This page may contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
In 2014, I came up with the idea that we find ourselves a cheap base in Europe. The idea being, that when we ‘returned’ from any travelling, we didn’t have to go back to the UK, which it’s very difficult to do in the short term and is very expensive. We’d been considered moving abroad for years and so I’d spent a lot of time staring at maps and looking at info on places in terms of cost, climate, accessibility etc. We’d travelled to a lot of places during miserable British winters, with an eye to that – such as Malta, Cyprus, Mallorca. Despite really liking these places – particularly Malta and the city of Palma in Mallorca, I’d ruled out island living as it’s quite restrictive, in terms of cheap flights, regular flights in winter and things generally cost more as so much has to be shipped in. France has always seemed quite dreamy, but in reality, the properties you drool over are generally out in the sticks, so tricky to live without a car, the bureaucracy is tricky and the cost of living is lower than the UK but not as cheap as would like, so, at this point we were focusing on mainland Portugal and Spain and so all our future trips would be as reccys to see if places were good long term choices. Despite being madly in love with Portugal, Spain had a few pros which made us decide on it.
– apart from in rural areas, it’s generally a bit cheaper in Spain
– language wise, Spanish is a language more prevalently worldwide, whereas Portuguese would be a much less useful language
– Spain is a little closer/well connected to the rest of Europe, for future travel
So, we don’t actually know Spain at all well. I haven’t actually liked the places much I’ve been to on previous trips, apart from Palma, Mallorca which I adored, but having ruled out islands, it was really a case of just doing a bit of research. Mark is desperate for lots of sun, so Andalucia made sense. I had focused in on places that were within easy reach of a city, to help with the transition from city life, to a smaller town. I found a town, a short distance from Malaga, which seemed like it might be a perfect choice., so we popped over to Spain from the UK for a long weekend. Although the flight times mean 2 days are spent mostly travelling, it’s still just enough time to cut down our pace to Spanish time and relax a bit.
A hilly, historic town, Alora is in a stunning mountainous setting. It would be described as a ‘Pueblo Blanco’ or white village, though it is bigger than a village with quite a number of shops and restaurants. A very Spanish town, without much of a tourism industry, it’s off the beaten track without being at completely off the beaten track. It’s on a train line that takes you in 30 minutes to Malaga city centre and 10 minutes more to the airport for an incredibly cheap fair and an efficient service. The houses tend to be on multiple stories and when on the roof terraces, in every direction, there are amazing views.
The best bed in the world
We stayed, as we so often do, in a place we found on Airbnb. This great, one bedroom townhouse was in the centre of town for easy access to everything. Our hosts, Sharon and Richard also run a b&b in their home in the countryside outside Alora. They couldn’t have been more helpful before, during and after our visit.
The house itself was set on 4 floors with a room on each floor. The kitchen at the bottom and the bathroom and terrace at the very top. Don’t, as I did, leave your sunglasses on the kitchen table and only realise when you get to the terrace – it’s a long way down and then back up again 😉
It was a lovely, cosy property and although the terrace and the views were diving, the very best thing was the bed. Comfiest bed I have ever slept in. I could go there again just to spend the whole time lying in that bed!!
Not for the faint-hearted
When I say that Alora is hilly, I mean REALLY hilly. It’s quite a hike from the bottom of the town to the top but most of the shops, restaurants, the main square and car parks etc are spread out over the top on a flatter level.
Quack and chips
We didn’t get to try a great array of the restaurants or cafe’s but we did get a recommendation to go to Casa Abilio which was a lovely place. Great food and a really nice cosy feel to the restaurant.
The squid croquettes were as lovely as they look and the huge duck breast could easily have been shared between 2. There was a comedy show a few years back on the BBC which featured a family obsessed with Quack and chips. I have never before seen duck and chips on a menu so I was quite pleased to finally experience it and in such a fancy setting.
Just by popping to the local convenience store we gathered some amazing meats, cheeses and bread and enjoyed eating on our sunny terrace. We also got given a big bag of oranges from our hosts, from the trees in their garden, which made the most divine orange juice.
Because we went over a religious weekend, things were shut a lot more than usual, but we do intend to re-visit as we fell for the place and wanted to experience more.
On our second visit, we stayed a little longer and we came very close to buying a property. The houses are amazing, but a couple of things, after coming away and having a long hard think, made us decide Alora wasn’t the way to go.
- we visited in April and September, and although they were apparently having a historically hot summer, it made me think that that level of heat was just a little too much if you were going to be out and about, living a busy life
- we went to Malaga on the train and realised that the station wasn’t much good without a car. We couldn’t get a taxi when we got back, at around 9 pm (the last train being 8ish), so we had to walk up the hill to the town. The station is not even in the town itself, and it’s a very long, very, very steep walk and even in the dark, the heat was exhausting. This kind of blew out the idea of ‘popping’ to the city
- having explored the town a bit more, we realised it was a little too small
So our search will continue in Spain, but we are now looking further up the country in the Valencia region.