After living in Spain for well over twenty eight years now you could say I have seen some remarkable changes.
If you have every read any of my blogs before, you will know what I am an East Midlander that came over to the Costa del Sol with my Dad and Stepmum to open a bar and basically start a fresh.
That didnt mean I was going to leave England behind. My Mum and brothers are still back over there and so are some very important friends and people I have met when going back and forth there.
I have been privelaged to be able to go back a few times a year sometimes and people have nipped over a lot also. One that did manage to come over sometimes every three months was my Dad Roy, who we sadly lost almost three years ago. Our journey would finally lead us in the early 1990s to Montemar next to the Hotel Pez Espada- The Gulls Bar which we subtitled Roy, Dot and Ali on the top of it, placing our mark.
Why did we call it The Gulls Bar? Many had asked us over that four year period that we had the bar and the answer is very interesting - We DIDN´T change it, it was called that before and it cost around a thousand quid to change the name back then so we just kept it!! We took over the lease from a couple that had been there for a year and it seemed the perfect place to be.
We added our own trademark, had new boards painted with our menu from a lovely lady called Gwyneth who her and her husband had already lived in the area, his name was Neville with his big beard who we nicknamed Father Christmas. They were retired and went round the bars doing quizzes for them and they also did one for us.
We were only a small bar with a small terrace but we were a friendly bar that did breakfasts, toasted sandwiches. jacket spuds and other snacks from a little kitchen behind the bar where everyone could see us cook.
Sometimes I dont know how we did it in the summer with the heat and people coming in and out. The worst thing was when you were caught unawares on your own and had to take orders, serve drinks, cook the food, be chatty to the customers and
take their money all at the same time. I was only young then, 19 years old and you just panicked slightly under you breath and then just DID IT!
So we did our thing. We had plastic bar mates printed out, matches and cards all with our names on and the bar, and I drew a little seagull on the card. Bits and bobs of merchandise just like George Lucas did with Star Wars except it was all giveaways and no T Shirts - I still have some of it.
We started doing video film nights and got Sky Tv in where I started watching The Simpsons when it was quiet. We bought a couple of mics and did our own version of Karaoke at night times that people loved.
We REALLY DID make the customers welcome, we had some great ideas - I started doing my own quizzes which helped me come out of my shell a lot. We did the porron thing with the red wine that you poured into peoples mouths from a fair height and saw how long they could do it for. We has people come back to us. we used to buy people a cake from a proper bakery when it was their birthday and I think we did a hell of a good job of making people have a good time. I had help in the evenings, we had three people work with us over that time. Two girls Mandy and Janet who were lovely looking and sweet and the crazy David who was a bit of a character.
So Roy and Dot did the day times and covered my day off and I did the night times and covered their day off.
When I finished at around two or three in the morning I loved to go and visit other bars. On my shift, at that time you would get bar owners in our bar also who had closed up and come in to either be nosey or just do the rounds, mainly it
was to see if you were busy and they hadnt been. As well as other nicer bar owners that would nip down, the odd local that had other businesses and the local pissheads.
I had my rent paid and my food - most of the time I would nip down the bar in the morning anyway to see them and eat there. Most times I would just take 1000 pesetas out
with me - the days when a bottle of beer was only 100 pesetas or less and I would only drink beer anyway.
I would go down the Montemar strip that has changed SO MUCH now. I always say to myself even though we took a lot of photos of people at the bar I wished I had taken photos of the Montemar bars and restaurants as well. I would go past Pepe´s Bar on the corner. I guy was sort - of - ok but he would stand on the corner opposite the hotel and try and grab new customers before they came up the side road to us. Most people would laugh at his efforts and come to us anyway. Loads came past us and went to The Pink Elephant if it was past 11 as that was a disco pub and thats where the owner got lots of Icelantic people drinking shots and dancing, that was a pretty cool place then and the owner John was a great guy. He spoke Icelantic and got lots of Irish in.
His wife worked in tourism as a rep so she got a lot of people to go there and the two lads that worked with them were great guys.
Karaoke I loved back then and I would go along to a pretty cool bar called Stringfellas that just did drinks but got very popular.
Its hard to remember a lot of the bars names now. The Half Moon was there on the main strip and then I would go onto my favourite place. A square that was dubbed 24 hour square above the Benalmadena Costa - Puerto Marina.
Plaza Sol y Mar. There wasnt really many places to go to in the Marina in the early 90s, everyone went to 24 hour square and it was BUZZING most of the year but obviously mainly in the summer.
These places had something for everyone. Karaoke, there was Borsalino Palace, a huge disco where anyone was welcome and the drinks were not bad priced. You had Mr Jules which was one of my favourite bars. Met some lovely people there, a great place to meet new people it was.
Kiu was also there, very well known indeed that always got packed and was still running right up til a couple of years ago I think. Gina´s Bar was the TOP bar there that I found. Gina was a lovely cockney lady, large built and very welcoming. She was a right laugh and drinks were cheap. The main thing
was you were welcomed and it felt like home right from the first day I stepped into the bar. After Gina´s I would go to a burger bar where they did the burgers with a fried egg on the plancha, lovely stuff.
I went back there just over a year ago in the daytime on a Sunday and the place had changed. There was a Linekars Bar, the original one I know opened up in Fuengirola years ago and was started up by
Gary Linekar´s brother so not sure if this one was or not. The general state of the place was saddening. It broke my heart to see a place I loved so much basically abandoned!! How could something like this occur?
And just the other day I passed by there again, trying to keep myself from getting too emotional. This place but meaned so much to me treated like an abandoned dog, left to just worsen. It really got to me.
The places we used to have porron cocktails, the jugs that we used to have in the bar that we poured into customers mouths to see how long they could swallow, were all closed up and dust everywhere.
I dont know if on a weekend they open some of the bars like Mr Jules or the bars opposite where Kiu used to be but this place was busy all the time in the 90s.
The McDonalds that used to be there in the beginning of the naugties is now a large bar, which I think may do well and I saw another large bar opposite that only opened on a weekend. WHY???? So much money is put into stupid things these days.
I mentioned it on Facebook a week or so ago and I was told by a mate there Maihri that it was money badly spent too. Bad administration. I think that is shameless and shocking.
Rich politicians with stupid wages getting even more richer. I agree that money should be spent on buildings and new hotels. The coast is popular again even with Brexit trying to scare the crap out of us.
Get it sorted!! Brexit and places like 24 hour square. I AM BEGGING YOU.
I live in Málaga and there, no matter what time you go for a walk. Weekdays or Weekends, Málaga is so busy. All year round. What they did in Málaga with places like Muelle Uno, new museums, new bars and cool places with great views of the city - they did with style
and they did things for all kinds of people, the young and the old. They made Málaga something very original and classy.
Thats what the politicians should do for 24 hour square. Get their heads into gear and do something for their citizens and for the tourists.
I only I won the lottery and had the cash to buy that area!! Sounds crazy but if you knew me then you would think that was pretty normal with me.
Ali with another crazy idea!! But thats how things get done and its always worth a try, ANYTHING, SIMPLE AS! The GOOD thing that came out of all of this though was the magic of Facebook. There was me talking about my past and my bar and then I got a surprise message from Dennis (in the photo with me and Janet above) - he still came to the coast and we met for a few beers. Cool!!
I KNOW that I will get mixed feelings about the topic that I chose for this blog.
I KNOW that I will get some angry comments from a lot of people with this but this is just MY opinion.
We all know if we are dog owners - I am not a dog owner - the right way to go about walking your dog on the streets right?
Your pet needs exercise and dogs have to do their number ones and twos when they are walking with their owners.
Ok nobody tells the owner that they should take a mop and bucket with them when their animal pees on the ground, up a post or on a car tyre but obviously
a respectful dog owner takes with them little plastic bags and maybe plastic gloves for them to clean up the mess.
There are some funny looking contraptions around that you tie onto your doggies bum while they are walking around but the poor animal must be uncomfortable with them on.
The main thing is that most people know what they have to do.
So my concern about dog owners leads me to when they take them to the beach.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach FULL STOP.
There are signs that tell you this and even if you dont understand spanish 100% then the symbol with a dog´s head with a line through it means No Dogs.
Don´t get me wrong even though I do not own a dog I do like them and I always support peoples posts on Facebook concerning animal rights, I HATE bullfighting too!!
BUT dog owners have to understand that a beach is for people to go to and lie on the sand or like in Málaga where I go for a walk at Playa La Malagueta there are grass areas
with palm trees.
Yes I did take a couple of photos to prove that people take their dogs to the beach just to prove my point, but not too close for people to ask me
why I was taking them.
When the owner gets to the beach - I have seen this many times - they let the dog off their leash. So not only should they not be there but
the dog is allowed to run around and do their business all over the place.
OK like I said before MAYBE they take bags with them and clean up the numbers twos but when a dog pees around the grass area and up the trees you have to
realise that a person may lay in that area or sit against a tree even in winter when we have a clear warm day.
It frankly makes me cringe.
So i am going to round this blog off now and i am interested to hear your opinions in the comments box below.
Feel free to have a dig at me too if it upsets you.
We all have our own ideas and i will repeat that I like animals.
But please please a little consideration. There should be a fine and maybe there is.
They should no doubt create areas for dogs to run along the beach, separate from the rest of the beach - this is true.
In parks in Málaga there are special areas to walk your dog.
I am just a person blogging with a point of view.
After living in Spain 26 years life has it´s ups and it´s downs. We have good days and bad days like you would anywhere else.
Normally though things get sorted. we find the energy to pick ourselves up and carry on the best we can.
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about a young lady called Natasha Lynch.
Natasha is a vibrant, friendly and caring 22 year old, originally from Liverpool, England, who has been living in Costa Blanca Spain for the past 4 years. Everyone who meets her warms to her immediately due to her sunny disposition, beautiful smile and absolute positivity.
In January 2014, having just gone to the UK after she had been working as a Children’s Rep in Egypt, Tasha was struck down by meningitis.
Thankfully, she survived this but it has left her with not 1, not 2 but 3 debilitating illnesses, which have transformed her life. They are:
Hemiplegic migraines are basically the most excruciating headache that you could ever imagine. Far, far worse than a migraine! Along with the pain, it causes paralysis on one side of the body, similar to the symptoms of a stroke. Also, when Tasha has one of these episodes, she has dreadful seizures which leave her weak and exhausted. You can find more information on Hemiplegic Migraines here:
Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune disorder that causes weakness in the ocular, bulbar, limb, and respiratory. Tasha struggles to breathe and relies on oxygen most of the time as her respiratory muscles are too weak to ensure breathing! Extraordinarily frightening, especially for one so young! Also, her left eye is permanently closed. More info on this illness here:
Transverse myelitis is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation across both sides of one level, or segment, of the spinal cord. The segment of the spinal cord at which the damage occurs determines which parts of the body are affected. Tasha is mainly affected in that she can feel nothing below her waist. More information on Transverse Myelitis can be found here:
Both Myasthenia Gravis and Transverse Myelitis have left Tasha with major disabilities.
In October 2015, she was rushed in to Torrevieja Hospital with breathing difficulties and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, where she spent the next 5 weeks fighting for her life. She was suffering from Myasthenia Crisis, a critical stage that was trying to stop her lungs from working.
Despite all of this, Natasha has still kept her positive attitude and sense of humour. Prior to being taken into hospital, she insisted on working, although she tired easily, and was working latterly at The Final Whistle in La Marina Urbanisation, which she loved.
Natasha finally came home on Monday 22nd February following almost 4 months of being in hospital and a rehabilitation centre.
Although she is now at home and we have managed, thanks to generous donations and fundraising events, to purchase a specialised wheelchair, a BPAP MACHINE, which basically helps her to breathe while asleep, therefore, allowing her lungs to rest enough for her to breathe more easily during the day time, and a portable BPAP machine so that, in time, Tasha will be able to go out without the fear of not being able to breathe.
On top of these major items, other changes have been made at home, such as bathroom aids and a ramp to allow her to get the scooter into her home. This is all without the medication required just to keep her stable!
There is still a long road ahead and Natasha has absolutely no feeling from the waist down and struggles to hold her head up unaided. She has a little more mobility in her arms and has been taught breathing techniques to make it easier for her to talk as well as breathe!
Tasha will still need physiotherapy for a long time to come but it was felt that she would be happier at home. At present Tasha needs 24 hour care and will need more equipment at home to make life easier for her and her dad, Andy, and step-mum, Dawn.
Natasha’s Dad, Andy, set up a GoFundMe Account at the beginning of January in the hope that funds could be raised to purchase the wheelchair and BPAP machines but, as she will need more equipment, we are keeping the fund going for the time being, especially as there are already more events planned.
The link can be found here if you wish to make a donation.
The text above has been copied from a Facebook page and that part of the blog I cannot take credit for. This is just an appeal if you can to help her if you possibly can by donating.
Most people I talk too are from the Andalucia area but the idea of SpainLINKED is to link each other together, anywhere you are in Spain.
Thank you for reading.
Sarah Granger - Benidorm half marathon
Sarah Granger is running a Benidorm half marathon on 27th November.
Here´s Sarah´s message:
I'm running Benidorm half marathon on 27th November for a stranger hence granger running for stranger. Tasha lynch is a beautiful young girl who needs funding for medical equipment etc I have never met tasha but read all about her and wanted to do something for someone I didn't know a kind gesture so please can you also help a stranger and a stranger granger!!! Thank you in advance xxx
Christmas Variety Show
On my many walkabouts around Málaga you see many changes from one day to another.
Old buildings have their insides ripped apart leaving just the front and the sides left, so that the original face of the building isn´t tampered with.
Buildings that were once people´s homes in the old part of Málaga especially Calle Carretería, that have been converted into hostels for tourists looking
for a more adventurous holidays, older couples with money to spend and back packers that come into Málaga maybe to stay a few days or find their
feet in Málaga by doing a summer job or setting up their own little enterprise.
Some of the buildings have been left perhaps as they ran out of money to carry on and are waiting for an investor; I believe if anyone has money and a dream then
Málaga is a wonderful city to invest in looking by the amount of people you see in the centre at all hours.
The bars and restaurants are hustling, there is something there to eat and drink for all tastebuds. Irish bars, English bars with language exchange, food from all over the world.
As you walk around and about the buildings I mentioned, some of them have been bricked off and whitewashed. This has provided canvases for many an artist. There is one that seems to have
done at least three, two near the famous bar in Málaga called Pimpi and the other in Calle Granada where I know of a nice bar that sells cheap beer that sadly the last time I
went by a couple of days ago has been white washed over.
Around the area called Soho between Avenida Alameda and the port area the barrio here is called Soho. This is a pedestrianised area that leads to either to the Plaza de la Marina or to beginning of
Muelle Uno. As you get towards the theatre here and take a left in most of the streets you will see countless street art by many an artist. Some cover entire sides of buildings and other are low down on street
level but are just as impacting as the larger masterpieces. Being the city where probably the most famous artist was born, Picasso, you can imagine what his thoughts would be.
He would be amazed at the talent and him himself would get up there and do his own thing if he was still alive today.
Sometimes change is good, you need to give a fresh look to some of a city. But I think it is a huge shame when you have a wondrous building well over a century old and you convert it into something completely different, a big shame.
Like I said some of them are being restored to their old self but you can imagine the history each one has had, the people that have lived and worked in them. What used to be a huge store called Felix Saenz has been converted in apartments and just one shop below it, not far is another building from the same owner that they seem to be refurbishing. The Larios shopping area was once a factory for Larios Gin and had lots of land with gardens and
all that has been taken away. Just like the fantastic painting that some person did a year or so ago which has now vanished and can only be seen in the photos people too of it.
Recently I had family over and to see anything here in Spain you normally have to do quite a lot of walking.
One of the family members decided to hire out a mobility scooter because they had problems walking with a knee problem they have, hopefully they will get a partial or full knee replacement towards the end of the year.
So the best thing I thought would to look online and see what there was to offer and where mobility scooter businesses we located also in case I had to pick
one up. It didn't have to be the most expensive and one that was a 4x4 all terrain, it was just to get from A to B without having to walk.
The problem, I thought would be that the boot of my Nissan Micra was never going to be big enough for a scooter even if it got folded up and IF you could fold it up, So i needed one delivered.
Between three or four companies I chose one that wasn't too far from the apartment where I needed it delivered to. 3 days for 40€, 10€ delivery and 50€ deposit.
So I thought great, this will do them perfectly. It seemed easy to book as there was an online form to fill in and you paid on the day the scooter arrived.
I started to fill out the form, Name, Passport number etc etc and when I filled out the address I went down to the next box down and the whole form went blank, it completely erased all the information that I put in - Great! So I did it another time, then tried another web browser and just as I was becoming a tad peed off I decided to take a different approach and started just filling in the address for it to be delivered too - at the bottom of the form and then the name and passport number at the top. Hallelujah it worked!
So I clicked on send and I got a message saying that my mobility scooter had been reserved and i got an email confirming the reservation.
The morning came that the scooter was going to be delivered but I hadn't been sent a definite confirmation typed by a human being saying that everything was alright so I proceeded to email them. Luckily they got back to me and I mentioned that their form could have been easier to fill in
as I use web forms on my website SpainLINKED and they could add the option of paying with PayPal and credit/debit card to the form also, prepayment.
What I didnt expect back was a pretty snotty and sarcastic reply saying "Well you´ll know how to fill in the form the next time" - the whole email typed in caps which seemed like they were shouting at me. I don't know maybe I was imagining things, I just let it go and waited for the thing to get delivered.
Another thing was that I tried to fill in the form to be delivered at 11am, a good time in the morning, but the bloody form changed the time to 9am so I thought oh ok then. In the human confirmation I was told that the scooter wouldn't get to me before 12.30pm. The scooter arrived at 1.
So the guy came, he was spanish, spoke very little english but I spoke to him in spanish anyway and he told us basically how it worked and how you recharged it at night. He left a plasticated piece of card that looked like a menu in four languages with basic information and what you did if the thing packed up and that you got a fine if it wasnt charged up fully when it was picked up. It was fully charged he said.
So cool, we had our mobility scooter, I managed to get it in the lift, folding down the seat, steering it to the farest end of the lift and squeezed myself to the side of it to get in the lift too. Someone had to push the button.
We came out of the apartment block and the family member sat down, the chair as very good, the arm rests went up and the chair swivelled around so it was easier to sit on and off we went on our merry way.
The main reason we got one was in case they needed one in the UK when they got back, they had to order taxi´s a lot to go shopping and they wanted to get around and about their town with ease.
The flat pavements was a doddle, the speed gauge went from tortoise to hare and it picked up quite a speed, even I had a go. The only problems at this stage we the odd bit of pavement that was inclined and the driver felt they were going to go on their side but they got the knack of it.
Right so this was where the fun began. To get to the beach area we had to go down a fairly steep slope and narrow pavement. So the idea was to keep a steady speed, try not to fall onto the road, try not to hit lampposts and as a learner mobility scooter and above all not to hit people.
We got to the bottom and they had to get off at one point because it was impossible to go around the inclined corner, imagine if they were on their own and couldn't get out and walk a bit?
Finally it as time to go back and back up the hill. We thought the best thing to do was to cross over the road where the pavement was perhaps a tiny bit wider and progressed to go upwards. Well we got half way and the scooter started going very very slow, like the tortoise on the dial - maybe
the hare had fallen asleep. So I thought never mind, obviously with the weight of the person and the steepness it was bound to go a bit slower.
We got halfway up and the thing just stopped. It was like the emergency brakes had come on. Also the strange thing was that the guy said that it was fully charged and the battery lasted 3 hours - the needle on the scooter was still on full after an hour and a half!
Something was wrong here. This was all Go and then you had to Push!
We tried switching it off and on again, different speeds and even getting off to see if it would go any faster. Could you imagine anyone that couldn't walk having to do this?
It went faster with no weight but what was the point of that? It just wasn't powerful enough and the needle was still stating it was at its max.
Eventually we made it bit by bit to the top and we were 40 minutes late to meet someone for lunch.
Even when we got to a flat service it had problems going up the slightest of ramps now, I do not even think the scooter was fully charged in the first place, or it was faulty and a dodgy gauge.
The scooter just went dead slow like the bloody tortoise. This time we knew it was fully charged up because it had been plugged in all night.
Maybe it was my fault for pushing the scooter to its very limits but I did say - maybe 30 times - "Surely it's powerful enough!"
When we got back to the apartment I checked the menu to see if it had a big warning message to say - this thing is crap and doesn't go up hills!!
It did mention that if it stopped you had to switch off and on again and press the reset button. This would be all well and good if we knew where it was.
Anyway the day came for the guy to pick it up. This time it was a dutch or french guy that started speaking spanish then said he didn't speak a lot of it.
That was ok because I knew english as well. I mentioned everything and he said that for hills you need to put the speed right now and it goes perfectly.
At the end of the day I just said Ok, and thought maybe it was my fault - again - that I found the steepest hills and the scooter worked perfectly.
It was reasonably cheap and it wasn't a 4x4 all terrain as I mentioned before so i swallowed my pride and let it go.
The damn thing was taken away and the nightmare was over.
Whether one will be hired now in the UK, the pavements are as flat as flat can be and the motor of the mobility scooter is tuned up and it has monster truck wheels, well that's another story gals and guys!
Blog by Alistair Watts
As a lot of you guys know i do what I can do promote Málaga as much as possible. Not just because I live here but because Málaga has so much to offer these days.
In Calle Larios they are celebrating right now 50 years of Spain and Málaga´s most popular lager - San Miguel.
So much has changed since the beer came out. Tourism boomed, people bought houses all over Andalucia, then things went quiet and the recession hit us all. But tourism in Spain thrived again and this summer the province of Málaga was one of the most visited.
With me being on my hols from my full time job and yesterday organising my first proper meet for SpainLINKED, bringing together some of the nicest people I have met in my life and feeling proud of what I had achieved - I have more time to go what i called them - Walkabouts.
I am a big fan of taking photographs as well as some of you may know from our chats on Facebook or from you reading my older blogs. Photography is a passion of mine and although i do not posess a proper camera I do have that handy device called a smartphone.
I love to document as much as possible and have lately uploaded more photos and videos to Instagram also, as well as Facebook and Twitter. You could say everything that i do, or
put on my website SpainLINKED for other people gets posted vigourously. Yes i am a post freak!!
I believe in continuous contact with people and in keeping SpainLINKED updated as much as possible.
Anyway back to the theme of the blog. The Future of Málaga is bright. There are so many projects and extensions of projects going on around the city it's pretty amazing.
First of all is the next stage of the Metro, Málagas Underground system that has been running for a while now and is being extended further into the city centre and other urban areas.
Some of it will overground via tranvia - tram - and underground of course.
The stretch of line going past El Corte Inglés going on towards the Avenida Alameda is changing the landscape quite dramatically.
Half of the bridge has now been chipped away very carefully and slowly and now only half of it is left. I will be no doubt updating people with photos in another blog as the work progresses
as well as the other two projects I will mention here but see for yourself in the photos I took - and if you know the bridge and what it was like before - what a huge change has been done.
From another smaller bridge further towards the football stadium - La Rosaleda you can see just below the Ibis hotel an underground pass for cars that has been cut off, from the photo
of that it looks like a scene from The Walking Dead!
The second project is a larger big wheel than the Mirador Princess that came to a halt to move onto another city that they are going to build in Málaga´s port. The Mirador Princess
which I had the pleasure of going on is 70 metres tall. The new Ferris wheel be 100m, taller even still and reached via the ferry terminal roof opposite where the Mirador Princess still stands.
The name of the new wheel will be Estrella de Alborán - Star of the Alboran Sea. The company involved in the new wheel is the same as the present one - Mederyt.
Estimated costs to build the wheel and improve the general area is 40 million euros. A meeting held place at the end of July to discuss the idea and costs and for now it seems
that the project has a political go ahead.
FFinally the third project is believe it or not, bigger even still. 35 metres taller to be exact. A project that could create around 1,300 jobs during construction and when completed a further 350 when the project opens.
The Qatari group are bringing hopefully if all goes well an exciting set up on the furthest side of the port, past the lighthouse and near the Maritime Station where the big cruisers go from.
A new skyscraper hotel, 135 metres tall with a casino and shopping area. It will house a restaurant, auditorium, 280 standard rooms, 20 superior rooms,
24 standard suites, 16 superior suites, 12 royal suites, spa and gym. 35 floors in total. The developers feel confident that all permissions with be granted midpoint of next year. Work could begin at the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018. Construction is expected to last around two and a half years giving a opening date during the year 2020.
To spend a night there though wouldn't be for the people
that come to Andalucia with a rucksack on their back or an average couple or family.
A night at the hotel could cost you between 300 and 600€ a night. So time to save up and treat yourself guys!!
Gallery - Photos by Alistair Watts - Artist impressions above courtesy of Sur in English
Ok maybe I made the mistake of trying to do a meet on a Tuesday morning when most people are working?
That´s fine and it's all part of the process of trying to setup events for my website SpainLINKED.
It was going to be a walkabout where people could discuss what they liked and above all it was going to be fun!!
Some people said it as a bit far but there are all kinds of transport going into Málaga at intervals of 20 to 30 minutes and there is an great bus service too.
One comment that did molest me quite a bit is that "Lots of people don´t like Málaga".
Ok maybe it's not everybody's cup of tea but a lot of people haven't even visited Málaga PROPERLY. They have maybe gone into the shopping areas - El Corté Ingles, Vialia,
Málaga Plaza, Larios Centro etc and just gone to have a look at the shops.
I could not praise Málaga enough, I feel like Antonio Banderas - I may not look anything like him though - talking about how wonderful his city is. Because I have to say
and as scary as it sounds I have spent more years of my life living in Spain and almost have of those years in Málaga city.
I enjoy so much doing a circuit of Málaga - that I was hoping to share with people and will not give up on trying to do a meet at Málaga again in the future - each street
and square has so much character and within those streets, especially Calle Larios there as I have told you before in a recent blog that there are many musicians and various acts -
human statues, comedy acts, acrobats and the one I like so much and is so very well done is a guy i´ve seen doing one of the BEST Jack Sparrow impressions!!
It's all there, the costume is SPOT ON, the makeup is uncanny and the guy is about the same height as Johnny Depp and as a huge fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean films
it just makes you stop and stare and take it all in. The guy is South American going by his accent, it's all done in spanish, but then again he doesn't talk much.
It's the whole act itself - the walk, the mannerisms, the hand movements and the whole thing put together - as you can see for yourself it's uncanny!
I had to go over, put a coin in his box and shake his hand and say to him in spanish "Very well done mate!! Muy bien hecho - Amazing!! De puta madre"
It's that time of year again!! It's August, it's the 15th and yesterday i took off into Málaga centre again for the Málaga Fair with the family.
The good thing is that everything is walking distance for me and when you're tired or had a few Cartojals - the sweet white wine that you typically drink at Málaga fair as well as of course a few beers to start with - but if you do try this guys then be careful not to mix
the both of them too much.
If you do that you'll have a rather sore head the next day!!
I got to the Plaza de Constitución maybe around half past 12 - midday and it was pretty quiet. A few people were just coming into the square
- the San Miguel tent was setup with its attractive young females behind the bar but there wasn't any music playing yet, so I decided to move on towards La Plaza de la Merced and purchase a large bottle of Cartojal and no it wasn't just for me!!
So as we approached the square we heard the sound of beating drums, there stalls selling crafts and other items such as clothes and souvenirs.
A guy I had seen before was sitting at a wheel - a car wheel - spinning it around and making little plates where he wrote your name on it and gave it to you for free. Obviously the idea was to give him a couple of coins, a great idea to make a bit of money.
So we heard the drums start up again and a crowd formed to watch a group of young people playing the drums.
As you can see in the video they were pretty amazing, with great rhythm and full of energy.
Time to move on and see what else was happening, the city was getting busier by the minute now. We carried on walking now to Calle Granada and into Plaza Carbón, hear we heard a band start up, pretty full setup with a volume which was just right for this little square.
The band played while we were there 2 songs before taking a break, they had obviously been playing there already for an hour or so.
The name of the band, a cover band is called funfiction and we heard their version of Bob Marley's - Everything's gonna be alright.
As you can see in the video below they are damn good!! Apologies for the audio, not best quality.
Erm and yeah that's me singing in the background...
Next, a change of tempo and they started up with Michael Jackson's - Billie Jean, a fantastic cover of a popular song. The guys certainly got the people singing and dancing to this one, including me. Also checkout Mr Balloon man!!
As funfiction rested, you could see the fair was livening up in the streets of Málaga, groups of people played their own music. A bunch of men were stood on tiny balconies above a bar just a few metres from where the lads were playing and the drink was going down well and the people were having a great time without being a nuisance to anyone else.
Later on after eating we journeyed back along from La Malagueta, through Muelle Uno and back to the Plaza Carbón to see what was going on and the streets
we so packed that you could hardly move. Things were getting pretty crazy!
And I was trying to fill an empty bottle from an empty barrel..... Doh!!
The city of Málaga is becoming more and more popular with tourists both coming in to the airport and by sea landing in Málaga´s port.
I am Alistair Watts, the owner of the website SpainLINKED and I have lived in Spain 26 years now, 15 or more of them in Málaga itself.
Each year the town hall of Málaga come up with new, exciting ideas to attract more and more visitors.
We have seen the amount of museums grow, Muelle Uno - which is the restaurant/shop area of the port become something spectacular, guided tours of some of Málaga´s most
important landmarks such as the Catedral - where now you can visit the top part of the famous tower - La Bodega, not forgetting the Mirador Princess, Europe´s largest
itinerant 70 metre ferris wheel which I had the pleasure of going on last month - which will later be taken over by one 30 metres bigger.
The great thing about when you walk around the many streets of the city is that you have plenty of beaches to sit on to rest. When i walk around Málaga i like to change my route slightly,
although I always like to pass the same areas.
I start from where I live which is very close to the Plaza Bailen (Bailen square where there is an indoor market) and work myself down to Calle Pelayo towards where El Corte Ingles is or
head towards a hotel called Málaga Centro, Calle Marmoles (Marmoles Street) which used to be a big shopping centre - Almacenes Merida.
Then i cross the river, a mainly dry river but with character where people play on skateboards and play ball games.
After that i would go right along sometimes to the Cathedral area, Roman Theatre or towards Calle Larios, the pedestrianised street which now has large coverings, shading the whole area making it more pleasant.
It's Calle Larios where you can find a range of different performers from live statues, acrobats the odd times but above all musicians.
I don't think there has ever been a time when I haven't seen anyone playing music or singing. From classical to rock you can see sometimes and as you wander further into Málaga every now and then you will see more and more street music, many stop - like me - for a good amount of time and relax and forget about everything and just take the melodies in.
The first video here is of a duo that I filmed with my smartphone and although the audio is pretty bad you can see the talent they have. The mix of acoustic guitar and the
amazing vocals of the female singer. I had seen them before but I wanted to stay longer this time, I think it was almost 20 minutes and after that time I thought I would go over there and ask who they were and congratulated them. They said they were playing in a local bar that weekend and if you want to check out more about the singer, Argentina was her homeland you will find her at: https://www.facebook.com/ro.philippens
Days before I was passing by the Roman Theatre which is located next to the Gibralfaro ( Gibralfaro you can walk too if you like steep hills) on my way to the Plaza de la Merced - a lovely square near Picasso's
birthplace where they is a statue of him sitting on a bench. I heard some pretty funky music going on that made me stop in my tracks too.
I took in this guy playing the guitar which was very good indeed but what really caught my eye was a mate of his doing his Mr Bean dance - well that's what it reminded me ok anyway - so that i HAD to record!!
Photos and Videos by Alistair Watts
The good thing about Spain now is that there are a lot more companies available to choose from.
In the past i think i have tried them all. I remember my first mobile phone around about the year 1996 when my first child was born.
It was an Alcatel brick like thing and it weighed a bit as well. It had an antenna that screwed off and it was basic, but thats all we knew then.
Telefonica had 2 mobile phone networks, one called Movistar which is now the actual name of the company and the other where i was connected was called Moviline. I think at that time you paid a monthly fee to use the phone plus you had to pay for the calls but we only had it really for emergencies as we didn’t have a phone at that time installed in our flat where we stayed at Torremolinos.
The next one i remember a bit less but it was quite a lot smaller and came in a pack with a camera and that was the first prepay phone i had, that was 1997.
The calls weren’t very cheap and you certainly didnt see that many people going around texting unless they were people doing business over the phone.
A couple of years later then everyone was sending texts as the prices went down. At that time i was using Amena which later became Orange.
I had wanted a computer for a while at that time and the internet was the in thing with people now sending emails to each other on their computers, you didn’t connect
to the internet yet on a mobile phone.
In 1999 i bought my first computer, a tower called MSOne with a 15 inch monitor with a big bottom like the old TV sets. I was very chuffed indeed as i set the thing up myself without any previous experience with computers. It only had a 4GB hard drive though, that i do remember but at that time i didn’t use it to store things much. Any photos i used to burn on Cds as it hard a CD rom burner with it. Telefonica were the only ones doing internet in Spain at that moment. They had a tarifa plana - a fixed plan- as well which is always
good but it wasn’t that cheap if i can remember. The computer had a Dialup modem as well which was a bit of a pain as i couldn’t really connect until 11pm because the problem was that if someone
wanted to call you and you were connected to internet you couldn’t get through, you’d just hear a screechy noise over the phone.
But the whole thing worked fine. It was pretty slow at sometimes but it was cool and was the in thing. You had to put in the user phone number and password and connect through the modem each time, clicking to connect. The modem made a noise as you dialled through to the operator. You didn’t have Skype yet but if you plugged in a webcam
you had Msn Messenger and Aol as well. This i loved. You went on to see who was connected and chatted to them live, this service is now unavailable when Skype took it over.
There were also chat rooms, the odd American site for getting to know people. One was called MyYearbook where people could connect with their school buddies. This was before Facebook.
I remember being up until 5am, if i wasn’t working playing PC games such as Tomb Raider and Resident Evil, i was addicted!
There was also the odd forum about and i got to hear about some guy in Málaga that didn’t live far from me, only a few streets talking about a new thing that would come in called Wi-Fi.
The only Wi-Fi connections were very few and you had to construct your own Wi-Fi antenna with various bits and bobs but the news was already about about it.
Phones got smaller and smaller after that. Motorola bought out shell shaped phones that you opened up, the V series i think they were called and later on Samsung emerged.
I just seemed to buy prepay phones as i moved onto Vodafone now going through to the 2000s until i finally decided i wanted better phones that what were available as a Prepay user.
There were more internet providers now. You had company’s likes Wanadoo and i had connected to a company called Ya.com which later Orange took over who i have been using now
as my internet provider for years. Better modems came out and ADSL, higher speed internet that connected with via a double phone port, one line for calls and the other for computer data meaning that you could make phone calls at the same time as being connected to the internet. Bliss!
I have never been much to buy the latest model and my eye would go more towards Samsung than Iphone.
I think the first smart phone i got was only about 5 years ago maybe, everyone had them. But obviously you didn’t have as many good deals on calls and internet.
The good thing is with more and more companies coming in then the prices get more and more competitive.
There are some companies like one of the companies i use called Lebara that for 6€ a month you get 1GB internet with your phone. There are other packages that include calls as
well. The great thing about Lebara is that you get double the credit each time you topup. For every 10€ you put on they take off about 2€ taxes but you get another
8€ more or less for free. Plus you get 1000 minutes to call other Lebara users in Spain. The idea would be if you speak to a lot of people in Spain that are friends
and family you get a heck of a lot of calls for each 10€ you spend. Also the price per call to the UK is very good and for sending SMS if you have family back in the
UK that uses old style mobile phones that only call and send SMS´s.
I opted into buying phones from China. Firstly you actually took the risk yourself and went into websites in China. They had text in English as well and 80% of the time there werent
any problems until they started charging customs fees, around 50€ was a bit much especially when the phone only costed 80€.
You can now buy dual phones too if you want to try out different phone companies or have one to use here in Spain and one in the UK. Or one for calls and the other
for internet. I have an Orange contract number because i have internet at home with Wifi where i connect my smartphone to the internet whilst at home.
Orange seem to be the best people for calls to the UK, landline to landline. For 3€ a month extra i get 300 minutes which i never use.
But with so many apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Line and Viber to use for free calls and videocalls you dont need a landline these days only if you have family at home with only a landline and a normal mobile. My Mum doesnt have internet at home in the UK and she doesnt even have a landline, only a mobile phone for calls and texts.
So i find Lebara a great deal for cheap calls and she has a pretty good deal to call me with Vodafone in the UK.
Like i say i decided on the last two phones from China. The last one is called Archos which served me well but it only had a 4 inch screen.
I needed something a bit bigger to navigate and watch videos so i paid 120€ and got a new one late last year called Viewsonic.
I´m happy enough with it. It has 16Gb RAM - internal memory, 2GB ROM, Quad core, 5.5 inch screen and two cameras. Main on 13 megapixel and the other for videocalls - 2 megapixel
Like i say it all depends on what you need phones for and how much you want to spend on them. You might be a fan of Samsung or Iphone and don’t mind paying out
500€ - 700€. I personally am not one of them.
To signup for Lebara click on the Lebara logo on the right hand side or click here. You can choose English if you like by clicking on Ingles in the Idioma panel. If you are in the UK and want to signup then click on the Union Jack. You can also earn free credit once you have joined by telling friends and family about Lebara with your own special link!!