Dramatic Benahavis Blaze!

Emergency services are currently tackling a fire that has apparently leapt the A7 motorway, as this dramatic picture shows.

The blaze started on waste ground across from the Mercadona supermarket on the Benahavis road and, fanned by strong winds, has made its way up a dry riverbed.

Emergency services, including several helicopters, are currently tackling the fire, which can be seen from nearby San Pedro. The Benahavis road has also been closed.


UPDATE: The area north of the Barcelo Hotel in Guadalmina has been evacuated and the Ronda Road has been closed as the blaze heads north. Fire planes have been called in.


UPDATE at 19.00. The fire has been declared under control by Marbella Town Hall


Picture Perfect start for the Vuelta

It may have counted for little in the overall standings, but Marbella was the winner on the opening stage of the Vuelta de España yesterday.

Thousands of spectators flocked to the 7.4km route, which for the first time in the event's history, saw riders racing along a jetty and across the beach, before finishing on Marbella's paseo.

United States team BMC Racing won the neutralised team time trial, while Tour de France winner Chris Froome, who had earlier expressed concern, and his Team Sky finished down in 20th, over a minute behind BMC.

Froome's Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas told the BBC: "Our goal was just to stay safe. It's a big disappointment really to have a neutralised stage like that because we were all looking forward to going full gas and having a good race.
"When the organisers said there weren't going to be any times taken for the general classification, we decided to take it easy and stay upright. If everyone had have gone flat out, it might have been quite dangerous."

Other race favourites adopted a similar policy as Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde's Movistar team finished ninth.

The opening stage of the Vuelta was broadcast live by TVE and Marbella looked absolutely stunning in the sunshine as the teams took to the track, and police and organisers reported that the race had passed without incident.

The race begins for real today with a 158.7km stage from Alhuarin de la Torre to Caminito del Rey.



Photo: www.photographermarbella.com


Keep it Clean!

SUMMER up at the Casita means more visitors.

I don’t just mean my guests who, in the style of Hotel California, check out any time they like but never leave. The recent jellyfish invasion of the coast also meant that more people than normal have been coming up to swim in the lake, along with the usual Eastern European fishermen.

While I don’t have any problem with people enjoying nature (and the Casita is in a UNESCO-designated biosphere), I do have a problem with one thing. Litter. I don’t know what it is about people, but they seem incapable of taking their rubbish with them when they go.

Last Monday, for example, I ended up clearing away three supermarket plastic bags, one ripped-up crisp bag (destroyed by the bull terrier that one group of Spanish guys were letting run around without a lead), a scrunched-up sun hat and two Heineken bottles, both in one of my boats.

Now I may have been nicknamed the ‘Crankmeister’ by the Yummy Mummy, due to my ability to go from 0 to irritable in milliseconds, but I think that I do have a point. Who the hell do they think is going to clean their stuff up after them? A posse of trained black bass?

Previous items that I have retrieved from around the lake include used nappies, plastic chairs, toilet paper and even boxer shorts and bikinis. Though how someone forgets that they were wearing a bikini when they arrived is beyond me. Must have been one hell of a party.

The litter isn’t just unsightly, it’s dangerous. I was lucky not to lose the Casita to a fire earlier in the year, and a discarded glass bottle can easily cause a fire in the dry shrub.

One time, though, I lost it completely when I found plastic bags at the water’s edge filled with glass, fishing hooks and other rubbish hazardous to the wildlife. I was blaspheming loudly while booting the bags back up to the Casita, unaware that two Guardia Civil were watching.

After that I gained a new name in the village. Not so much ‘Dances with Wolves’ as ‘Curses at Bin Bags!!!”

Actor claims girlfriend victim of drink spiking in Banus

Irish funnyman Andy Quirke,  best known for playing Damo Whelan and Ivor Itchdaddy in the RTE Two show Damo and Ivor, posted on Facebook yesterday that his girlfriend was drugged in Puerto Banus.

"I just want to pass on a warning to all my friends that maybe in and around Puerto Banús Marbella. Last night whilst out with friends my girlfriend was drugged with a opiate based drug. We were in a bar called Astral at the end of the port that is a themed as an old ship. We arrived at 10pm and stayed for 3 hours. At around 12.15am a magician / street performer dressed in a sparkling light green costume who we had refused earlier in the evening returned to put on a 5 minute table show.

"During this time a clown tried to sell us roses (also a known cocaine and opiate dealer). The magician asked for my friends phone to take a group photo and asked for the code to unlock it ( whose unlock code is same as their ATM card pin ). While looking at the magic show I believe that the two guys behind us dropped this drug into Grace's drink. 30 mins later when we left Grace collapsed outside the bar and we struggled to find any authorities to come to our help.

"I manger to get Grace to hospital where they confirmed the symptoms and effects of this type particular drug and that its traces where in her blood and urine samples. The hospital also confirmed 12 other incidents of same attack this week in Banús. They are after gold watches ( my friend was wearing one) and after drugging they have victims pin codes for ATMs. I believe there were two women and two men posing as couples beside us and the clown and the magician are part of the same gang working together.

"I wouldn't want anyone to experience what happened to us last night. Grace is ok now but very shaken by what happened. Please share this message with anyone you know travelling to Marbella."

This is the latest incident in a series of druggings in the Port. Last summer the Olive Press newspaper ran a campaign highlighting the dangers of drink spiking in Marbella.

Vuelta starts in Puerto Banus today

After yesterday's controversy  the Vuelta 2015, will finally start today

South African team MTN-QHUBEKA has the honour of being first out at 18.48 and the 22 teams competing will leave at five minute intervals with the last, Katusha, heading out at at 20:33. National TV station TVE will broadcast the event for neraly two hours from 19:00, using seven helicopters for the coverage.

This year marks the Tour's 80th birthday, and conditions are set to be it will be hot.

Riders to watch include Alejandro Valverde of Movistar at 20:23 hours and Tour de France winner Chris Froome and the Sky team at 20.28.

It is estimated that the seafront course will be covered in just over seven minutes. Safety concerns voiced yesterday mean that the Marbella stage will not count to the overall result of the Vuelta, athough the fastest rider today will be allowed to wear the coveted red jersey of Vuelta leader.

Police presence is high in Marbella for the event, with several roads in Puerto Banus closed and there were reports of heavy traffic congestion.
Starting order:
18:53 Team Colombia
18:58 FDJ
19:03 Blanco Pro Cycling Team
19:08 AG2R La Mondiale
19:13 Cannondale-Garmin
19:18 IAM Cycling
19:23 Cofidis
19:28 Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
19:33 Team Europcar
19:38 Orica-GreenEdge
19:43 Trek Factory Racing
19:48 Tinkoff-Saxo
19:53 Team Giant-Alpecin
19:58 Etixx-Quick Step
20:03 Lotto-Soudal
20:08 Lampre-Merida
20:13 BMC Racing Team
20:18 Team Astana
20:23 Movistar Team
20:28 Team Sky
20:33 Team Katusha

Vuelta Skelter

It looks like causing traffic chaos tomorrow in Marbella, San Pedro and Puerto Banus, and has already been criticised for disrupting business on Marbella's paseo. And today the organisers of the Vuelta de España, caused red faces all round when they declared that the opening time trial, starting in Puerto Banus tomorrow afternoon, will not count towards the final result as the route is in an unfit condition,

Unipublic, the organiser, finally yielded to pressure from other cyclists, including Tour de France winner, Chris Froome, who had criticised the safety of the route especially around the Rio Verde.

In some ways the problems were not unexpected, since the route designed by Unipublic through Marbella had various complications,

Unipublic did not consider that racing across a wooden bridge and a path laid over sand would be a problem, until riders including Froome tested the stage between Puerto Banus and Marbella Marina.

Their complaints had nothing to do with a bad condition of this section, but with the problems of crossing the sand at speed.

The decision was taken this morning at a meeting between Unipublic, with its director, Javier Guillen as well as riders,  who has decided to cancel the times for the overall result.  It has ruled out the option of changing the route based on traffic and the lack of time to make a new plan.


To cut a long story short, Spandau Ballet cancel Marbella show

Spandau Ballet have been forced to cancel their concert due take place at the Hotel Puente Romano Tennis Club this Friday August 21.

John Keeble, drummer for the iconic 80s band has been taken ill and forced the cancellation of shows scheduled in Marbella, Sant Feliu de Guixois and Ibiza.

Promotors Musiserv have advised that any tickets purchased for the Marbella show will be refunded at the orginal point of sale. Tickets brought via Ticketmaster and El Corte Ingles will be refunded using the same credit card used for the purchase, and fans who brought tickets vias the ticket hotline should call 664 475 590 for instructions on how to get their refunds.

San Pedro goes Pop!

If you want to catch up with the hottest bands and singers in the Spanish charts, then San Pedro on Wednesday will be the place to be

The 40 Hot Mix Tour of 40 Principales, the national Spanish Pop radio station, will feature liveperformances by Calum, Dasoul, (pictured),  Lucy Paradise , Amelia , Carlos Jean, Mario Jefferson and Paula Rubio and many others .

Hosted by  DJ Oscar Martinez ,the show takes place at the Boulevard San Pedro this Wednesday, August 19 as part of a nationwide tour. The action starts at  22.00 and runs until 02.00 am, so expect lots of teen and tweenie screaming!

Blazes sweep the Coast

Two large wildfires swept the Coast and were clearly visible from Marbella over the weekend.

A huge fire in the Campo de Gibraltar forced the evacuation of some residents in Torreguadiaro area and also threatened luxury properties in the exclusive Sotogrande area.

Roads were closed and fire fighting 'planes and helicoters dramatically scooped water from Mediterranean as they tackled the blaze, which reportedly started near Alcaidesa.

A second fire also started in the Riviera del Sol area. First reports indicate that a woman has been arrested for deliberately starting the blaze.
The month of August is traditionally high season for fires. This year's dry winter has also added to the problem.
Photo. Dave Hodgson

The Planet Marbella Summer Survival Guide

As the summer silly season hits its height over the next few weeks, stay cool with Planet Marbella's suggestions to avoid the madding, not to mention maddening crowds

“Summertime and the living is easy” – and while this may have been true for Janis Joplin (and after her usual two bottles of Jack Daniels she normally was pretty easy) for those of us living on the Coast the days from now until September 1 are a Hawaiian-Tropic drenched assault course.

I have to use my razor-sharp elbow technique and the dark cunning of the French Rugby front row to get to the bar at my favourite watering holes, the supermarkets are full of English tourists who think that Bimbo bread is the funniest thing that they’ve ever seen and that the checkout girl is trying to short change them because they’ve never seen a Euro before, and getting around is more fun than usual because trying to get a taxi is like trying to get on the last helicopter out of Saigon.

Meanwhile the good citizens of Madrid descend on the roads, indulging in their favourite trick of driving very slowly and then suddenly stopping, turning left without indicating or a combination of both.

And just to add a little spice to the mixture is the usual rag-tag convoy of dog-tired Moroccans trying to make the ferry to Algeciras and who have usually been driving for 36 hours nonstop in beaten up Peugeots with the extended family in the back, what looks like the contents of the house on the roof and the granny stuffed muttering in there somewhere as well.

As an old hand at surviving the summer in Marbella, here are a few tips that I have found invaluable.

Stay at Home

Even though I live in a cottage on a lake, I never normally subscribe to the trendy mantra that staying in is the new going out. But during summer it can help to “go a little Garbo” and give free rein to your reclusive side.

Don’t move further than the fridge, TV or pool. Catch up on your reading, sit through that boxed set of “Game of Thrones”, download those long forgotten CDs to your iPod, try and conquer the latest games on your games console or cultivate your culinary side by becoming a BBQ master. It’s a great excuse to throw on a silly apron, get a couple of mates over and throw some shrimps on the Barbie.

Who knows? Getting out in the fresh air might bring out the hidden horticulturalist in you and see you trying to recreate the glorious gardens of the Alhambra in Granada. Failing that, invest in a large pitcher of Margaritas or jug of Pimms, head to the nearest sun lounger and let it all wash over you…

Go to a Gallery

If the thought of lying on a sun lounger reading the latest airport blockbuster fills you with dread, fear not. Marbella has more than enough air conditioned art galleries for culture vultures. These include the Museo Miraflores and the Museo de Grabado housed in the old hospital in the old town that hosts an outstanding collection of contemporary Spanish engravings. Check out the Museo Ralli next to the Coral Beach Hotel as well, that houses a large and fascinating collection of contemporary South American art, as well as work s by Dali and Chagall. It has great air con too!

Hit the Hills

While the rest of Spain is sweltering on the beaches, why not head inland and discover some of Andalucía’s most beautiful towns and villages? Ronda is a firm favourite, with great bars and restaurants and the dramatic Tajo gorge and bridge spanning it. The blue Smurf village of Juzcar just off the Ronda road is certainly different, while the village of Benojan is home to the renowned hotel and restaurant Molino del Santo.

If speed is your thing, check out Andalucía’s largest go-kart track at Campillos or Spain’s lake district with the fabulous lakes and climbing of El Chorro, home to the newly opened walkway, El Camino del Rey. And if you just fancy a little history, try Antequera, located dead centre in the heart of Andalucía, which has more churches and chapels per square metre than any other town in Spain and the famous “Indian’s Head Rock” where legend has it that a pair of doomed lovers, one Christian, one Muslim, leapt to their deaths.

So if you are looking for something other than sun, sand and sangria, take our tips and keep your sanity this summer!