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Yet another Blog?

Sure, ANOTHER blog.  

On this one we will inform you about our life here in Andalucía, the people and their habits that we come across. Last but certainly not least about all beautiful and remarkable things that we find in this special part of Spain. In the paragraphs below you will see a short description of post with links in bold to the underlying stories.  It all starts - of course – on the home page of the El Guarda posts.

Everything you always wanted to know about about Alcalá del Valle and never but were afraid to ask. or rather a few lines about the village that we belong to now.

Living in the heart of Andalucia with a neighbour who trains bulls for their ultimate moment of glory in the ring Bull Fighting had to be one of the first subjects on our blog.

Food in Andalucia has - like many other culture aspects - always a bit that mixture created by the region’s European and Moorish background. Its variation on oxtail stew is no exemption to that.

Probably everywhere in the world hairdressers are or at least used to be a (the?) centre of knowledge about what’s going on in world and especially in the area. The Spanish ones may be an exponent of that phenomenae.

Wine making in the Ronda area dates back - at least - as far as Roman times and had its revival only a few decades ago, so what would be a blog be without a good glas of wine?

As there is so much to see and to do in Andalucia most of its visitors rent a car to enjoy as much of it as possible. However not all rental companies  seem to have customer satisfaction are their prime target. On this post you cab read what might happen to you when renting a car at Malaga Airport.

They all where here: the Stne-age people, the Phoenicians, the Moors and of course the Romans. You find remains of their presence all around here and one the most impressive sites close by here is Acinipo with its amphitheater

If 1/3 of the world olive oil comes from Andalusia you can imagine what happens once the most important time of agriculture year is there, the Olive Harvest.

You often recognise nations by what they eat, their history, cultural background, religion, it is all traceable in their cuisine. Of course also here. Pigs cheeks is one of the typical local dishes.

You have haters and lovers. Hunting. To be honest I don’t like the ’sport’ but won’t say ’no’ to a nice piece of hare, venison or goose. But over here hunting is so popular that you can hardly escape from it.

If you move to Spain and planning to start a Bed and Breakfast, what are you factoring in when determining the actual spot that you want to be in? For us not too dificult: En el Alma de Andalucia!

After having been away for centuries the vineyeards are coming back to Andalusia, living here means of course trying as much from the local products as possible. That means tasting, tasting and tasting.

A general overview of how things went in our first full year in business here at El Guarda.

Spaniards are gamblers, especially when it comes to lotteries, especially especially around year-end when El Gordo gives everyone hope for a richer future. 

Throughout the year you are being confronted here with the love from locals for sweets. In desserts, cakes, pastry sugar seems to be the main ingredient. Probably a reason why dental care isn’t covered by the insurance. 

I guess this one speaks for its self Merry Christmas

Nearby here there is a walk that is being mentioned as one of the most dangerous paths in the world. I don’t know if that is true, but looking at it is certainly for (rich) thrill seekers only.

Ever wondered how the people in Spain get through their New Year’s Eve? This post will tell you a bit about it. Happy New Year by the way.

Another couple that followed their dream, changed their lifestyle started a bodega create very good wine. One of many new wine adventures around here.

Consquence or (partly) cause of the crisis in Spain? The huge amounts of kids not finishing their education.

Coming from Holland it was really a ’shock’ experiencing the talkative character of Spaniards, where ever they are being in shops, on the road and beyond all in benches in parks

What does one do if every one is calles Antonio Pedro and Francusco? Nicknames is the only solution.

The Moorish history has left it’s traces in a lot of things and also in the (hidden)names of many places around here such as in our village Alcalá del Valle. Find out what they mean.

Nature is one of the interesting point for us of Andalusia. There are many parks, all beautiful in their own way, however El Torcal is extra special due to it’s Lunar style landscape.

Tortilla, one of the typical disihes that comes to mind directly when talking about Spanish food. On a regular basis made by Angeles for our guests, here is how she does it.

Oke, moving to Spain has some great aspects but also some that you only feel when you have really done it. One of them is the feeling-at-home thing. And what is home to us?

Another part of Andalusian tradition is the singing of Coplas, a mixture of various styles such as flamenco and folk. The singers of this genre are real stars and when one dies Andalusia cries.

There are 17 autonomous regions in Spain (and two autonomous cities: Ceuta and Melilla) Andalusia is one of them. And you can not be autonomous of course without having an Independance Day.

How about this, getting into your car in your ski suit at 08.00 and dashing down the slopes at 10.00! This is what we did on our first Sierra Nevada Skiing Day. Soemthing else then driving 12 hours to Alps as we were used to do.

El Guarda is open voor 8 months a year, which obviously means that we are closed for 4 months. A period for relaxation but there is always this To Do List and our winterstop was over again before we realised it....

Next to the olive cultures green asparagus is one of the main agricultural products of this area. Alcalá del Valle is with its 1 million Kg production a kind of centre here.

Without any doubt is the Holy Week the most important week in the Catholic year here in Spain, probably especially in the south. It is really unbelieveable how much money still is spend on it to make everyone look at his best.

Here in Andalusia we have periods without any rain that sometimes last 4 to 5 months, so water and all its facets is imperative importance to the country and its people.

Due to the position and altitude of it mountain ranges the Sierras around here capture of lot of ideal air streams from both the Mediterranean as well as the Atlantic. This creates the probably best spot in Spain for Parasailing.

Local, honest, what you see is what you get products are the basis of Andalucian food. Nothing very fancy but all very tasteful like this mix of products of our neighbours.

At the foot of the Sierra the Grazalema there are several Caves where stone age people use to live in and in some of them made drawings that still attrack people from all over the world. The Cave of the Cat is less famous but has nice walks to it.

José was our neighbour, he died losing the battle. 

Every village, town and city in Andalucia has one: the Romeria. Originating from pilgrimages with all of its rituals it even here has become more modern. But still interesting to visit one. 

Everyone talks about the Mesquita when they talk about Cordoba. And for a very good reason, it is a remarkable building. But once a year the people of the city open up their patios for the public and many forget the Mesquita for a moment. 

At last, after having written several posts about food, finally one over the most famous of all Andalucian dishes: the Gazpacho and its family

Relatively closeby another place that is worth visiting: one of biggest flamengo colonies in Spain, but hurry as they are only there for a few months a year.

Corpus Christi, I had already forgotten what it was, as most of the Andalucians do. But who cares as long as there is another reason for a celebration.

As most EU citizens we see many advantages in being part of the community. However when they interfere with the way how olive oil should be presented in restaurants we alsk ourselves DON’T THEY HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO?

For us is Sevilla the most beautiful city in this part of Spain. The combination of buildings, history, livelyhood is wonderfull And next to that the parks where it is the place to be when it really gets hot.

Red Tape is something that you can hardly escape when living in Andalucia. We are being confronted with it on a regular basis and crawling close to the moment that all our frustrations made palce for sheer laughs.

One things is sure Malaga isn’t the tastless harbour town anymore that it used to be decades ago, may of our guests visit the city and agree.

Horses have been extremely important to the nation of Andalucia, especilly in rural area every family owned horses. Due to crisis the number of people that can afford have dropped some much that the butcher seems to nbe more and more the only solution.

Why is the development of green energy not more successful in a country where there enough space and sun and a real need an economic push.

Alcalá is poor, it has always been. So for decades inhabitants of the pueblo have worked in France for some motnhs a year to pick apples to make a bit more dineiro. Now more than ever.

We all know it, we have become more dependent on the internet than we ever had realised, also here at El Guarda

Like in any country one can write several blog post a day about politics there. Probably the more frustrations the more posts. This one is not written due to frustrations however, just disbelieve.

Oops, another frustration? Another piece on Red Tape? No, but as promissed this blog is all about our life here in Andalucia and there is no escape to the paperwork and everything that goes with it.

Oke this one is about there Ferias, our Feria. Any village in this part of Spain has one. As huge as the one in Sevilla in April as small as the one in Alcalá, but it comes down to one thing: party like there is no tomorrow. Envy that attitude.

Yeah, yeah, all you ladies know Braveheart as Mel Gibson played the title role in the movie with the same name. If you really want to know more about him, go to Teba or at least read this post.

Whst is it with us grown ups? Is it still the child in us that wants to throw with food? And why does have Spain so many of these food throw ’festivals’ like the Tomatino. I would know, but is somehow appealing, also to me.

We have a few fig trees and twice a year we are flooded with an enromous amount of figs. We eat a few, throw away most of them and the lucky ones end up in a delcious compote. Our guests love them for breakfast.

Many of our guests visit the Alhambra in Granada, as they should. However there is much to the city that was the last one to fall in the Moorish empire in Spain.

Flamenco is probably the most known cultural expression of Andalucia. It prrbably says as much about the traditional gitanos here as the Dutch Klompendans syas about them. (or Line Dancing...)

For those who don’t speak Spanish words like Mañana, Mañana and Siesta are probably in the Top 5 of their vocabulary in the lingo. Well, Siesta might be on the brink of extinction as is it needed anymore. So, time to learn another word amigos.

The city of Ronda seems to be selling its table sliver, so if you have some EUR 1,3mln you could be living in the House of the Caliph. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

True, Spanish cheese hasn’t the name like Franch, Italian, Swiss or even Dutch. But having tasted so many delicious one at the Teba Cheese Fair I know for sure it has to with the marketing, not with quality.

We all make mistakes when it comes down to counting how much money we have, or don’t. So why should we blame the Spanish goverment for doing the same?

Spain are that difficult with rules, they are there to be bend of course. But what to when suddenly the EU says that you have to live acoording to them. Then, at once, you have 300.000 houses that have been build illegally just in Andalucia.

Justice takes long, everywhere. And that’s good because justice isn’t always as obvious as it seems. But it is a fine line between long enough and too long.

As mentioned before, this is old country. One of the oldest remains must be the stoneage graves that we even have here in our own backyard. But there much more and to be honest much more beautiful. 

Ahhh finally time for some more winetasting, this time at the Bodega Kienzinger, very close by, very nice, very much. 

Wintertime, winterfood. In Holland it would be time for me to eat some Balkenbrij and Bloedworst, at least they have here an alternative for the latter, Morcilla. For Balkenbrij I just have to wait a bit. 

The harvest of olives has started, according to specialists it could be a great year, local farmers are a bit more sceptic. We still need rain.

The Belén is a very important part of Christmas activities in Spain, evn that important that Spainairds invite other people over to have a look at their Belén

As it seems 75% of all holiidays in Spain take place in unlicensed accommodation, not really a surprise that the government wamts to change that.

I have written a few times about the remains of ancient times in our area. Probably the oldest but ceertainly the one of most beautiful ones can be seen in the Caves of Pileta.

With the dead of Peter O’Tool a few weeks ago Andalucia lost one of its big promotors: Lawrence of Arabia.

As expected there was no escape, so we went to the Costa and joined the crowd in the Rebajas madness.

The Arab Baths in Ronda seem to be one of the most beautiful ones in Spain, well worth payng a visit

The new season is coming closre and we are getting ready for our guest and it seems that they are getting ready too, sometimes a bit directed by their government

Everyone wants to see it, but where is the real thing? Flamenco

Reviews, modern businesses cannot do without them and neither can we. But can one trust them?

Alcazar or Alcazaba, what and where are they?

I have seen quite some churches in my time but the Mezquita is something really different.

The Carnival in Cadiz, world famous in Spain. 11 Days of partying.

The flamenco tradition lost another one of its heros: Paco has died.

Who doesn’t feel in Spain when seeing these bulls at the side of the road?

People around here are very hospitable and generous, but why don’t we see their houses from the inside?

It’s that time again, you cannot stop writing about it.

A bit a morbid subject this week, still of interest to many people

Many people get inspired by this country, so did famous writers like Ernest Hemingway who actually lived close by.

Cortijo El Guarda has been voted best B&B in Spain 2014. We are so proud about that

And another - not to be missed - party, the April Feria in Sevilla

Sadly enough another typical example of lots of money spend, job not finished, all for nothing. Caños Santos.

New trafic laws have become active in Spain this week. Quite stringent.

Did you know that the Moors in Spain were allowed to drink Sherry - although their religion forbids the use of alcohol?

It is hard to believe that in Europe and in this era people still can fight about a country’s cultural heritage. It happens here.

How the Spanish King did slide of his throne and the people here don’t care a bit (any more)

Being Dutch and living in Spain can sometimes lead to conflict of interests...

Paella. Probably the most Spanish of all food.

My 100th post, time for a wrap up.

Summer is here so time for a real Gazpacho recipe.

As they always say: The devil is in the detail, als when you travel

Speaking (proper) English contnues to be a problem for Spaniards. Why?

Like everywhere, living in Spain isn’t just only good times.

Another citytrip wothwhile when going to Andalusia. Cadiz.

We like art, we love outdoor art. How about a whole village with outdoor art?

Spaniards like to spend their (and the EU’s) money, but sometimes is over the top, like Alcalá’s new pride and joy.

If you really like Andalusian Feria’s (and may be bull fighting) you shouldn’t miss this one.

Burocracy isn’t typical Spanish but I always have the feeling that have invented it here

El Chorro, one of the many hiking hotspots in this area certainly worth visiting when you like to walk a bit.

On Miranda’s birthday we ended up in a tourist trap in Sevilla with the usual disappointments

Jerez de la Frontera might have some of its original shine but there is still a lot to do for the visitor.

There are possibilities for all kind of cyclists to enjoy their sport here in Andalucia

I hadn’t heard the word before but Presentismo is a way of (not) working in Spain that we come accross on a regular basis. 

Also having those problems what to bring back home when returning from a holiday? this might help when going to Andalusia.

The Spanish Civil War probably one of the darkest pages in the countries recent history and still a subject that people find it hard to talk about.

For us the 2014 season is over, here a short flashback

The Spaniards do have their own additions to the Nativity Scene: the Pooper...

Do you really like Sweet? Try this for a change. Turrón.

El Gordo made quite some people happy here this year.

Renovation permits, we have been waiting 4 years for them to be finalised, but they have arrived!

For those of you who want or need to see the Alhambra in the virtual way, StreetView helps you out.

There is an increasing demand for olive oil in the world. The farmers in the biggest producing country in he world, Spain, hardly benefit from that.

Add the estimated value of crime and illegal activities to the total economy and suddenly you are doing a lot better

From the moment you decide to move abroad, your life turns into a powerful mix of emotions – learning, improvising, dealing with the unexpected

Our visit to the district of the Sierra de las Nieves

May be my frustrations of obviously not being able to think in the Andalusian way

 Our stay for a few days in Portugal, as it is close by and still very different

Elections in Spain, we have 3 this year.

The last things that we do before opening for the new season are our maintenance activities

The world famous gallery Centre Pompidou is coming to Malaga

 Is ‘any’ publicity is good for business?

The Desierto de Tabernas there is often called “mainland Europe’s only desert.”

Running Cortijo El Guarda we have the opportunity to meet all kinds of persons, which is one the facts that make this life so interesting

A few of the the things that often come to the table at El Guarda is olive oil and wine

If you love Andalusia you have to see a movie called La Isla Minima

Why is everyone around here suddenly talking about growing pistachio nuts?

The crisis does strange this to people

The car rental industry doesn’t have the best reputation overall and some of them deserve it.

Communists rule Alclá?

Another museum has opened its doors in Malaga, this time a sub of the Russian Museum in St. Peterburg

Idiots. The Spanish government is planning to tax homes that produce their own energy through solar power.

Here sometimes the credit card machines just don’t work

One of our most favourite soups, cucumbersoup

If the Greeks are kicked out of the EURO left populist Spanish parties will see their position worsened

Starting a business with your spouse is outright nutty

People in Andalusia are relatievely mild against foreigners

it seems that the ones famous mediteranean diet is losing ground versus the fastfood industry

This summer has been the hotest in the last 50 years

This summer has been the hotest in the last 50 years

it is remarkable to see how different cultures like different colourschemes so much

It is shooting star time again tonight!

A good alternative trip, whenever it is too hot, too cold, too rainy or one is too lazy.

Thank God another piece of nature won its battle against economic forces.

You can not live in Spain and ignore the idiots that run with bulls

(especially) The dirt roads here in Andalusia suffer alot from the consequences of erosion, ours is fine again for the next few years