February can be a bit of a dreary month so its rather nice to know that we can hop on a an Easy Jet flight and wing our way southward to join our playmates in the sun.
The flight to Malaga is only about three hours during which time you can make the mental shift from the damp, cold, down jacket conditions to …. I wonder what?
David and Judy’s place in El Presidente is right on the coast just a few kilometres north east of Estepona. Over the last few months they’ve discovered just what a wee treasure they’ve got. Not only is the beach a few metres away but there're five swimming pools, a golf driving range, a basketball hoop and court, three tennis courts and a football net. All the toys you need plus some great cafes and restaurants in walking distance.
First day we were out and about in Estepona - a delightful town just down the coast with a glorious esplanade where all the locals and tourists like promenade. How can they look so good while out for a walk??
Had our first 'cafe solo’ in a couple of months, ah nectar, and kicked back and enjoyed the sunshine - feel like we are truly in holiday mode.
All the mosaic work being done on the planter boxes was striking and surely a great way to keep a few stray men busy - they seemed to delight in smashing the tiles and then making the jigsaw!! What couldn’t be fun about this?
Strolling along the board walk from San Pedro to Puerto Banus is glorious with the sea that stunning deep blue in contrast to the white marble rocks. The Marina with its up market designer shops, extravagant cars, obscene boats and beautiful cafes and restaurants to be seen in, was all a buzz.
As we drove south to visit Gibraltar, you soon notice the huge rock that looms up out of nowhere. We walk across through immigration with hardly even a glance in our direction, no stamping of passports or anything that official. The airport and runway are right on the border so we must wait as a plane lands and then cleared to walk across the runway.
Lots of people are coming across for the tax free booze and cigarettes, and some of them making a living out of doing the run daily.
Still being part of the UK, the locals are definitely loyal British citizens although there are ongoing murmurings by Spain to reclaim this area.
Gibraltar is also known as one of the Pillars of Hercules the other being over the strait in Jebel Musa in North Africa. Seen in Greek mythology, as guarding this strategic piece of water where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic meet.
Many times, over hundreds of years, Gibraltar was fought over by the North Africans and the Spanish. Sadly during each of these sieges almost all the Spanish and Moorish buildings were destroyed. In 1704 the Rock was captured by the English and has stayed in their hands ever since. Although towards the end of the 1700’s the Spanish and French combined forces once again in an attempt to claim back the area. The British were tested well and truly as this went on for over four years but during this time many of the spectacular tunnels and galleries were built.
We wandered up the rock to take in the fabulous view of the harbour and being such a beautiful clear day could even see Morocco. Up there we encounter the well known Gibraltar Apes, a tailless monkey that has thrived in this environment unlike its counterparts in Morocco and Algeria where they are on the endangered list. With over 300 of these inquisative creatures meandering freely over the rock you almost feel that its their home you are wandering through - and perhaps uninvited. They seem quite docile, friendly and very used to people but rumour has it they are not always this way.
But with the legend suggesting that if the Apes disappear or die out, then so will the Brits, I imagine they will do there best to protect and nurture the species. Or even do as Churchill did during the Second World War and send away for replacements if need be.
We enjoyed a wonderful walk up in the hills behind Benahavis. A small but picturesque town that remains reasonably unspoiled even though it is filled with many highly rated restaurants. Ultra busy come summer I gather but for us today as quiet and relaxed as any Spanish village in the country. Somehow it retains its cozy feel and charm with narrow winding streets and those simple white houses.
We stopped for our compulsory coffee in a plaza outside a restaurant - the perfect environment. As we left the town was just waking up - it was 2.30 in the afternoon and the Spanish families were coming out for Sunday lunch.
But time to head back to the UK with suitcases full, even had to buy another one to hide the stash. These guys are the best scouts ever, send them out on a challenge and you can be sure they won’t come home empty handed. Some fun shopping was done and even a detour to Ikea on the way to the airport produced some of the best lamb shanks - who would have guessed!!!