Thursday, 30 August 2012

Its 40 odd degrees, I know let's buy a thick wool coat. Said nobody ever.


Day 129 29.08.12 Alicante

Murcia has been a great spot to visit but we’d seen all the sites in the one day so we’re leaving today.  We’re hoping that heading back to the sea will bring a little cooler weather or at least some sort of breeze!

We start up the engine to find however that the fuse for the fans has blown again.  Perhaps we should have sold it to Carlos after all!  Thankfully this time we missed the smoke and flames accompanying the last blow out, but nonetheless the fise has melted into the housing and won’t come out.  This results in a rather ludicrous excursion (wild goose chase) to a number of different garages, none of whom actually employ mechanics who’ll fix the problem!  Finally we get a recommendation for a Ford garage who promptly fit a new house for the fuse and wave us off without charging a penny.  Now that’s what I call service!

Back on the road again we make the hour drive to Alicante.  Our stop there is once again a shopping centre.  I’d love to be next to the beach but at the moment being near to a shopping centre with air conditioning is an absolute MUST.  After all the palaver with the fuse earlier it’s already mid-afternoon and in this heat neither of us feels like walking into town.  I’ve not seen the temperature today but in the absence of a breeze I’m pretty sure today is the hottest it’s been so far.  It really is uncomfortably warm and making us both a little worse for wear.

We cool off at the shopping centre and then head to a nearby launderette we’d spotted on the drive over.  It’s not been that long since our last launderette trip but we’re sweating through clothes at a frightening rate at the minute!  The launderette is thankfully air conditioned so we stay there and make fun of silly Spanish fashion magazines until our clothes are all fresh again.

Afterwards we head to McDonalds in the centre to do some writing and keep cool.  Unfortunately thanks to a VERY noise French family whose child mistook me for a climbing frame, it wasn’t the most productive of times!

Later on we went to check out another shopping centre hoping to grab some bargains at the Primark there.  Sadly the women's section was tiny and for some reason stocked entirely with winter clothes.  Who wants to buy a coat and gloves in this weather?!  Chris managed to pick up a t-shirt but that was it.  In the evening we had a yummy dinner of Bratwurst, wedges and good old baked beans (we bought a 6 pack in Gibraltar!) and then settled down to watch Indiana Jones.  Fingers crossed the weather cools down a bit tomorrow! 

Normal service is resumed, its sight-seeing time!

Day 128 28.08.12 Murcia
                                   
Murcia casino, SpainWe got up early for a change and headed off to Murcia.  The drive was mostly painless until the mental approach to the city which was busy and difficult to navigate.  We made it safely though to our destination of another out of town shopping centre.  After lunch and a check out of the facilities in the centre we set off to explore the city.

Our parking spot is only a 15 minute walk out of the centre – or would have been if we’d gone the right way!  After some confused wandering we came across a hotel where I picked up a map at reception and we got back on the right track!

Our first find was a stunning brightly coloured university building.  Around the corner yet more uni faculty buildings of amazing architecture were to be found.  Uni students here in Spain are so lucky to have these beautiful buildings to study in! 

Murcia Cathedral, Spain
In the centre of the old town we came across the recently refurbished casino, the façade of which is breath-taking.  The detail is incredible, particularly in the carved wood.  Sadly the street it’s on is too narrow to get far enough away to really appreciate the buildings frontage (or get a good photo for that matter!).  The inside looks to be wonderfully extravagantly decorated but at a fiver each we opted not to explore.

At the end of the street you find a spectacular cathedral with its huge clock tower.  Once again the entry fee was a fair bit too much so we didn’t bother as I’d read the outside is much more impressive anyway.  The different sides of the cathedral all have very different styles and unique attractions.  The front, overlooking the Plaza Apostoles is by far the most impressive.  Adorned with intricate statues, stunningly decorated studded doors and huge marble columns it really is a sight to behold.  We were a little undecided as to whether the drive to Murcia would be worthwhile but this building alone, justifies the trip.

Front of Murcia cathedral, Spain

Continuing around town we found lots of impressive churches, more lovely university buildings and an attractive town hall.  Many of the apartment buildings and houses have interesting features too.  We also had a nice walk alongside the river enjoying the views, including a strange partly-submerged fish sculpture which was pretty cool.

I have to say though, that Murcia is one of the first places we’ve visited where Spain’s ecomonic difficulties are apparent.  Many of the shops on the main street for example have gone into liquidation.  There is a ridiculous amount of graffiti, the parks have been neglected and there are a fair few homeless people.  Nonetheless there are also plenty of well off people here and lots of bustling cafes and restaurants that are far from cheap!

We’ve been really pleasantly surprised by Murcia.  The city has a lot more to offer than I’d expected and some spectacular architecture.  There’s obviously not a great deal of money being pumped into the city and I really hope this doesn’t lead to the neglect of some of its fine buildings as it would be a real shame. 

On our return to the van we find a note has been left on the windscreen from someone who (I think) is trying to buy Van Diesel from us.  No way Jose (Carlos)!  

Nothing to report but laziness


Day 127 27.08.12 Las Alcanzares

We’ve been staying up quite late at the moment so that by the time we’re done with our pre bedtime film it’s cooled down enough to sleep.  This unfortunately means we’re getting up later too and this morning is no exception.  After we’d got up and had our showers (I’ve got clean hair again woohoo!) it was already early afternoon so we decided that after dinner and getting the van ready to leave it would be a bit late to get on the road.  Instead we had a lazy day by the shopping centre.    We’ve both been feeling a little overwhelmed by the heat of late so we don’t feel like getting up to very much.  We do some writing and some reading, use the centre’s wifi and watch a couple of films.   A bit of a wasted day to be honest but it’s pretty hard to get motivated in this heat!  Tomorrow we plan to hit the road for Murcia and get back to our sight-seeing selves.  I took a picture of the shopping centre so I had something to go with this post, it’s quite pretty really!

Beer bellies and bargains


Day 126 26.08.12 Las Alcazares

Granada has been great to us and allowed us to recharge our batteries and get a few bits done.  We also of course had a wonderful time exploring the beautiful city and the phenomenal Alhambra Palace. Sadly though today is time to leave and head back to the coast.  We’ve been away from a decent water supply for too long and I don’t want to even disclose how long it’s been since I last got to wash my hair (too damn long!). 

The weather is still swelteringly hot and the idea of a nice cold beach shower is too tempting to resist.  We’re missing out a lot of the Costa del Sol in an attempt to avoid sardine packed beaches and the ‘Brits abroad’ mentality.  It was a long drive through some pretty mountainous territory but this made for great views and Van Diesel despite a few grumbles did us proud.

We opted for Las Alcazares in the hope it wouldn’t be too full of tourists but would have the necessary facilities for us.  We avoided our original parking space idea after spotting a huge travelling fair next to it.  There were a lot of beaten up campervans around and a lot of noise being made.  Instead we found a spot further along the strip of car parking that seemed safer and quieter.

After lunch we set out to find the beach.  The route to the beach was lined with English and Irish bars filled with lobster red beer-bellied Brits shouting at the football.  Exactly the kind of atmosphere we’d hoped to avoid! 

The beach itself was nice and not too busy although it only had pitifully weak foot showers, not what we’d hoped for either.  No showers for me here L  There doesn’t appear to be any sights to see here and given the disappointment on the facilities front we decided to hit the road again. 

About 15 minutes outside of town we found a huge shopping centre and opted to park up there for the night.  There was a massive supermarket inside so we bought a load of 5 litre bottles of water so I could finally wash my hair.  Whilst I feel a little fancy washing with only mineral water, it’s pretty wasteful and less than ideal but needs must I’m afraid! 

The shopping centre was blissfully cool.  I managed to pick up a couple of pairs of trainers in the supermarket for a bargainous 3 euros each!  Later on we took Chris’ laptop to get some more updates and downloads online at one of the upstairs bars selling gloriously cold beers for a mere 70 cents.  A fine way to redeem the day!

We’ll leave the Science museum soon I promise!


Day 125 25.08.12 Granada

Our internet research had informed us that there was a launderette on the other side of town in the student area.  After a lazy morning in the (you guessed it) Science Museum media centre we drove over.  The area was a little run down with numerous damaged cars but we found ourselves a safe enough looking parking spot and headed over to the launderette.  Whilst the clothes were getting washed we took a walk to the monastery La Cartuja nearby.  The building is quite simply but attractive nonetheless.  We decided the entry fee of 4 euros was a little steep though and just had a walk around the outside and enjoyed the views over the well-manicured courtyard gardens.

We picked up the washing and let the guy at the till practice his English on us, then headed back to the van.  We had planned to explore this area a little further and spend the night here but it didn’t feel particularly safe so we headed back to the Science Museum for dinner, a movie and bed.

The laptop is back, the laptop is back. Praise be the laptop is back.


24.08.12 Granada

We awoke to a text from the laptop repair centre saying Chris’ laptop is fixed.  The world can begin turning again!  We went to pick it up and were pleased that the price turned out to be exactly as promised without any hassle (something we’d been a little dubious about).

The laptop is fine and dandy and now running Windows.  Obviously there were plenty of programmes Chris still wanted and lots of customising to do so back to the Science Museum media centre for us.  I’d love to fill these entries with awesome sights every day but sadly real life often gets in the way!  The Science Museum has been an amazing home for us and they don’t seem to mind us turning up with the laptops, plugging them in (yay free electricity!) and surfing the super fast wifi for extended periods.

Chris got most of the programmes he wanted and I wasted a load more time faffing around and catching up on webcomics.  In the evening we watched more of the great films we’ve downloaded recently.  Look here’s a butterfly we saw at the science museum.

4 very awesome years


Day 123 23.08.12 Granada

Today marks 4 years since Chris and I got together so after a lazy morning we head out for lunch.  We spotted an all you can eat place in town (even romance has a budget ;-p) so we decided to check it out.  There wasn’t quite the range we’d hoped for, in fact it was mostly just pasta and pizza but since that’s pretty much all I eat it wasn’t too much of a hardship!  It was nice to fill ourselves up and the ice cream machine took a real beating! 

Afterwards we took a slow walk/waddle back through town.  I’d love to say we did lots of other romantic things but sadly it’s just so overwhelmingly hot at the moment that we retreated to the air conditioned cool of the science museum media room and faffed around online.  We had been hoping to hear back from the repair shop re Chris’ laptop but no joy.

In the evening we were still too full from lunch to bother with dinner so we just lounged in the van and watched a couple of films.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Argh I got my posts mixed up!  Oh dear!

It’s too hot to do stuff so we didn’t


Day 122 22.08.12 Granada

First thing we set out to find the laptop shop again only to discover it was still closed.  We took the web address on the door and went back to the van to look it up.  Sadly that branch had closed but there were several more in Granada so we headed out to find one.  We came across a different shop first and went in to speak to them.  They offered a decent price and a 1-2 day turn-around time so we left the overpriced paperweight with them in the hope they’ll turn it into a beautiful functional laptop! 

Afterwards we had a massively lazy day that consisted of more internet faffery, downloading and watching some films.  We also both had some sewing to do to repair broken clothes and reinforce falling off buttons (rock and roll!).  The heat at the moment is really overwhelming so it’s pretty damn tiring to do anything!  Since we have a little wait in Granada for the laptop we thought we’d get some relaxing done.  No pictures today so here’s some more from the science museum.

Albaicin let down


Day 120 20.08.12 Granada

We woke up to discover that the Science Museum doesn’t even open on Mondays *sigh*.  Thankfully the supermarkets do, so our first stop was to stock up on water and food!  After an epic trek back to the van with water for drinking and water for washing, Chris got on with some hand washing whilst I did more internet faffing (I love wifi!). 

In the afternoon we headed into town to have a better look at the Albaicin quarter, a world heritage site.  Unfortunately we were a little disappointed in the area.  The old winding streets are charming but the area on the whole is pretty run down and there are banners with spray-painted anti-Government sentiment everywhere.  They certainly do ruin the otherwise cute whitewashed wall houses although you can still see many examples of impressive Moorish architecture and there are great views of the Alhambra high on the overlooking hill.

We wandered around the tiny shops in the market area, full of pungent spiced teas and brightly coloured lamps.  It’s a taste of Morocco that makes the city feel like a real mix of cultures.  Sadly all the lovely fountains from last night are all turned off during the day.  Presumably to avoid water loss in this insane heat!
After a long walk enjoying the amazing architecture in town we headed back to the van for dinner and a film.

Living the dream. If the dream is cold beans and off crackers for dinner.


Day 119 19.08.12 Granada

In the morning we opted to move the van to a new spot beside the science museum.  It’s closer to town, the supermarkets and the science museum has a super fast open wifi connection we can pick up from the van. 

We had a walk to the nearby supermarkets only to discover they were all closed as its Sunday (usually the out of town ones are open on Sundays).  This was quite unfortunate since it’s around 42 degrees and we’re running out of water not to mention food.  I had a yoghurt for dinner and Chris enjoyed some cold baked beans and Jacobs crackers!  LIVING THE DREAM! 


After our search in vain for a supermarket, it was a bit too late in the day to visit the science museum as it closes at 3pm on Sundays.  Instead most of the day was spent updating the blog and catching up on all things online.  We found ourselves a load of films to download too.







In the evening we skyped home to family to catch up.  Afterwards we went out for a walk to see Granada at night.  It is incredibly pretty with all the fountains and bridges lit up.  There were lots of families and couples out enjoying the cool night air.  Sadly I forgot to take my camera (I blame lack of food delirium) so here’s a few more of the stunning Alhambra from yesterday.

Fun with dinosaurs.

Day 121 21.08.12 Granada

At last it’s time for our trip to the science museum.  We’ve been looking forward to it since we parked up outside and feel somewhat obliged to visit given our massive wifi usage!  The entry fee is 6.50 euros each with an extra charge for the observatory but the shows there are all in Spanish so we give that a miss. 

The museum is wonderfully interactive, there are so many mini experiments to try and virtually nothing you’re prevented from playing with.  We ran around like kids trying out all the different machines anyone who has liked our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/LifeOn4Wheels.co.uk
will have seen some of the pictures already!  The entrance hall featured an interactive robot with all sorts of actions you could make him do and phrases he could say, including this famous Star Wars speech: 


There was a thermal imaging scanner, a super magnifying camera and a hall of mirrors which were all great fun!
Dinosaur exhibition at Granada's Parque de Ciencias
The temporary dinosaur exhibition was a massive draw for us and the giant animatronic dinosaur displays were really very impressive.  The human body hall was also great fun with fascinating displays and a really fun game called Mindball which measures your brain waves.  The objective is to clear your mind as much as possible which causes the ball to move towards your opponent’s goal.  Chris kicked my ass well and truly!  I can’t clear my brain, if I’m not thinking of something specific my brain reverts to thinking about kittens!

Dinosaur exhibition at the Parque de Ciencias GranadaIn the huge outside area there were yet more experiments to try, a huge observation tower to climb and an amazing butterfly house.  It was incredibly warm in there but there were all sorts of different types of butterflies big and small.  There was also a breeding area where you could see the butterflies emerging from their chrysalises.  The butterflies were perfectly happy fluttering around our faces on landing momentarily on people.  It was a lovely experience.

Butterfly house, Granada science parkOutside there were also some old planes and helicopters much to Chris’ delight!  There was also an exhibition celebrating a puppeteer whose works were on a massive scale.  Some of the puppets were terrifyingly huge!  All in all it was a fantastic place to visit and we had great fun!

Afterwards we were pretty tired and just chilled out in the van.  In the evening we went for a short walk and came across a laptop repair shop (yes the laptop is STILL broken).  The shop was shut but we’ll return tomorrow and hopefully get the damn thing sorted!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Alhambra AWE


Day 118 18.08.12 Granada 

Alhambra Palace in Granada, Southern SpainI had set an alarm for 7:45 to get down to the Alhambra before the queues got too big.  Chris had barely slept so I left him to lie in whilst I ventured out for tickets.  To my surprise the queues for the main ticket office were already gigantic.  Thankfully however the credit card automated ticket machines were once again going unnoticed and within 10 minutes I’d bought our tickets for an afternoon visit and sauntered smugly past the people in the ever-expanding paying by cash queue.  Back up the hill and back to bed for me!
After a bit more sleep we grabbed some food in the van and some wifi outside a local hotel and headed down to the palace a little early for our 2pm time-slot.  Once again there were ridiculous queues but thankfully moving quickly.

Nasrid Palace, Alhambra Palace in Granada
The tickets give you a time slot for entering the main attraction of the Nasrid Palace.  Once again the organisation was non-existent, just a jumble of people queuing with no idea what was going on!  We got in ok despite being late for our slot and were immediately astonished by the beauty of the place.  The intricacy of the carvings is just mind-blowing, such fine detail!  They have done a superb job of restoring and maintaining the palace, it’s truly gorgeous.  Every room is more impressive than the last until you reach the central lion fountain courtyard which is just breath-taking.  I walked around the entire place with my mouth wide open in genuine awe.  I simply cannot describe how amazing the Palace is.

Patio de los Leones, Court of the lions in Alhambra Palace, Granada

Afterwards we walked around the water gardens and enjoyed the views out across the rooftops of Granada.  It’s a very beautiful city from birds eye level too.  We looked around the Alcazaba the oldest part of the castle which, with its strong high walls and heavy fortifications, is quite at odds with the delicate Nasrid Palace.  The views from the top out across the city are magnificent though.

Onwards we went to the Palace of Carlos V, a very different building again.  It’s a huge circular building that looks like it should stage Gladiator duels.  Instead it plays home to the Fine Arts Museum and the Alhambra museum (both free for EU members).  Both museums have solid, impressive collections and provide a welcome air-conditioned relief from Granada’s unrelenting heat.

Alhambra Palace in Granada, SpainWe also took in an old church and the ancient baths although neither of them were particularly special.  Our last stop inside the ground was the palace and gardens of Generalife.  The palace is quite plain but the gardens are excellent.  There are many different levels of stunning gardens full of fountains and brightly coloured flowers, all of which offer amazing views of the Nasrid palace of other buildings of the Alhambra.  There is also the lovely ‘waterfall staircase’ lined either side with water flowing down to the bottom.  The whole area is very well maintained and a blissful place to spend some time relaxing and enjoying the views.
All in all I am utterly head over heels with the Alhambra.  It’s an amazing place to visit and home to some of the most spectacular architecture I could ever hope to see.

In the evening we went to a nearby hotel bar to utilise their wifi for downloading Windows in the ever continuing saga of Chris’ broken laptop.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Grand Granada


Day 117 17.08.12 Granada

Granada cathedral, SpainAfter a lazy morning in Fuengirola we got on the road to Granada.  The drive along the A7 on the coast offered great views over the coastal resorts along the way.  The rest of the journey was however pretty hilly and Van Diesel wasn’t a huge fan! 

The car park we headed to turned out to be ridiculously expensive (over 20 euros a night with no services) so we parked up instead around the corner in a car park intended for the cemetery, hopefully nobody will bother us there!  The temperature when we arrived was a sweltering 43 degrees and very muggy.  The wind is so hot it feels like a hairdryer when it hits you!  




After some lunch we headed over to the Alhambra Palace to try and pick up tickets for a visit.  It was sold out for that afternoon and for some odd reason they won’t let you buy tickets for the following days.  Not that they tell you that when you join the massive queue!  Organisationally the place is a complete nightmare and since they sell out every day they really don’t care!  We checked the opening times for the following day and vowed to return as early as possible since we’re only parked about five minutes walk away!

Afterwards we headed into town to look around and were quickly bowled over by the place.  The architecture is just astonishing!  We looked around many churches and marvelled at the stunning cathedral.  There is a real Moorish feel to much of the architecture and a strong hippy vibe which makes the town feel relaxed and very welcoming. 

There are lots of little parks dotted around with pretty water features and great statues.  Just walking along the main street is a big highlight though, so long as you look up!  The buildings which house many of the main shops and cafés are incredibly grand and very impressive indeed.  It really is a city to lose yourself in as so many of the back streets hold beautiful secrets of their own.

The Government buildings are really attractive, as to are the many university faculty buildings.  It’s quite overwhelming how many fantastic buildings there are to look at!  After a little while of being out of sight seeing mode, Granada is the perfect place to dive right back in!  It really is a gorgeous city with a great atmosphere and plenty to see.    

After a good few hours of strolling around marvelling at the architecture, we decided to head back to the van when the light started to fade.  It’s a steep trek uphill back to the parking spot and we’re pretty knackered by the time we get back.  We get some dinner cooked and eaten and then it’s time for a couple of episodes of Futurama before an early night given tomorrow’s plan to (eeeep) get up EARLY!

Washing, Worten and the pursuit of Windows


Day 116 16.08.12 Fuengirola

After failing to acquire a decent wifi connection in the shopping centre we headed to a nearby McDonald’s.  After Chris’ laptop came back with only Ubuntu as a running system we’ve been trying to download a copy of Windows 7.  No joy at Maccy’s though, they seem to have blocked downloads.  We got some blog updates done at least before we started feeling guilty for taking up a space in the full car park and drove off.

Next stop was Worten, a Spanish Curry’s kind of store to look at the price of buying Windows.  They wanted over 200 euros so we went back to the van empty handed!  After lunch we got on with some much needed hand washing which took up the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening Rich called over after his local dog training class to bid us farewell as we leave Fuengirola tomorrow.  I can see the attraction of the place for some people but for us there’s not really enough to see to hold our attention so we’re off inland to Granada.  Thanks anyway to Rich for showing us around, it’s been great to catch up!   

A flying visit to the Costa del Sol


Day 115 15.08.12 Fuengirola

After another quick trip to the shopping centre we were back on the road, this time to the holiday resort of Fuengirola.  Our friend Rich who lives nearby had suggested we visit and meet up with him there.  We found a parking spot beside a large shopping centre whose free wifi is disappointingly almost useless L

We stocked up on food at a nearby Lidl and had lunch before meeting Rich.  He took us through town and down to the beach.  Again the beach here is superb but rammed full of holiday-makers.  The promenade is packed with English and Irish pubs as well as chip shops and trinket sellers.  In its defence, Fuengirola isn’t as tacky as I’d expected (but it isn’t far off!).  There certainly are a few more fountains and attractive buildings than I would have expected which go some way to redeeming the Blackpool-esque sea front.  The castle was another pleasant surprise, high up on the hill top with some pretty (if a little arid) gardens leading up to it.  The inside was however decked out for a massive beer festival that was winding down after its week long stretch.  It made the whole place a little eerie and it felt somewhat like we were crashing a party by being there.  The views from the top however were lovely.

Fuengirola Castle, Spain
After some more exploring of the centre we went to grab a drink with Rich who we both know from Nottingham.  He came out to the region 7 months ago and works as a dog trainer just outside of Malaga.  It was lovely to catch up over a couple of drinks (including a freebie from the kind owner of Moochers).  From only having each other to talk to for the last 4 months, it’s been a rather sociable fortnight for us!

Marbella ella ella


Day 114 14.08.12  Marbella

Plaza de los naranjos, Marbella in SpainOn our second day in Marbella we firstly headed over to the shopping centre to grab some food.  Chris picked up some new shirts and a bottle of gin just to get the free t-shirt (that’s how cheap booze is here, don’t worry though we won’t let the gin go to waste!).

After lunch we headed into town for a look around.  The large park was where we spent a lot of the day, chilling out by the fountains and watching the little terrapins basking in the sunshine.  It’s a gorgeous spot to while away some time surrounded by vivid flowers and all sorts of different types of trees. 


Marbella park
Dali sculptures on Avenida del Mar in Marbella, SpainThe main square is surrounded by orange trees and the most attractive older buildings in Marbella including the town hall.  It’s unfortunately marred however by the ludicrously overpriced bars and cafes that fill up the centre of the square and have covered it in tables, chairs and ginormous sun umbrellas.  A real shame! 

The walk down to the sea front is a long promenade filled with replica Dali sculptures and water features which are very nice.  Once there you’re met with miles of sand packed with sun bathers and yet more people standing around posing!  A short walk along and you come to the large marina full of some very impressive boats.


Marbella marina, Spain
We also visited the main church which is simple but pretty both inside and out.  Marbella is immaculately maintained throughout.  There are flowers everywhere and the streets are lined with palm trees.  Many of the residential streets are lined on both sides with potted plants to brighten up the place and everywhere is very clean.  Despite all this it’s not quite as exclusive or posh as I’d expected it to be.  There are elements of fanciness, with second hand shops dealing in Gucci and Prada, but within a few paces you’ll be at a tacky junk shop.  Nobody seems to have told the tourists and locals though who are still swanning around like its Beverley Hills.

Whilst Marbella is undoubtedly a very pretty place, the falseness and attitude of some of the people here make it very ugly indeed. 

Marbella: proof money can’t buy taste


Day 113 13.08.12 Marbella



After a lazy morning including some blissfully cold showers we opted to leave Estepona and head to our next stop of Marbella.  We arrived midday to find the area was jam packed with holidaymakers and parking spots were gold dust.  After driving from one end of town to the other we found a paid (urgh) beach car park at the very edge of Marbella to stop for a little while and come up with a plan for where to spend the night and a new parking spot from which we could explore the town.

Consulting our POI map we spotted a large shopping complex about 1.5km from the main centre of town.  To leave our current position however meant pulling out onto a motorway uphill!  Given the difficulty of the task in hand we decided to stay put until traffic died down and chill out on the beach for the day.

The beach was quite busy but soon thinned out away from the bars and car park area.  It’s a lovely stretch of sea that was very busy with people trying out all sorts of water based activities including one guy with some sort of water jet pack that propelled him into the air and was controlled by his hands and feet.  He looked like IronMan and it seemed like the most fun ever!  I think it was privately owned though.  We couldn’t see any signs for hire prices and since it was 50 for 15 minutes on a jetski we figured it was probably out of our price range anyway!

We had a really enjoyable walk along the beach dipping our toes in the lovely cool sea. It certainly made for some interesting people-watching too as Marbella is full of people wanting to be seen. People don’t walk here, they strut. They don’t stand, but pose. As people who really don’t give a crap what we look like (we live in a van for christ’s sake) we find the whole thing pretty hilarious! To the locals and Marbella holiday-makers, we seem to be just as alien in our scruffy clothes and state of disrepair!

The traffic finally died down around 8:30 so we headed off for the shopping area and ended up parking a little closer to town on a scrap of land beside some flats.  We went to have a look around the shopping centre and were once more amazed by the people there.  Some of the women looked to have spent hours getting ready to go to the supermarket in skin-tight mini dresses and skyscraper heels!  That’s before we even get started on the grotesquely oversized boob jobs!  It certainly is quite a shock to the system to walk around what feels like a TV set for Desperate Housewives.  Marbella is full of obviously wealthy but distinctly average looking older men with women half their age who I can only assume they found on the internet, less plentyoffish.com and more sugardaddy.com  Its pretty sad really.