The Biddington's Bentley Takes to the Road
Corrida de Toros by Richard Mock

Costa del Sol

The British Coast of Spain

Should you wish to make a trip abroad requiring no language skills beyond English, try the Costa del Sol. Coastal Andalucia is to England as Florida is to New York: sunny retirement central. Its principal feature is the crane--not wild fowl but construction. Along N-340 from Málaga to Gibraltar, a wave of medium-rise condos laps the shore. Beer is the beverage of choice with pubs in every hamlet chockfull of jolly, sixty-something Brits competing in karaoke and music quizzes. Alas, they have not lost the Victorian talent for transporting their culture with them.
"La Faena" from Corrida de Toros
Richard Mock Linocut Series
Not your cup of tea? Despite its Anglo ex-pat overlay, coastal Andalucia is rich in history and also offers charming towns and sophisticated enclaves. Here are some recommendations to aid in sifting the wheat from the hops:

Larger towns such as Málaga, Marbella and Algeciras retain much more Spanish flavor than the small coastal villages where condos--and pub culture--have mushroomed.

Marina at Puerto Banus

Puerto Banus

For sophistication, the aptly named "La Mila de Oro" (Golden Mile) from Marbella to Puerto Banus ranks with the best spots on the French Riviera. Home to high-performance automobiles, high-end shopping and high-maintenance women, Puerto Banus is an elegant marina town just west of Marbella. Its seafood restaurants, clubbing and eye candy are all excellent. A shoreline stroll along the promenade near the Marbella Club allowing peeks into the manicured grounds of elegant mansions is sufficient to make even a penitent monk yearn to be filthy rich.
Marina at Puerto Banus


In the narrow, winding pedestrian streets and squares of old town Marbella, hanging, eating tapas and exploring the small art galleries and boutiques are the primary activities. Sound wafts from a local music school and the pace is leisurely. El Museo de Grabado (Print Museum) mounts exhibitions on contemporary printmaking and also has a museum shop selling fine art prints. Down the hill near the shore, a formerly crime-ridden shack community is now the clubbing area in Marbella. On a quiet night, descending into this zone triggers the self-preservation reflexes, but it turns out to be non-threatening and amusing with a cluster of more than a dozen different night spots.
Beach at Torremolinos


The commercial district of Torremolinos stretches for over a mile with a street of shops one block in from the beach and restaurants fronting the shore. All along the beach, lounge chair rental cabanas & beach shacks provide the basic comforts. If you wish to go formal and throw on a shirt, the eateries across the walkway offer more substantial meals. Torremolinos is a relaxing town when low-key, inexpensive R&R is required. It's a touch tacky--but tacky with a Spanish flavor--which can be rather nice.

Beach in Torremolinos

Ronda Puente Nuevo


The town of Ronda is considered the cradle of bullfighting, and its centrally located bullring is a prominent feature of the village. (An ox-tail soup figures prominently on restaurant menus.) But it is the remote location overlooking a spectacular gorge that makes this small town--only 48 kilometers but more than an hour's drive up the steep mountain from Marbella--such a popular tourist destination. The nearby cave paintings attest to the safety of this site. When the Catholics claimed Spain from the Muslims, Ronda--almost impenetrable by invading armies--was among the last towns to fall.
Puente Nuevo, Ronda

Square in Algeciras


Like Algiers and the Arab news service Al-Jeezera and, Algeciras derives its name from "Al-jazeera" the Arabic word for "island" or "peninsula". Across the bay from Gibraltor, Algeciras has an atmosphere that is an amalgam of provincial Spanish town and Arab-influenced port. Moorish tiled fountains and benches complement the old church bell tower in the town square. In the evenings, strolling and people-watching are the main activities; everyone from babies to great-grand mothers makes an appearance. The port is the ferry link to nearby Morocco which is visible on a clear day. It's a simple matter to make a deal for a package ferry ride + day tour of nearby Moroccan towns such a Tetouan and Tangier. For visitors not familiar with the area, these tours have the advantage of being an effortless and stress free way to become introduced to the very foreign, thriving medinas and markets of North Africa.

Square in Algeciras

Garden in the Alcazaba de Malaga

Alcazaba de Málaga

Atop a strategic promontory overlooking the coast, rests an 11th century Moorish fortress built over older Roman ruins. (The Roman amphitheatre at the base of the hill is currently under restoration with ongoing archeological work in evidence.) The Alcazaba fortress itself was heavily restored during the 1930's. Passing through the maze of concentric walls and passages one enters a series of covered arcades and open patios. Simple geometric gardens with pools connected by drainage channels create a sense of intimacy and quiet on this hilltop. It's only in walking the paths lining the battlements that the military importance of the location to the Saracen rulers comes back into focus. During their 700 years of rule in Al-Andalus, the Arabs left a strong imprint. At the base of fortress-topped Gibralfaro hill, the 16th century cathedral of Málaga, the center of old town Málaga, was built on the site of the mosque.

Garden in the Alcazaba de Málaga

Picasso painting Woman with arms Crossed

Picasso Museum

Old town Málaga is also home to a new museum. At the time of this visit, workmen were putting the final touches on the Picasso Museum located near the Alcazaba on calle San Agustin in an early 16th century Andalusian mansion with an internal atrium or "patio". The structure has been joined to other adjacent buildings to make a large but varied exhibition space. Málaga was Picasso's hometown, but he did not live in Málaga during his mature professional career. Much of the museum collection was donated or lent by the artist's daughter-in-law and grandson, Christine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso so the museum includes personal and biographical material as well as artworks.
Picasso "Woman with Arms Crossed"
Picasso Museum Málaga

More Destinations:
Visiting New York City 2007
Visiting New York City 2006 (Archive)
New Haven, Connecticut
Cultural Touring along Spain's Costa del Sol
Touring in Lisbon
Touring in Milan
Touring in Antwerp
Touring in Barcelona
I-80 Park City to New York City
Tourism New York City 2003 Update
Tourism New York City 2002
Hudson, New York (Columbia County)
Tourism Rome 2002 Update
Hartford & Wilton, Connecticut
San Francisco Jackson Square
New Hampshire Route 1A
Morris County, New Jersey

South American Destinations:
Restaurant Guide to Buenos Aires--2007
Northern Argentina: Jujuy Province, Humahuaca & Tilcara
Northwest Argentina: Tucumán, Salta & Cafayate
Santiago & Valparaiso, Chile
Tigre, Argentina--Day Trip from Buenos Aires
San Antonio de Areco, Argentina--Weekend Trip from Buenos Aires
Colonia, Uruguay--Overnight Trip near Buenos Aires 2008
Buenos Aires--Basic Guide
Travel Guide to Montevideo, Uruguay

Jake Biddington Art Investing Series:
Art Appraisals and Valautions
Investment Grade Contempory Art
PPP Test: Judging Quality in Contemporary Art
Art, Time and Technology
American vs. European Paintings
Jake Biddington's Art as Entertainment
Jake Biddington's Vetted Antiques & Art Shows
Jake Biddington's Patent Numbers as a Dating Tool
Jake Biddington's Hard Assets as Portfolio Diversification
Jake Biddington's Buying Fine Jewelry at Auction
Jake Biddington's Long Term Investing
Jake Biddington's Short-Term Investing
Jake Biddington's The Craft of Art


Here at BIDDINGTON'S, our work is also our play. When we're not exhibiting and discussing art online, we're learning about wonderful objects in shops, at great shows and in museums--or simply exploring the world's fascinating cultural diversity. In this article, Jake Biddington offers tourist information and descriptions of this interesting destination.

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