We had survived our first winter in Stockholm 🙂 But by the end of February the thought of not having to wear my winter jacket and feeling the sun on my skin was enticing. So at the first chance we had we jumped on a plane and headed to Spain! I’d been to Seville with my mum back in 1992, but Daniel and Giordie had never been before. They were both able to add a new country to their ‘been there’ maps!
costa del sol
We flew into Malaga, which is a 4.5 hour flight from Stockholm, and then drove about an hour further down the coast. It is still such a novelty to me, that I can fly for under 5 hours and be in another country! It takes roughly 4 hours to fly from the east coast to the west coast in Australia. And if you are flying from Tasmania to Cairns you can’t even do it in one flight! As our flight from Stockholm was at 6am that morning, we spent our first afternoon relaxing in the gorgeous little Spanish villa we were staying at. (Oops, sorry I forgot to get any good photos of the villa!)
At first glance Malaga was not what I expected. And to be honest I was getting worried that I’d chosen the wrong spot. From the freeway you can’t see anything other than half built, run down or abandoned hotels and apartment blocks. The Costa Del Sol area seems to have been hit hard by economy troubles around 2008. It was also winter so a number of restaurants and shops were closed for the low season. By the end of our stay though we realised that if you take the time to explore or know where to go you can find the pretty spots. It’s also best to do some research on what will be open if travelling during the low season.
One of our favourite things to do when we are on holidays is to take a drive and go exploring. So the next day we jumped in the car and drove a little further down the coast to Gibraltar. Another country for all three of us to add to our maps! I was all prepared with our passports and my head still spinning that in 30 minutes we could drive to another country. Not something we can do from Australia. The border crossing was somewhat disappointing though, with the guards quickly checking our passports and waving us through. I really miss the days of getting a new stamp in my passport everywhere I go.
It was cute a cute city, the sun was shining and we got to tuck into a good old-fashioned ‘English Breakfast’ which we haven’t had since moving to Sweden. I found the cutest little bookshop on the main street that I could have spent hours in.
We drove to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar which had a spectacular view all the way to Africa. We spent some time walking through the caves and tunnels and checking out the Macaques. The highlight for me though was St. Michaels Cave, a gorgeous limestone cave with the most amazing stalactites I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if it is always lit up with colour, but it was the day we were there and it added to the magic. For us one day there was all we needed to see and do everything that interested us.
The next day we explored the old town in Marbella (Casco Antiguo) and took a walk in the sun along the beach front. Coming from Australia I feel very spoilt when it comes to beaches. Marbella beach was nice, but not like the amazing beaches I’m used to back home. The old town was beautiful with its vibrant colours, restaurants and gift stores all set within the ancient city walls. I found plenty of beautiful old doors and laneways, which are up there with some of my favourite things.
On our last full day we drove into the mountains towards Ronda. On the way we stumbled upon an amazing little town called Casares, one of the areas White Towns. Every house and building in Casares has white washed walls and a red tiled roof. It was so beautiful and quiet. It made me want to pack up one day and spend a few months living the simple life in a small town like this.
When we first got there it was still quite early and nothing was open yet, but we could hear the sounds of the locals waking up. Children playing in the streets, neighbours greeting each other and cafe owners setting up for the day. By the time we left the cafes were open and locals were all gathering to catch up with each other over coffee. What a relaxed way of living! I’m not sure which was more beautiful, the view from the ruined Medieval castle at the top or the view of the town itself, but I’m glad that we found it and had the time to walk around.
In the three days we spent in Malaga we saw three very different areas and lifestyles and got to enjoy some sun, good food, exploring and relaxation. I realised that travelling to places that are really different from Australia is what I’m really enjoying at the moment. And that I’ll save any further beach holidays for when I head back down under 🙂 (Or maybe the Maldives one day!) I would say though that our mini break was a success and I’m looking forward to visiting other areas in Spain in the future.