ermita

Waiting for the cloud to clear was fascinating! I sat on the balcony watching the clouds rise from sea level up the mountain and hide the tops of the mountain and the valley below. Nature is wonderful!2015-09-07 09.23.08After lunch we found the local Eroski supermarket and although I used my limited Spanish to ask for the ham and cheese we needed, “Dos cientos grammas, pour favour”, the guy on the deli counter just smiled and ignored it and gave me 6 slices instead of the weight I wanted lol! Wasn’t sure how to correct him so just smiled back and took it! We had another walk around the Pueblo to see the children’s parade, as we weren’t sure of the route we didn’t get a particularly good view but in any event it wasn’t as good as the one I saw last year in Tenerife! But as usual the Spanish all joined in and there was lots of music and dancing and people just got involved, you couldn’t help but join in. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get any stills and my videos are a bit wobbly lol!

Lights ready for Feria
Lights ready for the Feria

Later in the evening our walk took us to Bar Carmen, a local tapas bar for some nice tapas of squid and fish and albondigas with Russian salad, and a free drink. It must be good because all the other people (except one table) were Spanish! Love to mix with the locals when we’re away. When we had finished we took another walk around the feria and ended up in the Muralla – a walled square where there was a concert with a group called  ‘A Compas’ who do the rounds of the local Ferias and get the audiences all up and dancing, they were brilliant! They have a facebook page –  https://www.facebook.com/A-Compas-Musical-267394626672397/timeline/?ref=ts There was also the crowning of the King and Queen of the Feria who were chosen from a group of young people from Mijas who took part in a fashion show during the evening. Was hoping to get some video of them uploaded but can’t do unless we upload to You Tube first so may add them later. It was great fun, the drinks were cheap and there was a couple from a local sherry producer giving out free sherries – would’ve been rude not to have one or two LOL! Standing room only because all the tables were taken by the proud families of the young people taking part in the competition and we finally got to bed around 2.45am very tired but very happy to have been part of it.

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