Being a Gypsy at heart, with globetrotting ambitions, I was quite happily surprised when eight years ago on a wet and cold Sunday afternoon over several glasses of Rioja and a Sunday Roast in Solihull, my parents announced they were selling up lock stock and barrel and making the move to… Guess where they said? errr France??? Being Francophiles this had always been on the cards and my Father was comfortable there.. he loved the food, the people, the culture! Well what’s not to love? But no, they had decided to up sticks to Spain…
Met with silence and lots of ‘what’ and ‘whys’ by the family they made the move the following summer. Eight years later and they are now in Estepona, in the Province of Malaga and soaking up 325 days of sunshine, enjoying the renowned beaches, which stretch 21 kms of the coastline and views of Morocco and the rock of Gibraltar on their horizon. Estepona is on the ‘Costa del Sol’ on the very Southern tip of Southern Spain, nestled between Sotogrande to the West which takes you up towards Tarifa on the ‘Costa de la Luz’ (Coast of wind) and Puerto Banus and Marbella to the East only 20 minutes away.
Marbella, famous for it’s chic scene for the ‘jetset’ with its ‘Golden Mile’ strip which houses ‘Marbella Club Hotel’ and ‘Puente Romano’ where you need to take out a mortgage to sit on the sunbeds for an afternoon! The other side to the town is the old town of Marbella, with its cobbled streets, ancient looking locals, and tiny little bars on the narrow cool streets leading up to various Plazas.
One of my favourites is ‘Bar El Estrecho’ – ‘Estrecho meaning narrow’ on Calle de San Lázaro, it serves typically Andalucian tapas food, freshly prepared by the ‘Head cook’ Reyes, who has been there for over 15 years and before that her mother was the head cook for 17 years, who handed down all of the secret recipes and knowledge to her daughter Reyes.
After a morning of shopping in Marbella and enjoying a delicious café con leche at one of the many cafes lining the streets, we headed to ‘El Estrecho’ for a little family favourite indulgence. The bar is populated by happy locals and tourists alike, with a good selection or Spanish wines, sherries and beers. We opted for an Alhambra Reserva, to wash down our forthcoming tapas feast – Abadajo (cod), Pimento Rellenos (stuffed peppers with monkfish), Albondigas (meatballs in tomato sauce) all tastier than the last and did I mention the homecooked chips!
The Costa del Sol is an easy location to get to travelling from the UK – Malaga, Gibraltar and Jerez all offer extensive flight options throughout the summer and if booked in advance you can get a good deal.
Monarch airlines, Aer Lingus, and Easy Jet all offer frequent and reliable services. Once on the ground there is some infrastructure on the ground such as rail and bus, but car hire is still a much easier transition process from town to town especially in the hot summer months, when air conditioning is an essential travel companion.
Happy travelling and buen provecho!