Andalucia is Spainís largest region, made up of 8 provinces where fruit laden trees line the streets and the town squares bustle with vibrant outdoor markets.
The Southerly province of Malaga boasts Andaluciaís second largest city. Birth place of Pablo Picasso, Malaga has an interesting historical centre emanating from the Arab occupation, whilst its Phoenician origins date back to 1100BC.
To the Eastern side of Malaga lies the Axarquia, renowned for having the best climate in Europe, it stretches along the coast, heading inland amongst a myriad of unspoilt white villages. Protected by a barrier of mountains to the North and East, this area enjoys something like 3000 hours of sunshine each year. The largest mountain, La Maroma, standing at just over 2000 metres, often retains itís snowy cap well into the Spring time, whilst holiday makers soak up the sun on the beaches below! The spectacular sight of La Maroma is a constant companion to both Casa Los Petates and Finca Manolo, it also creates a dramatic backdrop to nearby Lake Vinuela, a man made reservoir and previous site of Neolithic and Roman excavations. Now, the lake is used for gentler pursuits such as sailing and canoeing, there is also a picnic/bbq area and a choice of reasonably priced restaurants Ė all sharing the same spectacular view of the Sierra Tejada mountain range.
From Vinuela, a leisurely 20 minute drive will take you to the coastline (mostly still blissfully unaffected by mass tourism) which stretches between the typically Spanish coastal town of Torre del mar and itís more Ďsophisticatedí neighbour, Nerja, with numerous fresh fish beach restaurants along the way, itís well worth a visit!
Moving further inland, thereís so much to see and do, choose from Granada and the resplendent Alhambra palace, Antequera and the Sierra Nevada (less than 2 hours from the coast Ė you really can swim in the morning and ski in the afternoon)! Or visit the hot springs and natural parks with their majestic rock formations. The area is also great for hill walking, botanists, birdwatching, and can only prove inspirational for artists, writers and photographers.
For the more energetic, we also have horse riding nearby and several golf courses within an hourís drive, whereas popular watersports can be found on some of the larger beaches.
CLOSER TO 'HOME' ; All our country properties have a neighbouring village or small town where there is generally at least one mini-market, butcher, baker (not sure about the candlestick maker)! and bank, and, quite naturally, (this being Spain!), most will have considerably more than one or two bars and restaurants! More comprehensive facilities - from hypermarkets to dry cleaners - can be found at nearby Torre del Mar, however, visiting your nearest village can be an experience in itself, and will certainly give you the opportunity to practise your Spanish and meet the locals! Please note that a certain period of adjustment may be required whilst you adapt to a slower pace of life, where shopping is a social event and is generally a much more leisurely affair than in the UK! Stranger still, grappling with the shop ownerís request for you to pay him tomorrow as he doesnít have any change, may well leave you more than a little bemused, but we think itís very endearing all the same!
Being located approximately equi-distant between Colmenar and Comares , our guests may choose which of the two pueblo blancos to "adopt" during their stay!
Please note the shops usually close at 2pm and re-open at 5pm for a few hours. Occasionally a butcherís may be open on a Sunday morning, but other than that the shops will be closed. There are two banks in the centre, opening from Monday to Friday, neither opens in the afternoon and both have cash machines. Colmenar also has a chemist and 24 hour medical centre.
There are plenty of bars, some serving tapas, and several restaurants to choose from.
MORE ABOUT COLMENAR
The capital of the montes de malaga, Colmenar sits 700 metres above sea level. Most of itís industry revolves around farming, harvesting olives and almonds, and livestock. Itís not uncommon to meet shepherds with their goats (and sometimes sheep) on your travels, and mules are still a valuable commodity for ploughing and carrying.
Its name derives from the word Colmena meaning beehive and the town is famous for its locally produced honey. With a population of less than 4000 it has a friendly village atmosphere, sleepy for most of the time but, typically, a little livelier later on in the evening - particularly at weekends.
This small but elegant town is a mix of ancient and slightly newer architecture. Dominated by the 17th century church of nuestra senora de la asuncion, itís older narrow, steep and windy streets clearly betray a former Arab influence.
As a further note of interest, there are five scenic routes signposted by the junta de Andalucia, and Colmenar is situated on one of them! The route of (olive) oil and mountains, this travels inland through mountainous terrain for 62.5 kms also taking in Alcaucin, Periana, Alfarnate, Alfarnatejo and Riogordo. The olive oil derived from the olives grown along this route ranks among one of the best in the world!
Please note that a visit to the shop or bank may involve a short uphill climb! A parking area exists just down from the village centre Ė and itís generally better to leave your car here, as parking space is very limited in the square. The walk is well rewarded, with breathtaking views available from the plaza. There is one main supermarket in Comares and two banks, several smaller shops are dotted around the narrow streets, together with the usual bars and a few restaurants. Opening times are similar to Colmenar.
An approx 20 minute drive from Comares, (heading away from Malaga) will bring you to Benamargosa, which again has a supermarket, banks, shops, bars and restaurants - and another 24 hour medical centre.
MORE ABOUT COMARES
Perched on a rocky escarpment 740 metres above sea level, Comares is a well known, frequently visited, much loved, pueblo blanco! Dating from medieval times, and reputed to be one of the last moorish strongholds- remains of an old moorish fortress still exist Ė this is an ancient village with typically steep and narrow streets- most inaccessable by car. Follow the ceramic footprints along the pathways thoughtfully designed to lead you to more places of interest, and wherever you look the views are stunning!
(Donít forget the 16th century church of nuestra senora de la encarnacion while youíre there).
Smaller than Colmenar, Comares has a population of around 1700, it also has itís place on the junta de Andaluciaís scenic routes; the 62.5 km route of the raisin runs through the foothills of the montes de Malaga and takes in Totalan, Comares, Cutar, el Borge, Almachar and Moclinejo. Along this route you will see the drying beds used to turn the locally grown grapes into the sun dried raisins which are used to make the famous drink, Muscatel!
With over 3000 Fiestas in Andalucia each year, these Colourful and Lively events dominate the annual calendar! Both Comares and Colmenar hold their own fiestas but donít worry if you miss them, with so many neighbouring villages dotted around, weíre sure you wonít be disappointed!