Trapped in the pandemic? Come to the sunshine coast and visit all the wonderful places, virtually. It might not be as good as the real thing, but it beats going nowhere.
Article by Vivion O’Kelly
The best way to see and experience Málaga and the Costa del Sol is to go there. But then again, the best way of keeping in touch with old friends is to go about the place hugging everybody you know, and we can’t do that either in these times. The alternative is virtual.
You could, of course, hover over the entire coast on Google Earth, dipping down like a butterfly wherever the fancy takes you, but that too has its drawbacks, primarily because there is so much to see. Our suggestion is to use a travel guide in the shape of a website, of which there are many, but the most outstanding we have found is that put out by the Málaga Tourist Board: https://www.visitacostadelsol.com/
This masterpiece of travel information is simple and intuitive to use and a joy to explore, providing us with bird’s eye views of places that, even if very familiar with, look delightfully different from above. It tells us where we can go, what to expect and what to do when we get there, what we can eat and drink, and what’s on at any particular time of the year.
The English translation (they offer French and German as well) is of a high professional standard, spoken by a native English speaker, with its content changed in places to provide information probably not needed by resident Spaniards, such as flights from British airports and some local trivia.
A word of warning on gastronomy, nevertheless. It is almost impossible to translate certain dishes without loosing some of the flavour of the original, and you may not be tempted, for example, by a tapa of porn in Antequera, barkless bread, types of caps or a second helping of king clip. In most cases, such as a plate of fried breadcrumbs, the description in English bears no resemblance to the reality, as this delicious and varied dish simply defies translation. Our advice is, when there and without local knowledge, to look around at what others are eating and order the same.
Did you know that there are more Michelin-starred restaurants in the province of Málaga than in all of Wales?
The site, as in all Spanish websites, also translates “monumentos” as monuments, which is not quite correct. They usually mean works of architecture, but the word in Spanish also describes places of outstanding natural beauty or interest, such as the caves in Nerja or places of archaeological interest. In each case, useful maps are provided, along with satellite images, all telling you exactly where everything is.
Our specific interest is Marbella and places within easy driving distance of it, although the furthest point as the crow flies within the province of Malaga is less than a hundred kilometres away. Parking is an issue they touch on by providing information on public car parks in large urban areas, but it can be a bigger headache in small mountain villages, mitigated to some extent by avoiding weekend visits. In any case, the problem outside the big cities peaks around eight thirty to nine in the evening, when city commuters return for the night, and this hardly coincides with most tourist visits.
The most famous tourism route in the province is the Route of the White Villages, which used to begin in Ojén, just ten kilometres from Marbella, making a wide curve towards Ronda and straight down from there. Its success as a tourism marketing tool has now resulted in its extension in many different directions, but this site avoids controversy by presenting all of Malaga’s white villages in two sections: those on the coast and those in the interior. We recommend the origin route as an easy day trip.
The obvious alternative is a trip up or down the coast to see how the one percenters live on their yachts in the numerous pleasure ports, or if you harbour ambitions to be one of them for a day, to try out your latest Lamborghini on the Ascari Race Track in Ronda. They do very reasonable seasonal deals for around 40,000 euros, although you can still visit this fascinating place and have a great day out for a lot less than that.
But the real beauty of Malaga province comes free, and this website covers virtual freedom very well indeed. Their drone views of almost everywhere are stunning, especially in Malaga city, where you can visit many of the key tourism locations and fly down as you please to get closer views that can be seen at 360 degrees. You can take a virtual trip to Antequera to see the Dolmen de Menga, and even go inside to marvel at its ancient and beautifully illuminated splendour. Or the Tajo de Ronda, that famous bridge, which looks especially impressive from above, or visit the bullring there while in the vicinity. Go window shopping in Calle Larios or head up to the extraordinary caves in Nerja. You’ll see much of the coastline as never seen before in their beaches section, while the interior shows a completely new face in the landscape and villages sections.
All in all, a virtual tour well worthwhile. We take our hats off to the Malaga Tourism Board for the production of such an excellent guide, and urge you all to use it, at least while the real thing is unavailable to most of us right now.