Winter Holiday in Spain: Marbella

Costa Del Sol, Spain – we had a wonderful time on the south coast of Spain, enjoying the Winter Sunshine, Sightseeing, Shopping, Flamenco Dancing, Tapas and Sangria!!!  We stayed for 5 nights at the Coral Beach Apartments in Marbella, including a Day Trip to the Rock of Gibraltar and then we drove up the coast towards Malaga and stayed at the Sahara Sunset Resort in Benalmadena for 5 nights. 

Even though it was winter in Spain, we still enjoyed sunshine every day.    Most mornings were a little cloudy and then cleared to sunny skies in the afternoon.  The daytime temps sat around 16º – 18ºC and down to around 9ºC of a night.  The Costa del Sol region enjoys 320 days of sunshine a year!!   Sunrise was about 8.30 am and sunset was around 6.15 pm.

Marbella is known as the playground of Europe’s rich and famous.    If the Costa Del Sol was conceived as Europe’s Florida, then Marbella is its Miami.  Marbella is situated between Malaga and Gibraltar, this exclusive area is where numerous international celebrities and royalty relocate here for the summer staying in private villas and five star hotels.   Alot of British also holiday here in Winter to escape the cold and rain of the UK.

We left Finland on Sunday afternoon and flew from Kittila to Helsinki, then changed planes and travelled to Malaga.    We didn’t land until 11.30 pm and then we were picked up by our driver and drove for another 40 minutes or so to our accommodation at the Coral Beach Apartments, Marbella.     It was a very long and tiring day for all of us,  especially for Mitchell.

The next few days were spent exploring around Coral Beach, Marbella and Puerto Banus (Marina).  We also did a day trip to Gibraltar.

We hired a car so we drove to Old Town Marbella.  So glad that Andrew was driving, no way I could get used to driving on the opposite of the road.   The Spanish just drive anyhow and park anywhere they like, they don’t even park straight in the lined parking spaces!!!!   Crazy!!

What a beautiful area with such old historic buildings, with a maze of narrow winding cobbled streets.  Along with all the shops and boutiques, Old Town has a nice array of bars, clubs and restaurants.   It was great to walk around without the heat and crowds!!!

I can imagine in Summer that this would be absolutely packed with tourists and holidaymakers.   Apparently Marbella boasts one of the best shopping scenes in southern Spain!!

We also had a lovely walk along the beach down to Puerto Banus (Marina) looking at all the designer shops, yachts and luxury sports cars.

If you were one for designer labels and international brands, well, you would be in heaven as this famous port has all the big names including Dior, Cartier, Gucci, Dolce & Gabba, Louis Vuitton, Valentino and many more.   There is also a great choice of bars and restaurants at the Marina too.

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Various shots from outside our Penthouse Apartment

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The Pool Areas at the Coral Beach Apartments

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Leanne and I  –  Tapas and Sangria for Lunch in Old Town Marbella

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On New Year’s Eve we partied at the Besaya Beach Restaurant which was only a short walk from our apartment.  The theme of the night was ‘Ring in the New Year with a Golden Evening of Luxury’.     We had a beautiful 6 course meal with drinks followed by dancing and fireworks.    We also received a bag of 12 grapes to eat at New Year!!

Eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve is both a tradition and a superstition in Spain.    Rare is the Spaniard who will risk poisoning their fate for the coming year by skipping the grapes, one for each stroke of midnight.   The Spanish believe that by eating all the 12 Grapes at midnight, they will have good luck for the new year!!

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On New Year’s Day, we had a relaxing day, taking a leisurely stroll along the beach to the Marina for lunch.

On Thursday we drove to Mjias Pueblo.   It’s a beautiful town nestled in the mountainside.

We took the winding scenic route there and the coast road back to Marbella.   We had a great day sightseeing this historic town enjoying tapas and sangria for lunch, again.

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We had a walk around town.   There are a host of craft shops and galleries selling affordable works from local artists, perfect and unique souvenirs.    There are also donkey-taxis, which offer trips around the centre and the outskirts of the village.

We stopped at the Mayan Monkey Mijas Chocolate Making Workshop.    Mitch and I went inside the factory and we made 3 bars of yummy chocolate choosing our own flavours and condiments for each one.

We also stopped at the Parish Church – ‘The Immaculate Conception Church’ began to be built in the second half of the 16th century and was finished in 1631, with three naves and a chapel under which there is a burial crypt.   Later they went adding new parts to the church such as another Baroque chapel with its crypt. The church was built adjoining the “Torre de la Vela” tower, which became its bell tower.   This tower was built in the mid-sixteenth century as a shelter to the Mijas villagers in case of an attack. In 1992 reform works were carried out and it was then that the 8 apostles paintings were discovered on the columns of the church, these paintings dated back to 1632.

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Bell Tower

We visited the Mijas Bullring (Plaza de Toros de Mijas).     This is the most original bullring in Spain.  It was built in 1900 following a request by  a group of locals and opened on 8th September 1900.  Bullrings are generally round, but the Mijas ring is rectangular when seen from the outside and oval when viewed from above.   It’s size is another feature that makes it unique, as it could well be the smallest bullring in the world.     Despite its size, it is a major venue and has seen displays of bullfighting prowess by some of the best known names.   There are no longer any running events.

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The Bull Whisperer

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Madrid and Andalusia continue to host bullfighting events throughout the summer. Every bullfight has a presiding judge.   At the end of a fight, if the judge feels the matador has dispatched the bull skillfully, he can award one ear, two ears, or both ears and the tail.

Olé!!!

 

(29/12/2019 – 2/1/2020)

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