Sunday, November 4, 2012

On to Marbella

Hola from Espana! (and sorry about the lack of proper accent mark/ squiggly lines above 'n's, I'm writing on an iPad and have no idea how to add in foreign laungage characters).
I arrived in Spain yesterday and am now settled in Marbella, a beautiful little town in Andalucia. Getting here was quite the adventure. I decided to rent a car for this week of my trip so that I can explore several different areas in the region. I forgot, however, that it's really, really hard to find a rental car in Spain that's not a stick shift. And what I didn't know is that drivers in Spain are pretty nuts. Put those two things together, add darkness, mountains, and fog, and you get a terrified Amanda, driving with white knuckles for about an hour and trying not to cry. BUT, I made it.

I'm learning that every time I arrive to a new place, there's probably going to be that period of being completely lost and frustrated. It happened in London, and it happened here, too. I'm staying in an apartment building, and the directions I was given were incredibly inprecise ("turn left at the Deutsche Bank" is really not helpful when the Deutsche Bank is not well marked). And since it's not a hotel, the building wasn't marked either. So when I first arrived in Marbella, I circled the neighborhood about 5 times trying to find the damn place, going down streets that weren't technically open to cars, just barely managing not to stall out the car, and screaming in frustration more than a few times.

Finally, I found a spot on the street, parked the car, grabbed my luggage, and just hoofed it around the neighborhood until I found the place where I'm staying. Of course, after checking in I got terribly lost (again) trying to find my actual apartment. But once I was finally in, I was very pleasantly surprised. I have a nice little apartment to live in with plenty of space, plenty of light, a view of the ocean, and, most importantly, a full kitchen(ette)! I've complained a lot about not being able to cook my own food, so this absolutely delights me.

View from my balcony

Of course, the kitchen would be better if I could actually find a supermarket. Believe me, I spent the day trying, without luck. I did, however, find a little bodega with a huge selection of fruits and vegetables. So I think I'll just make meals completely comprised of fruits and veggies for a while....not a bad thing at all, especially after the difficulties I had finding healthy food in London. For lunch today, I ate an entire fresh mango while sitting out on my balcony, listening to the waves crash. No complaints (except that I wish mangos were a little easier to slice/ eat, I cannot figure out how to do this efficiently).

My preliminary fruit/veggie haul
Marbella itself is lovely, a small town situated in a narrow space between a mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea. I spent today exploring the area, putting in about 4 hours of walking, total. It's a bit of a resort-y town (I am forcing myself to speak only Spanish but I could probably get by speaking English) but retains some Spanish charm, especially once you get away from the beach. The Old Town area around the Plaza de los Naranjos is exactly what I remember of Andalucia from the last time I was in this region....tiny, winding streets so narrow that a person on their balcony can almost touch a person on the balcony accross the street, light-colored buildings covered with vines of flowers, just beautiful.

And there's an amazing path that follows the coast line 4 miles west to Puerto Banus, a part of town where the rich and famous (?) play, and I trekked that today, enjoying every minute of the view, the sun, and the simple feeling of being able to be outside without a jacket.

I don't know much about cars but I'm told Ferrari's are fancy?

However, what Marbella has in natural beauty, it lacks in adequate pools for lap-swimming in November (I'm sure this is a common complaint). In my pre-research, I was able to track down one indoor pool that might have been a possibility, but when I went to scope it out today, I found the joining fees to be outrageous and the pool itself only 18 meters and stuffed to the gills with old men sort of just floating. So I walked away, and decided to suck it up and use the outdoor pool at my apartment complex. Here it is:

Looks nice, right? It's pretty long, too, I'd guess probably 20 meters or so. Close enough. But what the picture doesn't show is the fact that today, when I started swimming, it was 62 degrees outside. And significantly colder in the pool. I didn't bring a wetsuit, so it hurt. A lot. I got through the workout with my toes a little numb and having an ice cream headache the entire time. There may have been some easy parts written into my workout but I pretty much sprinted the whole thing just to finish faster. Then took a hot shower for probably 45 minutes.

And, lucky me, there are three more swim workouts on my schedule for this week. I just got the chills thinking about it.


  1. Brrr! I swam in a pool like that a few weeks ago. I would have gotten out after I dipped my toes in but someone else was getting in to swim laps at the same time so I didn't want to look like a wimp. I did 250 yds and then jumped into the hot tub :)

  2. Hot tub? That sounds delightful. I'm joining the Polar Bear swim club when I get back to Chicago. I'll be ready.

  3. Good to know that you were able to find a time to relax as well as workout in such lovely place. The pictures are just so inviting. Hope to see more of your travels.