Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Four days ago we were eating gorgeous grilled garlic sole in the Andalucian sunshine... and now I'm staring out at soggy, dirty Salford streets as the rain continues to pelt down. Sigh. Then again, holidays are supposed to be an escape, right?

Although we spent a lot of time just chilling in our fabulous apartment, which had amazing views of the Mijas golf course and the surrounding mountains - best viewed at sunset with a cold beer - we did get out and about as well. Top tips if you're headed to Costa del Sol...

Malaga City itself is fantastic, and apparently overlooked by most tourists. It's a refreshing breath of sophistication after the package holiday madness of Fuengirola et al. It's only 35 mins from Fuengirola by train, with a lovely, straightforward centre to stroll around. The new Picasso museum is well worth a visit, even if you're not a fan - we really enjoyed the cool, quiet atmosphere of the exhibits and the basement is an actual archaeological site (unrelated to Picasso of course.) Then I'd suggest you relax with a gorgeous cafe con leche and some plum cake in the cafe, which had a 4 star presentation for a mere 3 euros.

Marbella is more of a struggle to get to if you're sin un coche, as there are no trains west of Fuengirola. So one 45 minute milk route bus later, you'll arrive a bit hot and tired. The best solution is to head straight for the beach, where the numerous beach barbecues serve up fresh, delicious seafood - from dreamy swordfish to a string of smoked sardines if you're so inclined. The old quarter is also worth a stroll around, with some nice cafes in the Naranjas square. But the 31 degree heat and the difficult travel made us tired and a bit fed up. We noted in this week's heat that Rachel Stevens was there the same week as us, and she looked like she was having a good time - so there you go.

Mijas is a bus ride or 10 euro taxi trip from Fuengirola, and definitely worth it - the views from the highest points around the old fortress walls are breathtaking. There was also a panoramic restaurant near the tourist office that we wanted to check out, but our afternoon visit didn't coincide with the Spanish eating hours. (7:30 pm at the earliest - but 9 pm onwards is more like it...)

Fuengirola is, well, Fuengirola. It's good for supermarkets and a meal, and if you're after a full english breakfast then you're in the right place. Although it's lobster brits on parade hell, I found myself curiously fond of the place. There was one store that really made us laugh, a photo of which I'll post later on.

Oh, and don't forget the siesta hours - we kept forgetting most places shut between 1 or 2 pm until around 5 pm. Duh!

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