29 December 2016

SPAIN & UK: To Estepona and Gibraltar Territory

Location: Gibraltar

 Eating  In SPAIN ... Is PLEASURE

noun: foodie; plural noun: foodies; noun: foody
a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet

Follow our route by opening TRAVEL MAP 2016/2017 on the right sidebar ([view larger], zoom +/-, pan around). Click on any photo in this post and launch a slideshow gallery of all photos.

Driving In SPAIN

We've driven about 1400 kms so far, and followed the Mediterranean coastline as closely as possible, from Barcelona to Estepona. The driving has included the areas' major highway, Autovia A7 (also called Autovia del Mediterraneo) and several secondary and municipal highways, through large, medium and small cities. In general, the road system is in excellant condition. The 300 kms or so that we drove between Roquetas de Mar and Estopona is a superbly built, newer highway corridor. We probably passed through 3 dozen tunnels (some were 2 kms or more in length). I would estimate that 65% of the vehicles on the road are small cars, 15% are large tractor trailer trucks (some trailer trains), 10% are medium sized trucks and the remaining 10% include all the rest; medium sized RV's (Class C & Motorhomes, 1 Unimog), vans, SUV's, motorcycles & scooters and a few full sized pick up trucks (I've seen 1 Ford F150 & 1 Nissan Tundra and a few Toyota Hilux's). The only North American built vehicles we've seen, have been Fords (cars, vans) and a single, older Jeep Wagoneer.

The landscape stayed arid until about 70 kms north of Malaga City; then the ditches, slopes and hillsides, slowly greened-up. The closer we got to Estepona, the greener it became and we no longer viewed, the endless industrial greenhouse operations that we had been following for the past several hundred kilometres.

We expertly!, navigated the latest befuddlement of roundabouts (this REALLY is a realistic stock photo) leading into town and successfully, found our way to our next Airbnb accommodation, Calle Jose Luiz Diez.  Silva, one of the owners met us, toured us through the apartment and gave us a general introduction to the area; we'll have lots to do! We unpacked and took a short walk along a nearby promenade. The apartment is close to everything important to us ... supermercados for groceries & supplies, an extensive beach and promenade for walking, numerous cafes, bodegas & restaurants for relaxing, socializing and snacks. 

A Few Photos

Another walking day, mostly in Estepona's Old Town District. We visited a couple of local museums: abandoned bullring & defeated bulls, whitewashed stucco, tile roofs, colourful planted pots, patterned cobblestone streets, fountains & squares, sea-salt washed patina, rusted wrought iron, brave wind surfers and a windswept beach ...

Almuerzo (... that's Spanish for Lunch)
@ Oliva Iberoteca
Eating has been such a pleasure in Spain ... cooking here will take time, servers often warn customers to be patient, nothing is rushed, plates are created individually. Meals don't come quickly because everything is prepared from scratch, often in small kitchens, by a solitary chef. The bill won't come quickly either; guests are expected to linger, la cuenta (the 'tab') usually needs to be requested. Most ingredients are sourced nearby; fresh breads, amazing olives, oils & vinegars, the daily coastal catch, local meats and produce. There is a tremendous selection of tapas; a variety that I've not seen in North America, a strong nod to traditional Spanish cooking styles, dishes and ingredients. Spanish wines are given a preferred position on restaurant lists ... and that's as it should be. 

Appetizer: salty 'n sour olives, a warm crusty garlic loaf, un-seasoned tomatoe puree, garlic aioli (all complimentary)

Helen (from Mains) - Estofado de rabo de buey con patatas asadas 
Oxtail stew with broiled potatoes (Muchas gracias, to Sue & Cynthia for recommending the oxtail) 
Dann (from Tapas) - Tomate frio y spoa de ajo de Malaga y Anchoas en vinagre con aceite y ajo crudo
Cold tomatoe & garlic soup Malaga style and Anchovies in vinegar with oil & raw garlic

Main & DessertEnate Somontano Chardonnay

We made a sidetrip to Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory. It's about a 45 minute drive southwest from Estepona. We parked a short distance away in La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain and walked across the border. From there, it's another 20 minute walk; across an international airport landing runway, past a couple of ancient canon batteries and through an old tunnel that leads to the Gibraltar city centre. 

We arranged for a 1.5 hour taxi tour of 'The Rock' with Ernest. Included in the tour, were visits to Saint Michael's Cave (music concerts are sometimes held here), colourful lights are used now to highlight the cave walls, a visit with the  Barbary Macaque Monkeys (the only wild monkeys in Europe) at the top viewpoint (426 metres) and a walk through The Great Siege Tunnels.

According to Ernest, the only crime in Gibraltar is committed by the local population of Macaque Monkeys that live up near the top of The Rock.  

At one stop, Ernest parked the van and we were instructed to exit quickly because the monkeys would try and sneak into the vehicle and grab anything they could; money, food, packs, clothes, sunglasses. He was right of course! One small monkey, immediately tried to squeeze itself through a partially opened window and while Ernest was distracted by trying to scare it away, a second larger one successfully opened the drivers door and scooted inside. In less than 5 seconds it had escaped with Ernests' lunch (pastry & banana) and retreated far enough away to sit and eat it. A few moments later, another monkey grabbed the only sign (of about 6) Ernest had forgotten to remove from the outside of his van ... and, of course that was the Taxi sign. 

Monkeys are sneaky ...

Crusty ... still eating too much!

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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty