Marbella

About an hour’s bus journey away from Malaga is the seaside resort of Marbella. We were lucky enough to time our visit to Spain with an explosion of spring flowers.

From the elaborately displayed geraniums on every wall, to exotic bell flowers and the vivid splashes of bougainvillea on every wall, it was a colourful, eye popping floral display.

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Marbella in my mind was made infamous by the air heads  who frequent such vacuous shows such as Made in Hell and The Only way is Debauchery, or some such shite.

The hideous carrion craw of “No CARRRBBBSS IN MAARRRBBBSS” did resonant in my mind and slightly put me off visiting I have to say.

Yeap I know, I am a snob, but hey! I managed to overcome my preconceived notions of the place and was really glad that I did as it was a joy.

From the cool whitewashed maze that is the old town, to the generous sweep of the beach it is a lovely place to while away a day.

Here are a few of the snaps I took while aimlessly wandering the compact and cute little old town.

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Central to the old town is the Square of the Orange Trees – Plaza de los Naranjos.

It’s an example of Castilian Renaissance design and is a bustling central hub of restaurants and locals basking in the sunshine.

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As usual there are a multitude of tiny architectural details that I love so very much. From elaborately painted tiles to bougainvillea smothering a cafe wall.

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The colours are just perfection, from the cerise and purple blooms to the glorious blues of the Virgin’ Shrine.

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Speaking of tiles, they seem to be a regional specialty as they crop up everywhere with a variety of subject matters from local food delicacies to flamenco dancers and bull fighters.

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Then it’s off to the beach for some sangria and sunshine. There’s a fantastic sweep of sand to enjoy.

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Not sure that I would trust this shady character if I was in need of an SOS!!

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You can also see plenty of examples of the popular local snack – sardines on sticks!

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Gibralfaro Castle, Málaga

Castle Gibralfaro is perched atop a high hill over looking Malaga. The name comes from the Moorish Jebel meaning hill and Faro meaning lighthouse.

Again it’s free to visit on a Sunday so we hopped on the bus up the winding hill for some freebie sightseeing.

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While not as interesting as the Alcazaba there are stunning views to be had from the ramparts including the city bullring in miniature.

This building dates back to the beginning of the 14th century when it was built by Yusef 1 of Granada.

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Just missed capturing the tiny bullfighter waving his red rag around. Looks quite cute from this far away, unlike the brutal reality of the so called “sport”

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Bit of history for you – Gibralfaro castle was the site of the famous siege of Malaga in 1487 when the Christian forces of Ferdinand and Isabella laid siege to Malaga on the final push of the reconquista that would eventually lead to the fall of Granada and the overthrow of Islamic Spain.

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Next up, we visit the playground of the rich and famous (and TOWIE apparently) Marbella!

Rock the Alcazaba . . .

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The Alcazaba is a palatial fortification built by the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century.

This is the best-preserved alcazaba (from the Arabic al-qasbah meaning citadel) in Spain.

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There’s an abundance of beautiful Moorish architectural details including decorative archways, irrigation channels, ornate fountains and cool courtyards.

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I love this tiny little window arch, edged with decorative stone frills. These small details cover the structure.

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As you head up into the complex itself we were captivated by beautiful trees with purple blossoms that we’d never noticed before.

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The stunning violet flowers turned out to be those of the jacaranda tree.

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The Alcazaba is built on a hill in the centre of the city and has views overlooking the port, and comprises two walled enclosures.

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A series of courtyards and alleyways reveal ornate details and beautiful gardens. All perfectly designed to keep inhabitants cools even in the height of the summer heat.

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Here’s Neil about to take a bracing dip in one of the main water features dotted about!

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When the heat gets too much you can sit and cool down in one of the shaded squares and formal gardens where sparkling fountains and greenery takes the edge of the temperature.

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There are examples of the sophisticated irrigation channels throughout the complex.

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Shady courtyards offer a glimpse of the luxuries of the past including Cuartos de Granada (Quarters of Granda)  the home of the kings.

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As the palace is Moorish with its roots in Islamic traditions, artwork is comprised of intricate geometric patterns.

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Spain – the return!

Been all quiet on the blogging front lately as I’ve been slaking my travel lust with another visit to Spain.

I’ve done an about turn in the past few years from being a bit of a snob about the country, thinking it was all Benidorm, Magaluf, puking and high rises, to adoring its picturesque old towns, eclectic architecture and wealth of history.

This time we’re heading to Malaga and the surrounding delights of Andalucia.

We picked the lovely DeBambu Apartments in the centre of the old town for our six night stay.

We opted for the six person apartment as there were four adults and this was spread across two floors connected with a spiral staircase! Ace!

First up is a whistle stop tour of the old town and a visit to the Alcazaba and Castle Gibralfaro as they are free on Sundays!

There are a proliferation of beautiful tiles to be found across the city, below are a few of them.

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Malaga Cathedral is know as the One Armed lady due to only one of the two bell towers being completed, the other is an abbreviated stump!

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The streets are a maze of beautiful buildings, intricate tiling and painted walls.

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Here’s a few more of the ornate details that can be found on every street corner.

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Next stop, the Alcazaba and Castle Gibralfaro for some freebie sightseeing and amazing views over the city.

Eden – the new paradise?

As we’re in that neck of the woods we take a return trip to the Eden Project.

Near to St Austell it’s a unique attraction featuring a series of distinctive bubble shaped biodomes set in a former 160 year old china clay pit.

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According to the project’s website blurb the Guinness Book of Records heralds the Biomes as the biggest conservatories in the world.

Building these ‘lean-to greenhouses’ on an uneven surface that changed shape was tricky: ‘bubbles’ were used because they can settle on any shaped surface – the architect got the idea while washing up!

It boasts the world’s largest rainforest in captivity complete with waterfalls and streams, plus some little bug lovin critters too!

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There’s around 1 million plants of just under 4,000 species in Eden.

There’s heat and humidity loving species such as rubber trees, vanilla and ginger in the Tropical Biomes. Some of which made very good shelters, as demonstrated by Jan.

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To get a real sense of the scale of some of the jungle plants you need to get up above them.

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Luckily you can take a walk in the tree tops with a brand new canopy walk that lets you brush past the tallest of the plants

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Everywhere you look there’s plants, flowers and other greenery. From exotic looking banana flowers to a legion of multi coloured tulips, it’s a horticulturists dream come true.

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Sadly for me, as it was Easter Sunday, the plant shop was shut! Booooooo. So I had to make do with taking lots of colourful snaps instead!

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Alternatively you can enjoy some of the art installations (Neil looks so impressed), make your own or just loiter in the upper hemispheres of the domes . . .

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Here’s a glorious collection of metal butterflies, like shiny scraps of tin had briefly settled to rest their wings.
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After the humidity of the tropical dome you can head to the dry, sandy loving specimens in the Mediterranean dome. Here you can see lemon trees, olive groves, vines and cork trees and feels just like a trip to Italy.

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If all that leaves you cold then here’s a few words of wisdom to leave you with dear readers . . .

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Seriously considering making this one my sixth tattoo . . . .

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