Benaoján Things to Do
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October is here, time to celebrate the matron of the town. Everyone gathers and parties for 3 days and three nights at the main square where a stage has been built and pop bands play at night while sevillanas brighten the morning as little old ladies strut their “stuff”. Friday evening the celebration begins to keep on going till the wee hours. On your 5-6 hour of sleep you'll be woken up by fireworks that from this point on won't stop till sunday evening. Saturday night is the biggest event as the party started at the main square at noon with the local band and keeps on going till 7 where the procesion starts, Our Lady then goes through the town sharing her blessings. Four lucky girls are the mayordomas and they get to dress appropiately and guide the parade through the small alleys. Saturday will keep on going till 6 or 7 in the morning, flamencos, rumbas, paso dobles, sevillanas, taconeo, pop and even some rock will keep you going till the sun comes out. And don't forget to try out the tapas as the bars stay open serving food as long as there are people standing. By noon on sunday, you'll be woken up this time by the smell of chorizo as the town congregates in the main square to the biggest chorizada I've ever seen. Certainly a family atmosphere for 3 days running: from the little girls wearing their favorite dresses to the older ladies "taconeando" through the evening and the younger crowd pumping up the volume at night, this is certainly a party you'll never forget
Bda Estacion s/n, Benaojan, 29370, Spain
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El Tropical, or Bruno’s as we call it, is the biggest restaurant in town. The restaurant is built on a cliff so if you are lucky enough to eat on the deck you’ll be rewarded by a magnificent unobstructed view of the mountains surrounding the town. Bruno’s is run by a scotish woman so English won’t be a problem here and her son (you guessed it: Bruno) uses this advantage to tell you all you need to know about Andalusia’s food and give you a rundown of Benoajan history. At night is a popular watering hole, used by many as a pre gaming place as the atmosphere is very soothing and sets itself just right for the occasion. A big screen TV and a few arcade games complete the place.
As you come into town you'll see the signs pointing you to it, or from within town, starting at the main square, take the alley opposite the main church and make the first left after "El Charquito" you'll find it within 40 paces.
Favorite Dish: Chuletas, for sure. But try the different dishes, Bruno even makes a delightfull mix of tapas for you to try your different options.
El Charquito, you’ll find it down the alley opposite the main church, 50 paces tops (any more and you’ll be in the next town). Bars will normally have the required albondigas, jamon y trozitos de pollo, but this one goes above and beyond. Not only in choices but the care they take on their preparation is worth of an actual restaurant. Seafood –squid and octopus being my favorites – and chacina are the house specialties. At night it becomes the happening place in town. People from the next two towns come over here to meet as well as many foreigners, you’ll see by the writings at the bar, so you’ll be guaranteed a good crowd for such a small town. Music ranges from sevillanas to top 40, mainly decided by the type of crowd for the evening.
Dress Code: No dress code needed, just bring your "taconeo" shoes
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Two ways to get here, either bus or train from Algeciras or Ronda. But definiteky take the train. A lot better, more confortable, faster and even cheaper. Plus, the view you get once you get out and look uptop the mountain to the town is breath taking. Well worth the walk up the mountain. You can also ask one of the locals at the train station to give you a lift to "el pueblo", but I think the walks adds to the experience. If you decide to walk, instead of following the road, head straight to the mountain (you'll have to go in between some houses or accross the construction field) and you'll find a trail that takes you straight up shaving you some 3 kms. This trail meets the road at a rest area where you can turn around and look at the train station for a cool panoramic view, then 3 kms up and you'll finally be into Benoajan.Related to:
Benaoján Local Customs
Mainly for the ladies, as the day just start and you don’t want to be seen drinking in public at two in the afternoon, have some wine and add some 7up to it. Tinto? yes, but summer one. Tinto de verano, unlike what we may think, is just deliciously refreshing. At night, go the whole nine yards and have some whole red, tinto Rioja. Ordering “tinto” then is just a half order, need to complete it, either rioja o verano. And do give the verano a shot. While you are at it, try the Pacharan, liquor made of berries, refreshing with a little quick to it.
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In all of Spain but mainly in a small town like this one: don’t rush anything, particularly the food. Unlike busy cities around the globe, Spain likes to take her time when eating. Enjoy the time given to you, have a good talk, a nice Cruz Campo for the gents and maybe a tinto de verano for the ladies, and specially enjoy the siesta that comes next. The best example I can think of the non-rushing lifestyle of this town, came one day when I try to order food at the Festival and I was told I had to wait because the cooks were out dancing. I had to take a picture of them……
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Benaoján Off The Beaten Path
There is two caves with prehistoric paintings (arte rupestre) "walking" distance from Benaojan (that's if you can believe the locals that walk about 10 miles each way). Is really not that bad. Nine km for one and about 6 for the other one. One (cueva de los gatos) uphill, the other one downhill. I chose the first one. There is only one road in and out of town, so heading NW in it, it'll take you there, in a while you'll see the signs. 8 euros get you in the cave for an hour guided tour. Pretty neat to see actual prehistoric paintings, even though sometimes they had to be described because they were really primitive. Also the rock formations are amazing, The salt deposits gave created a very unusual looking stalactite-stalagmite formations. Very well worth the money and time. Sorry no cameras allowed.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
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There is a walking/hiking trail down by the station that takes you all the way down to the next town. It's a nice and easy 9 km. walk that can be done in 1.5 -2.5 hours depending on how fast you do it. Once you are down at the station head south about 300mts and you'll see a crossway thru the rails, keep that way untill you cross a little bridge, then the trail will appear. To the left Cueva de los Gatos (a prehistoric cave w/some art in it) and to the right the trail ("sendero") to Jimera de Libar. Just follow that way, is a straight shot. The only fork in the road will come3/4 of the way in, and either way is right. If it's dry cross the railroad tracks and once on the other side hang a left and walk between the fence and the bushes all the way to the village which means you got to the station, or if its wet and rainy, go straight and you'll walk into the restaurant Quezcal and then the train station. Coming back is done a lot better by train, there are four trains a day, but I'll recommend checking departure times before leaving Benaojan. When I was there, we walked mid afternoon and took the 19:50 train back to Benaojan.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
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