Hotel review: Casa Federico, Granada

Rolling back to last winter for this overdue review. It’s hard now, with the mercury rising so quickly, to even imagine cold, wet winter days, with easterly winds and a bite to the air. But, that’s what it was like in Spain last winter. To break up one such weekend, we booked a night in Granada, to take advantage of someone else’s heating and hot water. The budget was set for a reasonable place to stay, it had to be central, and with a little bit of character. I would rather stay at home than do a run of the mill awayday.

A good fit

So, on paper, Casa Federico looked like a good fit. It is. Set just a few steps from the cathedral, the great value price did not reflect a budget hotel stay in any way and we enjoyed the location, excellent decor, and friendly atmos.

Rooms and decor

Named after our favourite Granada poet, reasonable parking is a block away. Upgraded on request to a superior room, it was a large-twin-bed-pushed-together scenario. Plenty of storage, spotlessly clean, room to walk around, a corner bath in a spacious bathroom, and quirky touches such as Moroccan decor, and headboards fashioned from old shutters. There were two full-length windows, and balcony views to the front, and to the spires and tiled rooftops of Granada.

The reception staff were friendly and helpful – and there’s no stuffiness. My only gripe was leaving behind a piece of sentimental jewellery and no reply to my Facebook messages. Otherwise, I say go ahead, book Casa Federico for great value, and a lovely place to stay in a convenient location.

*This review is independent and was not in exchange for a free stay.

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Hotel review: Centauera Boutique Hotel- Alanya, Turkey

As a travel writer, Tripadvisor content writer, and reviewer, I am always pleased to discover somewhere new, that’s really worth shouting about. In May, I was treated to a week in Turkey, ostensibly to chase some warmth, as Spain was fighting off the remnant of a hard winter, and I was pretty well burnt out and in need of some respite.

The destination

A five-star treat was in store in historical Alanya, at the Centauera boutique hotel, nestled below the ancient impressive fortification, which towers over the resort. This traditional stone house in Tophane’s historic district offers just a handful of luxurious rooms, with 24-hour room service. There is a spacious garden terrace with amazing harbour views, where you can relax and enjoy breakfast, lunch or an evening meal. Feed the local cats at your peril, they are tenacious! Or just sit with a tea, listen to the rhythmic call to prayer from one of the many mosques, just relax and read a book, gaze across the harbour, or lazily study the in-house geckos as they hunt.

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The inside info…

Including free Wi-Fi, the air-conditioned rooms at The Centauera come with satellite LCD TV. All rooms have traditional stone walls and are named after Turkish flowers. Some rooms offer sea views.

It’s a 10-minute walk downhill across the ancient cobbled streets, to reach Alanya’s city centre with its many eateries, bars and restaurants, as well as some superb shopping. Top Tip: Bring an empty suitcase…

This 24-hour accessible boutique hotel – with a high 9.9 rating on Booking –  is situated just five minute’s walk from the beach. Free parking is available in the immediate surroundings of the property.

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Well run, impressive service with a smile

Koray Orhunoz is the owner/manager, and after meeting him, you will understand why the hotel has such a high rating. Friendly, helpful, personable, with a huge personality, we felt as though he was family after just a week’s stay – but very nice family at that! Nothing is too much trouble; ice cold Ayran (that refreshing, salty buttermilk drink) was whipped up on request for breakfast and served alongside huge platters of cheeses with preserved fruit, honey, eggs, fresh leaves, a selection of local breads, and Turkish Chai or coffee. Koray organised a trip for us on request and was even open to lifts and late night drinks and chats.

We managed to stay in two rooms, taking advantage of an upgrade halfway through our week, but to be honest, both rooms were fantastic, the second having a claw-footed roll top bath to make it even more special. Would we return? In a heartbeat.

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Details

Contact Koray via his Facebook account. Tell him I sent you!

Browse the website directly to make a booking.

*This trip was paid for as a very kind and welcome gift, and this is not a free review for staying at the hotel.

The Irate Irishwoman -What NOT to indulge in during divorce

With Valentine’s day coming up, I thought I would add to the love fest by sharing some of my experience on good old divorce. Victim of a twit-attack? Save your sense of humour, grab some legal advice, and remain calm. Simply follow my tried and tested guide to what NOT to indulge in, during divorce.

It’s actually NOT your fault

When he happens to have fecked off, don’t faint, and don’t fall. You haven’t failed ANYTHING or ANYONE, it’s all his miserable failure. Every last bit.  Ditch the self deprecation. Stop self-bashing. Remember that one, write it on the mirror in lipstick if you don’t mind frightening the dinner guests – and remember, there will be guests again. Just because there’s one less lush at the table doesn’t mean anyone has forgotten you’re a damned good cook, they’ll still be there. In fact, now they don’t have to listen to him banging on, they won’t bloody go home. Have a taxi number handy. Practise your best yawn.

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Stop typing, proofread at the thinking stage

Oh dear God, I have never been good at this one. So you’re in shock, then hurt, then sad, then – the good bit – bloody furious. Got a great vocabulary? Yeah, me too. It’s a curse. Don’t do it, think it for sure, say it if you like, scream it, sob it, but don’t write it down. Kick something instead. Better. It’s all gonna come good in the end, the truth has a way of seeping out. Here’s one of those sickening inspirational quotes to laugh at…

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Don’t listen to everyone else – they’re not you

Take all the advice given  – there will be LOTS – and weed it as carefully as you would a bed of herbs. Which reminds, me, smoke some herbs if you can get your hands on any, whatever helps with the inducement of calm. Reject the prosaic platitudes, keep the good stuff for later – the advice, not your son’s mates’ drugs –  and for going back over when you need it, and dump the rest like a gleeful trip to the bottle bank after a party.

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Stop with the doll and the pins – put them down

Easier said than done. Don’t obsess. Not over what you did wrong (er, nothing, we have covered that, remember?) not over what you might have had (yeah, it’s a whole new future, and it’s a bit scary, but eventually it will be fun) and certainly not over the person you donated your used toy to…So he only jumped because someone available was oh so ready and waiting to catch him, Quelle surprise. Because really, she won’t be all that – once you have examined the close up of the one carelessly published unfiltered photo whilst drinking your second bottle of afternoon Lambrusco –  and for sure, he will have replaced you with someone less intelligent, who tells him what he wants to hear. You cannot hate her either, she’s just not that important…As my newly-gay, lovely best friend drily remarked “Jesus, Carol, I really cannot see the attraction….in either of them…”

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Don’t head for the chocolate

Embrace the break up diet. OMG the skinny-minny bit, it’s worth the split – a hundred times over. As you slide on those size eight jeans remember to smirk just a little. Yeah, you look HOT. Know it, wear it – whatever you damned well WANT – use it. And of course, when you’re ready, it’ll all help with that new and improved sex life. Just imagine, no need to fake bake it any more ladies, or pretend you’re asleep…well, it wasn’t like you didn’t know that short play inside out…you can choose where, when, with whom, and how often 🙂  – Okay, so maybe the last bit is wishful thinking for me, but I do find lately I seem to get exactly what I deserve 🙂

So, if you’re like me, and you’re a bit of a handful, just think of all those really good men –  with two hands.

Walking in the Alpujarra area of Andalusia

The rolling foothills of the Alpujarras region of Andalusia are still a pretty well-kept secret. Step away from the sand of the Costa Tropical and wind your way uphill, where a patchwork quilt of open countryside – most of it unchanged since Moorish times – unfurls before you, as far as the eye can see. Most first-time visitors describe their worries and stresses falling away as quickly as the coast drops below them. Roads where you’re unlikely to meet another vehicle snake up and around the mountainsides, calling you to explore more…

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Carol Byrne

Pack and go

Pack your boots, sensible layers of outdoor clothing and come and join our recommended Walking Tour operator Spanish Highs, as they show you around this time-forgotten area, and introduce you to a traditional Spanish area you will unlikely forget. Make some memories that last long beyond the suntan, and meet a destination you will wish to return to, time and again.

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The walking routes

With the sparkling blue Mediterranean sea at your feet, way below, and the Sierra Nevada mountains as the snowy frame, walking in the Alpujarras is a visual pleasure. Your senses will be instantly revived also, with the scent of fresh mountain herbs trampled underfoot, and the clear, clean air.

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Come on an Alpujarras Escape Walking Holiday

  • 5 days of the best walking and hiking tours in the Alpujarras!
  • Any dates between September and June (inclusive)
  • 7 nights in 3* hotel accommodation in Lanjarón
  • Choose between 2 fine hotels
  • Experienced local mountain and walking guides
  • Most days can be extended or shortened as necessary to suit the group
  • Shorter breaks available on request.
  • Optional (May to Oct) is an ascent of Mulhacén, the highest mountain in mainland Spain (3482m)

Level of challenge

Expect altitude gains of about 400m to 850m ascent and between 5 and 7 hours of walking per day. Bring sensible clothing and good hiking boots. Hiking poles are useful. Sun hats, sun glasses, sun block and a water bottle are essential.

Want to know more? Contact us: via our Contact Page or emailinfo@spanishhighs.co.uk. Tel +44 7505 753259 by prior appointment (email) only please.

 

 

At home, abroad, on St Patrick’s.

I always say I can grow anywhere away from home, a little like a container plant. But where home is these days, I’m not really sure. But, having said that, I’m pretty sure I also haven’t yet found it. The world is too big, and I have more places to see, live in, and to write about.

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There are none so patriotic as the Irish abroad. We love to sit in Brooklyn or Birmingham, Bangkok or Brighton, and sing a rebel song whilst silently weeping into a pint. Re-runs of Father Ted and Mrs Brown’s Boys only get funnier with time, and we long for the sweet scent of the Oul’ Sod. The Fields of Athenry are sung with passion, and the free bird is allowed to fly at the big games.

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But, wait just a minute. How many of us know where the heck Athenry actually is?  (It’s Galway, lads, catch up) As for all the words – feck it, any of the words – to The Soldier’s Song, in English or as Gaeilge, I think not.But the 17th of March, now, that’s a different thing altogether. Everyone is Irish on St Paddy’s day.

It’s been 30 years since I spent St Paddy’s at ‘home’ in Ireland, and this year I looked forward to it.Well, I pondered it anyway, as I suffered a ride on the hard plastic seat  over to Dublin, complete with Zebedee behind me.

Childhood was green ribbons, mass, a Sunday-style  dinner, and the Big Parade. Trips home, later on and then with my husband,  were made up of a fortune spent in Kenny’s, Courtney’s and The Ball Alley, all local village watering holes. A blur of pints and laughs, smoke filled bars and quick wit, shirts lost at Cheltenham from the comfort of the pub, big breakfasts at my parent’s house – “to line your stomach “- and dinner kept warm and served with a thump – we were always late back.

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This year, I wandered down alone, stone cold sober, and stood for a bit under Carroll’s awning until the drizzle became a bit of a drip, then gave up and came home to watch the Dublin parade with Mother, where several dozen times we cleared up the facts that, yes, it was still Friday, and no, St Patrick’s is not a movable feast. Testing times? A bit. But, it’s okay, we’re alright.

The city centre parade was beset by horizontal rain, high winds and arctic temperatures. But, you know, everyone was smiling, enjoying it, and the Temple Street bar area held the riotous after party, if the Live Web Cam was anything to go by. We enjoyed it all, in our own way, from the safety of the sofa, and the furnace-like blast of the central heating.

It seems nothing stops us. We love a little adversity. And, I thought, no, I may not know where home really is, or what the future holds, but I’ll always, emphatically, be completely Irish!

Lettuce Pray

Those words I always thought the priest uttered at Mass on soft Irish Sunday mornings – I was an almost-adult before – like many song lyrics – I realised I had it all wrong. Young folk have no idea how lucky they are that they have lyric sites at the swipe of an iPhone – and that they’re not bullied into Mass, for that matter.

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But this post is neither religious or musical, though I suspect a Mel Brooks-style treat is being hastily scribbled in the wings.

I ask you to to forget about world hunger. Begone Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and those irritating refugees looking for non-essentials such as shelter and water. The new kid on the block is Britain. Yes, in true OLIVER style, the begging bowl is out. The supermarkets are bare and the Sun editor is doing back-flips. It’s the scoop of the century. There is no lettuce. In February. That’s winter, right? But there’s no use whining and begging. Spain is NOT for sharing.

So, let’s consider the great #LettuceGate scandal of 2017 as a great hunger, perhaps even a Famine. Ah yes, we knew we’d have you eventually, landowners and bigwigs. You thought you could get us with our own potatoes when the chips were down.

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There’s a monumental disaster afoot and it’s caused by a lack of Lactuca Sativa.

What if #LettuceGate has the same consequences as the Great Famine? Starvation. Disease. Lettuce is a rich source of Vitamin K and Vitamin A. It’s a source of Folate. The National Health Service will crumble.

There’ll be mass emigration. The fact that no-one will want you is a bridge you’ll just have to cross in search of Iceberg, Cos or your next bag of Looseleaf.

What’s the solution? Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP might like to know that it’s possible to wait until lettuce is actually in season and grow her own.

Remember one more thing, Britain. Where did all the Irish go after An Gorta Mór? Oh yes, but now, sure, isn’t that ‘just desserts’?

Percolated happiness coming right up

It’s a drip feed, isn’t it? Happiness I mean. Not just happiness, all feelings, all emotions. A sort of osmosis from outside influence.

Peer pressure

We are so easily swayed these days, by adverts, by song lyrics, by reading a book or watching a decent film. Open your Facebook account and be instantly irritated by someone you have never actually met, feel emotional and sad at someone else’s bad luck, or warm and fuzzy from a cute kitten/puppy video. We’re all total suckers for it, really.

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#GoPositive

So there I was, minding my own business, when HAPPY MELLY suggested I get happy for a week; Go Positive they said. Easy, I thought. I’ll just post ‘nice’ things, and curate some positive stories. I can do that. Simple.

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Hard work

It’s not, actually. My social media (personal and pages accounts) are full of some really bad shit, and I hadn’t truly taken note. I found myself SEARCHING for good news stories, and really, it was pretty trying. Forget the newspapers and media pages for a start. My ‘friends’ do like a good moan! Avoidance of 😦 reactions is also harder than you think.

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So, I gaily skipped and scrolled past the RIP posts, the dead dog posts, the FFS posts and the general angst. No Angry, Sad, or even Like  (your angry mood)  responses from me – nuh-uh. I’m not on your bus, sister.

Feelgood factor

Then something odd happened. I found my finger hovering back over those Bad News stories, looking for something positive to say. That’s better, I thought. The OP would ‘like’ my comment, and I’d feel even happier.

 

9 September at 11:27 ·

All done and not a word of thanks from management. Not even a goodbye. Thankfully students were grateful for my efforts. #wontbeback

 

Comments

 

Carol Byrne The students are the important ones, your raison d’etre. Good that they were grateful 🙂

Like · Reply · 1 · 9 September at 12:33

 

I started to do the same OFFLINE. What’s all this? A new me? No, probably not. That would take some sort of miracle.

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But a slow, drip-feed of happiness? Yes. like the best coffee, a sort of percolated happiness. It tastes pretty good too…want a cup?