The Sizzle in Algeciras

Don't believe all the guide books tell you

Algeciras

There’s more to Algeciras than an industrial port city

Ever since I first landed in Spain, my career has been ‘going south’ – and I don’t just mean geographically.

Because after alluring Alicante and magnificent Málaga, also-ran Algeciras seems a bit of a comedown for a freelance writer specialising in ‘sizzle’ .

I mean, you never read about Hemingway’s Algeciras. You couldn’t do a lot of Driving Over Lemons in Algeciras. Orwell paid no homage to Algeciras (as he did to Catalonia), Gerald Brenan never got this far South from Granada and, although the poet Lorca once stayed in Algeciras, it didn’t inspire him to wax lyrical.

Poor old Algeciras, eternally optimised for the keyphrase ‘industrial port city’.

In fact, at first I was actually afraid of venturing into this

  • centre for drug smuggling’ where you need to ‘keep your wits about you in the port, bus station and market’ Lonely Planet
  • with its ‘ugly concrete bunker-type architecture and ill-conceived high-risesFrommers Guide
  • spewing out smoke and pollution in the direction of The RockRough Guides

But I needed some new leggings and it has a Zara (so not too Third World, then) and I have a moneybelt … So I strapped it on and set forth.

And guess what?

I didn’t get mugged, I wasn’t offered drugs and the wind must have been blowing the pollution in a different direction on the sun-filled autumnal day I sat in Plaza Alta, contemplating the ceramic toad fountain over a café con leche.

It’s fashionable to knock Algeciras but I’m no fashionista (except where Zara leggings are concerned). The quintessential Cinderella city whose ball-going days were Once Upon A Time must have been beautiful once (a phrase I can personally relate to). How could the first city ever built by the Moors in Spain not have been beautiful, once?

(And I didn’t read that in the guide books…)

Now she’s just another old lady in need of a facelift, still impeccably connected – to Morocco and Ceuta by ferry, to Gibraltar by road and to the rest of Europe by train – but people don’t stay, they pass through. She’s no more than a one-night stand.

Poor old Algeciras, dismissed by all and sundry as a transport hub!

Of course, this is not Gaudí’s Barcelona or Villanueva’s Madrid. It’s Eduardo Torroja’s Algeciras.  Torroja was a Madrid structural engineer famous for pioneering the ‘concrete shell’.

There’s a lot of concrete in Algeciras and some of it is shabby. But there’s nothing too shabby about the roof of Algeciras Market Hall, engineered by Torroja in 1933 and the largest in the world until the Houston Astro Dome stole the title. The architect of the city’s Kursaal Conference Centre in Algeciras should also take a bow for his ‘concrete chic’. That’s Guillermo Pérez Villalta, a brilliant post-modernist artist who has paintings hanging in Madrid’s Reina Sofía Museum.

(And I didn’t read that in the guide books…)

For better or worse, Algeciras and I are stuck with each other like star-crossed lovers: a writer specialising in sizzle and a city that no one wants to credit with having any.

So what the hell! I’ll write my own guide book and give it a working title: The Sizzle in Algeciras.

If it isn’t an oxymoron then it could be a best seller!

 

IMAGE GALLERY (Hover to read the caption, double click to enlarge the pictures)

5 REASONS TO LOVE ALGECIRAS

(double click to enlarge the pictures) 

1. Paco de Lucía, the great classical flamenco guitarist, loves his native Algeciras – as do all these Spanish artists and celebrities who were also born in the city and agreed to share the love (for no fee) in the following video, produced by Algeciras Town Hall. The Algeciras me gusta campaign also has its own Facebook page.

2. Ava Gardner, Orson Wells, Lorca, Cole Porter, Franklin D. Roosevelt and a young journalist called Winston Churchill all signed the visitors book at the Reina Cristina, said to be the oldest hotel on the southern Spanish coast. This atmospheric establishment set in 50.000 m2 of manicured gardens overlooking the Bay of Algeciras exudes Hercule Poirotesque elegance. Its colonial charms may be a little worn but it’s still the perfect setting for cocktails on a sultry summer’s evening.

Algeciras

Retro romance: the grand Hotel Reina Cristina

3. You can catch the Smugglers Express from Algeciras. The line now plied by the high-speed Altaria to Madrid has its origins in the late 19th century, when it was built to provide British garrison officers in Gibraltar with family away-days in the Spanish countryside. It earned its nickname because it travelled so slowly, people were able to sell contraband liquor, coffee and sugar through the windows. It’s also called Mr Henderson’s Railway after Sir Alexander Henderson, the English railway enthusiast who backed the project and built a hotel at each end of the line – the aforementioned Reina Cristina and its sister, the Reina Victoria, in Ronda. Even today, this scenic train is the only way to travel to Ronda, running through countryside so stunning that it’s going to merit a post of its own. Watch this space!

Algeciras Station

Catch the Smugglers Express from Algeciras

4. The Moroccan Quarter in Algeciras has all of the advantages (and none of the alcoholic deprivations) of the real Africa, whose rugged contours rise up across the Gibraltar Strait. Scores of ferry companies are clustered here, at the south-western end of the city where the flavour of everything merges to Mudejar. Look out for kebab kiosks, colourful cake shops selling cloud-light puff pastry pastelas and teterías serving mint tea.

Algeciras

A taste of Morocco in Algeciras

5. Remember the old Otis Redding song, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay? You can do that in Algeciras, the strategically important gateway to the Atlantic and Mediterranean and the 16th busiest port in the world. Some 3million containers a year are loaded and unloaded from its 10 kilometres of quays. Watching the ships roll in beats staring at beaches of under-clad, over-fed bodies any time!

Check out this mind-blowing time lapse video with amazing speeded-up footage of port activity and other aspects of the Campo de Gibraltar. Shared by kind permission of ANLOES100 who made his video using a Panasonic FZ100, 16 time lapse films and 13,000 photographs. Prepare to be amazed!

 

A History in Pictures

Algeciras once upon a time. Slideshow by VaneAlgeciras

STOP PRESS: Since this post was published it attracted the attention of Europa Sur, the daily newspaper for the Campo de Gibraltar. They couldn’t quite believe a foreigner had nice words to say about Algeciras! This is the  interview they published about it on 13/12/2012.

Una Algeciras interesante más allá de las guías turísticas

Belinda Beckett, profesional y crítica del turismo internacional, alaba la localidad

No todas las críticas sobre Algeciras tenían que ser malas. Ni Hemingway escribió sobre la ciudad; ni Orwell le rindió un homenaje como sí hizo con Cataluña; Brenan -que anduvo cerca- no llegó tan al sur; y poco inspiró a la poesía de Lorca, aunque sí dejó sus pasos sobre esta tierra.

La periodista y crítica inglesa Belinda Beckett se ha asentado en la comarca tras vivir en diferentes ciudades de España y viajar por todo el mundo desde Rusia a Perú, pasando por Asia o Australia trabajando como profesional en la crítica turística para agencias de viaje y empresas del sector. Ha decidido mostrar al mundo cómo es el Campo de Gibraltar empezando por Algeciras a través de su web belindabeckett.com/sizzle-in-algeciras, en la que también se descubre su extensa trayectoria profesional.

En el análisis que hace sobre la ciudad pone por delante las referencias, o advertencias negativas a los turistas, en diferentes guías internacionales, como Lonely Planet que avisa de ser un centro de “contrabando de drogas”; en la guía Frommers tachan a la ciudad de “feo búnker de hormigón” con una arquitectura mal concebida de “edificios altos”; y la Rough Guides advierte sobre la contaminación.

Tras leer las críticas, Beckett confiesa que con temor se decidió a visitar Algeciras, y “¿adivinan qué?” -confiesa en su web- ni le asaltaron, ni le ofrecieron droga, ni sintió esa contaminación. Reconoce que hay un exceso de hormigón, parte de él en mal estado. Pero no por ello hay que olvidar la belleza del Mercado Torroja, el Kursaal o el paisaje, detalles de los que no ha leído nada en las guías, por lo que se anima a escribir una ella misma. Define a Algeciras, con pesar, como una “señora mayor en necesidad de un lavado de cara. No es más que una aventura de noche”.

Destaca el hotel Reina Cristina; la grandiosidad del puerto; la vinculación de Algeciras con Paco de Lucía, artista del que asegura que la mayoría de extranjeros desconoce que nació en la ciudad; además descubre el gran interés de la zona baja con “un sabor mudéjar”; y reconoce la cercanía de África y Gibraltar pero apunta, a mejorar, la falta de turismo de cruceros.

If you liked this post you may enjoy this:
Why the Campo de Gibraltar Rocks!

65 Comments

  • Steve Hall November 18, 2012 at 9:21 am Reply

    You did a magnificent job encouraging me to go back but I guess a bit like Poland and Hungary there is always/there has always been somewhere “more interesting” to go ……and it sure as houses isn’t Gibraltar.

    OK, I promise. Next time I am down that way I shall drop in to see whether it is any better than the last time I was there!

    • Belinda November 18, 2012 at 10:01 am Reply

      Thanks Steve, I hope you will. It’s just a question of finding the sizzle!

  • Paddy Waller November 18, 2012 at 9:24 am Reply

    Great info about much maligned Algeciras. I have been there many moons ago to cross over to Morocco and I was offered drugs but had tapas out and had a nice meal. The place had a nice feel to it. Like all ports it had its dodgy side but so does Valencia!

    • Belinda November 18, 2012 at 9:31 am Reply

      Thanks Paddy, it is certainly more challenging to write about than Spain’s top cities which tend to be a good time ‘done’ by all.

  • Simon Harris November 18, 2012 at 9:38 am Reply

    I didn’t know that the magnificent Paco de Lucía was from Algeciras… a definite reason to visit!

    Also interesting to see you quote from Guidebooks. I often think many travel guides both on and off the net are written by people who haven’t been their basing ther writing on previous misinformed articles. It’s kind of a mad Chinese whispers.

    Thanks for providing first hand knowledge!

    • Belinda November 18, 2012 at 9:46 am Reply

      Agree Simon and the future travel writers will be the people who live in the area, not the pampered press who go there on jollies and see everything through booze-tinted spectacles. The local writers know it inside out (like you in Barcelona) and have up-to-date info and photos (most tourist boards have a poor offering if they have any at all)!

      • Steve Hall November 18, 2012 at 10:09 am Reply

        Oh, I’d love to believe you but when you see one incorrect piece of information (train link Alicante-Torrevieja-Cartagena) trotted out as often as politicians’ promises then you know D copied C who copied B who had copied A who read it in an expat magazine which had Google translated something from a party political brochure.

        If I read “quaint, cobbled streets”, “friendly locals”, “unmissable sunsets”, “delicious tapas” ,”forgotten days” once more I shall puke and/or comment,
        “rutted/uneven streets”, ” stoned hoodies in the doorways grinning moronically”, “sun + horizon = most of Spain’s coastline”, ” small portions” “nobody has spent any money on it”

        Guys not everywhere is 10/10. Life!

  • Matthew Hirtes November 18, 2012 at 10:08 am Reply

    Lovely article, Belinda. Can’t remember much at all about Algeciras as I only caught the ferry there to Morocco. But your article has inspired me to return; to see the city for itself rather than as a port terminal.

    • Belinda December 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm Reply

      I’m very happy you feel so inspired Matthew, and hope you are not disappointed!

  • Fiona Flores Watson November 18, 2012 at 10:23 am Reply

    Excellent article, Belinda, thanks! I’m totally ignorant about Algericas, only believing what I’ve read in guidebooks, or hear from Spanish friends who comes from there – who aren’t entirely complimentary about the city! That hotel sounds especially interesting. I was just reading about the Henderson railway, fascinating stuff!

    • Belinda November 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm Reply

      Thanks Fiona, it’s amazing what you can uncover in Algeciras below the uninteresting surface!

  • robin November 18, 2012 at 11:28 am Reply

    I like Algeciras for its lack of pretension. Some really great bars and tapas to be had – La Casita, Casa Castro, to name but two.

  • Jim November 18, 2012 at 10:40 pm Reply

    Algeciras is not a very nice place to visit. Definitely don’t need your camera if you pass through. In my opinion, Algeciras and Huelva are the only places in western Andalucia that are not appealing.

    • Belinda December 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm Reply

      Well Jim, I think that some of the photos you see here prove that a camera can be handy. And poor old Huelva, that’s a lot of square kilometres you’ve dismissed, I’ll have to go and check it out and see if I can’t find some sizzle somewhere!

  • azahar November 19, 2012 at 10:33 am Reply

    I got lost in Algeciras on the way to Gibraltar about ten years ago. Saw quite a few of the “lowlights” so nice to see it actually has some nice highlights too.

    • Belinda November 22, 2012 at 6:37 pm Reply

      Yes, it does take some searching to discover the highlights!

  • Shaun November 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm Reply

    Great article Belinda! I agree, Algeciras is nowhere near as bad as people make out.

    One great writer who agrees with you is Laurie Lee in his autobiographical book ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ where he takes a ship to Vigo and basically walks the length and breadth of Spain, busking. He didn’t like Seville or Cadiz at all but fell in love with Algeciras, of all places. He said he wouldn’t mind staying there.

    He also described Gibraltar as looking as if ‘it had been towed out from Portsmouth and anchored off-shore still wearing its own grey roof of weather’. LOL.

    Shaun

    • Belinda November 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm Reply

      I didn’t realise that Laurie Lee loved Algeciras Shaun so thanks for the tip. I feel another blog coming on!

  • Christine November 26, 2012 at 11:39 pm Reply

    I’ve got to applaud you for this! After living there the last 3 years, I’ve come away with only a select good things to say about Algeciras. It’s definitely not a place I ever want to return to, but it goes to show you can always find the good in things if you try hard enough!

    • Belinda November 27, 2012 at 10:45 am Reply

      So sorry to hear you’ve left Christine, we could have had a fun day out trying to find the sizzle in Algeciras together. If you’re ever making a sentimental return visit, give me a shout!

  • Antonio December 11, 2012 at 2:51 am Reply

    Congratulations Belinda!! I loved your article. It’s quite hard to read or hear good reviews about Algeciras, even from Spanish people or TV. I’m from Algeciras, actually living in London, and only wanted to add that I’ve been offered drugs more times here in 2 years than there in 25.

    • Belinda December 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm Reply

      How great to get a comment for an Algecireño living miles away in London – another city I love!

  • Carlos December 11, 2012 at 10:54 am Reply

    Hi Belinda, your article is so nice and so true!!!
    Well, I was born in Algeciras, to be honest… But anyway I have been living in other cities, I have traveled abroad quite a lot, and I realize how nice is to live here, in Algeciras.
    Have you visit “Faro de Punta Carnero”?? I heartily recommend it !!!
    Kind regards,
    Carlos

    • Belinda December 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm Reply

      Thank you Carlos, I hear it’s a great spot for birdwatching so it’s on my to-do list!

  • David December 11, 2012 at 11:04 am Reply

    Algeciras is a very beautiful city. Most people who pass through it aren´t aware of all its charms, perhaps by careless tourism orientation. But the great fault is that people who pass through our city’s prejudice it only with the walk from the bus station or train to the ferry. There’s much more to it than that, we have a lot of wonderful places to show. Although it’s a city with 140,000 residents approximately, the people of Algeciras are as welcoming and neighbourly as in any of the small villages.

    Algeciras surprise you!

    • Belinda December 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm Reply

      Just getting to know it, David, but glad to hear I’m in for a warm welcome!

  • Pola (@jettingaround) December 17, 2012 at 4:47 pm Reply

    Belinda – thanks for introducing me to this city! I made it to the south of Spain, but not the SE part.

    I believe it’s possible to find something interesting in every destination (but I think you know that, given that you saw my Tijuana post 🙂 ).

    One of my favorite cities to visit is… Detroit, the place that everyone seems to hate and has written off. But that’s probably because they don’t know about their home brews, a few gourmet restaurants, outdoor market, and an amazing jazz club that’s only open 1 day a week and only locals and cabbies know about…

    Algericas in your description seems like a place I’d put on my list and probably enjoy, starting with flamenco performances. As a marketer, I also appreciate the ‘Algericas me gusta” campaign. When I started reading your post, I was wondering if something like that was in place.

    Great post!

    • Belinda December 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm Reply

      Thanks Pola, I’ll have to check out your Detroit (got a helluva hockey team is all I know – according to Simon & Garfunkel). I agree, Algeciras would be a great starting point for appreciating traditional flamenco, rather than the usual tourist rubbish!

  • Phyllis March 27, 2013 at 9:37 am Reply

    entusiasmado; no dudes que seguiré tus comentarios

    • Belinda March 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm Reply

      Espero que te guste Algeciras tanto como yo!

  • Suzy April 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm Reply

    Looks like you found the sizzle in Algeciras. I love finding the appeal in places that never get much attention in a positive way. It’s the ultimate travel challenge.

    • Belinda April 29, 2013 at 7:40 am Reply

      So agree Suzy. I see you come from Denver. I bet the Mile High City packs some sizzle!

  • David September 1, 2013 at 8:41 am Reply

    Good and interesting article.
    Laurie Lee writes affectionately about it not only in “As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning” which was pre civil war c1936 (he was rescued by a British gunship) but again in “A Rose for Winter”, a post civil war revisit to Spain c1951.
    His writing is so beautifully descriptive, affectionate and evocative that I want to visit and see for myself although I expect it’s all changed now.

  • Amanda Scott September 4, 2013 at 10:53 am Reply

    Hi Belinda

    Looks like I might be spending a couple of months in Algeciras, although not yet sure. Do you know if I can do a Spanish course there, or take local cookery classes?

    Mindy

    • Belinda September 5, 2013 at 11:18 am Reply

      Hi Mindy, I’m sure you can. If you have transport, Anne Manson runs a cookery school that’s very highly regarded in the beautiful village of Vejer, about an hour or less from Algeciras, you can find details http://www.anniebspain.com If you contact her, send her my best!

  • Amanda Scott September 5, 2013 at 11:28 am Reply

    Thanks for getting back to me Belinda. A friend of mine lives in Algeciras and she’s invited me to stay for a while. If I decide to take her up in her kind offer I will definitely find out more about that cookery school. And of course I will send her your best.

    Oh and thanks for giving me a bird’s eye view of the city. I rather like the fact that you have to search for the best bits rather than having them handed to you on a plate! I have lived in Rome, Verona and Borneo, so I have had best bits hurled at me from every direction. Not complaining though.

    Take care, Mindy

  • clases de ingles en zaragoza October 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm Reply

    Estoy encantado de encontrar esta web. Quería daros las gracias por escribir esta maravilla. Sin duda he saboreado cada pedacito de ella. Os te tengo agregados para ver más cosas nuevas de este blog .

    • Belinda October 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm Reply

      Estoy muy contento que tu gusta mi página web! ¿Quieres que te envíe mis nuevo blog cada dos semanas? Hoy acabo de publicar un blog donde se puede recibir una guía gratuita de un tren muy especial en España!

  • Agustin November 28, 2013 at 4:36 pm Reply

    Awesome blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring
    writers? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused ..
    Any ideas? Cheers!

    • Belinda November 28, 2013 at 6:59 pm Reply

      Hi Agustin
      Definitely use WordPress but ultimately it’s worth paying for a decent theme and I got a designer to help me – there’s a link direct to his site at the bottom of my home page. You could always download a free one to start with and play around with it, then you’ll have more idea of what you want and don’t want.

  • Javier Hernández Sansalvador December 13, 2013 at 7:41 pm Reply

    Belinda,
    I live in Algeciras and I would like to show you more of this unknown corner of the world where there is much history in every place where you spend and often know not transmit.
    You have my email, if you come back write me.

  • Christian December 13, 2013 at 11:39 pm Reply

    Vivo en Algeciras desde hace años y se que incluso muchos algecireños, no tienen esa visión de su ciudad. Gracias por mostrarlo.

  • Alberto Tavira December 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm Reply

    I have to thank you for the article, Belinda.
    It’s nice to read these kind of things of your home town coming from people like you.
    Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have.

    Best regards,

    Alberto

    • Belinda December 20, 2013 at 10:50 am Reply

      Thank you Alberto. I intend to explore more of your home town very soon.

  • Jesús Álvarez December 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm Reply

    Algeciras; una mala madre y una buena madrastra (como diría mi madre)

    Voy a escribir lo que yo, como ciudadano, pienso de Algeciras.
    El tumor de Algeciras empieza por sus propios ciudadanos.
    Algeciras es un examen conformado con un 5 pudiendo ser de 10.
    Ésta ciudad está en un lugar estratégico entre ciudades muy importantes de Andalucía que se encuentran a muy pocos kilómetros. Tal hecho fomenta que el ciudadano salga de Algeciras para buscar el disfrute con mucha facilidad, quedándose Algeciras únicamente para el trabajo.

    Todos en Algeciras sabemos que el puerto de contenedores nos da trabajo y nos quita el turismo, nos oculta las vistas a una de las bahías mas bellas del mundo. Quizá si Algeciras se hubiera configurado en torno al turismo y no al puerto de contenedores, podría haber sido una ciudad pesquera / costera tan bella como las de las costa del sol.

    Por tanto somos conscientes que el puerto es una deuda que estamos pagando a cambio de trabajo, pero además por volumen de transporte de mercancías, trafico de drogas y en consecuencia la escasa o nula atracción del turismo internacional que a su vez insinua a una ciudad con escasez de infraestructuras por no hablar de la construcción de la misma. Sin embargo, es curioso que el visitante extranjero no suele llevarse una imagen tan nefasta como los propios ciudadanos de Algeciras ven. ¡Por algo será!.

    Por eso creo que Algeciras tiene posibilidades como bien dice Belinda, pero todo eso se podría cambiar si el ciudadano no se conformase con un simple 5, aunque es de entender que los ánimos por aquí estén bastante mermados.

    Gracias Belinda por dar a conocer la ciudad en la que me gustaría vivir toda la vida.

    • Belinda December 20, 2013 at 10:58 am Reply

      You have ‘hit the nail on the head’ as we British say, Jésus. The Bay of Algeciras Bay had the potnetial to be as beautiful as Sydney Harbour, with a little forethought, but the port also provides work – although maybe not as much work as tourism could have offered. But it’s still fun looking for the brilliance in this rough diamond! I loved what you have written so I ran it here in full.

  • Alfredo marquez December 16, 2013 at 7:43 pm Reply

    I’m living in Ireland but I’m from Algeciras. Just wanna say to you THANKS!!

  • David December 19, 2013 at 8:28 am Reply

    Thank you very much Belinda. Your web is wonderful. I was born to Algeciras but now i am living in Bilbao. I love my city. I know that could be so much better.
    Es increible que alguien de fuera hable así de nuestra ciudad, tan castigada por la mala imagen, muchas veces injustamente.
    Me gustaría que me escribieses y hasta me gustaria tomarme un café contigo en Algeciras, en la playa de Getares o en el Faro de Punta Carnero.
    Sin duda alguna, Belinda, tienes que ser alguien muy muy especial y con mucha sensibilidad.
    Un abrazo.

    • Belinda December 20, 2013 at 11:03 am Reply

      Gracias David! Quiero escribir más sobre Algeciras, pues con mucho gusto un día quando vuelves, podemos tomar un café juntos en tu ciudad natal. 🙂

  • learning to Play Fiddle January 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm Reply

    Great blog you’ve got here.. It’s hard to find excellent writing like yours these days.

    I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    • Belinda January 3, 2014 at 11:44 am Reply

      So appreciated, Salvador :-). I’m still only taking baby steps so please spread the word and sign up for the Sizzle on the Home Page to get notified of new posts and reader offers (like my FREE Algeciras-to-Ronda Mr Henderson’s Railway Trip Planner)!

  • Patty January 16, 2014 at 7:34 pm Reply

    My parents discovered this place stayng at the Reina Christina in the 60’s and bought a flat there that has been in the family ever since. We come here every summer. Why?
    There are no tourists
    It is a proper spanish town
    The square is so typically spanish and there is enough shopping
    If you know where to go in the strets behind the square there are good restaurents
    The local beaches have white sand and warm sea unlike the Costa del sol – black sand and Tarifa’s wind.
    Hopefully the Tourists will not come here as we like it just the way it is – Real Spain.

    • Belinda January 24, 2014 at 7:10 pm Reply

      Yes, there are many hidden culinary gems in the back streets behind the plaza and it’s fun hunting them out. One of my favourites is Entre Tejas in Calle Baílen (Dancing Street!) – the carillada is formidable!

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    website. Thanks!

  • Martin February 26, 2014 at 5:24 pm Reply

    Thank you for your blog. We arrived yesterday for a week at Reina Cristina after booking without checking the locality. After reading so many negative comments it was great to read your blog. Yesterday we walked into town and were surprised that it was rather nice and we just returned from a visit to Entre Tejas – dispite fogetting our food guide and speaking no Spanish the waitress helped us and we had good tapas.

    Is there anywhere elseintown that you recommend?

    I don’t think I will find a good.coffee where?

    Tomorrow we will try Ronda (taking Mr Henderson’s railway trip planner -thank you)

    • Belinda February 28, 2014 at 12:43 pm Reply

      Plaza Alta in the sunshine is a lovely spot to drink coffee and it’s usually good in Spain. Another favourite place is the rooftop cafe at El Corte Inglés department store, as the views are terrific. They have glass curtains so you can enjoy the sunshine inside on chillier days. Also don’t forget to try mint tea and pastries in the Moroccan quarter. This weekend, watch out for the possibility of special memorial events to celebrate the great flamenco artist Paco de Lucia who sadly died this last week of February 2014. RIP to this best-loved son of Algeciras.

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      Thank you Vera, that’s very gratifying to know! If you sign up for my newsletter on the Home Page you get a free Mr Henderson’s Railway trip planer showing you how to travel this scenic British Victorian railroad under your own steam.

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    • Belinda May 13, 2014 at 11:10 am Reply

      Hi Marion. You can get new posts delivered freshly to your mailbox (once or twice a month) – just sign up on the Home Page – AND you get a free copy of my guide to Andalucía’s most secret scenic railway!

  • Claire July 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm Reply

    Came across your blog when looking up Carteia which my husband used to scramble over as a boy. Glad to read some positive information on the Campo de Gibraltar it still has so much to offer if you know where to look and you are doing a great job in talking the time and effort to spread the word.

    • Belinda July 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm Reply

      It’s amazing that people are only just discovering this wonderful part of the world, so glad you share my views!

  • cr.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk October 5, 2014 at 1:53 am Reply

    Thanks for finally talking about >The Sizzle in Algeciras – Belinda Beckett <Loved it!

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