Category: Spain

16.05.2019: Flamenco @ Taberna Pepe Lopez

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As it is the Eurovision week, we have a question for you all. What has more costume changes and more drama than the Eurovision Song Contest?

Well, a proper flamenco show of course! And this is just what we witnessed in the evening at Taberna Pepe Lopez! You get to read all about the show a bit late because my voice is hoarse from crying out olé so many times and from clapping my hands more effectively than Miss Nicole Kidman at the famous Oscar’s event.

The Venue

Enter The Taberna (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

According to the staff, the has been a flamenco performed here at Pepe Lopez since 1965, which makes the place a must see and experience.

The Taberna Pepe Lopez is conveniently located on Plaza de la Gamba Alegre, near the central shopping street of Calle San Miguel. On the Calle San Miguel you can find such places as Sabor a España, which we visited earlier.

Entry to the Taberna is by steep set of stairs with no wheelchair access, so unless you can walk stairs, this venue is out of your reach. I actually helped to carry a motorised wheelchair up the stairs for an elderly lady, who could do stairs but not walk much further.

The Show – Flamenco Dress Extravaganza

The showtime is at 10pm and the ticket, which costs a whopping 30€ per person includes a drink. At first I was slightly hesitant to purchase such expensive tickets, but after reading the reviews from the TripAdvisor I had a bit more confidence that the show might be more than to lure tourists in with a promise of a free glass of sangria. And luckily I did!!

The show itself is 2 hours long with a 12 minute interval for gathering yourself before the Grand Finale. And the level of artistry during the show makes you completely lose the track of time and the chairs you are sitting on.

The level of emotion carried by the live musical performances, some combined with the dancers’ movements is fantastic. I am still left at loss of words to describe all the feelings I felt during the show. The last time I felt this was when watching a theatrical play, The Quartet. The songs, the dances, were so intimate and moving.

The Verdict

If you come to Andalucia and have just one thing you want to experience, we recommend you spend the 30€ to see the flamenco at Taberna Pepe Lopez. We have experienced flamenco before at Malaga’s MIMMA, and that performance was also good, but nowhere near to this experience. The MIMMA show was like a trailer for this.

The chairs at the venue are not the best, but you are not there for the chairs. They don’t accept cards at the venue (if you want another drink during the show), so you need to carry some cash with you. But again, this is not the venue to come to drink yourself merry. Having just that one drink was enough for this Finnish Queen to melt his frozen tear ducts during some points of the show.

And yes, the goosebumps were not there because of the air conditioning but because of the show.

And as writing about this is difficult, we will let the flamenco speak for itself, enjoy.

15.05.2019: Snack at Rosco’s

Towards the evening we found this small cafe, which was again well hidden on the main streets of Torremolinos and decided to have some light snack before heading back to the hotel.

A light snack? (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

Rosco’s is a small cafe, where they serve basically the normal pastries that you can find all around the town, but what makes this spot just that little much better is the fact that they proudly support equality by advertising Pride events, and showing the rainbow colours inside the establishment.
I see this as an important aspect of a modern day culture, as it shows that equality is advancing and that the businesses, small and big alike, are willing to take a stand and make a statement.

So next time you are in Torremolinos, stop at Rosco’s and show your appreciation for them as they are showing it to you.

15.05.2019: Sabor a España – Taste The Spain

Sabor a España (taste of Spain) is definitely one of the gems of Torremolinos that are hidden in plain sight. As the shop is located on the major shopping street it is easy to pass by as one of those shops that are just trying to rid the tourists from their money.

Jules interviewing the staff (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

We were practically ushered in by one of the staff after pouring a spoonful of delicious, but not overly sweet, toasted and caramelised sunflower seeds. And it turned out to be a good thing.The store is filled with sweets of many kinds, traditional to Malaga, Andalucia, and other parts of Spain as well. Some of the products, actually all the toasted and caramelised nuts and seeds for instance, they make there at the shop. For other things they have a small factory outside of Malaga, where the things are practically made by hands, using methods from the 1910’s.

They do have two other outlets, but as the shops are small in size and they produce some of the items there and then, it just adds to the experience.

One of the main selling points for us was the friendly, but not in-your-face customer service. As we both come from the field of customer service, we see that genuine friendliness as something that is really needed, especially in a speciality shop like Sabor a España.

The selection of products is not just limited to sweet things, but they also carry a small selection of Spanish produced, less known, alcohols. Coming from a country that has just recently learned that we can actually produce one of the best gins in the world, I find this kind of promotion delightful. It allows people to see a different side of Spain from the excellent red wine and sangria.

The Verdict

The products are good, handmade, and a tad more dear than from your next door supermarket. But the price difference is ok, as the products are of a local origin, and this way you are giving something back to the community instead of throwing your money to a multinational supermarket chain.

And with the slightly larger price you get a friendly customer service that makes you yearn for more. They really.know their trade.

So the next time you sre in Torremolinos, make sure to pop by Sabor a España. We definitely will.

15.05.2019: Snooping around Torremolinos

It’s the second day here in Spain – and I have to say that I feel the stress slowly, very slowly, draining away. So slowly, in fact, that I sleep like a baby for over 11 hours whilst Jules starts to get ready. The initial plan was to head out to Malaga today, but as things came up and I had to work on my computer for a while, we changed dem plans, opting instead to roam about the village where we are currently staying at.

As this “village” is home to over 67 000 people, locals and tourists alike, there are things to see definitely. And, as we mentioned before, it seems that the LGBT friendliness is ingrained to the culture in Torremolinos so well that people don’t bat an eyelid seeing us walking down the street.

We have put up some nice tips (most of you know there already anyway), and made a few separate entries of some of the really interesting spots we visited!

Shopping

As everywhere in the touristy areas, there are those shops that are built for tourists and then there are the hidden gems that you should go for.

For instance, yesterday we were trying to look for a tailor to alter clothing, and we actually did find one! And today we took the shirts to be altered and she charged 5 euros per shirt for the alteration and it would be ready tomorrow! And the place is just off the main shopping street.

If you haven’t been here before, one handy tip is to get your basic necessities from bigger shops like Mercadona where price of big bottles of water, for instance, is cheaper than on the corner stores. Plus the range of items is much bigger, obviously.

But, as we all want to save the planet for the next generation, leave the plastic bags in the store, and remember to carry your own multi-use bag with you to carry your shopping home.

One of the places you definitely should stop at is Sabor a España, a speciality shop for sweet things from around Spain.

And if you are interested in stones and other new age things, just opposite of Sabor a España is proper shop for your needs. The owner seems to be quite knowledgeable of what he sells, and can also impart some information that one wouldn’t expect…

Time For Lunch

Admist all the walking and shopping we do need sustenance and hydration! Like many other places along the Costa, there is a multitude of small cafe/bars that serve Menu del Día, menu of the day. This usually is a set menu with choices for your starter and mains, and it also comes with a glass of drink, and a dessert. Cost is around 6-8 euros per person. As the menu is a full meal, it also fills your tummy up quite nicely.

Some lunch, maybe? (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

We’d recommend you to check those places up that have locals inside eating. This is an age old trick to try to ensure that the quality of the food is good. Also, don’t be afraid to try new things or don’t be daunted if the menu is only in Spanish. These situations are the best to learn bits of the language and usually the waiters and waitresses are happy to use their English with you as well. Everyone benefits!

Nightlife

After our dinner at a local place (where the food was excellent even at 11 pm) we decided to walk a bit more and headed to the Plaza de la Nogalera where the guy scene is happening. But truth to be told, Tuesday night is perhaps not the best night to go out, as in many bars there weren’t that many people, really. We ended up at Aqua, nicely sitting outside, enjoying a table service for beverages, strong ones that is, before heading back home to have a good night’s sleep.

The Aqua by night. (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

The Aqua was a nice experience, as there seemed to be a good mix of people around. There was proper music with videos (Beyonce, Madonna, etc) but at least when sitting outside it wasn’t overly loud. Drinks were slightly pricey (6€ for a G&T) but that is to be expected when going to a nightclub style of place.

The best thing I noticed was that there were definite non-gay couples as well, enjoying their drinks at the LGBT places. Really nice thing to see!

14.05.2019: First Impressions of Torremolinos

As our flight arrived early and we didn’t really feel like going all the way to Malaga with our bags, and as our hotel check-in time was relatively late, at 14.00 in the afternoon, we had some time to kill after arriving Torremolinos.

As we decided to sit down and have a much awaited coffee (thanks Norwegian), we had the perfect opportunity to observe the amount of people and street performers going about their daily lives. It actually seems that there is a good mix of tourists and locals around, giving Torremolinos an international feel without having that “built just for tourists” feel that one tends to get in some tourist hotspots.

One of the things that really strikes me after arriving to Torremolinos is the visibility of the LGBT community, at least around the Plaza de la Nogalera area. I have to say that neither of us actually expected to see rainbow flags displayed so openly, drag shows being advertised there and then, and so on. Even the city’s official tourist map prominently displays the LGBT district – albeit small but still it is there.

Another aspect of the culture that resonates with us is the fact that the elderly citizens seem to be very much a part of the community. They walk, usually not alone but with friends or carers, around with their walkers or whatnot, and all all dressed up really nice. Very prim and proper.

And also, later in the evening when we went for our paella we saw the children playing out and about even after 21:30 in the evening and the senior citizens were still there, enjoying the life of the place.

So maybe this is really all about the Sun, the Sea, and the Sangria after all?

14.05.2019: Reviewing Norwegian for Holidays

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Norwegian at Malaga (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

Norwegian is one of the biggest low-cost airlines in Europe and we have flown with them many times in the past, before recently having moved to fly with another airline more and more. Because of this it was a refreshing change to come back and test a direct flight from Helsinki to Malaga. One of the biggest factors of course was the price of the flight.

The Price

One of the main selling points for us this time was the price of the tickets as we didn’t plan to take any cargo luggage with us and when it comes to current prices of putting luggage to cargo hold, Borwegian is still one of the most affordable ones there is.

A Norwegian Cabin (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

Check-In Process

Check-in for this flight was easy and convenient to do, as we did it online. One major hiccup for me was when I logged into my Norwegian account and didn’t see my flight there. Every time I had to go through a search to find the flight details (as the tickets were bought by my husband).

And one major turn off was that we were no longer allowed to pick our seats as part of the check-in process. Now one has to really purchase a seat, otherwise it will be assigned to you. It was a tad annoying.

Otherwise than that, the process went smoothly and might have been even smoother had I downloaded their app beforehand.

Services Onboard

It was the services during the flight that made us go “meh”. Had we pre ordered meals, it would have arrived without any drinks whatsoever and during the drinks sales service.

This would have been ok, if Norwegian accepted debit cards. Neither of us hasn’t got an Electron or an online debit card, but one of those with embossed numbers and letters, and this far Norwegian is the only airline that we have used in recent times where this debit card is an issue.

Which blatantly meant that it was a 4 hours flight without anything to drink or snack as the card wasn’t accepted and as a Finn, I hardly ever carry cash with me (which leads to situations in other countries…).

Another issue that was a definite worsening of Norwegian’s service is the introduction of “premium internet packages”. You still can get the free internet as before but Norwegian seems to have blocked all social media from it (apps and websites), as it is clear they want to charge people when using those. The basic, free, internet only allows web browsing with a very slow connection.

Spain From Above. (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

The Verdict

As much as we prefer direct flights over layovers, and a good bargain, we still feel that heading to a holiday would warrant that something extra to be enjoyable. And sadly that is not what Norwegian provided this time around, and based on our previous experiences, it is quite clear that some of their services I have gone downhill.

And when it is already 2019 and you still can’t get a cup of coffee during a flight because of the sales system not accepting cards that the majority uses.. well, that’s a definite reason for me to keep paying a bit more for our flights.

14.05.2019: To Málaga With Norwegian

Wake up is at 4 am and when one is trying to remember who and where one is, it all comes back! It’s time for another trip.

At Helsinki Airport (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

This time we are heading to Spain, to Costa del Sol and Málaga area. Compares to the last trip, this is going to be a bit different experience as we are not actually staying in Málaga, but in Torremolinos, and for part of our trip we have decided to rent a car – which allows us to venture a bit further away without being tied up to public transportation schedules.

As much I would love to just have a Sun, Sea, and Sangria type of holiday, I know that I would be left craving more if we only stayed at one place.

Sunshine at 10kms (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019
On Top Of The World! (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

Helsinki Airport

At the moment the airport in Helsinki is undergoing a major renovation as they are revamping the whole entrance area. This far they have closed some of the driveways, and demolished a car park. We will see what the future holds. But for the moment this means simply that one should come to the airport a tad earlier, especially during the vacation season.

One thing that hasn’t changed are the extravagant prices at the shops! I am still amused that a 500ml bottle of soft drink can cost just under 4 euros. I blame the high rentals and the fact that most of the kiosks and restaurants are managed by one company.

Now they have also opened an extension which has added even more gates to one end of the T1. This is something to keep in mind if you are transiting at Helsinki – distances between gates can be long and time consuming!

Luckily for us, the walk today is not that bad. I also forgot how much we Finns love to queue up! People are actually standing, in a neat queue, at the gate about 30 minutes before departure. So funny.

The Flight

The Norwegian Cabin. (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

This time around we opted for a direct flight with Norwegian instead of using Lufthansa, which we have tried to do since realising that it might be better to concentrate on one company for the miles and more.

But as we found a really good bargain with Norwegian, as as it was a direct flight, we bought the tickets.

As there were some things that we thought warranted a bit more discussion, we made another post about it.

Arriving Málaga

Cafe Manon at the Airport. (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

As on the previous trip, finding your way from the terminal to the Renfe train station is a bit of a bore. This time around we managed it quite easily as we almost remembered the route from the last time. Just pay attention to the train logos until you get outside, where the buses depart and then you are almost there!

The single tickets for the trains can be bought from the vending machines that are quite easy to use. For me, using the train is an extremely handy way to go around between Fuengirola and Málaga.

And as it is over 20⁰C warm, it seems to be turning out as fantasting holiday ahead!

02.03.2018 /3: Off to Helsinki, Finland

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The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain… (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2018

Our departure time was supposed to be 15:50 from Málaga but the storm currently bringing down torrential rain, is also having heavy gusts of wind – preventing any aircrafts from taking off. Currently we are expecting a start-up permission about 1 hour late from the original time of departure, which in turn makes our transit in Frankfurt shorter. Continue reading “02.03.2018 /3: Off to Helsinki, Finland”

02.03.2018 /2: Bye Bye Málaga

It’s the last day in Málaga and the heavens have opened! It’s been raining since the wee hours of morning and the rain didn’t stop by the time of our check-out. We had planned to head out with our luggage and explore a bit more before heading to the train station and then to the airport.

Instead we take a taxi from our place in the Old Town to the Málaga Maria Zambrano station. The cost is roughly 6.50€, which is quite cheap at least to Finnish standards. We chose the Maria Zambrano station because it has a shopping centre built in the station building with various food establishments as well.

We are only taking the train to the airport from here, but Maria Zambrano station is also the place to take your trains to other cities in Spain and also buses as the bus terminal is just next door.

02.03.2018 /1: Sea & Wave Dos Aceras (apartment)

This time we didn’t book our accommodation through AirBnB, but found a good deal from hotels.com! When we book accommodations we tend to take a bit more time to see different options, and myself I haven’t yet learned how to use trivago.

So this time we stayed at Sea & Wave Dos Aceras, an apartment quite conveniently located near the heart of the old town. At first we were a bit apprehensive as the apartment we got was on the ground floor – fantastic for luggage, not so fantastic if you are not properly dressed and want to keep the curtains open. However, the main windows are not on that kind of level where it would be easy to peer in, so we wouldn’t have needed to worry about anyone peeping.

The apartment has a fully functional kitchen, which we hardly used, nicely finished bathroom and a shower, living room area and bedroom area. As it was a bit chilly at this time of the year, we used the air conditioner to give us a bit of a heat during the nights.

Next time we are going to stay here we do need to remember to get something to get rid of the mosquitoes!

Our rating: ****

The raining is based on the location, convenience of food shopping, and eating. Also during check-in, the lady checking us in gave us a ton of valuable tips, some of which you have seen realised in our blog texts!