Well this certainly has been an interesting holiday…
Tuesday morning we set off in two cars with our friends Karen and Dave and Karen’s parents Shirley and Cyril, on a journey to Marbella (313km). The flu has come back to me with a vengeance and so we filled the our car with loo rolls as the other four headed off in their own car. Around teatime we arrived at the Refugio De Juanar, a really nice secluded little place up in the mountains, in Ojen – just inland from Marbella, on Tuesday evening. By then the weather was not that good – it was getting cool and raining. We got ourselves settled into the hotel and had a light snack.
That evening the plan was for the 6 of us to visit our ex-neighbours, Kristine and Richard who now run a bar in Marbella itself – the “K Lounge”. It would not have surprised me if we’d had issues with our car after the last time but it was an absolute star throughout the trip – sadly Dave’s car was not quite so helpful and as we readied ourselves to head down to Marbella, it promptly gave up the ghost, the gearstick refusing to connect to anything.
Cyril and Shirley stayed at the hotel as Karen, Dave, Maureen and I went off down to make the best of things – keeping our appointment down at the coast. We had a good night, Richard is obviously enjoying his job as bar owner and we ordered an Indian meal in from one of the many nearby restaurants. Excellent despite the continued rain. Good food, drink and company.
Wednesday morning was different again – the weather was really great for the time of year. 9am on the spot a particularly miserable pickup-truck driver turned up to take their car down to the nearest garage on the coast. The trip to the coast was no more than 14km downhill and so with 4 people crammed into the back of our car we followed the rather speed-crazed driver down less than ideal roads to the dealer.
At that time, first thing in the morning the dealer had no idea how long it would take to fix the car and of course we were worried in case it was going to take all week. Cramming everyone back into our car, we headed off to a sizeable shopping centre in Marbella where we spent much of the day.
We separated up and Maureen and I had a nice relaxing lunch at a German cafe within the shopping centre, outdoors as by then the temperature was around 20c and sunny. Dave and I both agreed the centre was mainly oriented toward women – the best we could manage was an Apple store and there was nothing new in there, not even the iPad mini which clearly has not been introduced to Spain yet.
To clear up a mis-understanding about Spain – it is NOT cheap. Fuel is approaching the price we pay in the UK and anything that smacks of electrical is HORRENDOUSLY overpriced, especially when compared to the (understandably numerous) Chinese stores. In the shopping centre was a large electrical discount store – I guess the equivalent of our B&Q – I went off to look at solid-state lighting and was so horrified by the pricing I took some pics. On the left you see the price of a simple transformer – 240v mains to 12v 1amp to drive LED strip. Yes, that’s 23 Euros each. Typically on EBay you’ll see these for around £3 or so. Worse, the strip itself, which can now be found on EBay even from UK suppliers at around £10 for 5 metres (300 LEDS) was sold double-spaced – hence 300 LEDS taking up 10 metres, priced at a stunning 103 Euros – I had to take a pic to make sure my flu-infested eyes were no deceiving me. All of this leaves one wondering about the clientele of the shopping centre – which certainly would not include the 40% unemployed. Dave and I came away empty-handed but of course the women went shopping, as they do.
I spent most of the day wishing I could sleep despite excellent weather, clear blue skies and good company and by mid-afternoon we knew that Dave and Karen’s car would be fixed and ready to go at teatime at a not-unreasonable cost. 5pm we crammed back into our car and headed off to the dealer before starting off on the long trip back to Galera, arriving back here around 10.30pm, stopping on the way for dinner.
We no doubt will have another trip to see Richard and Kristine in the summer sometime, hopefully without car troubles and maybe fitting in a trip to Tangiers while we’re on. Marbella is massive and we saw only the smallest part of it.
Click on any of the pictures here to see a larger version. The panorama below was taken most likely of Ojen during one of our trips up and down.