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Books and films to inspire your next trip to Spain

Books and films to inspire your next trip to Spain

Now that the clocks have gone back and the chill is setting in, it’s normal to be dreaming of Spanish sunshine and the laidback Andalusian way of life. To get your fix, you could come and visit us here on the Costa del Sol of course, and stay in one of our great holiday rentals. But if you can’t get away yet, then we’d recommend these wonderful books, which will remind you of happy holidays and may even inspire you to do something different on your next trip away.

  1. Driving Over Lemons – This book is by Chris Stewart, who was the original drummer in Genesis, and tells the tale of his experiences living in a rural mountain farm in the Alpujarras mountains, near Granada. Chris falls in love with the area and the people and takes the reader along with him, through his trials and tribulations. It’s a charming and funny read that will transport you to the sun.
  2. Under the Sun – Recommended by Belinda Beckitt in the Olive Press’ must read summer books, this is set on the Costa del Sol and tells the story of an expat escaping to live the dream in Andalucia. Things don’t quite go to plan however and she uncovers a people smuggling ring and gets sucked into the drama. The Sunday Times called it “a compulsive page turner” and it’s a very good read.
  3. Ghosts of Spain – This one is good if you like a bit of history and want to understand the civil war and how it influences modern Spain. Written by an expat journalist who adores his adopted home, he brings the history to life by meeting survivors and their families and hearing their stories.
  4. A Romantic in Spain – You will be immersed in this travelogue by French adventurer Théophile Gautier which was written to tell the story of his journey through Spain in 1840. Reading his experiences of lasting monuments and culture such as the Alhambra and Bull Fighting, will give you a fresh perspective on the past and present of this fantastic country before your next trip to Spain.

How can these books inspire your next trip?

Get the Driving Over Lemons experience by travelling slightly inland from the Costa del Sol and exploring the beautiful white villages in the hills. Villages such as Casares, Benahavis, Istan and Ojen are very close to the hustle and bustle of the coast, but give you the feeling of rural tranquillity and a close community. If you want to actually visit the Alpujarras, it’s only a few hours drive from Malaga, yet feels like a world away.

To learn more about Spain’s history and the bloodshed of the civil war, that you will read about in Ghost of Spain, take a trip from Marbella up to Ronda. This stunning city perched on a gorge is rich with the history of bull fighting, and the civil war.

Channel your inner Théophile Gautier by taking a day trip to the Malaga countryside to explore the ancient olive groves and olive oil producers, which are little changed since his time. You can also soak up the ancient Roman, Moorish and Catholic architecture in all the historic centres of the towns and villages on the Costa del Sol, as well as taking day trips to Seville, Jerez and Granada.

However you want to experience the Costa del Sol, we have a holiday rental property to suit you. We have traditional properties in rural areas, such as this enchanting 2 bedroom townhouse in the beautiful white village of Casares. To explore the historic city of Malaga and be within easier reach of Granada and the Alpujarras, while also being well connected to the rest of the Costa del Sol, Benalmadena is a good base, with rental properties down by the beach, further back in the town and in the pretty white village. The good news is that the area is relatively small and the roads are excellent, so look for a base roughly in the middle of the areas you want to visit, or ask our holiday rental experts for our insider’s knowledge.

Finding Parking on the Costa del Sol in Summer

Parking-Sign

Summer is definitely hotting up here on the Costa del Sol and tourists are pouring in from all over the world to enjoy our famous beaches, lifestyle and food. We love summer here, but one thing which causes us and our guests issues in the peak summer months is parking, so we wanted to give you some advice on how to deal with traffic and parking during the busiest times of year.

  1. Try to find accommodation with parking – If you’re planning to hire a car, or will be driving down, the best thing is to book accommodation with parking so you don’t have to worry. Also look for accommodation which has something within walking distance, such as a local shop, bar, or café, just to give the designated driver a break and to limit the need to hunt for parking.
  2. Look out for short stay blue zones – If you’re popping into town for a short time, then the blue marked bays are a good option. These entitle you to up to 2 hours of parking and are very inexpensive and because they aren’t available all day they tend to be easier to find than free or longer stay parking. Also, they are usually free over lunch (2-4pm) and after 9pm. Over the weekends there’s only a charge in the mornings on Saturday from 9-2 and after that and on Sundays it’s free. Check the nearest meter to the bay for the hours and charges.
  3. Enjoy the walk – One of the nicest things to do during the summer on the Costa del Sol is to stroll along the promenade and with that in mind, you can park further out from the centre to minimise stress and expense and take a lovely walk at the same time. Park where you can and then head to the sea and you’ll find yourself on one of the coastal paths – easy!
  4. Use the underground car parks – There are lots of very central underground car parks in the main towns and although these can be expensive, they keep the car cool, are always well located and are the most convenient option. Ask them if they have any deals for a weekly pass if you find a car park you want to use a lot, as this can be a good option.
  5. Use technology to save money – Fuengirola has recently adopted a clever way to only pay for the time you use in their blue zones. Using the app Telpark, you can say when you leave your parking space and be credited with the money that’s left over to use another time. Malaga is expected to follow suit and if successful other towns on the Costa del Sol will be sure to be quick to adopt it which will be good news for everyone.

If this all sounds like hard work on your holiday, other options are to choose a town which has everything you want in easy reach and has good public transport, such as Fuengirola. It has great shopping, restaurants and miles of blue flag beaches and it has a central train station and bus station so you can avoid needing a car. You can also cycle for miles along the seaside promenade, so hiring a bike is a great option.

We have a wide range of Fuengirola holiday rentals, with some last minute availability for this summer. But if you are hoping to travel to the Costa del Sol this summer, please contact us as soon as possible, as there’s a very high demand for quality self-catering accommodation this year

Latest news on the EHIC Card from the British Embassy

EHIC in SpainAfter the worrying reports of people who were unable to use their European Health Insurance Card last summer, the British Embassy in Madrid has taken to social media to set the record straight. They have produced a video all about the card and when you can and can’t use it, so you feel safe visiting Spain and know what to do in the event of needing medical attention.

The video has been jointly produced by the Department of Health and the British Embassy, Madrid, to explain how to use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Spain.  The EHIC can only be used in public hospitals and it entitles the card holder to any medically-necessary treatment that cannot wait until they return home. For further information, please visit www.healthcareinspain.eu. We did a helpful post on what the EHIC is last year, which can also give you some further information and if you’re still not sure, local patient advocate Cecilia Tacchi did some excellent myth busting about this fact last year and has a number of useful blog posts.

Another development which the British Embassy has been communicating recently is the fact that from 1st July the UK will no longer be reimbursing co-payments. An example of this in Spain is the 10% charge applied to pensioners for prescriptions. From July 1st 2014 you will no longer be able to claim a reimbursement of these co-payments from the UK, for treatment received after that date. For further information please visit http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC

Malaga Airport Developments

facial_recognitionMalaga airport underwent huge changes up until 2014, changing from a very basic airport where you could hardly get a coffee to one with a new striking design, great shopping, Starbucks and other good options for food, a shiny new terminal, railway station and new second runway. These changes have made travelling through the airport so much more pleasant and even in the summer months there’s spare space and capacity.

The latest development is the introduction of facial recognition software at passport control, which has removed the people checking passports and replaced them with computers. The hope is that it will speed up the checking procedure, which has always been slow and hopefully improve the customer experience for the huge numbers of people passing through the airport each year.

For more information about Malaga Airport check out http://www.malagaairport.eu

Thinking of hiring a car whilst on holiday?

Hiring a car is the perfect way to explore your holiday destination and there are many adverts, leaflets and banners scattered around the Costa del Sol with great offers on rental prices. However, it is important to note that the cheapest option is not always the best.

There can be many hidden charges such as: an extra driver, drivers under 25, child seats and excess insurance. It is particularly important to look out for fuel charges, one of the most common tricks that hire companies catch you out with is asking you to bring the car back with an empty tank of fuel which is almost impossible to do when you are only renting the car for a day or two!

The hire company will then usually add a fuel cost to your bill, which can be much more than the cost of a filling the tank yourself. It is always best to look out for a company whose policy is give the car back with a full tank of fuel, which usually won’t cost too much depending on how much you have used.

It is also important to look out for excess insurance, this is the amount that the company will charge you if you crash or damage the car and are unable to prove that it wasn’t you who caused the damage. This charge can often be very high and it is worth looking into booking extra insurance at the time of hiring to avoid having to pay out large amounts of excess  if someone else bumps into you by mistake.

But don’t let this put you off; there are lots of nice places to visit, that are only really accessible with a car, while on holiday on the Costa del Sol. As long as you do your research you are sure to find a good rental car deal. It is however, important to note that a credit card is usually required to book your car; most companies do not accept a debit card.

Why not check out our website for discounted offers on car hire and take a day trip up the winding roads to Ronda a beautiful city set in the mountains, 750 m above  sea level and a great place to spend the day taking in the views while sampling the local tapas and wine.

To view our range of Costa del Sol holiday rentals, visit our website, or contact us on 952 83 95 95.

Gibraltar’s New Airport Terminal

At last we see the successful opening of Gibraltar’s new airport terminal on the 26th November. This is great news for holiday makers planning to visit Southern Spain as they will have a better choice of flights from the UK, plus there are some excellent benefits of flying into Gibralter rather than Malaga airport. Continue reading “Gibraltar’s New Airport Terminal”

Spain’s Fast Trains

Spain has a fantastic high-speed rail network called the AVE which can whisk you from Malaga to Madrid in just 2 hours in comfort and for reasonable prices. The line has been serving Malaga, Madrid, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Zaragoza and Barcelona for the last few years.

This month it has started its route from Madrid to Valencia and will take you there in just 1.5 hours. They are trying to keep costs low to encourage more people to take the train rather than fly. They announced last month that for the new Valencia route they will be offering standard tickets for under 80€ and are also offering special discounts over the Christmas period. A route which connects Madrid to Bilbao in the North is currently under construction.

The AVE is a fantastic way to get around a country as large and varied as Spain and allows you to take day trips to some of these great cities. We did a weekend break in Madrid by train and it was a very civilised way to travel and maximised our time in Madrid. We went on the slower Talgo train, but even so it was quicker than flying when you take into consideration the travel time to and from the airport and also the check-in time.

If you speak Spanish, tickets can be bought direct from the train operator RENFE’s website http://www.renfe.com/ but it is not the most user-friendly website. RailEurope.com is in English and seems to offer good information and easy booking.

Check out our website for Spain rental accommodation if you’re planning a trip around Spain by train, plane or automobile.