Torrox Costa, Andalusia, Spain, Friday, February 17, 2012
The resort of Torrox Costa has as its motto "El mejor clima de Europa"- the best climate in Europe. Perhaps that's a slight exaggeration, but it’s certainly very pleasant here, with blue skies and warm sunshine. It’s paradise
compared with the weather in the rest of Europe at the moment, and even in other parts of Spain!
Our journey from the Costa de la Luz to the Costa del Sol took us from one world to another. We left a relatively undeveloped area of huge empty beaches and small towns that were still very Spanish, and arrived in Ex-Pat Central, where English and German are the predominating languages. The motorway took us past Estepona, Marbella, Fuengirola and Torremolinos, where the coastal development has now spread right back into the foothills of the mountains, and there are more golf-courses than in Scotland. Once past Malaga the resorts are smaller and in places there are even short stretches of coast with almost no development at all.
Our new campsite, El Pino, was at first sight disappointing. It’s built in terraces on the side of a hill, and from the higher levels there are partial views of the sea and the mountains (still with a little snow on the highest peaks). However, all the pitches with views are already occupied by long-stay campers who’ve probably been here since October. What’s more, they’re accessible only by rather steep ramps which would be difficult for our large, heavy outfit. Instead of grass, it’s all gravel underfoot, and as most of the trees are still bare the overall impression is grey rather than green.
Not only that, but the restaurant and shop are almost entirely UK-orientated. You can have steak and ale pie, a roast on Sunday, and of course Friday is Fish 'n Chip Nite. The shop sells such delicacies as Kingsmill sliced bread, Branston pickle and frozen shepherd’s pies. This is strange, as there is a wide mix of nationalities among the campers, with Scandinavians, Dutch and Germans outnumbering the Brits, but it seems that the restaurant also serves as a social club for the English ex-pats who live nearby.
This may all sound pretty awful, but we are actually quite happy here. As previously mentioned there’s a good mix of nationalities, everyone’s friendly, and on the lowest terrace, where we are, we see plenty of comings and goings, which is always entertaining. And often we just sit in the sun, relaxing.
Torrox Costa has a pleasant promenade lined with bars ,restaurants, ice cream parlours, cafes selling torten, kuchen and gluhwein, and backed not by big hotels but by fairly ordinary apartment buildings. The beach, like all the beaches on the Costa del Sol, is rather coarse, gritty sand; though no doubt in July and August it will be covered by sunbeds and roasting bodies. Just behind the coast the land rises steeply into the mountainous area called La Axarquia.
We spent a day driving up on spectacular twisting roads, occasionally coming across a small, white-painted town like Frigiliana or Competa. The area was originally settled by the Moors who made use of every inch of hillside, terracing and irrigating, and it’s still covered in olives, vines, almond and avocado trees.
Just a few miles up the coast from Torrox is Nerja, probably the prettiest resort on the whole Costa del Sol. Although fairly built-up, development has been kept to a reasonable scale – no hideous tower blocks to mar the view. It’s built round a series of small, rocky coves, which help to preserve a more intimate feel. There’s a large central plaza ending in a mirador, or viewpoint, called the Balcon de Europa. It’s very pleasant sitting in the sun outside one of the many cafes and watching the world go by. One of the best things about the warm winter climate here is that there are so many flowers in bloom – bougainvillea, hibiscus, morning glory, geraniums, nasturtiums and roses.
We have been here a week now, and it is so relaxing we have just booked in for a second week at a deep discount. Trying to sum up what we have done so far is easy, nothing! A couple of visits to Nerja, a few strolls along the prom, a trip up into the mountains is all. We’ve done some washing, even washed and vacuumed the car to get rid of the El Rocio sand. It is very relaxing here!
One big surprise has been Malaga. Chatting to a nice British couple, Steve and Aileen, who arrived a few days after us in a superb Burstner motor home, it turned out they needed to get to Malaga Airport to pick up a hire car and some relations who were flying over for a stay. They were in a quandary as to how to get there. It’s not far, but it would have involved several bus rides and a couple of long walks. We offered to take them, to take the opportunity to see Malaga, as we had read that there was an interesting Alcazaba, or Moorish palace, and a Picasso museum, (he was born in Malaga).
As expected most of Malaga is an urban and industrial sprawl as befits a big port. But at the heart of it is a very pleasant pedestrianised centre, clean, well maintained streets lined with very Spanish buildings. There is an enormous cathedral with one and a quarter spires. It turns out that the money set aside to complete the second spire was diverted to assist the Americans in their war of Independence. Beside the cathedral is an attractive 18th Century Episcopal palace. The star of the town though is the Alcazaba. Built on a hill in the centre of the town, edged by a Roman theatre, the brick built walls and driveways wind up the hill in a series of hairpins, with a huge Moorish gateway at each turn, until the Nasrid palace is reached at the top. Heavily restored, the palace features many atria with pools, fountains and ornamental orange gardens and peepholes and verandas overlooking the port. Higher up the hill is the castle proper, the Gibralfaro, from which the views over Malaga, the coastline and the hills and mountains behind are breathtaking. It is such a pity that most people coming to this part of Spain arrive at the airport and speed off to Torremolinos, Fuengirola , Marbella and other such concrete blots without seeing Malaga itself.
In return for the lift Steve and Aileen bought us a meal in the campsite restaurant. I thoroughly enjoyed my steak and ale pie, chips and peas followed by chocolate fudge cake. Lesley stuck to foreign food, with a lasagne and ice cream. Just think, 2,500 miles through foreign lands just to get a pie. We Brits are incorrigible.