After an early start, at 6am, we are taken to the airport by our friend and luckily the roads to North terminal at Gatwick although busy were not too bad. Although our flight wasn’t until 10am we made sure we were there by 7.30am and dropped our bags off at the Norwegian drop off point – their automatic check-in (despite having checked in on line) gave us the labels for the cases. Dropping the bags off was quick and efficient (our first time with Norwegian) and they didn’t query my CPAP bag either so that was good.

Going through security was a bit different with a couple of automatic things we’d not done before but we both went through OK. We decided to look for somewhere to have breakfast and honestly because it is a captive audience some places were really expensive so we ended up at good old Wetherspoon’s Flying Horse and had a nice breakfast butty and a cup of tea for £17.40!

What is it about the free Wifi in airports? It never seems to connect properly for me but was impressed to see lots of free charging points around.

When the flight was called we made our way to the departure lounge and realised that were were flying on a 737 (usually fly Easyjet Airbus) so it felt a bit smaller. Good seats (included in the price) and a drop down screen to show the safety information. No proper explanation of how to log on to the free Wifi and it took me about 15 mins of trying to suss it out. No in-flight magazines, the crew brought them round and we had to share with the lady in the aisle seat in our row! We had take a meal deal from Boots on with us so didn’t try their food and was surprised that they didn’t take cash, only cards! Didn’t think the crew were as friendly as the Easyjet and BA crews we’ve had in the past. We took off a bit late but nothing to worry about.

Got to Malaga and it was easy going through security , used our e-passports and had to give a finger print to exit through the barrier but didn’t take as long as we’d thought. Text Helle Hollis and the minibus was waiting for us when we reached the pick up point. Less than 20 mins later we were in our little pale green Citroen C3 and on the road and realised that it had a built in satnav (we always take our own), air con and touch screen controls for the air-con and radio and engine settings! All very new to us! As we got to the outskirts of Torremolinos we realised that the fuel tank wasn’t full (HH do full/full fuel policy) so I text them and they agreed to refund us the difference when we took the car back.

Hire car

We made our way up to Mijas Pueblo and had real problems trying to find our apartment (turns out I’d missed some attachments on the last email the owners sent me!). Picked up the keys from the key safe and eventually got into the apartment. We had booked a studio apartment – we don’t need much room for the two of us. It was over a restaurant/bar called The Fiesta which became our local during the week we were there.

They have a Facebook page –

The property was lovely and clean but they’d changed the layout and it didn’t look quite as spacious as the pictures showed, but it was nice and so we unpacked. There was air-con and a TV but we could only get new channels and you have to pay for Wifi, although the bar downstairs has free Wifi and if you sit by the window you can still, just about, pick it up! Only real problem was the beds had no bedside table and the wall light above the beds didn’t have a switch that you could reach and I had to put my CPAP on the floor and plug in the wall about 3-4ft away :(.

The apartment is in a little urbanisation which has a pretty old world look and has a swimming pool which we had a look at and it has fantastic views but, and this is a big but, if you have any mobility problems the steps up to the apartment are bad enough (I have dodgy knees 😉 ) but the pool is at the top of about 40 steep steps which I wasn’t prepared to go up more than the once (I have a problem with coming down steps too) but hey, we were there for Feria week so there was so much to do in the centre of the pueblo we didn’t need to swim.

There is very limited parking outside the apartment, if you go in and out a lot you are liable not to find a space when you come back! Parking in the multi storey in the centre is €1 a day and you can put your car into the car park for longer in the secure parking on level 7 and its still only €1 a day – we moved the car there on Thursday when we couldn’t get a space after a day out in Benalmadena.

After settling in we took a walk up into the Pueblo, and liked all the new layouts in the plazas and the two new glass lifts. Everywhere looked very festive and we were soon into the spirit of it all. Stopped off at Mayan Monkey (chocolate factory) and had an ice cream, it was nice but the pistachio wasn’t as good as our last visit.

Found that the Tuk Tuk was still running (it was gone 6pm) so we took a ride around with Natalie at the wheel, we have been to most of the places but it was good to see it from a different view and she took us to the top of the village where we could look down and see the roof tops. It should’ve been €30 for the 45 min trip but she gave us a €5 discount 🙂 result. I really do recommend this trip.

We had a beer at a little bar in Plaza de la Constitucion which was decked out in little paper lanterns all ready for the start of the feria on the 8th. Back to the Fiesta Restaurant for dinner – a fantastic BBQ platter and wine with great service.

Decided to take it easy in the evening as we’d had a long day but couldn’t wait for the Feria to begin.

BBQ Platter at Fiesta Restaurant


Late start to the morning, that hour forward makes a difference! Had a quick coffee downstairs in the bar and walked to the Tourist Office for a programme of events in English for the Feria (unfortunately, it doesn’t give a lot of information and there were things missing that we would’ve liked to have know about in advance.). Also, despite being full of tourists during the week the office was closed for the duration and although there appeared to be a kiosk that you could access by pressing buttons etc, it was difficult to know how to use it lol!

Went into the Rustic museum, which we visited last time and it was still €1 each to get in and a few new exhibits, it is really worth a look around.

Had a tapas lunch in Oscars tapas bar, John had a toastie and burned his finger on the hot ham and cheese! He should’ve had what I had – Russian Salad, Mediterranean seafood salad and garlic bread!

Then walked up to the Muralla at the top to see the views and what was going on for the feria.

Popped up into Calle San Sebastian to book our table for the 11th in the Secret Garden restaurant and then. We walked back to the apartment taking a detour to see the donkeys. I feel so sad about these poor animals, standing in hot weather with muzzles on, tied up tight to a wall, some in the shade some not, waiting to either have obese people ride them around the pueblo or to pull people around in carts (supposed to be 2 people per cart but often they have 3). Others have seen these donkeys beaten and kicked and their stables have no windows and no air vents. They are treated very badly and there are lots of people trying to effect change. Unfortunately the local town hall don’t seem to take much action. There is a vet from the local animal sanctuary who comes once a month and they now do have some shade, but they are working long hours and the owners don’t like people to complain about the treatment of the donkeys. So, I ask everyone who reads this, by all means go to Mijas Pueblo, it is fantastic, but please don’t ride the donkeys. The people who are trying to change things hope that one day only children would be allowed on them and that they will be looked after much better. Some of the things I have seen on the internet about the poor treatment makes me cry.

At around 6.45pm the children’s parade started from outside the town hall, didn’t seem as big as last time but still lots of fancy dress, princesses on a float and some Beauty and the Beast characters. There was a really strange man watching in opaque taupe tights and his bits were sort of on show, with funny hair and a stick. The local police moved him on but I seem to remember him from last time too – a local eccentric I think.

In the evening we walked back up to Oscars for a quick drink and then had a lovely meal in the Pizzeria that over looks the coast. I had fruitti de mare and John had pork fillet in a lovely Roquefort sauce followed by apple tarte and I had chocolate mousse, add a jug of sangria and we had a lovely night.

In the main square there was a huge dinner put on for the elderly of the pueblo with a lady singing to them. As it ended the Mayor presented prizes and when he left he passed by us and said Hola to me. He is a rather handsome man, ;), but I sort of wished I’d had the courage to talk to him about the donkeys.

We then went on to see the Mayor switch on the feria lights, which were really pretty and I had my picture taken with the man who demonstrates the sherry (last time we got lots of freebies, not this time 😦 ). Back to the bar at the apartment for coffee and brandy (I could get used to this!).


We decided to stay close to the apartment as we were meeting friends in Benalmadena at lunch time.

Love the drive into Benalmadena, we were meeting in Paloma Parque, with a couple of people I know through Trip Advisor, Mantalk (and his wife) and Alinbenalmadena. I’ve not posted their picture here as we Al wants to remain anonymous ;).

We had lunch in the bar near the entrance and it was great to put faces to names. After lunch we walked through the parque to move onto another restaurant Pedro de Cordobes down near the Windmill Roundabout where we were meeting friends we made a few years ago. Fiona and Ivor live and work in the area and we met them when Ivor was drummer in a local group and we just hit it off. He’s now with another couple of bands so keep an eye out for Spiders from Marbs (Bowie songs) and a punk band called The Reinfected! It was lovely to catch up with them both although it was a bit sad because Fiona had recently lost her dad.

We walked back to the car through the parque and saw the various chickens and cockerels and a rabbit running free and some beautiful hibiscus flowers. Had dinner back at the Fiesta restaurant and walked into the pueblo to see our favourite feria band A Compas! Poor John’s tinnitus was bad but he stuck it out and we had great evening watching the locals and visitors all joining in the singing and dancing.


Tonight is the night of the big parade of the Virgen de La Pena so we decided to chill a bit today and have lunch in the apartment and walk up into the Pueblo later. The top part of the Pueblo has a big area that they turn into a day fair, with bars that sell cheap drink and paella and other tasty snacks.

Today it was Spanish Pop and Rock music day, very loud and played havoc with John’s tinnitus. There was a stand from the Spanish Red Cross bringing awareness to domestic violence issues and giving out free orange coloured fans and information that would really help someone who needed to know about reporting and dealing with domestic violence. Man or woman, everyone was given a fan, we ended up with 4!

After awhile we decided that we would have our evening meal in the Pueblo and went to Bar Carmen where we’d eaten on a previous visit. Very Spanish and the food is excellent, the tapas and a drink for €9.90 was a very good deal.

Decided to keep walking around a bit longer and had an ice cream in a cafe (PlayaBajo) close to La Plaza de la Constitucion and then we found a seat to wait for the procession. It was a bit different to the one from 2 years ago but nonetheless very moving and I for one felt like a local? Brass bands, local dignitaries and locals walking in traditional dress and carrying candles and then comes the Virgen on her throne and carried high above everyone by what must’ve been at least 40 men on their shoulders. I’m not at all religious but it gave me goosebumps and a tear in my eye!

As it went on its journey around the village we moved onto a newish tapas bar called Pampa for a coffee and a brandy and to wait for it to return to the shrine, which was going to be around 1am (this was about 11pm). We sat in this very nice bar that mixed modern and vintage for about an hour and then walked up to the shrine. There were lots of people milling around and lots of young people inhaling nitrous oxide and drinking and smoking (I thought I’d left all that back in the UK!). There wasn’t any trouble with them and they seemed to be polite and respectful of the adults there. We were beginning to feel tired and decided to give it a miss and go back to the apartment and if there were fireworks (as there was 2 years ago) we would just be able to see and hear them from the apartment. We waited up till nearly 2am but no fireworks which was disappointing but never mind, there’s always another year and we’ll try and stay closer in ;).


Another easy morning, coffee downstairs in the bar and then a walk into the old part of town. The back streets of the Pueblo are full of little surprises, little bars and restaurants, view between houses down to the coast, lots of pretty flower pots, horses tied up outside house and we went to find the new fountain by the church in the Santa called the Hermitage of our Lady of The Remedies. There used to be 7 water spouts coming out of the wall but last year they decided to move them to an underground setting which you had to walk down into. On our TukTuk ride earlier in the week we’d seen it from above but it was protected because of the number of processions that would be taking place over the week. When we got there today it has a big iron plate over the top so we couldn’t see into it but the walk was lovely seeing all the decoration hanging above the streets, some made out of plastic bags looked really effective.

We walked back to the apartment after that to rest up before the “bull run”. We didn’t know what to expect so took up our place in the Plaza de la Constitucion once more and looked towards the place where there were lots of people milling around. We had no idea what was going to happen but there were children and adults with red neckerchiefs, reminiscent of the Pamplona bull run. Suddenly we heard some music being played, YMCA of all things, and then came the people running in front and around the “bulls” 3 or 4 huge “black and brown beasts”. LOL! It was fabulous, they were inflatable bulls and the Matadors in all there sparkling suits followed behind in a small cart! So glad we didn’t miss it.

Next we were looking for somewhere different to eat and got attracted into La Reja by the PR lady on the front. The building was said to be 200 years old and was very rustic inside and over looked the square where the music would be in the evening. Food was lovely, I had rabbit stew, which was wonderful and John had pork in an orange sauce, followed by a nice cheesecake and a crème Brulee Then on to the music of A Compas in the Plaza again. Just love them, quite cheesey but they get people up dancing and they play at most of the ferias along the coast. Back to the apartment because John’s tinnitus was playing up again but we had a great time.


Both of us had a bit of a dodgy tummy this morning (all those 2 and 3 course meals and alcohol we’re having taking its toll 😉 )so stayed close to the apartment for a bit. The Wifi in the apartment is pay as you go so we try to make use of the Wifi from downstairs in the bar but it is intermittent and annoying!

After lunch we both felt better but my eyes had started running (think I got some sunscreen in them) so we spent part of our walk around the Pueblo looking for an open Farmacia (avoiding the Parafarmacia which is a health food and very expensive option). There were churros and chocolate in the day feria area at 6.30pm but we never made it up there as my eyes were so bad. Found the Farmacia near to the apartment was open and got some eye-drops that worked really quickly.

Had a lovely meal downstairs in Fiesta bar followed by coffee and brandy and restaurant and an early night.


Last day in the Pueblo, eyes a lot better but now John’s shoulder is hurting! LOL! A pair of old crocks comes to mind!

After morning coffee at Fiesta, we went off to the Pueblo to check on the donkeys. I belong to a Facebook group that is fighting for the rights of the donkeys and I promised I’d have a look at how they were doing. During the week I’d not seen any bad treatment but they did look extremely unhappy and didn’t have much shelter and a couple of them had very dipped backs.

We walked up to the Pueblo to do some shopping, chocolate from Mayan Monkey, and some more of their ice cream (John had the Malaga wine one and I had turron). The fairground was in the process of being dismantled and loaded onto the lorries and trailers, it was sad to see it all going. We stopped for a drink at Los Arcos and after a walk around we returned for lunch and them made our way back to the apartment to change for the evening.

On our last visit we ate twice at The Secret Garden restaurant and it was fabulous but had seen some rather disappointing reviews lately. As usual the place is magical and the menu inviting. We ordered our meals, I had the pork cheeks that I had had before and John had a well done steak. We had a nice bottle of rose wine and dessert was cheesecake that was lovely followed by one of their Baileys coffees. Perfect end to a great week in the Pueblo, except the service wasn’t as good as our previous visit. We had a waitress at the beginning but then a waiter came along then another waitress who took our dessert order and it never came till we mentioned it. We noticed that all the staff were working lots of tables rather than concentrating on the ones they started with. However, the food was still good and we would go again 🙂

We then took a slow walk back through the Pueblo and had a final coffee and brandy at Fiesta before going up to finish packing (I now realise I brought too much again!). . Little did I realise till I was unpacking in our next stop that I’d lost one of my jackets somewhere in the Pueblo 😦 ).

Early start tomorrow, pick up the car from the car park and off to Dona Lola at Calahonda..


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!

John’s chocolate making – can’t find pic of my effort but it wasn’t so neat lol!
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!
Best fish stew I’ve ever had!
The Secret Garden – magical
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!

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 – 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.


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

Saturday 5 September 2015

Getting up at 2.30am to go to the airport, don’t you just love early starts! Our friend Dave took us  and checked in on-line 24hrs before so boarding passes on our phones and when we got to the airport we printed off our own bag tags and took them to the bag drop. It all went really smoothly, was already liking the BA effect! Take off was at 6.50am and we sat back and enjoyed the flight with a nice breakfast brioche and muesli yoghurt etc. Excellent seats (leather and nice and wide!) and quite comfy. After an uneventful flight we touched down at Malaga Airport and our holiday began, there was supposed to be a baggage handlers’ strike but if there was, it didn’t affect us and we got through quite quickly.

We made our way to the pick up area and took the mini bus to the Helle Hollis depot to pick up our Opel Corsa Turbo car, it was a great little car and was so much better than the Skoda we had last time. It really impressed John LOL! Driving up towards Mijas Pueblo was an experience though as the sat nav took us up a windy route but it was all part of the holiday and gave me (at least) the chance to savour the views of the coast as we got higher and higher and started to recognise places along the way.

We had exchanged our last timeshare week into La Ermita which is owned  MacDonald’s Leisure Resorts and is set on the side of the mountain with stunning views over Fuengirola and beyond. Although we had exchanged into one apartment (no.8), as we didn’t own with MacDonald’s,  we were allocated another one (no.25), but it was nice and with great views so we were happy. Wifi was €19.95 per week and we did pay for it because we weren’t sure of the Wifi available in bars in the Pueblo and the first day weather was a bit suspect so thinking we may spend a lot of time in the apartment we decided it would be worth it. We wouldn’t normally pay that much for wifi as its a bit of a rip off but in the end they didn’t charge us for it!


Why are we waiting?
John waiting to be served!
John waiting to be served!







Saturday afternoon the weather began to brighten up, so we had a walk around the Pueblo to get our bearings and see what was going on, but we mainly chilled (after an early start to get the flight we were very tired!) and so we had lunch in the La Ermita restaurant. Big mistake! Although the tapas we had been nice, the service was appalling! 45 mins to get served, and being Brits we didn’t complain! We didn’t see many other people there for lunch but as it was changeover day we weren’t surprised.

As we were exhausted we decided to eat in the resort again in the evening. Another big mistake! We sat down at a table on the balcony and waited to be served After a little while we could hear the people on the table by us complaining that the food wasn’t quite what they ordered and was cold, the waitress had no idea about what the menu was so it was no wonder their order was confused! John ordered a special burger and fries and I ordered a goats cheese and ham pizza. 35 mins later it arrived, so burned on the bottom that it was charcoal! I complained to the waitress who said she would get me a new one. I wasn’t prepared to wait again for food so said I would share John’s fries, I would’ve played the diabetic card but decided against it. They did apologise and gave me a free Malibu and cola light which was something but it certainly put us off eating there again.