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Saturated in sunshine and offering a medley of varied landscapes the Costa del Sol offers an escape from the tedium of reality. In a drive along the curving highway that hugs the coastline, set your sights upon the sweeping views of the azure mediterranean seas where the waters move like swaying silk upon the horizon. The views up the mountain are no less impressive as whitewashed homes are nestled into the mountain cliff-side densely surrounded by shady trees amongst the native plants and flowers.
From the lively Spanish culture on offer, the delectable Mediterranean cuisine, the rich surrounding history and the holiday ambience, “fun in the sun” is the order of the day along the Costa del Sol. Upon the patio of beach-fronted restaurants that line the length of sandy white dunes, tourists enjoy meals of Paella with prawns or sweet and sour tapas that are matched to a fine glass of a local Spanish Tempranillo wine. If you only live once, make sure that at least some of that time is spent along the Costa del Sol.
Start your journey in Malaga, whilst Malaga does not represent the start of the 54 km stretch of sunshine coast, it represents the easiest destination in which to launch yourself. Upon arriving at Pablo Ruiz Picasso Airport, a luxury convertible rental of your choice will be ready and waiting for you, just on the other side of the arrivals terminal. For my travels, I selected the sparkling pearl white Bentley Continental GTC rental that reflected the glimmer of the sunshine coast with a certain magic.
From the airport the commercial tourist city of Malaga opens up before you. Hotel skyscrapers pierce through the heavens and the stretch of esplanade that follows the length of the sea is dotted frequently by palm trees. From the casually milling crowds, to the throngs of beach goers and the many bars that line the strip, it all creates the perfect ambience that reminds you at every interval “Yes, you are on vacation right now!” During your stay in Malaga, try to tear yourself away from the beach to visit the famous Picasso Museum which showcases some of the artist’s most prized masterpieces. Each painting, one after the next, spellbinds the viewer in a captivating gaze as you seek to understand the workings of a genius.
As the M-21 highway whips around the coast you arrive at the super trendy seaside resort town of Torremolinos, a widely known holiday destination for gay couples and those seeking to couple-up. It is hard to believe that amidst the sprawl of hotels, bars and glamorous restaurant this used to be a modest and quiet fishing village. Gently cruise along the Carlota Alessandri Avenue, letting the soft warm breeze sweep past you, before pulling up for a walk down the pedestrian-only La Carihuela, which thankfully has retained its unique Spanish character. The La Carihuela district is famous for its Andalucian cuisine, so make sure to settle into a hearty meal whilst you are about town. Popular restaurants include The Carvery which knows how to serve a roast that will rival even your nan’s Christmas dinners. However, mostly the emphasis is on seafood, the best of which can be found in El Gato Lounge, Granvinos and Ciao Italia. In fact, it was thanks to the vibe in La Carihuela that the city of Torremolinos found its groove, starting in the 1950’s with the arrival of Frank Sinatra and the rest of his kindred jetset.
Leaving Torremolinos we drove the aristocratic Bentley convertible along the curvaceous stretch of A77 highway and were more than pleasantly surprised to discover a beautiful emerald green sea of golf club resorts lining the horizon. Unable to resist the temptation, we pulled up for a round of 18 holes, then finally polished off the game with a few beers on tap at the resort club. This detour may steal half a day from your itinerary, but trust me, it is more than worth it.
Give yourself some time to sober up and you will finally arrive in Marbella under the sparkling city night lights. With a strong precedent for throwing a good party, it often seems as though Marbella has been a popular tourist destination since time immemorial. With no intention of holding back from this association, it continues into our modern era boasting an up-market attitude with glamorous stretches like the “Golden Mile” and the exclusive boutique shops to be found in the old Town. Be prepared to spare more than just one golden penny though, as shopping in this town does not come cheap. Well, no one ever said beauty is free.
Perhaps my favourite out of all our destinations along the way, Estepona stood out for its authentic charm. Despite the surrounding move towards commercialisation, Estepona has managed to retain its quaint and highly endearing “pueblo” character. Yet, still offering all the tourist amenities in terms of hotels, restaurants, leisure and culture hotspots, Estepona manages to offer its guests the best of both worlds. While away your time trailing along the steep and narrow cobblestone streets popping your head into the many unique shops that are sure to capture your interest. We found numerous bodegas, one in particular in the most unlikely of places. We then drove to a lookout near Casares and devoured the rare bottle of Rioja that we had bought, taking in picture postcard views of the world that lay majestically below.
The drive to La Linea marked the final leg of our Costa del Sol journey and was filled with a bitter sweetness as we took in our last views of this sun-kissed stretch of seaside coast. La Linea borders with the British colony of Gibraltar, so if you wish to culminate your journey with a milk tea and biscuits, whilst taking in astonishing views of the Rock of Gibraltar, well good news, that is all absolutely do-able here. Yet, never one to experience drama from afar, we decided to put the Bentley through its paces in a drive up to the rock’s pinnacle. With the air fresh and crisp, it was well worth the effort as the views of the Gibraltar strait was very rewarding.
From sea-side razzle dazzle to rustic mountain charm, the Costa del Sol has something to interest the taste and preferences of any traveler. Of course there is no denying that travelling past those palm tree boulevards in a Bentley Continental GTC did add a discernible element of sparkle!
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