Thursday, February 27, 2014

Travel Log: Andalusia - El Costa del Sol

Back in October while Heidi was preparing non-stop for her looming exam, I sneaked away to the Andalusia region of Spain for a weekend. The flight from London to Malaga takes three hours, and when I landed Saturday around noon, I had about 30 hours to work with before returning Sunday evening.

This was my first foray into the Western Mediterranean region, and the climate and landscape reminded me a lot of California. Befitting Andalusia's nickname of "El Costa del Sol", it was 80 degrees with abundant sunshine (not bad for late October), so I hit the road in my rented Fiat 500.

Up the road in the mountaints north of Malaga, I visited a limestone formation called El Torcal de Antequera, which stands out dramatically against the surrounding red dirt hills. There were a few walking trails and plenty of scenic views, and I left after a quick loop of the summit.

Still inland, I ventured west and took in the scenery along the windy mountain roads - perhaps a bit too much, as my "rolling stop" at a left-hand turn wasn't good enough for the police officer watching, and I was pulled over! After pleading my case in broken Spanish and showing that I wasn't carrying anything illegal, he let me go without incident.

I made it to Ronda just as the sun was setting. Ronda is quite an interesting place, one that I would definitely considering visiting again. It is home to the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain and feels very laid back with its abundant outdoor cafes and markets. Most interestingly, the town is built on the precipice of a 400 foot gorge. I kept thinking to myself, "why the heck would you build a town here?"

After spending the night in the small town of Benahavis, I worked my way back up the Mediterranean Coast, starting in the beach-front resort town of Marbella. Its main harbor of Puerto Banus is one of the wealthiest areas in Spain, with yachts the size of houses and plenty of nightlife (though at 10am on a Sunday, it was dead).

Back in Malaga, I spent my last few hours first checking out the excellent Picasso museum and then venturing up the Gibralfaro for a view of the city and the coastline. The entire weekend was very enjoyable, and it made me eager to explore not only the other parts of Spain but the rest of the Mediterranean as well.

Link to More Pictures