Costa del Sol
Home Away from Home
This is where we stayed for two delightful weeks -- at Marriott's Marbella Beach Resort. One week the grandkids stayed with us too. Of course they brought their parents along with them. What a view from the balcony -- we can live with this for two weeks! The surroundings and activities were great. The kids loved the Kids' Club activities and going swimming in the indoor and outdoor pools. We were able to eat breakfast on the balcony and enjoyed a yummy fish dinner a couple of evenings at a beachside restaurant a few steps away. We took lots of walks along the beach, where we enjoyed many picturesque sunsets.
Our only real disappointment with the resort was at the end of our stay. We moved a short distance to a sister resort, but the management wouldn't allow us a late check-out. We wanted to keep our refrigerated things cold, but even to avoid having everything packed in our car from check-out at 10 a.m. until the next check-in 20 minutes away at 4 p.m. Warnings were constantly being issued about car break-ins, so we were quite surprised at the inhospitality. We were welcome to stay longer for the reasonable price of €60, which we didn't consider worthwhile considering that we had stayed with them for two weeks and continuing on to a sister resort. It was besides low season, with many empty apartments. In the future we will probably avoid at all costs having to move to another resort and book our entire stay at only one place..
We drove in to Malaga one afternoon. It was a little rainy, but what the heck -- it was better than the weather at home in Sweden. Along a walk below the Gibralfaro we found pretty gardens.
We decided to try it again a few days later and had much better luck with the weather. We stopped first at an outlet mall and saw lots of gaily painted cows. Then we headed for the beach on the far side of town, through lots of traffic. Once we got there the beach was worth the wait. The kids found a playground which kept them happy awhile. Towards the evening we walked through town where a celebration was in full swing.
A trip to Costa del Sol isn't complete without a visit to the mountain village of Mijas, which we have visited on a number of occasions, most recently in 2006. One of the many white villages in the area, this one has become an art colony and definitely high on the "must see" list for tourists since it is close to both Malaga and Marbella.
This was our first visit to Córdoba. It was a Tuesday morning but virtually impossible to find a parking place -- all the parking garages were full. After searching for half an hour we finally found a place. We strolled through Old Town and could have spent much more time there. With a population of a little more than 300,000 it gave the impression of being much larger.
By far the most fascinating thing we saw was the Mezquita, today a Roman Catholic cathedral built in the 600's as a Christian Visigothic church. It was later reworked in the 700's to a mosque. We were warned that it was huge and impressive, but that was an understatement! The building covers a large city block and at least two complete churches can be found inside as well as massive areas with arches.
One day we went with Frank from Indiana Natura on an all-day tour of some of the smaller of the famous white villages. Seeing villages with such exotic names as Casares, Gaucin, Algatocin, Jubrique and Genalguacil, we had our heads full of wonderful sights.
In Casares we had a good overall view of the town and got to see some of the famous cork trees up close. In Gaucin Frank showed us a typical cemetery that was like a well-kept garden. Then we climbed up to an Arabian castle from the 10th century. We were told that there were in all 10 small white villages hidden in the mountains and we could often see three at a time. After a delightful walk through the narrow streets of Genalguacil we stopped at a rustic restaurant for a delicious lunch. We started with a typical bean soup then I enjoyed a fish dinner while Louie ate roast chicken.
Then we stayed at Marriott's Playa Andaluza the last week of our stay. Only a 20-minute drive down the coast. This is a newer resort, with slightly smaller apartments. If you're planning on spending time on the beach, however, this is NOT the place to stop. The beach is extremely rocky and impossible to take long walks along. This is however a problem of the community and not the resort, as the beach is public property and the resort has unfortunately no say so about how it is kept.
If you're planning on sightseeing other places and happy with pools, then this resort is definitely to be recommended. The staff were all more than helpful and they also had many activities going on during the week. We enjoyed the sangria class and of course Tai 'Chi. There are some good restaurants within walking distance and we enjoyed walking through the neighborhood. We had a view of the nearest of three outdoor pools as well as the sea from our balcony. We could see Gibraltar from the beach.
This was also our first visit to Cadiz, the oldest city in western Europe that has been continuously inhabited, dating from 1100 BC. We enjoyed a walk through Old Town, stopping to enjoy an old church and then a museum with some giant old books that were beautifully illustrated. We found spectacular views of the city from the tower next to the museum. Walked along a modern boardwalk along the sea back to where we parked the car. On the way back we saw innumerable windmills on several "wind farms" producing energy.
It's been awhile since we've been to Ronda, so it was fun wandering through the narrow streets of yet another white village. Ronda is one of the oldest cities in Spain with archaelogical findings dating from the Neolithic age. A drive of 100 km (62 mi) from Malaga on winding roads, but the spectacular views make it well worth the effort.
There is a river that divides the city with an extremely deep ravine. There are three bridges across the ravine, the oldest, Puente Viejo, was build in 1616. Puente Nuevo, the new bridge, was completed in 1793 and took 42 years to build and is supposedly one of the most photographed structures in Spain. It spans the 120 m-deep chasm dividing the city. The Plaza de Toros is the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain that is still in use. It was built in 1784 and designed by the same architect as the new bridge, Puente Nuevo.
With findings from prehistoric times, Acinipo was most important during the Roman Times. About 25 km (15 mi) from Ronda, the outer wall and towering gate to the amphitheater can be seen from town. Thanks to the construction of a modern steel stage, the amphitheater is used today for concerts and can seat 2,000 people. There are on-going diggings which have uncovered Roman baths as well. This was an extremely interesting site and definitely to be recommended.
It was sad to have to leave the Costa del Sol, but we will certainly return again.
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