Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Costa del Sol

by Robert Bovington

The Costa del Sol is essentially the coastal areas of Málaga province in the south of Spain. This 'Sun Coast' stretches from Estepona in the west to Nerja in the east of the province.

Originally, it was a region of quiet fishing settlements but since the 1950s, it has become a massive urban abomination - sorry - agglomeration of high-rise hotels and apartment blocks running the length of the coastline.

This Mediterranean coastline includes the towns of Nerja, Vélez-Málaga, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella, Puerto Banús and Estepona together with the city of Málaga.

Benalmadena harbour © Robert Bovington
In my opinion, this coastal region suffers from all the worst excesses of mass tourism - a concrete jungle with parades of bars, supermarkets and shops selling cheap souvenirs and beachwear. 'Full English Breakfast', 'Fish n Chips', 'John Smiths Smooth Bitter', 'Football on Sky TV tonight!' appear on the signs outside many establishments. I think Spain is a fantastic country with beautiful cities and spectacular natural parks and yet the majority of British visitors to Spain head for the Costa del Sol. The good news, of course, is that it leaves the other areas of Spain free from beer swilling, football shirt-clad morons!

To be fair, not all the towns in this coastal strip are that bad - some are rather pleasant to live or visit including Marbella, Nerja and Mijas.

Marbella is rather swish. It is a jet-setting resort with many luxurious holiday complexes, mansions and shops yet despite this opulence it has managed to preserve its old Moorish quarter with its maze of winding streets and whitewashed houses.

Marbella © Robert Bovington

Nerja too consists of whitewashed alleyways, though the old Moorish houses here are perched on a rocky promontory. There are magnificent views of the Mediterranean below especially from the Balcón de Europa.

Nerja - Balcón de Europa © Robert Bovington

Mijas is one of my favourite places. It is situated in the foothills of the coastal mountain range that overlooks the coast - from the gardens of 'La Muralla' there are magnificent views of the coast below. This park is a quiet oasis away from the bustle of tourists, yet is only a few minutes walk to the centre of the village. Its maze of old Moorish streets are awash with colour - pottery, basketwork and other goods are displayed in the many shops and colourful floral displays adorn the walls of the houses. Mijas is a good place to get away from the urban sprawl of Fuengirola.

a street in Mijas © Robert Bovington

Another delightful place to visit is Puerto Banús. It is a magnificent marina filled with the most luxurious yachts imaginable. Alongside the moorings stand a huge array of luxury shops and plush restaurants where it is quite common to see Ferraris, Mercedes and other luxurious cars parked.

The main city in these parts is Málaga. Even though it is the international gateway to the Costa de Sol, Málaga has escaped the depressing image of brash tourism. In fact, it is refreshingly Spanish and has many examples of historic architecture, excellent museums and leafy parks and gardens. Just some of the sights on offer are the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, the Cathedral and the Palacio Episcopal. The Picasso Museum is well worth a visit.

more blogs by Robert Bovington...
"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

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