Ace photographer Monir Ali writes exclusively for Asian Lite. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
When my wife mentioned that she had booked a short holiday to the Costa del Sol, I was taken aback. Thoughts of drunken folks running around shouting and screaming had almost ruined my break before it begun! But some pre holiday research started to abate my initial feelings and saved the short break. Using the small town of Balenmedina, nestled 20 miles south of Malaga, and 30 miles north of the Marbella, as our base we explored the gems of Andalucía a and the coastal region of Malaga.
Balanmedina, pronounced as Bella Marina, is historically a small fishing town, which has been cajoled into a holiday destination, by the over flow from Malaga and Marbella. The town is a sleepy idyll, with a meandering palm tree lined avenue runs for 3 miles from edge to edge, which slowly turns into a coastal road leading toward Gibraltar to the south and Marbella to the north.
Having two young children, both girls 6 and 8, we need to be quite strategic with our choice of accommodation. The hotel we booked, was part of an all inclusive holiday village, which has seven swimming pools, mini golf, Tennis, Archery and plenty of activities to keep the little ladies busy, on those hotel days allowing us to recharge our batteries and plan our day excursions.
Having soaked up some early spring sun, we took on our first big adventure. The expedition began with an 7am start, a hearty Spanish breakfast and a 145 km drive though the Andulician country side and winding roads taking us through breath taking mountain landscapes, eventually leading to Granada, home of The Alhambra.
The Alhambra is a beacon of Islamic architecture that draws people from all parts of the world, all cultures and religions. The magic of Alhmabra starts as you walk up the narrow cobbled street, pass the mini orange groves, the temptation of the abundance of fruit will have you reaching out taste the Spanish sun, be warned not all is what it seems when you bite into the juicy fruit.
The 13th Century walled gardens of the The Generallife was one the highlights of the afternoon, getting lost in the cool shaded garden and finding a quite picnic spot over looking the old town was awe inspiring. After a welcomed lunch and break from the heat, we headed toward Nasri Palace, a grand and ornate building, which draws your breath with every step. Be warned, take comfy shoes, lots of water as there are a lot of steps up to some breathtaking views of Granada from the top of the towers.
After a fabulous day of historical adventure the two young Laura Crofts, wanted to head to do something more creative and edible, so we headed off to the mountains for the Mayan Monkey Chocolate Factory. This was a little boutique chocolate maker situated in the picturesque village of Mijas.
This Small and friendly factory let the kids make their chocolate bar. For 10 euros they could make their own inspired creations from an array of flavours. My two chocolates experts invented two awesome bars of chocolate; Arianna made double chocolate with caramel swirls, and Amelia made a mix of white and light chocolates with marshmallow bites.
The food was a key part of the holiday experience and discovering old Spanish flavours was one our favourite pastimes, we especially loved the vast range of vegetarian and seafood Tapas, like lemon and pepper calamari, deep fired white bait, garlic mushrooms and of course Spanish Omelette. and then there’s the Paellas – so vast and so tasty, that’s a whole other review.
As a holiday destination Costa del Sol offers the semi independent traveller a wealth of experience from sandy white beaches of Malaga, to city centre enriched with medieval history, to the cosmopolitan streets of Marbella to the artisan harbour cafes and restaurants, serving the delicious authentic tapas.
This is an area of Spain steeped in history and Spanish culture, our only regret was that we did not have enough time to explore the entire region, well maybe next time.