48 horas en Marbella

Can’t help but feel a little (Lutheran) guilt about soaking up the sun here in Marbella. Some awful weather is currently making its way through southern Sweden. Either of us had ever been to Marbella before, so we decided earlier in the week, more or less on a whim, that it was time to see what all the fuss was about. Turned out that a client was going to be in town and wanted to schedule a meeting with me. Perfect timing.

We took a surprisingly comfortable coach from Málaga bus terminal about noon today and arrived just over 45 minutes later. For 48 hours we’ll be staying at a typical Spanish hotel (mucho marble) just a couple of blocks from the main beach promenade. While our room is best described as slightly better than humdrum, the view from the generously sized balcony is superb and overlooks a small public park. We can even see a sliver of the sea beyond the park’s treetops.

Not exactly shocked to hear so much Swedish and Danish being spoken in the cafés and restaurants down by the beach. Marbella has been popular for eons among the affluent. After more than a month in Costa del Sol, I totally get why so many Scandinavians love this part of the country. It’s about 11C degrees warmer here than in the warmest place of Sweden right now (Målilla/8C). Perhaps not quite t-shirt weather. But not far off. Though I didn’t recognize her myself, Charlotte noted how a Swedish celeb named Charlotte Perrelli walked past us during our 10k stroll along the Mediterranean this afternoon. Apparently, she lives nearby in a humongous hillside house.

The further south you walk along the coast here, when the pavement gives way to a sienna colored dirt road, way past the sprawling holiday resorts and ugly, beige high rises, the more beautiful it gets. Clusters of tall pines, batches of short palm trees, dense bougainvilleas bushes and aloe vera plants in between chalk-white villas in classic Spanish architectural style. Very picturesque, indeed.

Marbella is perhaps fancy-pantsy, but like almost everywhere else I’ve been to in Spain thus far, it’s an astonishing mixed bag of highs and lows here too. I wonder if modern Spain has actually ever had a profession called urban planners or if the public officials granting building permits and development licenses just hand them out haphazardly, without much thought or review. Or, is it nepotism at play here. Muy posiblemente.

Increasingly, I find that it’s the old stuff, the old stone houses, ancient streets and plazas with decades and centuries of layered patina, that entice and inspire me. Our hotel is actually smacked in the middle of Marbella’s old town. I hope to be able to explore it more thoroughly tomorrow afternoon.

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