Did I Tell You About The Food, and White-washed Villages?

For those who have not read my previous entires, I am searching for a place in Spain to spend my retirement days. Currently, I am in the south of Spain and have been here in Torre del Mar for the past three weeks. I have one more week to go and will move on to Málaga, and Sevilla. After that, all I know is that I must be in Valencia by June 17th.

As expected, the Torre del Mar returned to some normalcy after the Easter Week or Semana Santa. People returned to work and school. The streets and restaurants of Torre del Mar were far less congested. Honestly, it was nice, but it was also lovely to witness how the Spanish locals celebrated one of the most important weeks of the year.

My shoes have not been as supportive as they should be, so I walked up by the hospital, 20 minutes up a gradual climb. I arrived at an orthopaedic shoe store where I was shuttled into the back room for an assessment The young lady was so sweet and brought me numerous shoes for me to try. As much as fashion is nice, function is more important for the amount of walking I’ll be doing and there is nothing worse than aching feet when touring around. I used my credit card for the first time since being in this trip, paid for my shoes which were €75.

Note: I haven’t been to a cash machine yet. I’m still using the money I brought with me. Preparing some meals at home is certainly saving the pocketbook.

I came home, and registered online with Alsa, the bus company and purchased a ticket to Nerja for the next day. I know Nerja (pronounced nare-ha) is a popular spot and many Canadians, British and Scandinavians retire here. Perhaps it will work for me.

The next morning, with my new shoes firmly holding my feet in place, I walked 10 minutes to the bus station. Looking around, there were people standing at various spots. I looked for signage, but couldn’t find any. I knew my bus was to arrive at 9:45 am. Of course, I was early. I sat on a bench where there was a crowd of people and observed. “Don’t panic girl” I thought to myself, “You can do this.” I saw a couple of buses come and go. I noticed that they have the destination on a sign in the window. So far, I haven’t seen Nerja on any list. I wondered about the onboarding process. Does the driver scan the ticket on my phone, do I need a paper ticket? I texted Anne-Grete and she said the bus driver might have a list of people who pre-purchased a ticket and might ask for identification. She said she shows her passport when asked. I had a sinking feeling Nerja might not be in the cards today. I left my passport back at the apartment. I will see what happens. A couple more buses come and go, and I’m gripping my phone with e-ticket and my daypack tightly. A bus appears with Nerja on the list. I stand up and get into line. You know that feeling when you go in front of a customs officer: you feel guilty even when you have nothing to claim. That was me. Up the step I go. I flash the driver my phone, and he says, yes. Nerja and waves me through. That was easy. I find the first available seat and settle in for a 45 minute ride. This bus had two stops, and one was Torrox Costa another possible location I had heard about.

The bus arrived and I stepped off in Nerja to honking cars and trucks, diesel fumes, and motorbikes. It was not what I had imagined at all. Then realizing this is a work day, it made sense. Across the way, was a park with a fountain, and a cafe, a quiet refuge. I sat on a bench to get my bearings and looked at my map. I needed to head towards the water and the Balcon de Europa. Down the hill I made my way to a square and recognized the Balcon from the pictures. Walking slowly, to the edge, I looked out over the sea and up and down the coast. The view is breathtaking! Ragged and jagged rocks and waves crashing against them. It reminded me of Cape Spear, Newfoundland. I don’t care much for heights, so I found another bench and took in the atmosphere. There were many tourists and I heard English, German and a Scandinavian language. What I didn’t hear was Spanish. I looked back towards the square and noticed many ice cream shops, beachwear and hostals/hotels. The church would be my next stop. There was a cat laying in the dirt. I named him El Jefe (the boss). He would not move, even for the workers placing irrigation hoses in the garden, they worked around him.

Balcon de Europa, Nerja

I walked up and down the pretty, narrow streets. There was a lot of construction. The old town is quite lovely and I’m sure there are more Irish pubs here per capita, than Dublin. For the next few hours, I familiarized myself with the town before catching my bus back to Torre del Mar. A lady from Ottawa sat next to me and gave me her perspective about living in Spain. She has been going through the NLV (Non-Lucrative Visa) process for the past 3 years, and has decided to abandon it. Too much bureaucracy and has decided to move back to Canada. I know about the bureaucracy, but it was still good to hear another Canadians perspective. Here is my summary of Nerja:

  • Scenery – 9
  • Warmth. – 3
  • $ Value – 5
  • Accessibility – 2

For the next couple of days I spent it researching real estate and rental prices in Torre del Mar and doing chores and continuing my Spanish lessons. The weather has turned blustery and cooler. Still, better than the snow and 5C back home. A mourning dove also known as a turtle dove was cooing outside my window this morning. It was haunting but also familiar and comforting.

Anne-Grete and Geir have invited me to their place for dinner along with one other, Annie from Sweden. I have offered to bring an appetizer, so must look around for something to bring. Annie doesn’t eat meat or shellfish. I guess a vegetarian option then. I walked to the west end of the promenade and I think I smiled the entire way. The parakeets were squawking and flying past my head whenever I tried to get a photo. The artwork on the buildings was beautiful. When I reached the end by Playa del Varadero, there was a commemorative display of a fishing boat encased in a blue mosaic-tiled sea. The front of the bow has an eye painted on it called the “evil eye” to ward off evil spirits. Interesting how different countries share this mariner tradition. I’ve seen it in Malta, Greece and now Spain.

Maria, from Oletrips called me to say there was an opening for a trip to the white village of Frigiliana and the lost village of El Acebuchal. The weather was supposed to be rainy and I decided to go for it. I’d probably be inside on my computer, so a day exploring will be fun.

I received a surprise video chat from Johanne Dion-Murphy which was so nice. Having internet has been awesome as I can stay connected to back home. Anne-Grete texted me that they were going for a drink and so off I went to join them. We had dinner at El Horno, a pizza and pasta restaurant. The food was incredible. We shared a tapa of smoked chicken/provolone, a bottle of wine and a pizza. The evening cost €68 total for 3 people.

Cipriano picked me up at 9:15 am and we headed to Nerja where we met Ray and Sean from Dublin. After quick intros, Cipri gave us an overview of the day. We would be in Frigiliana in 20 minutes, he would give us the history, a tour and then we could explore the town ourselves. We saw the sugar cane factory, watchbtower, and ruins from years gone by. We began ascending steps that were very tall for my short legs, and the descents were difficult. I think I’m still a little fearful of falling and handrails are not common. Sean was a dear and offered me his arm. This is what I would expect from a polite Irish lad. I refused but eventually let the ego go and gave in. The whitewashed walls of this village are stunning and every corner is a view of mosaic, ceramic, potted plants, brightly painted doors and intimate alcoves. The village clings to the side of the hill and is a photographers dream. Stunning!

Town of Frigiliana

We then drove to El Acebuchal, known as the lost village. The name Acebuchal deprives from “acebuche” which means olive. The simplified version of why it is called the lost village is because the villagers were forced to leave their homes in 1948. The village fell into disrepair. In 1998, Antonio Garcia Sanchez, the son of an earlier villager returned with his wife and began restoring a few houses. They noticed that people were coming back and so the process of restoring more homes began. The village now has 36 houses, a bar/restaurant, and a chapel. Forget connectivity, you are nestled in the mountains of a national park. The restaurant is a favourite stop for hikers. The village has only 5 full time residents plus some holiday rentals for those wanting to disconnect.

The walk around was short but beautiful. The homes have the cutest motifs on the corners and my fave was one at ground level of a mouse and a door with the name Sr. Perez next to it. Here is what I found about Sr. Perez:

El Ratoncito Pérez (cited from the Internet)

In Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia, Ratoncito Pérez (aka Perez the Mouse, the Tooth Mouse, el Ratón de los Dientes, or el Ratón Pérez) is a popular figure who replaces a child’s lost baby tooth that has been placed under their pillow with a gift.

There is much more to the story and how a writer (Colombo) was commissioned by the Queen to create a story for 8-year old King Alphonso XIII who had just lost his tooth.

Sr. Perez the mouse motif on side of building

There is much more to the story and how a writer (Colombo) was commissioned by the Queen to create a story for 8-year old King Alphonso XIII who had just lost his tooth.ra 20 minutes to Bar El Acebuchal. You won’t regret it.

After lunch, we headed to a little shop where we met with Antonio, yes, THE ANTONIO! He was surrounded by trinkets and souvenirs but the best was his homemade Muscadet wine which we did shots of with him and then the goat cheese, mango preserves and sausage. Guess what appetizer I’ll be bringing on Saturday? I kicked myself for not buying his olive oil. It was delicious! Oh did I tell you about the bread that you dip into the olive oil? Mmmm

Heading back down the mountain was a little scary for me. The soft shoulder, the wet roads, and the thought of us tumbling sideways down the mountainside. Heights, not my thing. I kept squealing and leaning towards Cipri, and he laughed but tried to console me. That was the longest descent in my mind. Obviously, I survived to tell this story.

The next day was a quiet one. I wandered around town thinking what life could be like here. I’ve had an annoying cough, a remnant of a cold from a couple week ago. I feel perfectly fine, but the cough happens when I talk too much. It hasn’t been keeping me up at night but I want to visit the pharmacy today to see if I can get some cough medicine. Cough medicine in hand, I head to Anne-Grete/Geir’s for dinner. Approaching their building, I meet up with Annie who will be joining the dinner party. We took a bit to find the apartment. I learned about the location of the elevator stacks, and how to turn on the hall lights. It takes a bit to get used to. Also, the elevators are very tiny. Once inside the apartment where we were greeted warmly, I set off to find Geir, and get everyone a drink as Anne-Grete was busy tending to dinner.

Dinner was lovely. There was fish, salad, potatoes. We all got to know each other a little better and after coffee and dessert, Geir pulled out his guitar and began serenading us. It didn’t take long for all of us to join in. Annie had a drive home back to Torrox Park so she said her goodbyes. Anne-Grete and I did the dishes while Geir continued to play. It was so much fun. At one point I grabbed the dish brush and went into the dining room and sang the Dolly Parton version of Island in the Stream while Geir was Kenny. It was hilarious.

This was our last weekend in Torre del Mar, and what a terrific way to celebrate. Anne-Grete and Geir were fabulous hosts. Thanks to Annie for some of the photos.

Sunday morning, I did some laundry and headed out to the promenade for a walk. Along the way I could smell the open fires of the espetos. I decided that this was a perfect opportunity to try this Malagueñan specialty. Sardines grilled over olive wood and sprinkled with sea salt. I found a table at Café Miguel and ordered a nice cold beer and lunch.

This was a terrific week and so far Torre del Mar has stolen my heart. Five days left to experience all it has to offer. Next is Córdoba and the Alhambra.


  1. Your pictures are brilliant and describe the beauty of the town with such vividnesses. A perspective of the newness of your experience is the nervous energy that brings such life to this adventure. ❤️ It!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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