Andalucia Diary – Seasonal Travel Notes

Summers Swan Song

So, I guess the summer season is coming to an end. An unseasonable
day of rain and wind that hit the coast last week reminded us that autumn is
not far away. Despite the oppressive heat that has been with us for the past
few months, I’m sorry to see August go, as soon I will have fewer excuses to be
lazy with work or to continue eating and drinking in that true holiday-style.
Yet September has to be one of my favourite times here in southern
Spain, with its
clear blue skies, cooler days and of course, the tranquil beaches and countryside
– and fewer cars on the roads!
This season has just flown by. It doesn’t seem that long ago
I was excitedly anticipating my trip to Chicago;
or that Rafa & I were walking the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland:
or I was just lazing on the beach here in Marbella.The coast comes alive in summer, swelled by the visitors and
summer home owners – their holiday money giving Marbella its annual shot of adrenalin. Fancy restaurants opened on the beach; “stars”
like Julio Iglesias, Liza Minnelli, Lionel Richie, & George Benson came to
town to give small concerts; whilst VIPs and wannabe VIPs cruised the streets
of the port and the town in their fancy cars. Or huge saloons with blacked out
windows, with body guards in pursuit are sometimes seen on the streets at
night, whisking their privileged occupants to galas, dinners or drinks at the
many luxury venues that come alive at this time of year.  Even in my sleepy neighbourhood things change
in the summer. Living in Los Lomas de Marbella Club, (an area north of the
Golden Mile popular with Arabs), means that most summers we see Spanish
National Police on the corner, with their semi-automatic weapons, offering
visible protection to the various members of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family who
come to enjoy their summer homes in the area. Last week, whilst I was away enjoying the beaches of Conil, I understand
that the King & Queen of Spain
were in town on a “private” visit one of the Saudi Royal Princes. The Saudi’s
pump millions of euros into the Marbella
economy each time they visit. I am sure
it was a not just for nostalgic reasons that many in Marbella
mourned the death of King Fahd the other year. It has been quoted in a local
magazine that when he came to town, he was accompanied with an entourage of
1,200 people, spending 5 million euros a day. The last time he was in town, he
reportedly spent 90 million euros in local luxury stores!
A few weeks ago Rafa & I were taking a stroll along the
paseo, watching a huge boat draw closer to the shore, near the Puente Romano
Hotel. It looked like a small ocean liner, but was in fact simply one of the
Saudi Royal Yachts – but I didn’t see the Bengal Tigers that are said to roam
the decks!
Marbella &
many of its neigbhouring towns also celebrate their ferias in the summer, with
street parties, food stalls, concerts and more. Fireworks and music fill the
summer skies, together with the bright lights beaming up from parties in Puerto
Banus. Businesses schedule their annual parties, product launches and cocktail
parties to coincide with the season. During summer you are sure to get an
invitation to something – even an opening of an envelope qualifies for a big
do, open bar, media attention and photographers.
With all this going on, it has been a pleasure sometimes to
escape the coast for a contrasting way to unwind. A few days in Tarifa, or
inland. This year we had a special stay at a mountain retreat, called
Fountainhead, and of course days at Rafa’s family place in the countryside. Home
cooked food, siestas and mucking about in the pool.
Well, soon relative peace will fall on our little seaside town. The yachts will go back to their berths in
the port; the luxury homes and palaces will be moth-balled for the winter and
the roads and motorways will be once again be free of traffic.
I will also be able to join a roundabout without the fear of
meeting a driver coming towards me, in the wrong direction! (Roundabouts seem
to be a real challenge for the Brits. Fresh off the plane and in their clean
little rental cars, they come to a roundabout and forget the “drive on right,
keep right” protocol and instinctively go round the roundabouts the wrong
way…!). It’s not just the Brits that are make the roads a scary place in
summer. Each year thousands of North Africans
from across Europe drive down to the southern coast of Spain
to take the ferries and catamarans across to Morocco. They drive in overloaded cars, for hours, so
by the time they arrive in our part of the world their driving is sometimes erratic
to say the least! It is not uncommon to see these old Mercedes or mini vans,
stacked high with belongings and gifts like giant metal snails, swerve across motorways
lanes, or to loose their cargo at high speeds, throwing items across the roads.
So, here’s to September! Thankfully, there will still be a
few Sundays left before autumn, when I can enjoy the beaches and a Sunday paella
without needing to reserve a table at my favourite chringuito!

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Andrew ForbesTravel & Lifestyle Marketing Communications Consultant | Travel Editor Web: Twitter : @andrewaforbes Instagram @andrewaforbes and @luxurynavigatorView all posts by Andrew Forbes »