Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 318

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Sunday October 1, 2017 (diary)

Bar PlazaBajo, Mijas
Bar PlazaBajo - freshly squeezed orange juice and excellent Wifi

After the first 3 days here my perception of the Mijas village can be stated in one sentence : The higher you climb, the nicer it gets !
Although the narrow streets go up and down as they please there are three larger horizontal areas which perhaps define this place's geometry.
The Plaza de la Constitucion or "Plaza Bajo" (despite is colloquial name of "down square") is the middle level and the focal point of the original village.
Via two steeply inclined stone stairways you descend some 30 meters lower to a huge square (don't know its name yet). In recent years they also have built a lift here, for which I am greatly thankful.

La Muralla There are busses and taxis here, as well as various tourist modes of transport : electric cars, donkeys and horse drawn carriages.
These can ascend to the higher levels of the village in a round about way eventually through the Calle Malaga.
This large square has numerous touristy restaurants and shops (selling especially quality leather goods).
It is OK, but I much prefer the two higher levels.

The third and highest level, about 20 meters above the Plaza de la Constitucion, is La Muralla, a delightful Botanical garden with a great variety of wonderful trees.

There are no houses where people live in on La Muralla, just a small church, the bullring, an open air theatre and two small restaurants.

The whole area represents a rocky protrusion with near vertical slopes downwards. The views from here over the Costa del Sol are magnificent.

Both restaurants (the Bar Virgen de la Peña and the Cafeteria La Muralla) have mainly tables outside and large and very varied menus. The Cafeteria La Muralla would be an ideal place to conduct a Lunch & Bridge session here. If the weather is as good as here today and if I can persuade the staff to reserve 6 tables this would be a fantastic spot to enjoy our stay here !

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Monday October 2, 2017 (diary)

Bar PlazaBajo, Mijas
Cafeteria La Muralla

When in Barcelona three years ago (2014) I was somewhat disappointed with the tapas there. Most of these were a slice of French bread stick with something fancy on top of it. Glorified bread you might call it !
It looks good, tastes fine, but to my mind not a real tapa.

Back in my students days, when I was doing my geological field work in various parts of Northern Spain (1956-61), there was none of that. Tapas were then served properly on a small plate or in a bowl. If there was any bread involved it was included separately in a basket.

So far I have seen none of that here.  
In Mijas all tapas are served on a plate or in a small bowl. These days food is the main driving force for me going anywhere at all. So these "real" tapas make me a happy man.
In fact there are two (perhaps new ?) developments concerning tapas here in Mijas I have not seen previously elsewhere.

Firstly many bars now offer 5 or 6 different tapas all presented on one plate, which cost around €10. With some (slightly dearer) both bread and a drink are also included. The plate is partitioned with a different type of food in each compartment.
The adjacent example is from La Muralla.
They have a special offer of either a cold or a warm selection of tapas, together with garlic bread and 2 drinks (€11.50). Ideal for two persons.

The second variation I like is that in some bars (such as Cafeteria La Muralla) you can order different quantities of the same dish. A full portion (€7), a half portion (€5) or a tapa size (€2).
Looks all good to me !

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Tuesday October 3, 2017 (diary)

With Christine in Mijas
Enjoying tapas with Christine in La Muralla

Christine (a founding member of our social bridge club in Darwin) is traveling with her sister through Portugal and Spain, and we had agreed to meet up when she had arrived in Malaga.
So today I waited for her at the bus stop in Mijas and showed her around.

It is good to have an alternative pair of eyes checking out the place and Christine agreed with me that this would be a fabulous place to conduct our bridge club week here in October next year (2018).
So far the weather here has been good too these early days in October. Sunny, no rain at all and a pleasant temperature in the 20°s.

We sampled the tapas caliente (hot) in La Muralla with a few glasses of wine de la casa. All good.
I had never before been in the unusual Plaza de Toros (Bullring) here, so we had a look there too.
Because of the space constraints on this rocky knob sticking out from the mountain slope the bullring has an oval (rather than circular) shape, with seating on two opposite sites of the arena only (instead of all around). It is the only oval shaped bullring in Spain.
The last bull fighting (according to the record plates fixed on the wall) was in 2005. These days it is a small museum, with a stuffed bull in the arena to get your photo taken with, which of course we did.

At 7.30pm Christine took the bus back to Malaga (the 1½ hour bus trip only costs €2.30). Tomorrow she has booked a walk on the Caminito del Rey near Malaga. Only a 7km walk but through hazardous terrain. She has promised to send me photos and a report, as this may be an interesting adventure for some of the bridge members coming here next year.

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Wednesday October 4, 2017 (diary)

Aladin's Cave
Your average Spanish Grocer, you never know what treasure you may find here.

One of the endearing (if that is the right word) things I have rediscovered in Mijas is shopping for food. It takes me back to the 1940s-50s, when the word "supermarket" as yet did not exist in Europe, or at least not in the surrounding villages and towns where I grew up in the Netherlands.

Within just 100 meters from where I stay now, walking down the Calle Carril, there are (besides a few other shops) a butcher shop, a baker, a pastry shop and two small grocery shops.
They have not much in terms of window display, so that during the siesta time, when the shops close (1.30-4.30pm), you would hardly now they are there.
Talking to Christine about it yesterday she found the same in various other places, including Granada.
It enhances and supports a local social environment, long lost in places like Australia. I love it.

Our tent site and shed in Felechas, 1958 The small grocery shops are like untidy Aladdin's Caves, containing a chaotic collection of items, some of which I have never seen before.
I look around in wonder, then suddenly a word I read, Tulipan, instantly throws me back in time, almost 60 years.
I must have bought this at Julio's little grocery store in Felechas (Asturias), way back in 1958.
Julio's store and house was set just away from and slightly above the village. We would reach it via 100 meters of narrow goat track from our tent site (shown here) to his place.
Three years ago Yosune (who's family lives in Felechas) told me that Julio had died, but that his wife was still alive and remembered me well.

But back to the Tulipan. What is it ? I still don't know, either butter or (more likely) margarine. It does not say on the plastic container. But it contains salt, calcium as well as vitamins A, D and E.
It may have changed considerably since I bought it 60 years ago, but the brand has survived. That, and all the nostalgia with it is enough for me to buy the item and spread it on my bread.

Memories from Spain : Setting up camp in Felechas

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Thursday October 5, 2017 (diary)

Throughout my life whenever something negative or a difficult challenge stood in my way I have always countered it with an immediate and strong positive mental attitude to overcome it.
However, these days as I am getting a bit older (especially after my rapid change of environments : Baden Baden - Black Forest - Mijas) I need some time to recover before having regained enough energy.
This past week in Mijas has largely been about that. Rest up and get your strength back. Yesterday I was exhausted and slept most of the day, but this morning as I wake up, I suddenly feel ready for the next challenge : finding permanent accommodation.

So I go to the shop (recommended by Lars) to enquire about a furnished apartment. Not entirely unsurprisingly, they do not have anything available. As I talk this over another customer enters and hearing what I am about immediately springs into action, phoning someone he knows. I can view an apartment nearby on Saturday Miguel (which is his name) says. Another interested man is looking at it first, but I can have it if he does not rent it.
This is how many of the Spanish are today, and as I remember them from 60 years ago : immediately concerned with someone elses problem and helpful if they possibly can.

Aladdin's Cave
Handbags, wallets, caps, hats, shoes, key rings, decorations : all made of cork

Later I have my regular chat with the owner of a leather shop on the Plaza de la Constitucion ('Plaza Bajo'). Brice (pronounced Breece, an American born in Morocco with American parents who worked there at the USA Embassy).
"Don't bother with these private people." he advises, "Go immediately to the Real Estate agent Mijas Properties. They have been here for the past 40 years and know everyone and everything."
I take his advice and see them at once, they have their office near the bus station where I was a few days before. They are most helpful, put my details in their system and will look out for me. So things are moving.

On my way back, the elevator has broken down, so I need to climb all those steps. Halfway up I see a delightful shop, selling only items made of cork. Handbags, wallets, shoes, caps, hats, it is quite fantastic. I will probably buy a pair of shoes here (€69) later. All products are made in Portugal I believe.
The shop Manager is a young woman, Casey her friends call her. She comes from Northern Russia and now lives in Fuengirola. While most of the Costa del Sol is empty during the winter, there are always plenty of people in Mijas and Fuengirola throughout the year she tells me. Sounds all good.

Back at the Plaza Bajo, Brice (who is busy looking after a small lost dog and trying to find its owner) tells me he has another contact he will talk to about an apartment.
Things are looking good, I am moving on a positive road forward.
To celebrate I drink three zumos de naranja (freshly squeezed orange juice) in quick succession at the Blue Bike Bar next door. Wow, does that taste good !!!   It almost beats a good glass of red, but not quite.

See also Christine's walk on the Caminito del Rey

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