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Only Joe King

A light-hearted look at life in Andalucía and Spain in general. Its good points and its bad. This blog doesn't pull any punches.

Best economy in Europe?
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

By Only Joe King

Which European country has the most successful economy in Europe at the moment? Germany, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden? The UK, following a successful Brexit? Ha, ha, ha!!!

Nope, amigos míos, it’s SPAIN!


Economic growth

According to the latest figures, in 2022, Spain had the highest rate of growth among European nations, at 5.5%.

At the other end of the league table, in bottom place, below Russia, is that newly independent offshore island, the United Kingdom, despite all the advantages of Brexit

Russia is in a self-inflicted state of chaos, brought about by the illegal invasion of Ukraine, yet their rate of growth is above the UK, despite draconian sanctions, economic isolation and secuestered bank accounts abroad.

Spain has achieved this mark despite the challenges posed by the war in Ukraine, Covid-19, the energy crisis, supply problems, inflation, the rise in interest rates and the global slow-down.

Not to mention domestic issues such as the Catalunya question, the pardoning of Basque terrorists, domestic violence, abortion, VOX, Morocco, Solo sí es sí, strikes and the ongoing Covid-19 threat.

Yet prime minister Pedro Sánchez is pilloried throughout the land, even in former PSOE strongholds like Andalucía. He is not expected to form the next government after the general election later this year.

Despite being regarded on the world stage as statesmanlike, Sánchez is clever, charismatic and good-looking, with his command of English, French, Italian and Portuguese. Unlike his predecessors Mariano Rajoy, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (nickname Mr Bean), José María Aznar and Felipe González, who were mono-lingual when in office, and his presumed successor Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who is about as charismatic as ….. Sir Keir Starmer ….. and who speaks only castellano and gallego, surely a serious disadvantage for a senior politician nowadays.



So, well done, Spain! The future is looking promising with the return to pre-pandemic tourism levels.


Population growth

Alongside this economic growth, the population is also growing with a surge in foreign immigrants moving to the country. Spain is now home to more inhabitants than ever before. Census data published this week by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), puts the number of people registered as resident in Spain on January 1st 2022 at 47,475,420, a historical high, and 90,313 more inhabitants compared to the previous year (a 0.19% increase).

The increase in population is mainly due to a rise in the foreign population, which increased by 102,784 people to 5,542,932 people and now accounts for 11.7% of the national total.

In Málaga province alone in 2022, the population grew by 5.3%, ie 14,343 people. In the province of Málaga, foreigners now account for nearly 17% of the population, although in some municipalities the numbers are much higher.

In Benahavís 60% of the population is foreign, in Cómpeta and Sayalonga over 40%. In Fuengirola 37%. In Manilva, Nerja and Torrox the proportion is above 35%. One third of the population of Mijas is foreign.

Of these recent newcomers, the most are British (despite or, more likely, because of Brexit), followed by immigrants from Italy, Argentina, Germany, Russia, Colombia, France, Venezuela, Morocco and Poland. The total of registered British residents in Malaga province is over 56,000. From Morocco there are over 33,500, Italy 14,400 and Germany 9,500. Poles are relative newcomers and number 2,300.



With the Andalucia regional government offering tax breaks for foreigners who invest in property here, these numbers are likely to increase in the near future.


© Joe King



El País

INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadística)

SUR in English



Further Reading:

HOW TO ….. BUY A HOUSE by The Crazy Guy  


Tags: Alberto Núñez Feijóo, Argentina, Benahavís, Brexit, Colombia, Cómpeta, Crazy Guy, economic growth, Felipe González, France, Fuengirola, Germany, INS, Italy, Joe King, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, José María Aznar, Manilva, Mariano Rajoy, Mijas, Morocco, Nerja, Poland Russia, Sayalonga, SUR in English, Torrox, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Wikipedia


Like 2        Published at 3:29 PM   Comments (5)

Honour Amongst Thieves
Wednesday, January 25, 2023

By Joe King

Joe King lost/mislaid his wallet last Friday night. He and his wife had gone out with another couple for dinner in a nice restaurant. After the meal he had his wallet out to pay. That’s the last time he can remember seeing it. The following morning when he looked for it he realised it was nowhere to be found!


I rang our friends to see if it had fallen on the floor of their car. Blank!

I rang the restaurant. The person who answered (our waiter from the night before, I think) replied that the cleaning lady hadn’t mentioned anything. A strange answer. Hmm!

I rang the Oficina de Objetos Perdidos at the Policía Local in Ronda but nothing had been handed in. “Try again on Monday,” said the bobby on the phone.

Mmm! It looked like my wallet containing 300€ in cash (I’d just been to the cajero), all my IDs, driving licence, health cards, tarjeta65, store cards, etc, was gone. Bugger, that meant I’d have to block my bank cards as a matter of urgency. Over the weekend I cancelled everything I could, which was not much, because most places do not have a 24 hour emergency telephone at weekends.

It then occurred to me that I was due to fly to the UK for a funeral in a few days. I had my passport still, but would I get back into Spain without my residence permit (TIE)? According to the internet, No, I wouldn’t! S**t!

On Monday morning I passed by the Policía Local. They had an amazing array of wallets, mobiles, ID cards, which had been handed in, but not mine, unfortunately.

So, next I went to the Comisaria de Policía Nacional to make a denuncia, necessary for applying for a duplicate TIA and driving licence. They reassured me that I would have no problem re-entering Spain after my trip abroad. Phew!

The rest of Monday I spent applying for a new Spanish health card, EHIC (European health card), and tarjetasesentaycinco. I also set in motion the process of getting a replacement TIE and carnet de conducir.

And I bought a new wallet to put all my new cards in, when I get them.

Tuesday was a local fiesta so I couldn’t do much.

On Wednesday first thing I got a phone call from the Policía Local: they had my wallet! Amazing! I went to collect it immediately. It had been posted to them anonymously.

I checked the contents: everything was there …. Except the 300€ cash, of course!

So, it seems reasonable to conclude that whoever found my wallet, either in the restaurant or on the ground outside, snaffled the cash and sent the remaining items to the cops.

But thank God for that! That’s why I called this piece “Honour amongst thieves”. At least the “thief” was nice enough to let me have back all the stuff that he or she didn’t want, saving me a huge amount of stress, inconvenience and cost. Most places don’t charge for replacement cards, just some banks, the DGT and Ministro de Interior.


But, this episode turned out to be very costly overall; especially the meal on Friday night:

110€ for two meals

300€ “stolen”

Total: 410€

The dearest meal for two I’ve ever had, by far!

A harsh lesson, to boot!

The food was delicious, by the way!laugh But it always is at Restaurante Almocabar in Ronda.


© Joe King


Tags: Almocabar, bank card, cajero, carnet de conducir, comisaria, denuncia, DGT, dinner, driving licence, EHIC, European health card, Joe King, oficina de objetos perdidos, policia local, policia nacional, restaurant, Ronda, Spanish health card, tarjetasesentaycinco, TIE

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FREE at last!
Friday, December 23, 2022

FREE is Joe King's word of the moment.  He feels he has been set FREE since Covid-19 disrupted his life in 2021. He has written about this on EyeOnSpain.  He has also written about working for free.

In this article he writes about getting stuff for FREE.


FREE at last!

I like the word FREE. In English FREE means something different according to the context:

FREE in the sense of liberated physically, emotionally, spiritually or psychologically, or released from prison.

FREE also means cost-free or unpaid. 

Other languages have two words, eg Spanish 'libre' and 'gratis'; French ​​'libre' and 'gratuit' and German 'frei' and 'umsonst' or 'kostenlos'.

I  imagine FREE meant a lot to the late Nelson Mandela after he was released from imprisonment on Robben Island in 1990 after 27 years of incarceration.

I guess FREE also meant a lot to disgraced former tennis player Boris Becker when he was released from gaol in the UK this week and deported to Germany.

As for me, I became FREE of the stifling nature of conventional behaviour after my brush with the Coronavirus in 2021. You can read about that in 'Rebel With a Cause'

I also believe in the notion of barter and working for nothing. I wrote about that in 'Working for free. Why? Er ... Why not?'

I am also attracted to recycling and upcycling, which I write about below.


Getting Stuff For FREE

It’s amazing what you can get for nothing. You just need to keep your eyes open.

You can get a lot of stuff for nothing in the UK. When I bought my last house there, the vendor left the place pretty much fully furnished. She didn’t want a penny for it all.

The website Gumtree offers lots of free items too. Before I emigrated to Spain I got a very nice leather Chesterfield sofa off that very website, which I gave to my kids when they were first setting up home in London after they graduated. It has since been passed on to others, also free of charge.

My son Tom was given a car by a friend of his mum’s, old yet fully serviceable. He and his wife ran it successfully for a couple of years.

Here in the Serranía de Ronda, there’s free stuff too.

Over the years our good friend Jill has given us a nice jacket, that belonged to her late husband, a TV and an antique jug.

Some years ago, when I was doing up a house in Ronda for my then girlfriend, we were twice given a load of smooth stones for the garden by the builder’s merchant. He couldn’t be bothered to raise an invoice, he said!

Three years ago I took a fancy to an oak bookcase in our local hotel’s reception area, Hotel Palacete de Manara. I started negotiating a price with Álvaro, the owner, but in the end he just gave it to me for nothing!

In the second-hand emporium Mi Altillo in Ronda, I enquired about the price of a rather nice Spanish grammar book that was on sale. Juani, the kind owner, just gave it to me!

Another local hotel, Hotel Ronda Valley, is going to give me three wall lights which match other lights I already have but which are no longer available to buy. I offered to pay for them, but they wouldn’t hear of it!

Our acupuncturist, Doctora Luz Calderón, gives us a free session from time to time. That’s much appreciated by all of us who go, as a session is normally not cheap.

Something I’ve not tried yet is a free hair cut at Peluquería Vicky in Calle Lauría in Ronda. Every evening you can get your hair cut by a trainee for nothing at all. Makes sense to me!


FREE from the tip

You can often get decent free stuff from the basura.

Over the last couple of years, while renovating my old house in Montejaque (Málaga), I've acquired the following from the 'tip': tiles, three framed pictures, a kitchen drawer unit, shelving, sheets of new hardboard, cupboard doors, books and pallets.

The tiles are laid, the pictures are hung and the kitchen unit is refurbished and installed. The shelves are up and the books displayed on them. The hardboard lines the walls of a built-in wardrobe and the cupboard doors have been upcycled. The pallets have been chain-sawed into firewood for the winter. To be sure it burns quickly, but it costs 100€ less than a dumper-load of logs.

I knew an Irishman, Seamus, in Setenil de las Bodegas (Cadiz) who virtually furnished his house with things left at the rubbish skips.  

A month ago I spotted a set of six dining chairs at a basura in Ronda – they just needed a bit of TLC.

Last summer I got a bead curtain for nothing (over 100€ new) and a nice wooden coffee table which I’ve restored. Both were left at the rubbish point near our house.


FREE coffee

And the number of times when I go for my early morning coffee and I go to settle up, somebody has already paid for mine.

Amazing! Who needs money?

I reckon if you really put your mind to it, you could almost live for free.

© Joe King


Tags: antique, barter, basura, bead curtain, books, Boris Becker, car, chain-saw, chair, Chesterfield, coffee, coffee table, Coronavirus, Covid-19, cupboard, dining chair, dumper, EyeonSpain, firewood, free, frei, Germany, gratis, gratuit, Gumtree, hardboard, Irishman, Jill, Joe King, jug, kitchen, kostenlos, libre, money, Montejaque, Nelson Mandela, nothing, pallet, Peluquería Vicky, picture, prison, recycling, Robben Island, Ronda, rubbish, Seamus, Serrania de Ronda, Setenil de las Bodegas, shelving, Spain, television, tiles, tip, TLC, Tom, UK, umsonst, unit, upcycling

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“Lola, She Was a Showgirl…..”
Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Joe King has known five Lola’s in his life – one was a transvestite; two are animals; and the other two are/were ….. show-girls!









Lola the “Tranny”

The first Lolwas the presumed transvestite in the 1970 pop hit “Lola” by The Kinks. Although I rocked along to this controversial* song at the time of its release (I was 20 back then), it took on a new significance 45 years later when my actor son Tom Whitelock appeared as the bassist Pete Quaife in a year-long run in the award-winning West-End musical “Sunny Afternoon” at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London.Tom Whitelock

*The song was originally banned by the BBC because the lyrics contained a reference to the commercial product Coca Cola. This was later changed to Cherry Cola and the song was allowed to be played.


Lola, the Original Showgirl

My second Lola was the protagonist in Barry Manilow’s seminal 1978 work “Copacabana”. Lola was the poor unfortunate showgirl in his most famous song. She had a s**t life, ending up as a jaded, ageing showgirl mourning the loss of her murdered lover Tony.


Two Animal Lola’s

The third and fourth Lola's were both animals – pets. Lola the donkey, lovely beast, is my next-door neighbour. When I was in the garden, she always used to come to the fence to say hello and I love her to bits for the unconditional love she offered back.

The only problem with Lola is that she likes to do the donkey equivalent of singing in the shower – at 3.00 in the morning!

She still lives next door, but no longer comes to the fence to say hello, for she is tethered. The reason being that she preferred the grass on my side of the fence, and over several weeks earlier this year, in trying to reach it, she destroyed 60 metres of my wire fencing.

So, she is now hobbled, to prevent her doing further damage while I am in dispute with Lola’s owner over who pays for new fencing.

The other animal Lola is an altogether more unpleasant beast, a horrible dog that lives in the village, and is never on a leash.

Not only did she bite me on the leg last year, but she also takes great delight in crapping in front of my front door. I’ve placed five-litre plastic bottles of water there (the local Spanish do that, and it seems to work for them) and I’ve disinfected the area with the Spanish equivalent of TCP, but Lola still manages to dump on my doormat on an almost daily basis.

In truth, I don’t know that it is Lola, but it is! And if I can get a photo of her in flagrante delicto I can denounce her owner who will cop a fine of 1500€!

Be neighbourly, I hear you cry. Not in this case!


Lola, the 12-year-old Showgirl

The fifth Lola is a delight, the 12-year-old daughter of a Chilean mother and a German father. The family lived for a couple of years in the next village, but Lola and her dad are now back in Germany.

Lola really was a “showgirl”. I met her at the local drama group Proyecto Platea in Ronda, where we were both members.

Her first, and last, role was in “Le malade imaginaire” by Molière, in 2021.








“Her name is Lola, she was a showgirl
But that was 30 years ago, when they used to have a show
Now it’s a disco, but not for Lola
Still in the dress she used to wear, faded feathers in her hair
She sits there so refined, and drinks herself half-blind
She lost her youth and she lost her Tony
Now she’s lost her mind!”



© Joe King


Tags: Barry Manilow, Chilean, Copacabana, dog, donkey, German, Germany, Harold Pinter, Joe King, Kinks, Lola, Pete Quaife, Proyecto Platea, showgirl, Sunny Afternoon, Tom Whitelock, transvestite, West-End

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Sayings on Fridges, on T-shirts and on the Web
Sunday, December 4, 2022

Only Joe King has written recently about mottos and quotes on sugar packets, in pubs and bars, in loos and in the office.

In this third article in the series, he focuses on fridge magnets, T-shirts and the world wide web.


Fridge magnets

Fridge magnets are not just tourist knick-knacks, boasting about where you’ve been, eg “I love Frigiliana”, what you are/were, “Aquí vive un profesor”, or which football team you support, “Aquí vive un hincha del Barça”, it’s also the source of witty sayings, truisms and sound advice:







“Never go to bed MAD or HUNGRY!”




“¡Hasta el 40 de mayo no te quites el sayo!”

[“Don’t shed your woolly till the 40th May” (ie 9th June, when summer is deemed to start in southern Spain). It is similar to the English expression “Cast ne’er a clout, till may be out” where may, by the way, refers to the blossom, not the month.]


“Quien quita la aceituna antes de enero, deja el aceite en el madero.”

[“If you pick your olives before January, you’re leaving oil in the tree.”]


“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”


„Ich bin nicht kompliziert, sondern eine Herausforderung.“

[I’m not complicated; just a challenge!]


„Widersprich niemals eine Frau. Warte bis sie es selber tut.“

[Never contradict a woman. Wait till she does it herself!]


On a fridge magnet corkscrew:

“WINE improves with age;

I improve with WINE!”


And this witty observation on the passage of time:


Menos mal que

el día siguiente a

pasado mañana

ya es la víspera del



[“It’s Monday again!

At least

the day after

the day after tomorrow

is the eve of




For a long time, T-shirts have been a rich source of (mainly) witty slogans. My friend Paul produces his own. Here are some examples:



“Once in a while someone AMAZING comes along …..

and HERE I AM!”


On illness:

“No estoy borracho.



[“I’m not drunk.

I’ve got PARKINSON’S!”]


On xenophobia:

“Je ne suis pas un expat.





[“I’m not an ex-pat.





On beer:


n. [biƏ(r)]

A bitter alcoholic drink

also used for blood transfusion.”


“I’m not drunk.








World wide web

Lots of people post uplifting messages and slogans on social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


“Para cada minuto que estás enfadado

pierdes 60 segundos de felicidad.”


[“For every minute that you spend angry

you are losing 60 seconds of happiness.”]



PARA aquellos


para LOS





FOR those




GO BY.”]



An Irish friend of mine is a regular poster. Here are some examples from her repertoire:


Positive, life-affirming:

“This Christmas we don’t need more stuff.

We need more LOVE towards one another.”



“Life is short.

Take the TRIP,

Buy the SHOES.

Eat the CAKE.”


“Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.”


Wry humour:

“You know you’re old when you go to bed at the same time you used to go out!”


“I couldn’t afford an Ancestry DNA kit,

so I just announced that I had won the Lottery.

I soon found out who all my relatives were.”



“Have you ever loved someone so much

that you would have done anything to make them happy

and they just ended up using you …?”


With acknowledgements to:

A1 Photo Archive


Freida Maybury

Joe King's fridge doors

Paul Darwent


© Joe King


Tags: A1, Ancestry, Beer, Belgian, Freida Maybury, Facebook, fridge magnet, Joe King, Paul Darwent, Parkinson’s,T-shirt, world wide web, xenophobia

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Sayings in Bars and at the Office
Monday, November 28, 2022

Recently, Only Joe King wrote about mottos and quotes on sugar packets. But of course, such slogans pop in all sorts of other places, in pubs and bars, at the office, in loos, on fridge magnets and on the world wide web. And not just in Spain.

In this second follow-up article to “Sugar, Sugar!”, Joe shares some more examples of witty, wise and warming words.


Pubs and bars

Of course, mottos, quotes and sayings are not only to be found on sugar packets. The bar or pub is also a good source, in particular for advice about drinking and asking for credit. Here are a few on drinking from Spain, England and Germany:

“Si bebes para olvidar, paga antes de empezar.”

[If you’re drinking to forget, pay before you start!]


“Wein auf Bier, das rate ich dir.

Bier auf Wein, lass das sein.“

[Wine on top of beer, I can recommend, but beer on top of wine, leave it be.]


[Note: Julie Wilkinson has offered a neat little rhyme in English with a similar meaning, one which I had never come across:

"Beer before wine is fine;

wine before beer is queer."

Thanks Julie.]


"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" [Benjamin Franklin]


“Beer, the cause of and solution to all of life’s little problems.” [Homer Simpson]


“Alcohol won’t solve your problems, but neither will water or milk.” [Anon]


Then, there are these variations on the theme of saving water:


“Save water, drink beer!”

“Save water, drink wine!”

“Save water, bath or shower together!”


And regarding the loos:


“Gents to the left, as the Ladies are always right.”


“Mea con gusto, mea contento, pero si te pido que mees por dentro.”

[Pee happily, pee with joy, but, please, I beg you, pee in the bowl!]


“Im sitzen pinkeln”

[Gents, please sit down even for a pee!]


“Gentlemen. Please stand closer. It may be shorter than you think!”


On the subject of credit:


“Please do not ask for credit, as a refusal often offends.”


“Si por fiar tengo amigos pero los pierdo por cobrar, para evitar enemigos lo mejor es no fiar.”

[If by trusting people I have friends, but I lose them when I charge them, it’s better not to trust people to avoid having enemies.]


Or the rather more abrupt:

“No se fía y punto.”

[We trust nobody. Full stop!]



A lot of German mottos are entertaining and uplifting:

“Happy wife, happy life.”


„Wir sind auf der Welt, um glücklich zu sein.“

[We‘re here on this earth to be happy.]


In the office

„Das Fangen von Schmetterlingen und Vögeln im Buro ist verboten!“

[Catching butterflies and birds in the office is prohibited (Vögeln also means “Screwing” or “Bonking”).]

“Another day done. All targets met. All systems fully operational. All customers satisfied. All staff keen and well-motivated. All pigs fed and ready to fly!”


Look out for part three of this series of articles, "Sayings on Fridges and on the Web", coming soon.

If you missed the first article in this trilogy, click "Sugar, Sugar!"


With acknowledgements to:

A1 Photo Archive

Café Central, Zafra, Extremadura

Casa del Jamón, Ronda

Bar El Encuentro, Benaoján

Matt Groening

Bar La Palma, Benaoján

Rivas Construcción, Ronda

Hotel Ronda Valley, Ronda

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"Sugar, Sugar!" - translations
Sunday, November 27, 2022

A reader asked for translations of the Spanish sayings in my recent article "Sugar, Sugar". I just finished updating the original article by ading them in, when I noticed Des Wilkinson had also provided translations in the Comments section. Thanks, Des.

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“Sugar, Sugar!” Sayings on your Sweetener
Tuesday, November 22, 2022

By Only Joe King

The packet of sugar you are served when you order a cup of coffee in a Spanish bar or cafeteria often bears a motto or quote on the back. Some are witty, some are wise and almost all are true. Joe King has been taking a look.


I’ve started collecting packets of sugar from bars and cafés. I don’t take sugar, so the unopened packets don’t deposit a residue of sugar grains in my pocket or handbag.

The mottos, quotes or sayings are invariably in Spanish, although their authors are from many countries.

Take this one from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (he of the amazing moustache):

“La ventaja de tener mala memoria es que se goza muchas veces de las mismas cosas.”

[The advantage of having a bad memory is that you can enjoy the same things over and over again.]

A great comfort for dementia sufferers, no doubt!



Americans Groucho Marx, WC Fields and Mark Twain were a great source of witticisms.

“Hijo mío, la felicidad está hecha de pequeñas cosas.

Un pequeño yate, una pequeña mansión, una pequeña fortuna …..” [Groucho Marx]

[My friend, happiness is brought about by small things: a small yacht, a small mansion, a small fortune.]


“I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol and wild women. The other half I wasted.” [WC Fields]


“I have overcome my will power and taken up smoking again.” [Mark Twain]



“La mente que se abre a una nueva idea, jamás volverá a su tamaño original.” [Anon.]

[The mind that opens up to new ideas will never go back to its original size.]

A very positive thought – perfect for die-hards and stick-in-the-muds!


I love this one, that sums up my post-Covid attitude to life after suffering several years of depression:

“Piensa como adulto,

vive como joven,

aconseja como anciano

Y nunca dejes de soñar como niño.”


[Think like an adult,

live life like a youngster,

give advice like an old person

but never stop dreaming like a child.]


Mother Theresa said many uplifting things.

“A veces sentimos que lo que hacemos es tan solo una gota en el mar, pero el mar seria menos si le faltara una gota.” [Mother Theresa of Calcutta]

[Sometimes we feel that what we do is nothing more than a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be diminished if a drop were missing.]


Anonymous is pretty prolific also:

“Disfruta de las pequeñas cosas.” [Anon.]

Enjoy the little things.

“Nada es imposible.” [Anon.]

[Nothing is imposible.]

“Lo único imposible es aquello que no intentas” [Anon.]

[The only imposible thing is the one thing that you don’t try.]

“AMOR, Felicidad, RISAS, Sueños”

[LOVE, Happiness, LAUGHS, Dreams.]


Where else do we see such witty, sage and uplifting sayings?

Look out for Only Joe King’s next article “In Bars, at the Office, on Fridges and on the Web”, coming soon to Eye On Spain.


With acknowledgements to:

A1 Photo Archive

ARR Grupo, Ronda

Café Bar Blanco y Negro, Ronda

Café Mena, Almería


La Catunambo



Tags: Americans, bar, cafeteria, coffee, die-hards, English, Friedrich Nietzsche, German, Groucho Marx, Joe King, Mark Twain, Mother Theresa, office, packet, quotes, sage, sayings, Spanish, stick-in-the-muds, sugar, sweetener, true, uplifting, WC Fields, web, wise, witty

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Friday, September 9, 2022

Railway sheds (muelles) have been converted into restaurants throughout Spain. Along the railway line down to Algeciras, we are fortunate to have a few which have made a name for themselves. In addition, there is a great choice of other eating establishments on or at stations from Arriate down to San Pablo de Buceite and beyond. In the following article, Joe King, who loves his food, takes a look, starting in …..



El Muelle de Arriate

This restaurant in the former muelle, railway shed, on the platform at the village station, is consistently and deservedly high in the Trip Advisor ratings. Indeed, it has been number 1 in Andalucía.

Run for 10 years by Dutchman Frank Rottgering the food is outstanding, the wine list is very good and the setting beside the line is delightful.

Added to that, Frank’s personal touch, whereby he greets every table on arrival, then describes the menu to his guests in whichever language they speak: Spanish, English, German and, of course, Dutch. The diners love it, as it instantly makes them feel welcome and special.


Venta El Chozo

100 metres from the station. This is a real locals’ bar where everybody goes to meet up for breakfast, lunch, tapas and dinner. Fish and chips (pavias de bacalao con papas fritas) are on the menu! Recommended.



Bar Restaurante La Estación ADIF Ronda.


Despite the somewhat cumbersome name, this railway-owned hostelry, in what looks like a muelle, is really good. It ministers to the needs of rail travellers, as well as to rondeños. The restaurant offers a wide range of tapas and raciones at popular prices.

The décor has a toros theme, with many old posters advertising the Feria de Pedro Romero. The 2022 edition has just taken place (first weekend in September).

In addition, there is sometimes live music on Friday nights.

I recently had breakfast there. Excellent and only 2.50€ (coffee and a mollete con aceite y tomate).

Hotel Cafeteria Andalucía


Diagonally opposite the station is another option. Has a nice terrace. A regular cafeteria. Always busy with Spaniards – a good sign.


Nothing here, although there is an abandoned muelle just waiting for someone to do up and open as a restaurant.

Hotel Ronda Valley

On the main road, about 200 metres away (A-374 at km 26) is the Hotel Ronda Valley (actually my local). Great coffee (Campanini), breakfasts, tapas and San Miguel on draught.



At this station, which serves the villages of Benaojan and Montejaque up the hill, there is a choice within a stone’s throw of the platform.

Within the station precinct itself is

Asador El Muelle

Known locally as Gina’s after the owner. She and husband, chef Cristóbal, serve tasty food prepared on their large wood oven.

Not for veggies or vegans, this is an eatery for carnivores with big appetites.

Also on the station is:

Bar Cantina

Here they offer drinks and tapas at value-for-money prices.


Bar Ankanita (formerly Bar Stop)

Directly opposite the station, this place has been feeding wholesome food to locals and visitors for years. Now run by Alberto and Diego, late of the celebrated Restaurante Molino del Santo, also in the village, the recently re-named Bar Stop continues this fine tradition.


Restaurante Quercus

This restaurant, housed in the former muelle on the platform, is unfortunately closed at the moment. We hope it will re-open soon, as it served excellent food for many years.

Bar Allioli

This bar across the road from the station provided great beer, brilliant burgers and live music at weekends for 14 years. Mine hosts, Paul, a Yorkshireman, and Synnove, his Danish wife, have recently retired, sadly.

However, the good news is that this bar re-opened two weeks ago as Allioli Bar y Más. I was there on the opening night and it was heaving. The new landlord, Jose Antonio, plans to continue with the tradition of live music. On the opening night local guitarist and singer Marcus Myers provided a great musical background to the buzzing atmosphere in the square outside the bar.


Specialities of this area include venison stew, mountain lamb, scrambled eggs with asparagus, veal, codfish omelettes, refried stew (fried bread, tomato, garlic, pepper and onion), Swiss chard soup, breadcrumbs with garlic and Guadiaro rabbit.

There is nowhere to eat on or at the station but there are two establishments within a stone’s throw.

Meson-Bar La Cañada (Pili’s Bar)

We’ve been here for coffee and breakfast but not a meal as such. They have a delightful little yard at the back which offers a shaded terrace with flowers. Pili and Alonso are very friendly. The reviews of their food are extremely good. Diners love Pili’s home-made dishes, which are generous in portion size and reasonably priced. The café cortado is outstanding. 

La Parra

Recently re-opened under new management, this tapas bar is slowly building its reputation.


In this beautiful spot by the River Guadiaro and on the edge of Los Alcorconales (cork forests), there are three places opposite the station and another abandoned muelle, ripe for re-development. It had been an asador (carvery) but it has been closed for many a long year.

Bar/Mesón España 

This traditional bar with a roomy shaded terrace is very popular. Not surprising because the menu is large and varied and the prices will not break the bank. We ate there last week and the portions were so generous we needed a doggy bag.

Bar Las Rosas 

This is similar, apparently. Good food at sensible prices. On the day we were there it was unfortunately closed.

Restaurante Rincon del Cani

This is tucked away behind the other two. This is slightly more upmarket with gourmet tapas.


Although outside of the Serrania de Ronda and in Cádiz province, I have included this village as our final stop on this journey, because it too has a restaurant in an old muelle.

Restaurante La Estación

I haven’t had the pleasure of dining here yet but hope to do so soon. Restaurante La Estación has a fine reputation for its setting - with two terraces, one in a garden, the other on the old platform - to the décor, the friendly service and most importantly the quality of the food.

According to the very positive reviews they have received they offer excellent croquettes, salmon and jamón, as well as tasty leche frita, home-made ice cream and chocolate custard. 

The wine is excellent and so is the café cortado.

With thanks to Julie Wilkinson for additional information about the three most southerly stations on this route.


muelle Ronda Serrania el muelle de arriate el chozo bar estacion hotel andalucia cafeteria la indiana Arriate Ronda Valley Benaojan Montejaque asador el muelle bar cantina bar ankanita bar stop hotel molino del santo jimera de libar bar allioli allioli bar y mas quercus cortes de la frontera cañada de la real tesoro bar cañada pili la parra el colmenar gaucin meson españa bar las rosas rincon del cani san pablo de buceite Bar la estacion

Like 3        Published at 6:38 AM   Comments (1)

Friday, September 2, 2022

Joe King likes his food. He is a devoted omnivore, ie he eats anything. However, he is sympathetic to people who prefer to leave meat out of their diets, whether vegetarians or vegans. In addition, there seem to be increasing numbers of people who are ceoliacs or gluten-intolerant, so where can all these people go to eat?


10 to 15 years ago, if asked that question, I would have said “practically nowhere”, but things have changed dramatically here in the Serranía de Ronda.

I have a vegan step-son and a vegan niece and finding vegan options used to be a nightmare. Even sourcing vegan ingredients from supermarkets was problematic. In restaurants waiters would routinely suggest a salad, forgetting that Spanish salads typically contain boiled eggs, tuna, cheese or small pieces of ham and there was very little understanding of what “veganism” means.

With vegetarian family members, in the past, it used to be almost as bad. All there really was were salads or dull pasta dishes.

Gluten-free has proved to be less of a problem. Supermarkets stock gluten-free beer, bread, cakes, burgers and other items. Mercadona is particularly good, but Super Carmela and Supeco aren´t far behind. Surprisingly the German discounters ALDI and LIDL offer very little in their Spanish stores (in Germany the situation is much better).

Several bars and restaurants also offer gluten-free bread as well as gluten-free beer, which pleases my son-in-law, Carlo, a great deal when he visits from London, where the gluten-free beer option is quite limited.

So, in answering that question “Where can I find vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food in and around Ronda?” nowadays, my answer is not the same. It’s a different story altogether.


Vegetarian – Vegan – Gluten free food options in Ronda


Restaurante Bifana – Calle Comandante Carrasco s/n, near the bus station, is a vegan restaurant which also serves animal products for carnivores.

Restaurante Bifana - Ronda

Restaurante Bifana – Ronda

On Its current menu (July 2022) the highlights are tabule, onion, tomato and raisin salad, fried aubergine with cane sugar honey, tomato with extra virgin olive oil and garlic, vegetable croquettes, quinoa salad and hummus with vegetables of the day.


Cafetería las Campanas in Plaza de Socorro proudly boasts that it is gluten-free. It’s a delightful place to sit outside and watch the world go by and not that expensive, given its location in one of the main squares in Ronda.

Cafeteria las Campanas
Cafeteria las Campanas

Restaurante Abades - Ronda

Restaurante Abades – Ronda


Restaurante Abades behind the Plaza de Toros at Paseo Blas Infante 2 has recently reduced its vegan options which is a great shame as it used to have the most diverse menu for non meat/fish eaters.


Café Bar Murillo at Calle Santo Tomás 1, in the up-and-coming San Rafael district of town, also offers “opciones vegetarianas y veganas”. I’ve been there a few times. Great food at local prices. Clean, modern and busy with locals which is always a good sign.

Cafe bar Murillo - Ronda



Cerveceria el Bandolero on Plaza Ruedo Alameda 29, is located in the popular Barrio San Francisco to the south of the town. Rafael, whom I first met 21 years ago when he was a young waiter in another bar nearby, now owns his own place, together with his uncle. They also offer “opciones vegetarianas, veganas y sin gluten”. Sitting on the square over the road from this tiny bar, is a delightful experience. Good food at sensible non-city-centre prices.

Most Pizzerias will adapt their vegetarian options to make them vegan.

The outstanding pizzeria in Ronda is Il Forno a Ligna on Calle Tiendas 24.

Omar, Italian and still in his twenties, is most accommodating.

Pizzeria Forno a Legna

Pizzeria Forno a Legna – Ronda


Pizzeria Michelangelo on Calle Lorenzo Borrego 25, just off Plaza del Socorro, is also very good value.

Pizzeria Michelangelo

Pizzeria Michelangelo – Ronda

Other restaurants in the Serranía de Ronda that serve vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food

Since good restaurants invariably cook meals from scratch, many chefs are happy to adapt their standard dishes to make them conform to vegan or vegetarian criteria. So , for example, the scrambled eggs with asparagus and Iberian ham can be made a delicious vegetarian dish simply by asking the waiter to cut out the ham. The same goes with many other dishes. Salads and soups often have a sprinkling of ham or something else. The key here is just ask the waiter!

Restaurante la Cascada

Hotel Molino del Puente


All those years ago, when my afore-mentioned vegan step-son was living with us for several months, we found Iain Love at Restaurante la Cascada inside the Hotel Molino del Puente – Partida Fuente de la Higuera – Carretera de Ronda km 26 to be a most accommodating chef. He was happy to prepare vegan meals just for Johannes and 10 years on he was happy to do the same for my vegan niece Dana. Needless to say, we have eaten there a lot in the last dozen years.

Further afield

In the village of Montejaque, Max, the owner and chef at Pizzeria la Casita, is happy to prepare vegan dishes to order.

In Gaucin, La Tienda Verde is a shop specialising in healthy, eco-friendly food products, always has a wide range of vegan products available and Restaurante Azulete – Calle Toledillo 13 has great reviews for its vegan food.

In tiny Atajate, the smallest village in Málaga province, is the outstanding Restaurante Audalazar – C. Nueva, 4- They offer a great menu with Arabic influences, including several vegan and vegetarian options.


So, all in all, vegetarian and vegan food, and gluten-free options in and around Ronda are fairly easy to find nowadays. I am an omnivore but I often eschew meat and/or fish and go for a vegetarian or vegan dish. I love them!

I hope you find my recommendations helpful.


¡Buen provecho! and please, feel free to leave a comment or suggestion to help other people get the most out of their eating experience during a visit to Ronda and the surrounding area.


Joe King doesn't really want anybody to know anything about him. He prefers to stay under the radar. He is blogging because he thinks he has valid things to say. He doesn't take life too seriously but he will tell it like he thinks it is.

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