Welcome to my Puerto Duquesa blog

I've been visiting Puerto Duquesa three or four times a year for the past 20 years and have seen the area change enormously in that time. Where once there were dirt tracks and open countryside, there are now two lane motorways and apartment complexes. And whilst the area has changed and grown dramatically, it has still retained its small town, or should that be 'small marina' feel, which keeps me, and thousands others, coming back year after year.

Since I am currently in the USA it is a slightly odd time to start a blog about Puerto Duquesa, but the reason for doing so is simple - I may actually have some time to write some stuff! Most of the things I'm going to write about are things I like doing in the area or places I like going. Clearly I am not going to be able to cover everything, but hopefully I can give you a taste of what makes this such a special place and give you some ideas for your next trip.

If you can't immediately find what you are looking for, please scroll down and look in the blog archive (click the triangles to expand the list of articles). You might also want to start with these articles: Puerto Duquesa: the basics, Favourite (best?) restaurants in Puerto Duquesa, Puerto Duquesa beaches and Holiday accommodation in Puerto Duquesa. Want to get to know the area? Try A walking tour of Puerto Duquesa.

I welcome contributions, comments, criticisms and...well...praise.

If you want to link to me or you want me to link to you, that'll work too. If I think you're a good local company and you're prepared to part with a few euros, you might be lucky enough to advertise on the blog (which, fyi, is page rank 3 on Google - just type in puerto duquesa at google.com).

Thanks / Gracias

Chris (chris@cdgsmith.com) (March 2007)


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Long term rentals on the Costa del Sol

A regular reader of the blog contacted me recently to talk about his business, which specialises in long term rentals on the Costa del Sol. As he explains, now may be the perfect time to pick-up a bargain in Puerto Duquesa and surroundings, but a long-term rental could be an excellent short-term solution to test the water and confirm that a move to Spain is right for you...

With Spanish housing prices tanking, some brave souls, specifically those in the enviable position of having cash in hand, could be poised to finally make the move to Costa del Sol. It's often a good idea to take on a long term rental as an intermediate step between vacationing and buying. Staying for several months gives you the opportunity to switch from an idyllic vacation mode to the reality of living in an area that lacks the convenience and pace of major cities in the U.S. and the U.K.

That's not to say an extended stay in Puerto Duquesa, or anywhere along the Costa del Sol, will necessarily sour you on the experience of living in the region. I think we've all been on "vacations" that turned out to be physically and psychologically exhausting. Having a familiar, safe, and comfortable home to return to every evening can make those paradoxical stresses of vacation melt away. And, a long term rental can also give you a fairly clear picture of what working in the region would be like.

This site specializes in setting up long term rentals in the region.

Long Term Rentals Costa Del Sol has a variety of properties and competitive rates if you'd like to check them out.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Driving to Puerto De La Duquesa...from London!

We're just returned from a fantastic summer trip to Puerto Duquesa.

For the first time we decided that instead of spending a nasty 4-5 hours in an airport/aeroplane, we would spend a (hopefully) pleasant 3 days each way driving through France and Spain. It certainly lived up to expectations and we saw some amazing places on our journey which I hope we will have time to go back to one day.

If you are thinking about doing a similar trip, here are some tips and places to see:

Before you go

Planning is really important for such a long trip.

The first thing to get right is the car. To start with we bought an AA European Travel Kit and then got another hi-viz vest and a spare lightbulb kit from Halfords. They are quite strict on road regulations in France and Spain so make sure you get what you need. Also, check oil pressure, tire pressures/wear, coolant levels, etc. We were fortunate enough to travel in a fairly new car, but if you are travelling in something a little more mature I would suggest you get a mechanic to give it the once over before you clock up 3000 miles.

Next, you need to get your itinerary sorted (for recommended places, see below). We used Google Maps as our starting point and then relied on a Tom Tom for most of our navigation. To save time and hassle on the road, set your destinations as 'Favourites' in the sat nav menu. We got lost only once, as a result of the Spanish constantly re-jigging their roads, but never had to resort to a conventional map, which was a real bonus given our lack of map-reading skills.

Finally, work out how to pack the car to minimise stress (there's nothing worse that lugging tonnes of stuff around in the heat). We packed all our stuff for Puerto Duquesa in the boot and then had a small holdall each for overnight stops. It worked really well.

Recommended places

Here was our trip:

On the way out we had a first night at Chateau Clery in Hesdin L'Abbe, 40 minutes drive from the Eurotunnel(book 45 days in advance to get a great rate of around €100 per night not including breakfast); our second night at Chateau Julie outside Bordeaux (€90 including a super breakfast served by the very hospitable Dutch hosts around a large table shared with other guests); and our third night in the Parador in Chinchon (€160ish, but the best place in town by quite a margin, set right in the centre in an old covent).

On the way home, we stayed at Chateau Clery and Chateau Julie again, but stayed at the Parador in Salamanca (£90 through Quido/hotels.com).

Salamanca and Chinchon are both stunning. You need 3-4 hours to walk around and see all of Salamanca's amazing architecture whereas all there is to see in Chinchon is the main plaza, which turns into a bull-ring in the summer.

Our most notable lunchtime stops were in Covarrabarais (near Madrid) (eat in the main plaza and wander around the town after lunch); Merida (near Mardrid) (spectacular Roman ruins and a nice main plaza for lunch); and San Sebastian (a beautiful natural harbour and a very chic seaside resort).

I would highly recommend doing this drive. We covered about 7-8 hours a day, which was comfortable for one driver (me). Just watch out for the gendarmes around the north coast of France...I am now 90 euros lighter thanks to a police man hiding behind a hedge on a sliproad!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Opera comes to Puerto Duquesa

I'm on a role with my posts today...

This sounds like it should be a good night:

Well known and popular Welsh Tenor Stephen Lloyd-Morgan will be performing 'A Special Evening of Opera & Musical Theatre´ at the five-star La Duquesa Golf Hotel on Saturday 26th July. Entitled 'Music of the Night´ it will also feature fellow West End professional Lydia Barrett.

As well as solo performances which will include Nessun Dorma (Turandot), Memory (Cats), No Llores por Mi Argentina (Evita), and Master of the House (Les Misérables), Steve and Lydia will duet with Music of the Night and All I Ask of You (Phantom of the Opera), Last Night of The World and Sun & Moon (Miss Saigon). They will also perform their popular classical duet Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye), which has been known to scarcely leave a dry eye in the house.

Those who have met Steve describe him as shy, quiet and extremely unassuming. It is therefore particularly surprising that this is the same person who sings such breathtakingly powerful songs. Originating from The Rhondda Valley in South Wales, he is undeniably a born singer and entertainer who trained at the Welsh College of Music & Drama and Mountview Theatre School in London.

Performing a handful of his repertoire in an evening would be an achievement for many, but to sing such demanding songs relentlessly in English, Spanish or Italian, almost without pause for two hours is remarkable. Steve is a truly dedicated professional, evidently passionate about his art; he somehow manages to juggle his rehearsals and numerous performances with a full-time job as a Financial Analyst in Gibraltar.

Steve’s 'after-dinner´ entertainment evenings have gone from strength to strength since he first performed locally last year and are often sold out. He is delighted that Lydia has once again agreed to join him for this special evening.

Canadian by birth but raised in England, Lydia trained at Arts Educational School in London and has appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber´s original production of 'Aspects of Love´, the original workshop of 'Sunset Boulevard´ and as Jemima in 'Cats´. Other roles include Liesel in 'The Sound of Music´. She works for a property development company in Gibraltar and also lives in the Duquesa area.

The evening of 26th July will begin at 7.30pm with a Cava and Tapas Cocktail Reception on the terrace overlooking the golf course. This will be followed by a four course dinner in the newly refurbished function suite above the Golf Club. The evening will culminate in two hours of showstoppers and classics from Opera & Musical Theatre.

Steve and Lydia welcome the opportunity to work with local businesses and very much appreciate the continued support of The Resident, Manilva Leisure, Andalucia Life, Glitterati, Spectrum FM, & Cache+.

July 26th will certainly be the musical highlight of the summer.

Advance ticket only €65.00 per head which includes all house wines, beers and mixers. Purchase by 18th July, available by calling 697 783 942 or from the offices of Manilva Leisure, Puerto de la Duquesa. Additional details:- www.slmlive.com

Blue flag for Puerto Duquesa

Great news!

Yet again, the marina and beaches at Puerto Duquesa have received a blue flag from the Association for Environmental and Consumer Education.

Full story here:

http://www.euroweeklynews.com/news/9103.html

Puerto Duquesa holiday rentals - a guide

I receive hundreds of emails a month asking me for holiday rental recommendations. Unfortunately, I am not always able to respond personally, but in order to point you in the right direction I have teamed up with RentalSystems.com, one of the largest (and best value) holiday rental sites in the world to try and point you in the right direction. Some of their best properties are displayed on the right hand side of the blog above the weather, but this search tool allows you to do a deeper search of all the properties on their books for your desired dates.

Please let me have any feedback if you use this system as I am keen to offer the best advice on rental accomodation in Puerto Duquesa.

To find Puerto Duquesa, select:

Marbella - Gibraltar
Manilva - Sabanillas
La Duquesa




Monday, July 7, 2008

Family on holiday in Puerto Duquesa seize drugs!

This news item caught my eye this morning:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1032636/The-family-went-dolphin-hunting--500-000-cannabis-stash.html

Not much detail, but worth a read.

For those that are interested to learn more about crime and drugs on the Costa del Sol, Costa del Street Crime (on Bravo / Sky) is well worth a watch. Thankfully I have yet to see any incidents in Duquesa and they are mainly confined to the larger resorts further east towards Malaga. As I mentioned in a previous post, the local police are very conscious that they need to keep Duquesa safe for all to ensure that the tourists keep comings, and they seem to be doing a good job of this.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spring

Our latest trip to Puerto Duquesa (end April to beginning May) was great fun - the weather was perfect (up to 25 degrees, but cool in the evenings), and we discovered a couple of new places and re-discovered some old ones.

First of all, I would highly recommend Suite at the Puente Romano Hotel on the Golden Mile in Marbella. My memory of this glamorous, Morrocon themed restaurant was not good; the food average, the bill huge, the seating uncomfortable. But, to my surprise, we had a fantastic, reasonably priced (for Marbella) meal in comfort! We started with the mezze which consisted of falafel, hummus, pita bread, etc. and got our taste buds suitably excited for the main course. The chicken cous cous, served in a large terracota pot, was filling and delicious and the sea bass, very tasty with delicious crispy onions and al dente vegetables. The total, sin alcohol, was €70 euros which, compared with London at least, wasn't too bad.

We also spent an afternoon in Mijas where we explored the botanical gardens, a couple of churches and the old town, as well as the donkeys! Definitely worth the drive.

Exciting news - the Hotel at La Duquesa has now been upgraded to 5* and I am really looking forward to trying out the spa (I think I said this at Christmas, but I will go in the summer).

Driving down through France and Spain in the summer - a full report to follow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Time flies...

We spent a wonderful 2 weeks in Duquesa over the Christmas and New Year. Highlights included a spectacular five course New Year's eve meal at Casanis in Marbella Old Town (definitely one of my favourite restaurants on the coast); bowling at La Canada (an excellent use of a rainy day); and an afternoon spent walking around Casares (good for clearing the lungs and the view along the coast from the castle on the top of the hill is breaktaking).

There aren't that many new developments to report, but the refurbished and revamped Hotel La Duquesa looks very smart and I'm looking forward to trying out the new spa. As well as traditional treatments like massages, manicures and pedicures, you can also pay a daily fee to use all the different temperature pools and saunas. Can't wait!