Marbella, home from home.

It's great to be back in Spain again. For us it's really feels like being back home. This time we are not in Elviria though, but at the Marriott Playa Andaluza. It is a very nice resort near Estepona and very close to one of my favourite villages in the mountains Benahavis. But what also makes this a great week is being with our friends of some 30 years Margaret and Jim. It appears, also, that our timing has been perfect, because for the last 3 weeks the weather has been lousy, very wet. I was here in October and it was lovely then, but since it has been unusually wet, though I suppose after the summer fires that ruined the mountain forest and trees they could do with some moisture to help them sprout again.

So it's out and about for us visiting the local towns and villages while the sunshine lasts. Thursday we head to Granada to see the magnificent Alhambra well worth a visit for anyone out this way.

Hugh Laurie at the Starlite Festival Marbella

Last night we went to see Hugh Laurie at the Starlite Festival in Marbella.  Before talking about the concert a few words on the Auditorium.   It was built about 30 years ago and involved 3 visionaries which include Julio Iglesias and Plácido Domingo.  It is half way up the mountain side in a disused quarry which forms a natural amphitheatre.  For this festival it appears to have been upgraded with a massive stage and “Starlite Village”, which is essentially a large disco, lounge and VIP area in front of the open air theatre.  You can’t drive your car all the way up, you park half way and a fleet of buses take you to the venue, which is impressive.  The auditorium holds 3,000 people and the stage is huge.  The lounge is mega expensive, €12.50 for a Mojito but then this is Marbella.

The Festival runs from 14 July to 14 August and includes some impressive performers: George Benson, Roger Hodson (voice of Supertramp), Tony Bennett, Christopher Cross, Paul Anka, Simple Minds, Julio Iglesias to mention some and Hugh Laurie.

Yes, Hugh Laurie from House, Blackadder and comic partnership with Stephen Fry in a concert.  The highest earning TV actor in the US and the most watched leading man on TV!  Anyone who watches House will have seen him tinkle on the piano and strum the odd guitar, but in fact he is a very accomplished musician, also playing the drums, harmonica & saxophone, and he is very entertaining.  He has also surrounded himself with equally accomplished backing group of 5 musicians and a singer.  His first Album “Let Them Talk” has been a great success. Here is a video of his performance of the Swanee river in New Orleans.

He loves the music of New Orleans. He is very knowledgeable about his music, he performs a great show, and engages with the audience, giving background to the songs and music as well as entertaining.  In fact a very good night all round.

We had good seats centre stage 11 rows back and here are some of the photos.  I'm sorry I didn't take my D800 with me and only my compact Olympus ZX1

Marbella - my favourite town along the Costa

Marbella is definitely my favourite town along the Costa del Sol, I won't repeat details about Marbella that you can find elsewhere for example on the excellent website "The Blue Colour of the Sky".  But there's nothing nicer than to get up early (well relatively early) while the kids are still in bed and head into the Old Town.  The narrow streets are clean, colourful, and lined with flowerpots or wall growing bouganvilla, with twists and turns that take you to new delights around each corner: A chapel, fortress walls, a small art gallery or museum, the indoor market where they sell fish, meat fruit and flowers, the cathedral, little shrines where they keep the statues they march in the Easter parades, shops and boutiques, some for the rich others for the locals.  It's great when you find another little tapas bar where you've never eaten before.  The trick is not to go to places that have seats and umbrellas outside specifically to attract the tourists but to look for the hidden local haunts which at first look dingy but where locals enjoy cheap and fabulous treats.



This week Sharon, here sister and I headed in and stopped at a local cafe where we had a light breakfast.  We headed around the town in the lovely sunshine, and very bearable heat.  Sauntering up and down the narrow streets and popping into the odd shop or two.  Sharon delighting in getting a few dresses in a boutique with a great sale. "Just perfect for that wedding coming up!" at home.


Then off to the indoor market, though by now we are a bit late and many places are closed, you need to be early for the market.  But we get some fruit and vegetables and some very sharp knives for the apartment from Jesus.  All in all a lovely morning.

That evening we head back in with the two families and this time head down along the promenade to our usual Indian Restaurant.  At night and along the promenade the contrast is stark, it's busy, bustling with people of all ages, families, couples, and groups.  Street traders, mainly from North Africa ply their trade, weary of the local police, as they pester you with their counterfeit bags, sunglasses, DVDs, watches, bracelets, scarves and other bric-a-brac.  The restaurants of many nations try to entice you in, the bars are full, the streets are teeming with people ambling along taking in the atmosphere, music is playing, neons light up the street, and everything is just a little boisterous and the police keep a watchful eye.  It seldom boils over like in Benalmadena or Fuengirola, well maybe it does later at night but I've never seen it.  None-the-less it's lively and enjoyable.  We stop at a trendy cocktail bar for Mojitos, Daiqaris, beer and soft drinks and soak up the lovely balmy night and watch the world go bye.  Another perfect but contrasting day in Marbella!

Quick trip to Marbella

Just back from another few days in Marbella with a couple of friends. Great weather, food, and company! We arrived late after hiring our car from Helle-Hollis (they provide an excellent service) and we headed for Elviria. We rushed straight to my favourite fish restaurant Barbacoa Pedro which is directly across the road from the international English college. The fish there is cooked simply yet beautifully. We had a small salad (but big enough for the three of us) Rosada Frito, which was devine, Dorado, some chips, a bottle of Vino Sol and sparkling water for the driver (me!). And the total bill was less than €50.

On the following night we went to Messina, what a great restaurant! The work they put into cooking and presenting the food is phenomenal. A bit more expensive but worth every penny!

We slouched around for a few days with visits to Marbella, Benahavis, Benalmadena and Mijas. In Mijas we came across this very nice wine tasting Tapas Bar where we had a very relaxing afternoon and some good chat with the staff and other customers. My much needed dose of Spain for a while until August.

Thanks lads for a great break!!

The video will be here soon!

Now the Video:

Trip to Marbella from Shay Farrelly on Vimeo.



[singlepic id=348 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=right]Marbella is my favourite town on the Costa del Sol and we are fortunate to be only 8 kilometres down the road from the town, which means we can get there regularly and quickly. There is a lot to see in Marbella: the ports, the beaches, the squares and gardens, the shops, the restaurants and bars, the markets and my own favourite the Old Town.

The town itself is overlooked by the Sierra Blanca mountain range and gives Marbella a micro-climate meaning it's kept cooler in the summer and a bit warmer in the winters. The town was founded about 1600 BC by the Romans. The Muslims arrived in the area about 500AD and gave it its name Marbil-la. They built a fortress and a defensive wall to protect themselves from the Christians and their impact on the design of the town is still there to be seen in the Old Town. In the 16th Century the Christians finally managed to recapture Marbella and it started to grow slowly by developing the surrounding farmland for agricultural production. The San Luis fort was built in 1725 to defend itself from Mediterranean pirates. The town grew more rapidly in the 19th century and agriculture was the mainstay of the economy. In 1950 the port was completed. It was not until the 1940's after Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe invested in hotels and apartment complexes that tourists started to come here in large numbers. It attracted the rich and famous who flocked to the town. So in the last 60 years Marbella has grown from a small fishing and farming village to one of the foremost international tourist resorts in the world.

Marbella though is not just a tourist attraction, it's a true Spanish town. The locals are friendly and helpful, particularly if you make an effort to speak a little bit of Spanish. As I said the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja) is my favourite place, I love to wander around the narrow streets looking at the houses, shops and looking for little tapas bars where mostly the locals only go. These are the places where you get the best food and the best prices. But there are also very good restaurants around Orange Square and the surrounding streets.


Some of my personal favourites: [singlepic id=347 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=right]

  • The Orange Tree just off Orange Square, it has wonderful food and very friendly service and it is owned by an Irish woman and her husband. They change their menu regularly and their early bird menu is good value.

  • Restaurante Messina. We were introduced to this gem by our neighbour and it's just that, a real gem, one of the best restaurants in Marbella. The food is truly outstanding and the attention to detail and presentation is amazing. A bit pricey but no-where as expensive as Dublin for anything similar, can't wait to get back!

  • For Tapas our favour bars are: La Venencia's and La Taberna Del Pinxto on Av Miguel Cano. In the Old Town is El Estrecho an award winning Tapas bar.

There is plenty of shops in the town itself and I like Baileys men's clothes shop. Just up the road is the really large mall La Canada which all my girls love as it has all the big shops and there are plenty of shops like FNAC that I can enjoy. On a Monday there is a large market. Normally I don't like markets but the one in Marbella is just big enough to have plenty in it but not so big that you can't get around it.

I just love to walk around the town, at any time of the day or night, and take in the atmosphere, to browse the shops or stop for a drink and to get a good meal. In fact if I had the chance I think I would love a place right in the middle of the Old Town. Just thinking about it makes me want to be there.

Marbella travel guide