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Why Bambú and who will enjoy a holiday here?  The short answer:

Bambú is self-catering - we are not a dinner bed and breakfast so our guests are free to choose whether to cook for themselves or dine out in a great selection of restaurants within a 15 minute drive - the nearest eateries being less than a 5 minute drive away. For those who like to try out different restaurants, this is perfect for you. For those on a tight budget, because you can eat in, Bambú proves to be a surprisingly inexpensive holiday.

Bambú is close to “civilisation”! - although in a beautiful secluded location, Bambú is only 15 minutes from the coast and close to several seaside resorts, villages and cities.  Many villas and hotels in this part of Spain are a long way inland, meaning that it is a major trek to go out and explore anywhere else.

The Axarquia region of southern Spain is truly beautiful - if you are looking for a peaceful, relaxing holiday, in stunning surroundings and want to enjoy pretty much the best climate in the whole of Europe, Bambú is perfect.  Great for de-stressing and unwinding.  Less hot than, say, the Greek islands - the temperate rarely exceeds 35o Celsius in summer and, if it is sunny in winter (and we have more days of sunshine per annum than anywhere else in mainland Europe), the daytime temperature in mid-winter can be in the region of 20o Celsius.

Who will and won’t enjoy a holiday at Bambú?   If you are seeking bright lights, loud music, “the scene”, souvenir shops and the like, then Bambú isn’t for you.  Bambú is rural ... not at all urban.  There is no row of shops and restaurants just outside the front door!  So, if you are a city-slicker who dislikes the countryside, then Bambú also isn’t for you! Having said that, as said above, civilisation isn’t far away - just a 10 minute drive to the nearest small city of Velez-Malaga and a 30 minute drive down the motorway to the truly gorgeous and ever-improving city of Malaga.  We are also walking distance to the nearest village - albeit 20 minutes down an unlit country track (we provide torches!).  So a night-out and a walk home can be enjoyed, exploring the bars and eateries of Benamocarra - but be advised, Benamocarra is not touristy, it is very quaint and very Andalucian - although it does have a small expat community, so is used to foreigners in its midst!

Why Spain?   Why Andalucia?  Why Bambú?  The long answer:

Northern Europeans – the Brits, the Germans, the Dutch and Scandinavians in particular - have been visiting Spain in massive numbers for the past few decades for one cluster of reasons only – for the sun, the beaches, the resorts and the cheap package holidays.  And for more discerning travellers, this has perhaps prejudiced them against Spain, with France and Italy being the ‘classier’ holiday destinations.

However this view couldn’t be more misplaced.

Yes, avoid Torremolinos, Fuengirola, Marbella and similar notorious tourist enclaves if this applies to you, but these places are mere blots on the landscape! They are not true representations of what this lovely country has to offer.

Away from the tourist ghettos (and they really are ghettos, with holidaymakers barely if ever venturing out of their chosen resort), Spain is historically fascinating and culturally diverse, its people are friendly and warm, and the landscape is subliminely beautiful. Watch or listen to any TV or radio documentary on European history, religion, culture or art and you will find yourself spending a disproportionate part of your viewing or listening time learning about Spain.  This country was civilised and flourishing long before its colder northern European neighbours – and as a consequence Spain has a fascinating architectural legacy.  And nowhere more so than Andalucia.  Then add the Moorish dimension to the mix.  Most of Spain and all of Andalucia was under Islamic rule for almost 800 years.  So much about this country embodies the amalgamation of the two great civilisations of Islam and Christianity – so relevant to today’s political and cultural landscape.  Indeed we have a great deal to learn from understanding a little of Spain’s history, in particular its Moorish era, as it was a time of great tolerance, diversity, scientific advancement and artistic creativity.

So, you Francophiles and Italophiles, set aside your prejudices about the costas, enjoy the real Spain and come to Bambú.

Here’s a bit of a glossary about what you can expect from a holiday in Andalucia and at Bambú in particular:

Firstly, the climate

Notwithstanding the above comments about there being more to Spain than just sunshine, most of us still want decent weather whilst on holiday.  And Spain has that in abundance.  In July and August it is fabulously hot - perfect for serious sun-worshippers.  June and September a little more bearable for those less sure about intense heat.  May and October are sublime (usually) – with a climate equivalent to a truly outstanding northern European summer.  Then November through to April, most visitors will enjoy plenty of warm sunshine but cooler evenings and may also experience the occasional day of rain.  But then this is the perfect season for walking, sightseeing and generally exploring the area.  And there is little more pleasurable than enjoying lunch on the terrace in December or January and basking in 20 degrees plus sunshine!

The landscape

Susanne and I are originally from the lovely Lake District in England, which is a fairly hard act to follow.  But Andalucia is truly beautiful against any benchmark.  

The sub-region of Andalucia where Bambú is located is known as The Axarquia, an Arab name meaning “The East” – some 1,000 square kilometres of territory between Malaga to the South West and Granada to the North East.  The Axarquia is highly mountainous and very scenic, its highest peak being La Maroma in the Sierra Tejeda, which stands at just over 2,000 metres, higher than any mountain in the British Isles.   La Maroma dominates the view from everywhere, Bambú being no exception.  Whether you are into hiking, cycling, driving or just lying back and soaking up the views, this part of Europe offers opportunities the equal of anywhere to enjoy a beautiful dramatic landscape.

Dotted amongst the landscape is a myriad of lovely whitewashed villages.  Each has its own distinctive character and charm and the majority have an ancient street layout which dates back to Moorish time.  Indeed, although the houses and shops bordering the narrow streets will be much more recent constructs, building techniques have changed very little over time, and it is easy to imagine oneself in mediaeval Moorish ‘Al Andalus’ whilst wandering the streets of these villages.  Narrow streets, too narrow for cars, although the locals seem to manage to scrape their way through.  Steep winding stepped paths.  Pots of geraniums at every doorstep. The white villages of Andalucia are a ubiquitous feature of the landscape of southern Spain.  

Prior to the Moors, southern Spain was barren and poor, but the Moors, with their highly skilled irrigation techniques made the land fertile and Al Andalus became the garden of Spain and, perhaps now, the garden of Europe.

When the Moors were driven from power, the local populations were forced to convert to Christianity or were expelled from their homes.  Many of the white villages were completely purged and new Christian communities moved in from elsewhere in Spain.  Those that did convert were subject to the Spanish Inquisition to scrutinise the substance of their conversion ... but then that’s another story!

Our local village is Benamocarra, a 20 minute walk from Bambú.   Benamocarra has lots of shops, a couple of banks and, most importantly, many tapas bars including, during the summer months, a lovely new heladeria (ice cream parlour / outdoor  bar) and a truly tropical public pool and bar, both particularly popular with our guests.  Although we do encourage our guests to hire a car if they can, many guests have chosen not to and instead have spent their whole holiday relaxing at Bambú, enjoying evenings out in Benamocarra with just the occasional public transport journey further afield.

Historical and cultural sights within a short drive of Bambú

But it’s not all countryside and pretty white villages.  Bambú is just 15 minutes’ drive from the coast and the nearest of several lively seaside towns of the Axarquia – more on these in a moment.  The nearest city, just 10 minutes away, is Velez-Malaga, the last city and stronghold of the Moors to fall before Granada finally succumbed to the onslaught of Ferdinand and Isobella.  Velez is a pleasant small regional centre with some lovely streets at its core and several fine buildings.

Then we have two sets of massive caves nearby, 15 minutes to the east at Nerja and 15 minutes to the west at Rincon de la Victoria. Both of them contain prehistoric cave paintings and both welcome tourists.

But if it is cities that inspire and excite you, then head west just 30 minutes to Malaga city.  Malaga was said to be the favourite city of poet Federico Garcia Lorca and he clearly had great taste.  Despite the importance of its airport as a major tourist entry point, few of those who pass through its arrivals hall venture into the city next door.   And that’s not a bad thing.  Malaga hasn’t been polluted by tourism but instead retains a very Spanish identity and atmosphere.  Phoenician, Roman, Moorish and mediaeval Christian landmarks dot the city. The city also has some excellent art galleries, including the Picasso Museum (he was born in Malaga), the Contemporary Arts Centre and, about to open in 2011, is the Thyssen Museum, sister to the Thyssen Museum in Madrid and housing one of the worlds largest private art collections.  Beautiful parks, lovely waterfront, great shopping, an infinite number of tapas bars and restaurants and a different fiesta seemingly every week; Malaga is a lovely city not to be missed ... and a very easy commute (by car or public transport) from Bambú.

Not much more than an hour from Bambú is Granada, home to World Heritage Site, The Alhambra. The Alhambra is one of those iconic historial monuments that really have to be seen at least once in a lifetime - it is quite stunning, the most magnificently preserved Moorish Palace in the world. Granada is also a lovely city, well worth a few hours exploration.  So a day trip to the Alhambra and the city is well worthwhile.  Granada is also base camp for the Sierra Nevada ski slopes, whose pistes are open from November to early May. During these months, Bambú guests can set off at 7am and be fully kitted up and whizzing down their first black run before 10am for a full day’s skiing.

45 minutes to the North West of Bambú is the small and attractive city of Antequera (named even by the Romans for its vintage!), a treasure trove of historical curiosities spanning thousands of years.  

Then further afield but still just about reachable in day trips or overnight stopovers are the exquisitely beautiful and historically important cities of Cordoba and Seville.  Cordoba is remarkable for its geranium filled patios, its Jewish quarter and its Mezquita, the idiosyncratic spectacle of a cathedral constructed in the centre of a mosque.  Seville, home of oranges, Carmen and the unrivalled Alcazar, not Moorish but Mudejar and with its very lovely gardens.

So, if swimming pools and beautiful landscapes are not enough for you, there are plenty of opportunities nearby to get your city and cultural fix!

A little about the local seaside resorts

So let’s return to what Spain is famous for – its seaside resorts.  Well around here they have very little in common with the aforementioned Torremolinos and Marbella.  They are places where the Spanish, not the Brits or the Germans, go on holiday.  Here you can experience real Spanish food, enjoy the company of the Spanish relaxing and enjoying themselves, and completely avoid fish and chips and lager louts.

Our local seaside town is Torre del Mar.  The Torre del Mar promenade is very attractive, long, palm-fringed and perfect for ‘promenading’ whether in the peace of the low season or surrounded by seemingly all of Spanish society at the busiest times.  Go for a stroll in summer at midnight or 1am and the promenade will be packed – the market stalls still going strong, the Peruvian pan pipers in full swing, Spanish toddlers taking to the air on trampolines, the restaurants and chiringuitos as busy as ever, the ice cream parlours full and the atmosphere electric.  Torre del Mar certainly knows how to entertain its visitors.  Whereas the inland white villages typically only offer traditional Spanish cuisine and domino-playing local tapas bars, the seaside towns offer a much greater choice of cuisine (Italian, Greek, Indian, Thai, Chinese), ice-cream parlours, trendy bars, bike hire, boat hire, craft markets and all those things that animate a holiday.  Being so near to Torre del Mar and the other Axarquia seaside towns of Rincon de la Victoria, Benajarafe, Torrox and Nerja is a great bonus for Bambú.

So onto the cuisine

As already mentioned, Torre del Mar and the other seaside towns offer pretty much any cuisine you might wish for ... but it is their fish restaurants which are the very best.  Whether or not you eat fish or like sardines, few people find the aroma of the wood fires along the beach fronts, cooking sardines, anything other than intoxicating ... an aroma which imbues the seaside atmosphere.  

In Malaga city, the same diversity of cuisine prevails, however here you start to see trendy eateries with more northern European fare, provided for a more cosmopolitan population.  Malaga also has at least three vegetarian restaurants, unheard of anywhere else around here.  Indeed life is difficult for vegetarians in southern Spain – other than Spanish omelette and the occasional tapa, you’ll struggle.   And for vegans, it is impossible.  However Bambú is self-catering, so you can prepare your own cordon bleu vegetarian or vegan food back in your own suite ... and enjoy fine dining on the terrace!  

If you do eat meat or fish, then you may like to try Menu del Dia, surely the best value meal anywhere in Western Europe.  For as little as ˆ7 you can enjoy a 3 course meal plus a drink.  And Menu del Dia is available at almost every restaurant at lunchtime (from 2pm).  Fabulous value and usually great food.

Value for money

Talking of value for money, another reason to enjoy your visit to Spain is the relatively low cost of eating and drinking out.  There’s Menu del Dia but also most a la carte meals are much cheaper than comparable dishes elsewhere in Europe.  And tapas are a true bargain. In the villages ˆ1 will buy you a beer, a glass of wine or a coffee - ˆ1.20 or ˆ1.50 perhaps in the seaside towns or in Malaga City.  Compare this with ˆ3+ in France or Italy.  And the coffee is lovely ... as is the local fortified sweet wine made from raisins, Malaga Dulce.  

You will also find flying to Malaga and the overall cost of your holiday relatively inexpensive

Flights will also always be plentiful and of great value into Malaga.  Here we have to thank the massive tourist market to the resorts to the West of Malaga.  Whether you prefer to fly with the national carriers or with the ‘no frills’ airlines, flights to Malaga are always fairly inexpensive.

By self-catering you can also keep your budget under control.  You don’t need to eat out every night if you don’t want to.  There is no finer place to enjoy a romantic candlelit meal than on the terraces of Bambú!

Lastly, a word about eco-tourism

We know than many of our guests will be conscious of their carbon footprint and may have some unease about the carbon impact of taking a holiday overseas.  However, if you are going to have an overseas holiday, at least Spain is short-haul.  Since Spain is due south of Britain, Spain is closer to the UK and therefore incurs fewer air miles than any other sunshine destination.  Sure, you could go hill walking in the Lake District but give me Andalucia and Bambú any day ... or at least once a year.

So, Francophiles and Italophiles ... and those who only think of Spain in terms of the costas ... think again. This place is special. This place is seriously classy! And Bambú is a home from home for lesbians from all over the world who wish to explore the real Andalucia, the real Spain ... or to just chill out for a week or two!

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