After 8 weeks of working as an intern, Wilma could finally wander again. Where better to relax and unwind than in my favorite country in Europe? At the end of March, my mom and I took a plane to Málaga in Andalucía.
After a couple of weeks of working in Brussels as an intern, it was clear to me that I would need a week of sun, sea and relaxing before getting behind my books and starting to study again. As an intern I had to go to an office in our capital everyday from 9 to 5. I love to be outside and explore but during those 8 weeks there wasn’t a lot of exploring. During the January exam period and the weeks I worked as an intern, I experienced a lot of stress, which I noticed on my body and mood. Therefore, I decided that it was time for a do-nothing-at-all-be-at-the-pool-all-day trip for the first time in my life. As my mom and I are not used to this kind of traveling, this wasn’t what our trip became.
We found a hotel with an inside wellness and outside pool between Málaga and Marbella, in Benalmádena. Perfect place to relax, right!? Here, we stayed the entire week. Although the hotel’s reception was big and the outside pool was beautiful, the rest of it was past glory. Also, in THB Torrequebrada Class, we were surrounded by the typical German, English and Dutch, too-loud and sunburned tourists. We pitied we hadn’t booked a finca more inland instead of staying at the built up coast. I, as a sea-lover, definitely wanted to stay at the coast, but I know now that next time I have to listen to my mom (like always 😉 ).
That might be one of the reasons why we did a lot of sight-seeing in the entire Málaga province. It started with Marbella on the first night. Marbella is a cosy city and it is known to be a more fancy place, where people drive around in the most expensive cars, own yachts and wear the newest clothes, especially in Puerto Banús. We walked through the beautiful streets of Marbella city towards its cosy plazas. This walk is a fun stroll for an afternoon but not for more than that. In the evening we had a lovely dinner in Puerto Banús, which is nice to see and hangout, but out-of-season there isn’t much to do.
The next morning we drove to Frigiliana, an old mountain village and must-see, when staying in the neighborhood of Málaga. I can highly recommend a visit to this village, though I can imagine it can be quite busy here in Summer. Frigiliana is a typical white town mostly inhabited by elderly. Here, the village is colored by its blue doors and colorful flowers, which you can find at every doorstep. We started our day with delicious pan con tomate and zumo de naranja at a place called Gloria Bendita, worth a visit!
Before heading back to the hotel we had a stop at Nerja, which was a bit of a disappointment. Here, you have the Terrace of Europe, a ‘famous’ balcony. This balcony is, so far we experienced, all there is too see in Nerja. Our afternoons in Southern Spain we spent, reading and relaxing, at the big pool of our hotel. While in Spain, I read the book ‘What’s the What’ which tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng and which is ghost-written by Dave Eggers. Achak Deng is a Sudanese refugee living in the United States of America. It is one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read. And I think everyone should read this book. I recommend and slightly forced my mom to read this book as soon as I finished it during our trip. My mom too thought it a heartbreaking book and was very moved by it. So far, I can say I have read a lot of books for my age (certainly as a former literature student) and this book certainly is in my top 3 of must-reads! So, hurry up and get it in the nearest book store!
On Wednesday it was time for Málaga itself. Málaga is a big city and the capital of the province of Málaga. There are quite a few things to see here and it’s known for its shopping streets. We visited the Mercado Central de Atarazanas, which is a typical Spanish market. It’s a must-see, especially its stained-glass window is picture-worthy. , But the Mercado Central of Valencia still is my favorite. We took a stroll through the city and passed; El catédral, El Ayuntamiento, El museo de Picasso, La casa Picasso and El Teatro Romano. On this walk, we came across a lot of Instagram-worthy street-art, so keep your eyes open on your stroll through the city. Our walk brought us to the Alcazaba, an old castle, built on a hill. Although the walk up can be tiring in the sun, this was one of the highlights of Málaga! Next to the Alcazaba you can find El Castillo de Gibralfaro. This castle isn’t as magical as the Alzacaba but its view over the city is definitely worth the walk! The way back to the car took us through El Parque the Málaga, which brings some green into the city and El Paseo, a walking path in the harbor which leads to the newer part of the city and Playa Malagueta. Málaga is a nice city to walk around and do some shopping but not for more than a couple of days.
We decided to make a close-to-home trip on Thursday, so we had the entire afternoon to relax and unwind. We took of for Benalmádena village, where you can find the ugliest castle ever. This castle is a monument dedicated to Cristopher Columbus and built in the nineties in three different styles. Although the gardener of the castle was very proud of it, I had never seen a castle as ugly and disappointing as this one. It was just too much, too kitch, too everything. Fortunately, a temple dedicated to Buddha brought back the rest and zen in our lives. I don’t know what did the thing, was it the smell or the presence of Buddha, but something at this site made me totally relax and unstress. Being at this religious place and looking from the temple down to the valley and the sea was the most mindful moment of the trip. In some way this place felt like home. I have been dedicated to yoga and meditation lately, to relax and become closer to my self in the stressy periods I have been through the past months. The rest and mindfulness I find in yoga and meditation, I found at this temple as well.
On the way back to the hotel, we took a detour via Míjas. Like Frigiliana, this is a white village. It’s only more known and therefore more touristy. But this doesn’t make it less beautiful. When in Málaga, Míjas is a must-visit!
Lastly, we took a road trip to Ronda, famous for its bridges. We can say this bridges is more or less just a bridge. And that’s all there is to see. It was an almost 2-hour drive to this famous city. If you are in the neighborhood, Ronda is worth stopping for, to get a lunch or stretch your legs and to enjoy the beautiful views, but it isn’t worth a 2-hour drive. On our way back to Benalmádena, we stopped in Júzcar, known as the village of the Smurfs. This entire blue village served as an example village for the famous movie. Instead of white, like all the houses in the area, the houses of Júzcar are painted in a blue that hurt your eyes. It’s fun to see and walk around. Although there are still people living in this town, there isn’t much to do and after half an hour we were back on the road.
This trip became more active than planned but the sun, the Spanish-talking people and the moments of rest at the pool brought some rest into my life. Although I wouldn’t come back to this place at the Spanish coast, you can find beautiful villages deeper land inwards. If you decide on visiting this area of Spain, I advise you to look for a finca in the hills instead of a big hotel at the seaside.
The sun, some delicious paella and a good book can do a lot. I can highly recommend you to take some unwind and relax trips from time to time, to come closer to yourself and to simplify your busy life.
Now it’s time to go back to my books and finish my master’s degree.
Viva la vida,
L. as Wilma