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Costa del Sol
Costa del Sol
Welcome to the Costa del Sol in southern Spain, a tourist magnet especially for northern Europeans who want to escape from their cold and wet homes and spend some time in the warmth and sunshine.
The Costa del Sol is one of the sunniest places in the whole of Europe, with an average 320 days of sunshine annually. During the months of June, July and August it is very rare for a cloudy sky to appear, much less for it to ever rain!
Recent world economic problems has negun to change the face of the Costa del Sol from its once crazy scramble by builders and developers to turn every spare scrap of open land into a new apartment complex into a more sedate tourist attraction as the bulldozers have mostly gone and the cranes, that once disfigured the skyline have all but been completely removed from an area that only a few short years ago boasted the worlds largest population of constructional cranes!
Places to Visit
There are many places to visit on the Costa del Sol particularly if you like to get off the beaten track and see some of the true beauty that is what makes up the "real" Spain and not the crazy high rise apartment blocks and hotels that hog the line along the many beaches.
Malaga city centre itself offers up some true gems of architectural miracle in the forms of el castile, the central cathedral, the old market area, as well as the famous Picasso Museum.
Just outside Malaga to the north of the city are the Botanical Gardens, an almost perfectly hidden treasure of nature less than a mile from the city limits!
The inland city of Granada houses one of the true jewels in the crown in the Alhambra, a walled castle that is an architectural masterpiece. Incidentally, if you vist Granada in the winter and fancy skiing, you can go to the Sierra Nevada ski resort, the southernmost in Europe boasting some of the best skiing outside of Austria. It fascinates people that they can ski in the morning and then take a two hour drive and be sunbathing on the beach in the afternoon!
Heading west along the inland route finds the town of Antequerra and the centre of this town is well worth a visit for the traditional Spanish tapas bars and way of life. To the south of this town is the white pueblo of Casabermeja with its locally famous white cemetery. I had to add this village as my own almond farm sits on the side of a mountain just to the north of Casabermeja!
Continuing west are the inland towns of Coín, Alhaurin el Grande, Monda and Ronda (another famous white pueblo) just north of Marbella.
If you keep going west, you'll come to Gibraltar and eventually leave the Costa del Sol behind as you approach the Atlantic coast (Costa del la Luz) and the popular surfer's town of Tarifa.
Beware of the Sun
The Costa del sol literally means coast of the sun and in the summer months visitors to this area should take great care with the sun. It not only gets very hot during the daytime, but with the sun overhead it is very strong and UV concentration is high, meaning it is very easy to get sunburn.
For this reason, you should not spend too much time lying in the sun, especially if you are more prone to burning. A high factor sun cream helps enormously, but even so, be sure to limit your daily exposure to the sun.
During the summer months, the beaches along the Costa del Sol can get very busy with not just foreign tourists but with mainly Spanish families who make the journey south to take advantage of the tourist facilities at this popular location. In fact, many Spanish families travel from the hot interior of the country to cool down on the Costa del Sol, as temperatures can be a few degrees lower on the coast than inland at this time of year!
On the otehr hand, in the winter months it is the other way around with the interior of the country having the coolest temperatures and the Costa del Sol generally having the highest winter temperatures in Europe, with the mercury rarely dropping into single figures on the celsius scale.
Fuengirola beach and its Overbuilt Front Line
Learn the Lingo!
This is aimed fairly and squarely at English ex-pats who make their homes in Spain on the Costa del Sol. Many do try and learn Spanish and know enough to get them by and some become fluent.
But many more don't try and I feel embarrassed for them when they are shouting in English at a Spanish shopkeeper and feeling indignant that he can't understand them! After all, whose country are we in?
So if you plan on spending some time here in Spain, or even coming on holiday for a week or two, it really helps to learn some basic Spanish words and phrases. You will be held in higher regard for trying even if you fumble the words and end up saying something ridiculous and giving the Spanish recipient a good laugh!
They will be much more disposed to help you than if you merely speak in English and expect them to understand you.
A lot of English tourists and ex-pats here on the Costa del Sol have come to expect that all the locals speak good English, which in the majority of cases is quite true. But there are still many that do not and they resent the English for their arrogance in not even attempting to say something in Spanish, even if it something as simple as ¡hola! or buenos dias. The English pride themselves on their good manners in saying please and thank you, so while por favor for please is not used all that much, gracias for thank you most definitely is!
A little effort is all it takes and will be repaid in spades when sitting in a bar and being able to ask for "dos cervezas, por favor" in stead of ignorantly shouting "Two beers garçon!" which is something I hear quite a lot of!
It doesn't take a lot to learn a few new words in the language of the country you intend to visit and those that make the effort are rewarded by warm smiles and welcoming gestures. Those that don't get cold glares and shaking heads and mutterings of "¡Guiris, coño!" (which I won't translate!)