Almunecar Christmas Medieval Market 2015

Once again the Christmas medieval market will be taking place here in Almunecar on Paseo de Atillo – normally sited on the raised part in and around the tropical plants and trees overlooking the beach.

Almunecar Medieval Fair poster
Almunecar Medieval Fair

Dates this year are Saturday 5th to Tuesday 8th December to coincide with the extended “bridge” for the Constitution day fiestas.  Opening times this year, according to the town hall,  are for afternoons and on into the night, as we are told it will be running from 11:00 to 24:00, with a break at mid day.  How long the break will be is unclear, but we suspect it will be normal siesta time from aorund 14:00 to 17:00 or so.

Medieval Culture

Early indications are that there will be at least 50 stalls and exhibitors.  Visitors can expect to find a variety of hand crafted items, including incenses and natural soaps, fashion jewellery in silver, wooden articles and toys, games and puzzles, tarot card readers, wooden toys, puppets, cloth dolls, Aloe Vera products and typical regional charcuterie products.

There are also belly dancing displays and and an exhibition of local birds of prey, amongst other attractions – last year there was even a man powered wooden roundabout.

The local Alzheimer’s disease charity will also have a stand there so please support this most worthy cause if at all possible.

 

 

Sierra Nevada Ski Station Opening Date 2015

Sierra Nevada 2015 Ski Lifts Opening

The official opening date has just been released today – it’s Saturday 28th November – so start sharpening those edges and waxing those bases.

Poster for Sierra Nevada opening date 2017

The early opening is all down to the low temperatures we have have had for the last week.  These have enabled the use of the artificial snow canons in the Borreguiles beginners area over the last couple of days.

Exactly how big the opening area will be won’t be known until Friday night, but today (Wed 25th) the pisteurs had already prepared nearly 2 kilometers around the ski chairlift at around Emile Allais and the Borreguiles carpet lift.

Access to the area will by the Borreguiles gondola lift, which runs to and from the resort of Pradollano.  As usual, a reduced price lift pass will be offered of €20 (youth €18 & juniors €16) which will run until 2nd December.

Meanwhile, the artificial snow system will continue to run, depending on the temperatures, with snow production in adjacent areas being incorporated into the ski area.

The station will also open the Mirlo Blanco recreation area and also have a restricted piste for wooden sledges in the final stretch of the Rio piste available.

Finally, as a bit of a bonus, underground parking in the Plaza de Andalucía car park will be free until December 2, 2015.

More Info

For more info on our ski trips up to the resort, please see the itinerary for our winter activity holidays.

World Cup Skiing in Sierra Nevada

2016 FIS Freestyle Aerials World Cup

The 2016 World Cup Freestyle Aerials are slated for night time Saturday 27th Feb here in Sierra Nevada.  Artificial lighting will be in place along Crescendo piste, with the final lead off running towards the square at Pradollano.  The event will be covered by live television broadcast, and with the usual light shows and sound systems will be fantastic show!

Map of 2016 Aerials Venue
2016 Aerials Venue

The aerials will include three different ramps, to give jumps up to 12 metres, which will be a superb spectacle especially as it will be sited right next to the village

This means that for the 2015 / 2016 season some 15 national plus 40 regional competitions will be held.

Youth development has not been forgotten, with children of 5 to 12 years old getting a new exclusive training area next to Parador / Cauchiles (by the Virgen de las Nieves ski lift).

2017 FIS SnowBoard and Freestyle Ski World Cup

Sierra Nevada has also been chosen by the FIS to host World Cup skiing in 2017.  The station has already invested heavily in building a  world class snow park in Sulyaires and this investment has now paid off big time.

The World Cup competition, as far as we can gather at the moment, will be split between the snow park, and a second “urban” venue just by the bubble lifts right next to Pradallona village.

The ski station has almost all the venues ready for the World Cup 2017, which will coincide with the “Universiade” which starts on 4th February.

Disciplines will include Big Air (snowboarding), Aerials (freeski), Half Pipe,  snowboarding, parallel slalom, aerials, slope style, Snowboardcross, half pipe and big air.  The freestyle mogul disciplines will include slope style , Ski-cross, half pipe and aerials.

More Info

To get more information on our normal winter schedule, please see our winter activity holiday itinerary.

GIYO Mini Pump with Gauge Review

GIYO MTB mini pump with gauge

Not the world’s most expensive mini pump but this little fellow packs a good punch.  The stroke is around 21cm / 8″ so you can get a decent amount of air through it with each pump stroke, unlike some smaller versions.  Only just over 8″ (22cm approx.) collapsed (16.5 ” / 40cm extended) and around 3.5 oz (99 grams) so it fits easily into your back pack or pocket in your jersey, unless you want to frame mount it.

Giyo Mini pump with guage
Giyo Mini pump with guage

The body and most parts are good quality aluminium alloy, with a plastic main handle.  The schrader / presta head is the usual “unscrew the collar and reverse the collet inside” style fitting, and with an alloy lever clamp it attaches quickly and securely to the valve.

Another great feature is the built in gauge, which seems pretty  accurate every time we have used it (around the 45 – 65 psi range) but is rated up to 100 psi – though as this is a compact pump it would need a bit of time to get up to that kind of pressure.  That said, there’s definitely enough “oomph” though to easily re-inflate after a puncture and to be able to finish your ride.

Giyo Mini pump - extended
Giyo Mini pump – extended

For ease of use it is best to grasp the valve end with your left hand and also grip a fork leg or stanchion at the same time.  This helps stabilises the valve end, and you can then get a good rhythm going with the pumping without stressing the valve stem too much – it only takes a minute or so to re-inflate a tubed MTB tyre once you get going.

Summary

A good little mini pump, with the added benefit of an accurate gauge.

More Info

For more info on our cycling activities, please see either the  MTB routes or family holiday cycling pages

XXXI Andres Segovia Classical Guitar Competition

XXXI Andres Segovia Concert publicity poster Next week’s “big ticket” event running from Tuesday 24th to  Saturday 28th November is the 31st annual International Classical Guitar Competition “Andres Segovia” next door in La Herradura.  This year it is being held in conjunction with the Spanish Ministry of Culture, the Provincial Delegation in Granada of the Ministry of Culture of the Andalusian Government and the Culture of the Hon. Granada Provincial Council.

The competition is held annually in memory of Andres Segovia Torres (Linares, Jaén, 02/21/1893 – Madrid, 03/06/1987) and this year it pays tribute to the mastro Joaquin Rodrigo (Sagunto, Valencia, 22.11.1901 – Madrid, 06/07/1999), on the 75th anniversary of the premiere of his Concerto de Aranjuez.

The public draw for the running order will be held at the Civic Centre, LA Herradura at 13:00 on Tue 24th.  Admittance to the heats is usually free, with a charge being made for the finals (in previous years advance booking has been vital).

Heat 1

  • Free choice repertoire of various styles not exceeding 15 minutes.
  • Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999) Invocation and Dance (Ed. Joaquin Rodrigo)

Heat 2  – The contestants who pass the first heat will perform:

  • Free choice repertoire of various styles not exceeding 25 minutes.
  • Marco de Biasi (Vittorio Veneto 1977) Improvisation VI , Editorial EMEC. Award XXV Composition Competition “Andres Segovia”.

Finals

  • FINAL TEST: GUITAR AND ORCHESTRA REPERTOIRE
    Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999): Concierto de Aranjuez, Editions Joaquin Rodrigo.

AWARDS

  • First Prize “Andrés Segovia” endowed with 10,000 (ten thousand) euros. A special concert guitar model built with the finest woods, materials and varnish, with Canadian cedar top, rosewood body Madagascar shellac and varnish Made by combining the most modern construction techniques acoustic instruments with grenadine secular tradition, with its traditional hard case valued at € 5,200, the musicologist and luthier Aaron Garcia Ruiz ( www.aaron-garcia.com ) and a recital at the Festival International Music and Dance of Granada in its 2016 edition.
  • Second Prize “Andrés Segovia” endowed with 4,000 (four thousand) euros and a recital at the International Festival of Music and Dance of Ubeda in its 2016 edition.
  • Third Prize “Andrés Segovia” endowed with 2,000 (two thousand) euros and a recital in Jaen in the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country.
  • Special prize ” Leo Brouwer ” endowed with 700 (seven hundred) euros for the best interpretation of the work Improvisation VI Marco Biasi winner XXV Composition Competition Andrés Segovia (2,013).
  • Almuñécar Young Musicians Award , as a stimulus to the younger guitarist or exceeding the first knockout stage endowed with 400 euros (four); a guitar recital in Almuñécar; bag for travel and accommodation, the youngest guitarist or exceeding the first knockout stage.
  • The rest of the participants in the Third Test, will receive a “Diploma of Finalist”

More Info

See official certamen de Andres Segovia website – there is small toggle for English / Spanish versions in the top right corner.

Shimano XC30 MTB Shoe Review

Smimano XC30s

These replaced a worn out pair of budget DHB shoes which the soles and tread had been destroyed on rocky ground.  They’re a good pair of basic three strap shoes, so no laces to get caught in chains.  Good foot and arch support, as well as being a fairly wide fitting so comfortable.  Even though just a Velcro fastening, they still cinch up tight so work well on the up stroke.  The Velcro has stood up well to dusty tracks as well as being soaked for extended periods.  Easy to open up to dry them out at the end of the day, with the foot bed coming out easily.

Shimano XC30 MTB Shoe
Shimano XC30 MTB Shoe

The standard Shimano MTB cleats fit easily (though NB these are not supplied so you will either need to refit some old ones or buy new ones at the same time).

Screws and the backing plate do come with the shoes however, and 5 minutes with an HB pencil and a bit of foot dangling over a table soon have the cleats fitted and aligned.

shimano-m647-pedal
Shimano M647
shimano-m424-pedal
Shimano M424

The cleats are quite recessed into the treads, which makes them easy (and quiet!) to walk in on smooth surfaces – but could possibly be a problem with some pedals.  We use them with SPD pedals like these with surrounding cages (so the pedals can be used for quick rides with ordinary shoes) and they aren’t a problem, however, but could possibly be an issue with more aggressive interfaces (though in that case you would probably be looking at more expensive shoes anyway!..)

Summary

A good basic MTB shoe and excellent value for money.

More Info

Please see our MTB routes  or our family holiday cycling pages for more details

 

Bungee Straps for Mares Fins Review

Mares Bungee Straps

If you have Mares Quattro, or similar, fins and are still using the old style of standard straps which came with them…

Mares fin straps (old style)
Standard Mares fin straps

… put down your mouse and get immediately along to your local LDS (or favourite on line retailer) and get yourself  some Mares Bungee replacements.

Mares Bungee Fin Straps
Mares Bungee Fin Straps

These replacements are a dead easy to put on and for ease of use make this upgrade option a total “no brainer”.

Just one large rubber loop, big enough to easily grasp when wearing gloves or even a “lobster claw” style glove. You simply grab the loop, pull it over your heel and that’s it.  Fins on!

To remove them again just grab the loop, slip it under your boot and you’re done.  Fins off!!

Absolutely no faffing around with plastic clips on hinges, or trying to squeeze two small pips with cold fingers in gloves to release them, ever, ever, again.

Fitting them

The clips have a “key hole” style fastening, which locates onto a plastic mushroom head that protrudes from each side of your fin.  Simply pivot the old clip up 90 degrees so its vertical (it will take a bit of a push to turn it) and it will then push down about 10mm and release.  Instructions are on the packet, and once you’ve done the first one, the other three sides are dead easy.  If you’re worried about the length (they are sized to match your fin & boot sizes) they do come with two screw on extenders for each pair, that can be used to lengthen the strap by around 10mm or so (shown in foreground of picture above).

Summary

Absolute no brainer. Go and buy them.

Now.

More Info

For more info on our diving activities in Spain please see our diving holidays pages.

Sierra Nevada Ski Resort – November News

Sierra Nevada Ski Lift Improvements

We’re all pretty excited over the news that 3 Million Euros have just been spent on improvements up the road at Sierra Nevada, in readiness for the new skiing season.  Main beneficiary of the big spend has been the Al Andalus gondola lift, which we are told will be more comfortable and faster for the 2015/16 season, having undergone a profound renewal of structural, mechanical and electronic elements over the summer to mark 25 years since its commissioning.

Al Andalus gondola is the one on the right as you stand at Pradollano and look up towards the top (the one on the right is Borreguiles) and connects the ski village of Pradollano to the main Borreguiles ski area.  Last year the uplift capacity from the lower part of the  village via these two gondolas was 3300 px/hr for Al Andalus and 2275 ppx/hr for Borreguiles (with Jara chair lift giving an additional 2880 px/hr straight up to the Sulayr snow park / Lomar Dilar area).

Two of the 26 ski lift pylons (numbers 21 & 22) have been renovated and re-located to ensure better performance, which involved draining the lake during the summer to facilitate the work of concreting of the base.  Further work undertaken in the major refit over summer was renewal of over 400 blocks and 50 rockers, as well as major hardware upgrades to the motor rooms.

Sierra Nevada Lift Improvements
Sierra Nevada Lift Improvements

The lift has also benefited from upgrades to the motor and gearing system, described as a “new heart”, which, along with the renewal of all the electronic control systems and cooling systems, will allow the Al Andalus to be faster, reaching a maximum speed of 6 meters a second (compared to 5.2 from previous seasons).

A renovation of  65 gondola cabins has included new windows, isolation supports and interior comfort improvements as well as an improved suspension system to reduce vibrations as the cabins pass over the pylons.

Additional improvements have been made to improve access for users in both the upper and lower stations for more convenient access to the gondolas.

In addition, the station has further invested in improving facilities, with a reform of the Borreguiles top station building, with new public toilets and waterproofing of the terrace of the restaurant, a new transformer for the Monachil chairlift, changes to the urban chairlift cable, fiber optic installations in Stadium chairlift and a new ski lift landing stage for Jara lift.

Finally the works have also improved the lighting of the River and Maribel slopes for night skiing, a renovation and repair of the windbreaks around the park tracks, new processing machines as well as the incorporation of new snow bike Service tracks.

New Pistes & Ski Cross Track

Sierra Nevada will now have a permanent ski cross track and a new competition area for children.  The new ski cross track will be approx. 750 meters long and be used for official competitions.  It will be built with small jumps and banked snow between Sector Three of the Snow Park and the Lomar de Dílar piste.

The station has scheduled 55 races already this year, and will continue to give grants to clubs who dedicate equipment to official competitions, which will benefit about 280 children.

Cetursa Management Changes

Francisco Fernandez, Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Junta de Andalucía, is now president of the operating company, Cetursa Sierra Nevada.

Among the new directors of the company highlights is the former World Cup racer and CEO of Sports Promotion, Maria Jose Rienda, as well as new representatives of local authorities present in the shareholding of Cetursa Sierra Nevada.

Fernandez told the recent general meeting of shareholders and directors of the company details of the investment of 3 million euros, the strategic aims for Cetursa for the 2015/2016 season, the return of the  Freestyle World Cup in 2016 and the increased momentum in promoting Sierra Nevada.

More Info

See our skiing in Sierra Nevada page for more info on our ski and snowboard activity days with Totally Sorted Sports.