No Carbs before Marbs
Today, we had a jaunt along the coast to Marbella.
Actually, that’s not strictly true. I had a meeting with Talk Radio Europe with a view to putting together a couple of radio programmes for this English-speaking radio station that covers most of the Costa del Sol, parts of the Costa Blanca and Mallorca. The station broadcasts primarily from their studio in San Pedro de Alcántara, which just happens to be the other side of Marbella, so the perfect opportunity to explore….
I dropped Andrew off in Marbella, on the edge of the Old Town, before driving on to my meeting, and then met him in roughly the same place on my return. Marbella itself is a funny old place, and I still haven’t quite got to grips with it. In the days when we rented out holiday villas, we had a lovely little place in one of the urbanizaciones that sit above the town, well screened from prying eyes; usually the areas where the rich and famous had their pads. I never really got to know the town itself.
Having met up with Andrew, he lead me through the pretty streets of the Old Town, and it is very attractive. Being January, it was quiet. In the summer months, I expect these narrow, flower-decked lanes are awash with visitors. Today, it was sleepy, bar a few tourists still determinedly wearing shorts and T-shirts, regardless of the fact that there was something of an arctic blast keeping temperatures low. Indeed, on the drive from the valley to Marbella, strong winds did their utmost to push our lightweight jalopy off the nearest viaduct.
The recommendations for lunch steered us towards a particularly narrow lane just off the main square in the old town, lined with small but welcoming bars and restaurants, and we chose the one that seemed to be filled with the most people, rather than sit in splendid isolation. Good choice it turned out to be, as we had a lovely little tapas lunch followed by a gentle stroll down to the beach.
The Marbella beachfront does not appear to have many redeeming features; there are too many high-rises too close to the sea, and the charm of the Old Town is all but blocked out. I imagine that, in the summer, this stretch of beach is heaving with bodies, so possibly not too tempting for us. On this January day, we were amazed at how many Northern English accents we heard; are Lancashire and Yorkshire completely empty at this time of the year?
Not to be deterred, I mentioned to Andrew that I had driven out to San Pedro past Puerto Banús, and felt that this might be where all the money lay, as the road appeared to be lined with very upmarket real estate agents (Savills and Engels & Völker to name but two), furniture stores and design studios. So, we hopped back in the car and drove out to Puerto Banús, the marina town that still falls within the Marbella area.
Well, we have got to say that Puerto Banús is a bit of a hoot! We got out of the car park, walked straight down to the beach, turning right to approach the marina, and into another world. You could not really make it up. The marina was probably less than half full, and the biggest yachts appear to be at one end, and they diminish in size as you walk further down. It wouldn’t do to be seen here with just a jetski; heaven forbid! At our end, there were the hugest yachts you can imagine, and no sooner had we mentioned that they were probably all owned by Russian Oligarchs, than we ran into a gaggle of Russian women parading out along he harbour wall. This marina is the mooring spot of one of the world's top 100 yachts, the Lady Haya, now owned by the King of Saudi Arabia and worth an estimated €35 million....
The marina is lined on three sides by every high end fashion house you can name: Gucci, Dior, Cartier, Valentino, Ermenegildo Zegna, Armani, Tom Ford, Versace…the list is endless. Suffice to say, there were not that many people milling around, yet these shops remain steadfastly open all year round. I have no doubt that they only need one big-spending yachtee to drop in once a month to make a success of it. Every other shop seemed to be a very expensive-looking jewellers, and windows displaying full length, divine evening gowns seemed oddly out of place in a small town with the sea on one side and rugged mountains on the other. There were hints of glamorous roof terraces, and we can only imagine the cost of a G&T here in the height of summer.
That said, we will come back in the summer season; there may be no better place for people-watching in the whole of Spain!
Having done a circuit of the marina, we walked westwards along the rather lovely, long stretch of sandy beach, all but deserted. The boardwalk is edged by the boundaries of some serious real estate - private houses, or beach clubs with huge pools and generous terraces, and unlike the beachfront in Marbella town itself, this is all low-rise, and discreet, not detracting from the beauty of the shoreline itself. Of course, in the main summer months, I have no doubt it is a different story, as these beaches will be pretty full.
So, we drove out of the car park, past the Bang & Olufsen showroom, imagining the laughs we would have cruising down here in the summer beside open-top Bentleys, Mercs and BMWs filled with Made-in-Chelsea wannabes, and can’t wait to return!
No carbs before Marbs? Well, we did have a few tiny croissants dipped in chocolate on the journey; do they count?