I love to go to the weekly market when I’m in San Pedro.
It’s so colourful and full of atmosphere and energy – a great place to get a taste of
the “real Spain”.
This market, otherwise know as El Barato or Mercadilo visits all the local towns and it comes to us on a Thursday morning. Held on the Recinta Ferial Fairground on Calle Jorge Guillén, it’s off the road to Ronda, near the petrol station. It’s possible to walk up from the centre of San Pedro. It starts at 9am until around 2pm when everyone goes home for lunch.
Depending on the time of year I would recommend going early as it gets very hot around midday and also you will have to park further away. It’s very popular.
You can park your car on the street if you can find a space or try the dirt parking ground off Avenida Pablo Ruiz Picasso. There is usually a parking attendant there and it costs 1 euro to park.
The market sells most things, but I always buy the fruits and vegetables. Because they are locally grown they are much more tasty than the supermarket variety. And, a huge bonus, there is no plastic packaging. Everything is given to you in paper bags or you can use your own. The vendors are really friendly and will usually let you taste before you buy. They are really animated, shouting out what they have to sell and encouraging people to come and buy – just like the old market traders.
I love to get fresh figs and huge red salad tomatoes, plums, juicy peaches and nectarines.
I am usually laden down with produce on my way back to the car. A visit to the spice stand is also a must. You can get most spices and rubs; saffron, many different types of paprika, and dried chillis to name few. We always buy the pil-pil mix to make our favourite prawns pil-pil. And chimichurri spice mix to add to chicken and fish. I usually have orders from everyone back home as well so end up with kilos of it (very smelly in the luggage going home!)
It’s best to have a walk around before you buy the heavy fruit and veg. There are so many other things to look at from clothes and homeware, lots of leather bags, shoes and hats. Just about everything you can think of really.
It’s always fun to have a coffee break in one of the small cafés that spring up on the day.
I really can’t recommend a market visit enough, I will never miss it if I’m there on a Thursday. See our list of things to do for locations of the other market days.
If you are looking for a good day trip that won’t take all day, then a trip to Casares won’t disappoint. From our house in San Pedro De Alcantara you can drive to Casares in as little as 40 minutes. The most direct route is to take the AP7 road past Estepona, take the exit 153 and follow Pista Colada de los Molinos a E and MA8300 to Calle Molinos/MA-528 in Casares. A quick check with google maps will show you it’s quite simple.
As you approach Casares the road begins to wind and you see the beauty of the Spanish countryside and the wonder that is Casares. Houses seemingly cling to the edge of mountains as the views sweep before you.
As you approach Casares follow the signs to ‘CENTRO HISTÓRICO’. Whatever you do,
don’t drive downhill. Park at the top. In the summer months a policeman will probably be there to encourage you to do so. The walk down to the town is gorgeous, through narrow winding streets. Once there you will see why it’s pointless to drive down. It’s a beautiful white village. A walk around this historical place makes you wonder how they built it. History is all around you. Apparently Casares got its name after one Julius Caesar popped in one day to receive the healing sulfurus waters of La Hedionda. The Romans and Arabs have left their mark on Casares.
A walk around the village shows there are few modern trappings, just a sense of history and of a village quietly going about its business. Although the area sees plenty of tourists you don’t feel people all around you. There are lots of artisan shops to visit and tapas bars throughout. It is a little taste of Spanish life.
Before you leave make your way to the edge of the village to take in the views from the cliff edge. There you will marvel at the birds majestically carried in the airstreams above. For the ‘twitchers’ amongst you, you will see falcons, peregrines and eagles.
On the way back we stopped at a local restaurant for a tasty late lunch. The Venta Victoria. A family run restaurant. We sat out on the terrace which was lovely and had some spectacular views. The food was delicious, fresh, and homemade. And very inexpensive. Ask them what their special of the day is and go for that.
Last October we enjoyed our annual feria in San Pedro and it was a fun week of family-friendly activities including flamenco music, street parades, and lots of traditional Spanish food and drink.
Most towns and cities will host an annual street fair or feria to honour their patron saint. In San Pedro de Alcantara, in Andalucia, our feria is held every year in the third week of October. A festive time for the whole family, the town dresses itself up with lights and fireworks and everyone is encouraged to join in and have a good time.
If you’re a visitor to Spain the feria is a great time to participate in the local culture. Young and old don their finest traditional costumes. Women and children in flamenco style dresses have flowers in their hair and dancie to the tunes of flamenco music.
San Pedro de Alcantara Andalucia Feria [/caption]
The official opening of the San Pedro Feria at the beginning of the week has a fantastic fireworks display. A street parade brings the Patron Saint Pedro to the people. Activities and games for the children and, exhibitions, senior activities, and street stalls also open throughout the day.
There really is something for everyone., In the evening there are fairground rides and playgrounds and street stalls and bars serving local tapas and drinks.
The feria is located in the Recinto Ferial fairground near the boulevard in San Pedro. You can leisurely stroll around, visit the traditional casetas (white tents) offering all types of entertainment, take part in the many games stalls or take a break to sip some wine and enjoy some tapas.
This is the first course designed by the late and the great Severiano Ballesteros.
It’s also one of the best value courses in the region.
To set the stage I am an average golfer, I have a handicap of 18. It could be lower if only I could drag myself away from the office to play a little more frequently. Los Arqueros is a favourite course of mine, it is a tricky, idiosyncratic golf course with lots of challenges. There are some easier holes but there are plenty that have been created to catch you out. It is a course I always make time to play.
As you take the road up to Los Arqueros it might be a good idea to buy some balls from the road side golf ball seller. If you play Los Arqueros more than once in a week there is a good chance you could be buying back the balls you thought you had lost.
The club house is friendly, the staff know what the course can do to you.
Walk or buggy?
I like to walk the course, but I play most of my golf in S.E.Asia where golf courses dictate you take a buggy. Walking makes a nice change. Having said that most of my friends look at the hills and ask, “buggy?”.
Hole 1. 347 meters, par 4, handicap 11.
As you look down the hill from the tee, the driving range netting is to the left. Forget looking to the right, it’s out of bounds. It’s tempting to play a 3 wood here, the sensible option; take a long iron. Too often I ignore the advice I give myself and take a 3 wood. A 5 iron off the tee is fine. If all goes well, the second shot gives you a sight of the green, down the hill. It’s not a long hole but the first shot off the tee is important. The hole is one of the more forgiving. Tip, don’t over hit your second shot, if you do, you’ll be in a world of pain.
Hole 2. 156 meters, par 3, handicap 17.
At the bottom of a steep slope you come to the 2nd hole. The view opens up to the 2nd, 3rdand 4thfairways. Hole 2 is relatively simple. The website at Los Arqueros says ‘aim to the left of the green’, I just hope to get to the green without dropping into the bunkers that Seve created to defend the green. A 5 iron normally gets me there. If you land in the bunkers, the big green gives you a chance to remedy the first shot.
Hole 3. 361 meters, par 4, handicap 5.
To the left there is a big lake. To the right the 4thfairway. Don’t go left. I go with a driver at this tee. There’s plenty of room on the 4thfairway to make amends for a wild shot to the right. The green is on a slight hill, so take a longer club for the second shot, it will help you get past the stream that lies 10 meters infront of the green.
Hole 4. 311 meters, par 4, handicap 13 – dog leg left.
Aim to the right of the fairway. I always take a driver. It suits my game. There’s room to the right on the 3rdfairway for the slice or fade. Just don’t go left. On the dog leg you will see a small tree infront of the green with bunkers left and right. They are quite tame.
Hole 5. 154 meters, par 3, handicap 15
Uphill, so take a longer iron. I should heed my notes here, I always think I will get there with a 6 iron. I never do and leave the tee cursing myself for not using a 5 iron.
Hole 6. 519 meters, par 5, handicap 3
This hole and the next 2 are the 3 holes that make Los Arqueros memorable. Play them well and you can be forgiven for talking about it in the club house, ad nauseam.
At the tee you see water infront of you. If that’s not hard enough don’t go left, a stream runs the length of the hole. Just go right. The second shot is another tricky one down a very narrow fairway. Go middle…left or right is horrible. The first and second shots are crucial to make a good score on this hole
Hole 7. 304 meters, par 4, handicap 4
A short climb up a steepish hill to the 7thtee. If you are walking you might think, “why did I not take a buggy?”
If you thought hole 6 was narrow! At only 30 meters wide, with hazards left and right there is only one thing you do, pray! Take a 5 or 6 or 7 or a putter off the tee. Just play straight. The score card says the hole is a handicap 7, I have always made it play like handicap 1. It’s the hole to catch out all club golfers. It’s not a long par 4 it’s just very narrow and you have to play to the fairway, there is no left or right on this hole.
Hole 8. 480 meters, par 5, handicap 1
The 3rd in a series of 3 tricky holes. The golfing ego always gets the better of me on this tee. I always take a driver and aim to the left, My fade brings the ball back into the fairway.
Do not go right. The only way you will see that ball again is when you buy it back from one of the numerous lost ball sellers that dot around the course.
The decision you make on the 2ndshot dictates how well you play this hole. Do you take a 3 or 5 wood and clatter over the big gully? Or, do you lay up and play safe.
Hole 9. 283 meters, par 4, handicap 9
All up hill. I like walking this course but at the end of this hole you do tend to think ‘why?’
One of the easier holes, a 3 wood followed with a seven iron to the green, that is if all plays well. If?
Hole 10. 330 meters, par 4, handicap 4
The temptation is to take the driver, put it away. To the left, out of bounds, to the right a lump of rock. All this makes the landing area narrow. Take a long iron or hybrid. The tee shot is the make or break shot for this hole, get it right and the rest will be strawberries and cream. It’s only a handicap 4 because golfers make it so by not thinking through the first hole properly.
Hole 11. 144 meters, par 3, handicap 10
My bogie hole and I don’t mean I always hit a bogie here. From the bottom of the hill It does not seem like a long par 3, but don’t let that fool you. I agree with the club website, ‘play a club that is 2 clubs longer than you first think’.
Hole 12. 320 meters, par 4, handicap 2
A magnificent view. Stretching below a big fairway that narrows towards the top. I like to take a driver but too often it lands me in trouble. Out of bounds to the right and a bunch of trees to the left. Take a 3 wood, it will pay to be shorter off the tee. If you land to the right the green can be unsighted. To the left there are trees and potentially no sight of the green. It’s handicap 2 for this reason.
Hole 13. 458 meters, par 5, handicap 6
My handicap 1. A good drive off the tee will clear the gully infront of you. Your second shot is just as tricky, another gully cuts into the fairway on the right. It eats balls for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like hole 6, your first two shots are important if you are to beat this hole.
Hole 14. 289 meters, par 4 handicap 18
Like all holes on this course there is a degree of difficulty you have to manage. Drive well and the hole is easy. Go right from the tee and the ball is gone. No rescue. No second shot. Gone. Go left and you hit trees.
Hole 15. 376 meters, par 4 handicap 8
The big driving hole. Lots of space left and right. You can be caught by the bunker placed mid fairway but that’s as tricky as this hole gets.
Hole 16. 140 meters, par 3 handicap 16
A few years ago the water played to the left. You now tee off over the water to the green. Those who are spooked by water, play an old ball.
Hole 17. 350 meters, par 4 handicap 12
Another good driving hole. Go left for what you will see as the obvious reasons. The second shot is up hill, so play a longer club. Just don’t go right on any part of this hole as the ground falls away down a hill into messy rough.
Hole 18.335 meters, par 4 handicap 14
If you are still with me, well done.
From the tee you are looking up hill. If you are in a buggy ‘nice’, but if you are walking just think of the beer that’s got your name on it in the 19th. I aim left up hill, it’s a nicer way in from the left than playing out of trees on the right. A decent drive should leave you with a shortish iron to get on to the green.
Los Arqueros is a lovely course to play. It’s got character. You could imagine Señor
Ballesteros designing the course with a smile on his face knowing it will catch out and reward the golfer in so many different ways.
Don’t take my word for it, go play it and see if you agree.
Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club
Ctra. Ronda A-397 km 44,5, E-29679 Benahavís, Málaga, Spain
Nestled on the fertile plain between the Sierra de Ronda mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea in southern Spain, San Pedro de Alcántara has a long history dating back to the 3rd century AD. The area was once inhabited by the Romans, and there are still ancient Roman ruins to be found nearby. One in particular, near to the sea, is the Basilica de Vega del Mar, which is a protected architectural site and and well worth a visit.
The land around San Pedro has always been a farming community and in 1858 the first Marqués del Duero, General Manuel Gutiérrez de la Concha e Irigoyen (1808-1874) founded the Colonia Agricola de San Pedro Alcantara and intended to transform the area into a farming colony.
The Marqués was ahead of his time and encouraged professional farming training, an agricultural school and the importation of machinery and new techniques from America and the UK. He also built a system of small dams for irrigation, and constructed roads and shipping facilites to transport his goods to Malaga. This attracted tenant farmers from the nearby local towns and from all over Spain who came to grow beet and sugarcane. The Marqués gave them a home and small plot of land to grow food for their families. He also started to build the small town of San Pedro de Alcántara (named after his mother) with straight streets between 1860 and 1870, with the center at the church plaza, Plaza de la Iglesia.
The farm project prospered but unfortunately after being promised state aid, he was left to finance the colony himself and by 1865 was financially ruined. General Gutiérrez returned to active service in the Carlist Wars and was killed in battle in 1874.
The farmers of San Pedro continued to grow sugar cane, until 1920.
In memory of its founder, the Marques del Duero, the town commissioned a statue by the sculptor Santiago de Santiago in 1995 in the town plaza.
San Pedro today is a refreshingly unspoilt Spanish town. With a charming artmosphere, full of narrow streets packed with intriguing small shops, pavement cafes and restaurants and still nestled between the mountains and the sea.