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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.

How to buy a car in Spain
Thursday, October 28, 2021

A few days ago Joe King explained how to sell a car here in Spain, or, at least, how he did it.

Today he tells us how to buy a car – at least the way he and his wife went about it last week.

In July my wife’s beloved Peugeot 206 cc cabriolet caught fire and exploded. It was a write-off. She was of course upset. She had bought the car new and had run it for 20 years without any major problems. She decided she wanted a similar model, so she started looking for a used 206 or a 207, the slightly larger model that replaced the 206.

She’s been trawling the internet ever since, looking at,, Facebook Marketplace and similar sites in Germany.

The cars she found were either too expensive or already sold (why can’t vendors remove their ads when their car is no longer available?)

We’ll be going to Germany at some point in the future, so we were considering buying one there and driving it back (prices are significantly lower there than in Spain). However, by the time you add on fuel costs, tolls, two nights’ accommodation and re-matriculation, it works out more expensive than buying a car here.


Then, on Thursday of last week, the troube and strife spotted what looked like a good ‘un that had just been posted on A 207, 12 years’ old, low mileage, black with red leather seats. Wow! What a looker!

Uh, oh! It’s in Madrid. OK. I rang anyway and spoke to the owner, Mónica, from the Dominican Republic. The car was still available.

I said we’d be happy to come to Madrid (my missus has never been so we thought we could make it into a city mini-break) if Mónica would give us first refusal. She agreed and even promised to take the car off the market.

We immediately went online and booked single train tickets for Saturday, a hotel in Madrid city centre for two nights, plus a night in Toledo on the way back, on the assumption we would be driving back in my better half’s “new” car. We were all set.


Madrid – Saturday to Monday

On Saturday our train to Madrid was over an hour late on arrival so, under the terms of RENFE’s customer charter, we got 50% back! The car was getting cheaper by the minute!

In Madrid we checked in and went in search of food. The area around the Puerta del Sol was buzzing! What a great atmosphere!

We managed to find a table outside – it was still warm at 11.00 o’clock. We paid city prices, of course, 35€ for three small beers, two raciones and bread. But, what the hell! We were on holiday, sort of!

After a good night’s sleep I popped out for an early morning coffee while her indoors got herself ready. We had breakfast and then took a stroll around the area, found a branch of Unicaja (they recently bought Liberbank so now the former Andalusian savings bank has branches throughout Spain) and withdrew the cash for the car, which we secreted in various places about our persons before catching the metro to our pre-arranged meeting place in a rough area called San Cristóbal on the outskirts of the city.

We viewed the car, tested it and bought it!

We drove back into the city and parked in an underground car park near our hotel. It was going to stay put until we left on Monday morning, despite the 32.50€ overnight parking charge!

It was now mid-afternoon, so we took off to look at the Retiro park, the statue of Cibeles and to spend some time in the Prado Art Gallery.

After a wash and brush up we headed out for dinner in the Plaza Mayor. We stumbled on the Mercado de San Miguel.

The market has been turned into a massive food hall. The former market stalls have been turned into tapas and drinks bars. There were also speciality stalls selling cheeses and other local products, as well as a bakery and a coffee shop.

The idea is you buy whatever tapas you fancy and your drinks and then find a table anywhere to consume them. The place was heaving and it was all rather splendid. Serendipity at work once again.

Not cheap, but as I said earlier, “What the hell!”


Toledo – Monday to Tuesday

After an early coffee we paid our exhorbitant car parking charge and headed off to Toledo, Spain’s capital until 1561.

My wife took the wheel of her car for the first time. We travelled on ordinary roads to enjoy the scenery and stopped in the village of Illescas for breakfast. Back to sensible prices!

When we got to Toledo we were too early to check in at our hotel so we drove up to the Parador which sits on a hill overlooking the city and offers the best views of this medieval walled town. Stunning is not a strong enough word to describe what you can see. Monuments of Arabic, Jewish and Christian origin are all over.

Our hotel was really well located just inside the city wall at Puerta Bisagra.

We strolled up to the main square, Plaza de Zocodóver, and had a salad, did some relaxed shopping and strolled back to the hotel for a rest.

Then, we strolled back up again for dinner at La Abadía, a former abbey where they’ve been permitted to restore Roman caves under the building into dining niches. The food here was somewhat different and the range of draft locally-brewed craft beers was amazing!


On Tuesday we again left early after a coffee and chose ordinary roads as far as Córdoba. The car drove like a dream. We’ve decided to christen it Blackie, by the way – well, it’s black!

We stopped for lunch in the village of Monturque near the motorway between Córdoba and Antequera, and then a couple of hours later we were back home in Ronda, tired but happy.


I reckon the trip to Madrid, ie train ticket, hotels, food and drink, local transport, car parking and fuel, added around 700€ to the price of the car, but we had a great little holiday out of it.

I reacquainted myself with two cities I hadn’t been to in a couple of decades and my wife saw them for the first time. She thought Madrid was beautiful  - the nicest big city she’s ever been to and she’s travelled a fair bit. Toledo too, she thought was delightful, a bit like Carcassonne in France, but not, if you know what she means!

Clearly this was not the most conventional way of buying a second-hand car, but it was very agreeable and I recommend it highly!


About Joe King

Joe, not his real name, is a bit of an enigma. He has lived in the Serranía de Ronda for many years, but prefers to fly under the radar. Hence his pseudonym and lack of photo.

Joe doesn’t take life too seriously, and enjoys doing things in an unconventional manner. He invariably sees the funny side of life.

Like 0        Published at 8:21 AM   Comments (0)

How to sell a car in Spain
Monday, October 25, 2021

Joe King recently sold his car. But he didn’t advertise anywhere! Here’s what happened.

The other week I decided to sell my Seat León, as it had become surplus to requirements. Which couple needs three cars for God’s sake? Or even two, for that matter, but that’s another story!

A bit of a shame, as I really loved that car. It was the 1.9 TDi Diesel version and drove like a dream with plenty of acceleration when you needed it. Yet it had great fuel consumption.

I’d had the car just over 10 years, having bought it from the vendor of our current home on the day we took possession of the house in February 2011.

In order to sell it I didn’t advertise on Mil Anuncios, nor on Facebook. I didn’t put a small ad in the newsagents or on a lamp post. Yet the car was gone within a few days.

What I did was this.

I contacted a friend who’d expressed interest in buying my car a few months back, to see if he still wanted it. Unbeknown to me Jordi then rang a car mechanic, whom we both know, to ask his advice. I found out when Antonio, the mechanic, whose workshop is four doors from me, came to tell me this and to say that, if Jordi decided he didn’t want it, he would buy it for his daughter.

Two days went by and I got no further with my Catalan friend, so I told Antonio his daughter could have it.

“I’ll come and see you after lunch”, said Antonio. At 4.00 pm he was there at my gate, we agreed a price which we were both happy with and we touched elbows on the deal.

He went off to get the cash and I went indoors for the car keys and documents. Five minutes later I had a wad of banknotes and a bill of sale in my hand and Antonio was driving my beloved car up the road and out of my life.

I’d never bought or sold a car that quickly in all my days! Amazing!

That was the way to do it! Spanish-style!


About Joe King

Joe, not his real name, is a bit of an enigma. He has lived in the Serranía de Ronda for many years, but prefers to fly under the radar. Hence his pseudonym and lack of photo.

Joe doesn’t take life too seriously, and enjoys doing things in an unconventional manner. He invariably sees the funny side of life.


Like 0        Published at 8:01 AM   Comments (1)

Road Traffic Hazards in Spain
Friday, October 1, 2021

There are many more road traffic hazards in Spain than in the UK, contends long-time resident of the Serranía de Ronda Joe King.

Apart from the obvious road traffic hazards like drunk drivers, Sunday drivers and motorcyclists, there are many more here in southern Spain.

The latest hazard is posed by these ridiculous stand-on scooters, patinetes, which are not only a danger to their riders but also to other road users and pedestrians. They’re worse than the Sinclair C5, if you’re old enough to remember that folly!


People in/on vehicles

White van men – yes, they exist here too, and they are as bad and as inconsiderate as their British counterparts.

Delivery drivers – similar to the above, these drivers appear to stop wherever they fancy, irrespective of yellow lines, no parking signs, etc.

Fast drivers – the Spanish have a bit of a reputation for fast/dangerous driving. I’m sure they know what they’re doing, but it’s unnerving for other road users.

Drunk drivers – much more of a problem here than in the UK. The limit here is lower, yet driving above it is rife. Oddly, foreigners, who wouldn’t dream of drink driving in their home land, seem to think it’s ok here. It’s not!

Cyclists – particularly around the Serranía and especially at the weekends. They’re entitled to use the roads (although they don’t pay anything in the form of an annual road tax, like we users of motor vehicles), but why do they have to ride two and sometimes three-abreast?

Motorcyclists – my wife calls them “organ donors” because of the way they ride. Others have remarked that they seem to have a death wish. The number of accidents is very high on the mountain roads of the Serranía.

Coches sin permiso - these little pop-pops are a real threat. They’re so slow they are dangerous. Drivers of normal cars get frustrated being stuck behind them and often overtake where they shouldn’t.

Rogue parkers –drivers of 4 x 4s, or “Chelsea tractors”, seem to think they are immune from parking violations. Park where you like, including on pedestrian crossings, slap on the flashers and you’ll be ok.

Sudden stoppers – these are drivers who suddenly stop without warning to let their wives/sons/daughters get out of the car. They tend to favour pedestrian crossings too!

Patinete riders – as mentioned in the introduction, these are particularly dangerous. They ride on the wrong side of the road, on pavements, along pedestrianized streets. You don’t need a licence or any training to use one on the public roads. It’s not on.


People on foot

Jaywalkers – this is a problem throughout the world, although I don’t recommend it in the USA or Germany – you could get fined! In Ronda, where I live, they’re a menace.

Tourists – similar to jaywalkers, they seem to think they have right of way on the streets.

Legion joggers – near where I live, in the early morning, the roads and country lanes are full of joggers from the Spanish Foreign Legion, whose base is across the road. They take up a lot of space.

Cholesterol pilgrims – these are the good folk of Montejaque (Málaga) who regularly walk the five kilometres or so from the village to Venta La Vega (kilómetro 19 on the Seville road) in order to keep their cholesterol levels down. So they won’t die of cholesterol poisoning - they’re more likely to snuff it from being run over. In the summer they do this pilgrimage pre-dawn, when it’s cooler. Some wear gilets jaunes, yellow vests, but not all. And they’re the ones most at risk!

Dog walkers – especially if their dog is off the lead. My dog, Berti, albeit in the care of someone else at the time, was hit by a speeding driver while off the lead and was killed earlier this year.

Employees of conservación – these road maintenance guys don’t always set up a proper safety system when they’re trimming verges, so you come round a corner to be confronted by men at the roadside working and the road strewn with, for example, cut dried grass.

Waiters – some bars and restaurants have their terrace across the road from their premises. The waiters are back and forth in front of traffic. Potentially dangerous for the waiters.

Pretty women/men – a problem the world over. Drivers can be distracted by a thing of beauty by the side of the road, especially in summer when clothing is more sparse!



Sheep and goats – around the Serranía, you can often come across a flock of sheep or goats, although they are usually under the control of a shepherd/ goatherd and a dog. On some roads, wild goats just wander where they want. They don’t seem to be familiar with the highway code!

Wildlife – deer, in particular, but occasionally wild boar or even horses and cattle, can escape their enclosure and stand in the road. This is common at night.

Stray dogs – as above.


Static objects

Roundabouts – Spain has fallen in love with the roundabout. It’s like Milton Keynes in the UK! Problem is most Spanish drivers don’t have a clue about how to navigate them. Why is it ok to be in the outside lane when you plan to exit at 9 o’clock?

Bar terraces – In towns, they are simply in the way! They seem to make the street narrower.

Potholes – lots of these, especially after heavy rain or frosts. If you drive through them you can damage the suspension of your car. If you veer to avoid them you could cause an accident.

Roadside advertising – largely banned nowadays, those that remain are still a distraction.

Sleeping policemen – these traffic-calming humps are well-intentioned, of course, but some of them are really high and, quite frankly, a nuisance.



Silly speed limits – why is the maximum speed limit on main roads 90kph? It’s too slow and therefore dangerous. The 120 on motorways is a bit slow too. Since almost everybody ignores the limits, why not raise them?

Fallen rocks after heavy rain – quite a problem on all roads around the Serranía. You just have to be on your guard and hope nothing lands on top of your car!

Fallen trees or branches after a storm – as above.

Roads with no barriers – there are still some roads without barriers, so if you come off the road you could be in for a nasty surprise – if you survive the drop, that is!


So, as you can see, it’s potentially pretty hazardous out there on the roads. Maybe we should just stay at home, lie on the sofa and watch TV.


Like 0        Published at 7:28 PM   Comments (2)

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