Travel

The Spain Diaries: South Coast

Picture: Sean McKee

I love everything Spanish. The food, the language, their love of dance, and the food!

So this year I undertook a challenge to explore as much of this beautiful South European country as possible.

My first escapades happened along the Southern coast, where the Mediterranean joins together the Arabic beauty of Morocco and North Africa with the Luxurious Golden Beach Resorts of the most Southern part of Europe.

The South coast is such a rich mix of luxury resorts, such as Puerto Banús and Marbella, which attract some of the World’s richest people to set up a holiday base here. More often than not I found myself walking down a designer high street in Marbella to be faced with parking spaces for yachts, rather than the normal car spaces. It is like a totally different World, and one where you couldn’t survive without plenty of riches to fund you. Also worth a visit if you’re in this area is the ‘white village’ of Mijas, where you can wander through cobbled streets and transport back in time to medieval Mediterranean-a.

Puerto Banús was a lot more of a relaxed atmosphere, with the perfect combination of tourism and Spanish everyday life moulded together to create a bustling seaside resort with stunning views and even more impressive restaurants. All types of cuisine were on offer to accommodate the vast cultures that visit this luxury hotspot. I stuck to the Spanish restaurants as I was committed to indulging the culture of the country I was visiting. It really is the best place in the World for Paella, seafood freshly caught and cooked on the day, with all of the authentic flavours that you would expect from a quintessential Spanish dish. A highlight of this resort  was a cocktail bar that was made out of a Pirate style ship. The cocktails infused all of the classic spirits with fresh fruit, perfect thirst quenchers for those hottest days by the bay.

Cocktails in Puerto Banús

Picture: Sean McKee

The Spanish South Coast is also dotted with many beautiful historical sites, such as the heritage town of Ronda. El Tajo dates back to Roman times and is definitely worth a visit, although a car hire is advised. Roughly two hours drive from Málaga City inland, the town encapsulates Spain’s vast history, with an array of architecture form Roman to late 19th Century. The heritage of the town is protected by UNESCO and modern development will be prohibited, keeping the historical beauty of the town intact. Highlights of the town’s features include three bridges,the most spectacular being Puente Nuevo (“New Bridge”), which spans the canyon the town is built on.

Puente Nuevo Bridge, Rhonda

Puente Nuevo Bridge, Ronda
Picture: Sean McKee

The town is also famous for ‘Corrida Goyesca’ – a unique and historical bullfight that takes place once a year in the Plaza de toros de Ronda, the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain. There are also ancient, partially intact Baños Árabes (“Arab baths”) to be found below the city and date back to the 13th and 14th centuries.

The former town hall, which sits next to the Puente Nuevo, is the site of a luxury hotel, and has a view of the Tajo canyon.

My Spanish adventures weren’t just about indulging in what I already know about Spain- I got to try new stuff as well. On one of the many road trips I had, I drove to the most Southerly tip of Spain, Tarifa Bay. On a clear day, from this stunning beach resort the white houses of Morocco can be seen on the hills just over the water, which truly blew my mind as to how close the two continents really are. Tarifa is famous for campers, and is surrounded by caravan parks for sport enthusiasts.I found all sorts of activities taking place on the day I visited, the most recognisable of all being Kite surfing. Hundreds were placed along the sand, creating a picturesque moment. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified at harnessing the power of the wind on the surface of the water with absolutely no experience at all. But it turned out to be amazing fun, and helped me with my fear of deep water, and sea life.

As a package, the province of Málaga in southern Spain has the most incredible experiences to offer for everyone. The beautiful weather is the most obvious, and there are options to explore the country’s history and culture, as well as indulging in luxury shopping, nightlife and outdoor sports to round off a pretty complete Mediterranean holiday.

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