Costa Del Sol – SPAIN
If you’re looking for a holiday with a mix of glorious sandy beaches, quaint villages with cobbled streets, mountain views, hill top restaurant views and of course a variety of gift shops and stores to top-up your holiday essentials, then I can highly recommend the Andalusia district. Marbella, Mijas Costa and Mijas Pueblo were the ideal place for my tastes.
From May to September the weather is very hot, especially June, July and August, so be prepared with high factor sun screen and sun hats. And of course, be prepared with camera at hand as there are so many opportunities for amazing photos (beaches, quaint villages, hill top views, mountain views, Andalusian Horse Dance shows, butterfly farm and much more) in these areas.
My Villa, at the hotel Crown Plaza in Marbella, was very clean and cosy. It had a view of the pool and restaurant and the beach was just a short 5-minute walk away. The food and service at the hotel restaurant was very good and they put on a different entertainment act every evening and catered for children too. So, I was satisfied at my choice of Hotel and I would recommend it to solo travellers, couples and families alike.
On the morning I was going to Mijas Pueblo I had a funny experience when driving and couldn’t find the way out from the hotel surrounding area. I thought I was headed to the main road and drove up a hill, but it only led to another holiday complex and had no other roads and so I came back down again and just kept driving round and round. I couldn’t see any other road apart from a narrow lane, so I went that way and ended up in what I thought was a large square shaped car park, as there were many cars parked on both sides, but you could just drive through it and out the other side, only to find it was the way to a farm. Eventually, after about 45 mins driving here, there and everywhere, I asked someone to show me the way to Mijas Pueblo and finally got to my destination.
There were a couple more occasions on that holiday when I took what I thought were slip roads to the sea side, but I ended up in car parks instead. I thought it was so funny, it made me laugh to think I’d been in so many car parks, but I realised it was because I didn’t understand the signs as my Spanish wasn’t good enough. So, as you can see, it would be a good idea to learn a bit of Spanish before you go, and if you intend to drive, learn some of the road signs. But at least I learnt from my mistakes.
I enjoyed visiting Mijas Pueblo very much and didn’t want to leave. I loved everything about it, from the quaint, narrow cobbled streets with white washed walled houses, cosy little street cafes and restaurants, horse and cart rides, donkey rides, and views looking out over the mountains and below from restaurants high up on hills. I also found that the Spanish people are very friendly and like to make you feel welcome and important to them whether you’re in their shop, café, restaurant, street or hotel.
The following day I visited the historical Ronda Valley in the Malaga district, where I was able to shoot some amazing photos of the spectacular mountainous landscape, cobbled streets and village life. There was a museum which, when inside I found it was quite gruesome, as there were so many artefacts, tools and instruments that were used many years ago to torture people who had supposedly committed crimes. I didn’t stay in there long!!
Ronda is one of Andalucía’s loveliest towns, with heaps of history and is famous as the birthplace of modern bullfighting. You can even take a Ronda Guided Tour or a Ronda Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour, or just sit outside relaxing at a café and enjoy the beauty of the village with an ice-cream or an icy cold drink.
Despite being a growing town Ronda retains much of its historic charm, particularly its old town. It is famous world wide for its dramatic escarpments and views, and for the deep El Tajo gorge that carries the Rio Guadalevin through its centre. Tourists make a bee-line for the 18th century Puente Nuevo bridge, which straddles the 100m chasm below, before taking in the views from the Alameda out over the Serranía de Ronda mountains. Here, I just stood in awe of this beautiful landscape before taking some spectacular shots.
Mijas Costa (coast), has lovely sandy beaches with long and wide promenades lined with shops, delightful cafes, ice-cream parlours and restaurants. I really enjoyed visiting this area on the days I wasn’t going on a trip, as it gave me a chance to just relax for the day. There are plenty of grassy areas with palm trees giving some shade where you can relax out of the sun and maybe take a sneaky siesta like the locals or simply sit and enjoy the view with an ice-cream.
Mariposario Butterfly Park
If you love butterflies, then take a trip to Benalmadena Pueblo where you can find Mariposario Butterfly Park. It’s located in the heart of the Costa-del-Sol and only 20 minutes from Malaga. Inside this spectacular Butterfly Park, next to the Thai Temple, you can walk amongst more than 1,500 exotic butterflies from around the world, flying freely in a Tropical Paradise. You can watch them enjoying fresh fruit such as oranges and learn so many amazing facts about these beautiful insects.
Food & drink
Now let’s get to the authentic food and drink! We all have different opinions on what we like and dislike, and maybe you can make a comment about your favourite dish and bevvy. My favourite dish has to be Paella and my drink, is of course Sangria. I’ve even been known to make my own Sangria to enjoy with my friends in the summer time as it’s so easy to make. Cava is also another favourite Spanish drink (though not mine) and is often served with Tapas (which is another favourite of mine).
Paella originates from Valencia, which is situated on the Eastern side of Spain, and it is reported that servants would take the leftovers from Moorish royal banquets and cook it over open fires into delicious dishes, then take it home to enjoy with their families.
Some say the name Paella is reported to originate from the Latin word “Patella,” a flat plate on which offerings were made to the Gods. While others say it originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning leftovers.
The original Valencian recipe was believed to consist of white rice, green beans (bajoqueta and tavella), meat (chicken, duck and rabbit), white beans (garrofón), snails and seasonings of saffron and rosemary. These days however, Paella can be found in most Western Countries and the recipe has some what expanded over the years too so, now many different varieties are passed off as ‘authentic’. I like to add prawns to my Paella.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and looking at my photos.