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Costa del Sol (Spain)

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      22.11.2006 23:47
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      TORREMOLINOS

      Torremolinos, stands at the bottom of the Sierra de Mijas Mountains. This is where the tourist trade really started on the Costa del Sol, and by the 60’s it was the place to be on the Costa, and still today crowds of British holiday makers pack its beaches and bars.
      Some 8 miles from Málaga airport, Torremolinos is a vast resort of hotels complexes, apartments, restaurants, bars & discotheques.

      Its four main beaches are Bajondillo, Carihuela, Los Álamos or Playamar where you will find your bigger hotels and rented self catering apartments and also residential apartments. Through the Summer the beaches are swarming with European holiday makers which it caters for with rows and rows of sunbeds and parasols which you can hire for the day for about 5 or 6 euros per day.

      Although Torremolinos is now a huge sprawling jungle of these hotel complexes and apartments, you can still see some of the more traditional parts like El Calvario, El Bajondillo and La Carihuela. There is the parish church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, and Casa de los Navaja, built in the 19th century. There is also Torre de Pimentel / Torre de los Molinos, which is a fortress and this is where Torremolinos gets its name from.

      Its most famous dish is “pescaíto” (fried fish) caught locally, and you can try a taste of this and many other fish dishes at the Chiringuitos (beach bars/restaurants) which are on the beach promenade. They serve a variety of tapas & paella too, so it’s nice to try out these places and get a real taste of Spanish cooking. It makes a nice change from the British ‘fry up’ bars and cafés that are battling with each other to get your custom! I personally have tried a few of these eating places in Torremolinos, and I still prefer the good old Spanish menus though I admit I indulged in the British traditional ones, when I was getting homesick!

      The promenade Paseo Maritimo runs from Playamar right through to Benalmadena Marina. This is a nice walk, and there are many cafes and bars all along here should you need some refreshment. You can just sit back and relax and ‘people watch’ There are plenty of sunburnt, I mean ‘burnt’ bodies walking about trying to look like they really knew how much sun cream to put on, but their excuse is ‘Oh I must have just fallen asleep for that fatal couple of hours’ and they end up looking like ripe tomatoes!

      Torremolinos also boasts a huge aquapark with water slides, artificial waves and swimming pools, which is a fun day out for all the family. This place can also get very busy, so don’t venture in if you are looking for a relaxing day!

      The Nightlife

      Nightlife in Torremolinos is wild and it will not disappoint you if you like the wild drunken British bars with the boys trying desperately to get a ‘pull’ for the night and the girls dancing on the tables with barely enough clothes on to cover over their ‘white’ bits! I had one late night in Torremolinos, and came home about 4 in the morning after being drenched by one too many beers from people jostling and falling about the place! Many bars and night clubs for the young at heart, but if you want a quieter atmosphere, there are still the quieter areas, with eating places and bars geared towards the ‘quieter’ holidyamaker. I particularly like the main road going through Torremolinos, where they have many different restaurants catering for every taste! I also loved to venture down to the Marina at Benalmadena, but I will cover that later.

      At the height of summer, the resort has a great appeal for the younger set (and the gay community), with a reputation for its hectic nightlife, but as I say, Torremolinos has managed to keep some of its original old parts, so there is something for everyone in Torremolinos.

      BENALMADENA

      It is one of the main tourist centres on the western Costa del Sol.
      I may sound a little biased here, when I talk about this place, as I lived for awhile further up the mountain overlooking Benalmadena!

      Benalmadena stands at the foot of the Sierra de Mijas mountains. This has a smaller strip of beach as this town is built on the hill and sprawls backwards rather than along the coast, so some nice views can be photographed the higher up you go in Belalmadena

      Firstly, Benalmadena is split up into three parts, the main tourist area is of course the beach. Here as with all the Costa del Sol, the sand is nice, the same sun beds, around the same price to hire, but perhaps not as crowded as Torremolinos (you can actually see gaps of sand in between the sun bed layouts!) As you walk along the promenade here, it stops quickly then you are on the main street with most of your restaurants, shops and Hotels on one side of this main thoroughfare and the beach on the other.

      Again you come across Chiringuitos, where you can sample the local fish or tapas. Over the other side of the street (be careful when crossing this) are Irish, Scottish and English bars, along with your many souvenir shops. I can say though, that Benalmadena to me is less ‘in your face’ than the other neighbouring resorts.

      The Castle of Bil-Bil, an unusual building was built on the beach front in 1934 in an Arabian style. It is rather out of place looking but you can visit here should you want to see any exhibitions or cultural events.

      One of my ‘favourite’ places is Benalmadena Marina (Puerto Marina). Situated right next to the start of Torremolinos, here is where the yachts are berthed, and there are many to see. It is quite unusual inside the Marina as at one point the yachts are surrounded by luxury apartments, which are privately owned, some being available to rent for holidays. Though expensive, this place is a nice place to visit through the day and at night.
      After dark, it comes alive, with street sellers and many unusual shops. One flight up some stairs takes you into the restaurant area, where there are rows of good eating places, and all overlooking the Marina. This area is very popular at nights throughout the Summer, and you can soon pick out the most popular restaurants as these are the ones that are packed out! We have eaten in most of them, and they are all good value for money in their own way and prices vary a lot, so look at their menus outside first, before venturing in!

      ARROYA DEL MIEL

      Arroya is situated further up in Benalmadena. This is the main shopping area and has supermarkets, bars, restaurants and many of your ‘local’ shops. You will find some interesting little shops here too should you wander through the side streets (a lot catering for the Spanish community hence so much cheaper than in the main resort!) You find most of the population live here (many Spanish as well as British ex pats) and various Spanish tapas bars are located throughout this part of town.

      Of course, your English cafes selling breakfasts etc. are there too, (you cannot escape these!) There are Chinese, Indian and generally most types of restaurants here! It is sad to see that most of these British restaurants are jam packed out, while so often the Spanish bars and restaurants are not as busy, apart from the regular Spanish locals themselves. The Spanish restaurants do lovely food, and in my view, do it so much better than us! We frequented these Spanish restaurants a lot and I could never walk past them.

      I spent a lot of time in Arroya and dare I say it (after being so sarcastic of the amount of British bars/cafes etc?) We succumbed many times to a taste of home! ‘The Frying Scotsman’ is a Fish and chip shop selling the best Haddock & Cod ever, and the size of fish you get is more than enough for one person to manage! This owner had packed up from his home town in Scotland, and opened his fish and chip shop, and he imports everything over from Scottish waters. You can sit outside and enjoy all your favourites from home! Now, after me ranting on about the amount of British restaurants here, this fish shop is not like many of the British cafes, and does not import pre packed junk food ( I should correct that, as not every British bar does that, and some have genuine home made foods available, which are delicious)! Everything is battered and fried on the spot! It is situated just off the main road going through Arroyo, and is a popular place for ex pats anytime of the year!

      Nightlife

      There are many clubs bars and eating places to choose from in Benalmadena, and as mentioned before the Puerto Marina being one of my favourites, but the 24-Hour Square must be mentioned. 24 hour square is on the coast road (leading down to the port) and this is the place to be if you are 18-30! It literally is on the go 24 hours, and it’s noisy, vibrant, and literally heaving with party goers! I ventured into this rabble only to appease my daughters and nephew who were over for a holiday, and well, what can I say, it is everything that young holiday makers are looking for in night entertainment!

      The clubs range from Hard core dance, Chart music, Head banging and general middle of the road music.. Like all places like this, it attracts the hard core louts, you know, the ones who give the Brits a bad name, and you feel embarrassed being British? In general it is a fun place for the younger generation, but not really my ‘cup of tea’!
      When we were there, one of my daughters friends got her purse stolen, and the other her phone stolen, so beware, this is a haven for crooks on the look out for drunken holiday makers!!

      TIVOLI WORLD

      Situated as you drive out of Arroya, going towards Benalmadena Pueblo, is Tivoli World on the right hand side, a rather compact amusement park. There is a large car park here, so no need to worry about parking, should you have a car It is open at different times throughout the year, so check the times you will be visiting.

      The park is designed for families of all ages including adults. Entry to the park is just 6 or 7 Euros and this covers access to the beautiful gardens, numerous bars and restaurants and free shows. If you want to take the rides, add another 10 Euros on to this, and this covers you for the majority of rides.

      Inside Tivoli, 'Andalucia Square' is where you can enjoy Spanish singing and dancing, 'The Western Square', for Country music, and there is a large (seating 3000) theatre where they put on shows.

      This is all great family fun, and a fun theme park, which is great if you have young children, but the exciting thing for me here, was the chairlift! You can get on a chairlift that takes you up the mountain and the views allow you to see right along the coast line of Costa del Sol! Quite nerve wracking too though, but well worth doing!

      BULLRING

      Carry on further up the road from Tivoli World heading for the Pueblo, (all these attractions are all situated on the main road) and just before you reach this village, on the right, is the bullring.

      Through the summer the bullfights are held every Sunday at 5pm. Now if you are into this then, the cost is 40-80 euros if you sit out in the sun, but a shaded area will cost you 60-100 Euros (but wait till the last 15 minutes, and they open the doors and you can walk in free!)

      Even though I had lived in Spain, I had never been to a Bullfight, and ventured in there for the last 15 minutes, only because it was free, and to justify my past rantings about bull fighting, as some Spanish people had asked me had I ever even been to one, and if not, stop spouting of about this blood sport until you have seen it!!

      So here I was witnessing the most upsetting scene I had ever seen in Spain. I am not going to go into details, but my years of going on about this sport proved me right all along! Even the horses, as elegant and as well trained as they are, getting quite a few beatings from the bull (even though they are wearing armour coats)! It is the bull, though that’s the loser in all of this!

      If you sit outside this bullring there is a nice friendly bar who barbeque meats, and is not expensive, but don’t go on a Sunday if you don’t want to see the butchers come out with blood splattered all over them, having just chopped up the bull that had just been murdered!
      On the nicer side, if you do go on a Sunday, you can witness the Matadors and Senoritas, in full traditional outfits, trotting up to the Bullring on their beautiful horses!

      BENALMADENA PUEBLO

      3 minutes walk from the Bullring, you reach the Pueblo.
      This is the most beautiful little village, with lots of cafes and bars and hooray!…. a lot of them Spanish, though again there are quite a few English places too. Considering this Pueblo is only about 20 minutes on the bus from the main town of Benalmadena, it has kept its Spanish feel, and the locals are amazing!

      Many nice Spanish Restaurants are here, as well as a few nice British ones too, I must admit (also some not so nice ones too)! As you go into the village, you will reach shops on the left hand side, but carry on until your reach the shops on the right hand side, and you will be met with lots of chairs and tables set out outside the Spanish bars. You can get anything to eat and drink here, and there is even a little supermarket for any provisions you would need.

      If you make your way up to the Village Square, through the narrow colourful streets, you arrive at the Square, with about 4 restaurants on one side of it, (all good value meals served in these) and a few shops the other side. This Square is where they put on live Flamenco dancers and singers during the Festivals.

      Carry on up to the Village Church, (dare I say this, but this is where Alec and Bet got married in Coronation Street!) and you will catch your breath at the view you have from up here! The Church sis high up and I don’t think you can beat this point for taking such amazing pictures of the shoreline! You can literally walk round the outside of the church and look at every angle of the coast! Amazing!

      If you eat in the Spanish bars here, you can get omelette, ships and Salad for round about 4 or 5 euros, so good for lunch time, and at night time, a bit more expensive if you want to eat in a few of the more ‘up market’ restaurants’ e.g. a ‘leg of lamb ‘meal may cost you about 18 -20 Euros.

      Even further up through this village, is the Mosque. I believe it is the largest in Spain……and if you walk up to this you can see how beautiful it is! This is another location where you get terrific views right along the coastline towards Fuengirola and beyond. This Mosque can actually be seen from the coast, sitting high up on the hills in all its glory!

      The Pueblo has managed to keep its true Spanish charm, considering it is fairly near to the coast. Buses run every half hour from the main resort, and costs approximately 1.50 Eros, so no excuse not to visit this charming village!

      FUENGIROLA

      This is personally my least favourite resort out of all the Costa del Sol, as I feel it is dated, a bit dismal, and far too many tacky British bars etc. but again, there are a couple of nice Chiringuitos on its beach, so its not all bad! I do realise that the regular visitor (or resident) will be fuming right now, but in my eyes it is a jungle of high rise, sometimes old buildings, and generally just worn out!

      Fuengirola is situatated right next door to Benalmadena. Its beaches, Los Boliches, Gaviotas and Torreblanca spreads over five miles of the Costa del Sol.
      They have recently laid a new promenade, and they are trying desperately to lift this area up. The beach is nice, as is all the beaches on the Costa del Sol, and as usual they have the rows of sunbeds etc, but on the other side of this promenade, the are hundreds of the usual British bars, and apartment blocks that look like they have seen better days!

      There is also a marina, which it cannot compete with the more lavish ones in Puerto Banus and Benalmadena, but is still quite a nice place to wander and see the smaller cruisers and fishing boats.

      Walk to the South end of town and you can see a little of its history. Sohail Castle (constructed in the 12th century by the Romans) It has been renovated and some cultural events are put on here now including the Festival Ciudad de Fuengirola.

      The renowned "Fish Alley", is situated behind the Hotel el Puerto, is where you will find some of the best restaurants in town, if you like seafood, you have come to the right place here! We have eaten here a few times and never been let down yet!

      One place that is exciting (well for me it is) is the market, held at the fair ground in Fuengirola on Tuesday mornings. This is the largest market along the Costa del Sol and it sells everything from fruit and veg to clothing and household wares.
      The market gets really crowded, so again beware, as when we were there, some gypsies were keeping me occupied trying to sell me their wares, while another tried to get into my bag! Good job my partner noticed and sent this thief on his way. I wasn’t even aware he had even managed to unzip my bag, so I could have easily ended up with me having to phone credit card companies etc, reporting my purse and cards gone! No point in going to the police, as they do nothing, as theft is rife here, right along the coastline.
      There is also a boot sale on Saturdays held at the same place where you can buy lots of other peoples cast offs! There is also a smaller market at the marina on Sun.

      Parque Acuatico is another water park and is about twenty minutes walk from the centre.
      It is open from the end of April to the end of October. The park contains a kamikaze and raft slide, wave pool, water chutes, adventure river and a smaller park for the children. This is another place which attracts lots of families with children, so not a restful day out, but good fun! I went here with my daughters and quite surprised that actually enjoyed it!

      Fuengirola also boasts a Zoo, but cannot comment on this as I have never visited it and I don’t know if it is the heat and whatever creatures are in there, that puts me off, but I can only imagine the smells that might come from it, so no, not a place for me to ever visit, unless someone tells me I am wrong!

      Hipodromo is Spain’s newest racecourse! It has 10,000 seats within it , and is opened all year round apart from perhaps a month over Christmas and New Year time. The course provides day and night racing depending
      on the time of year. I cannot say I am a racing enthusiast therefore I have just visited this place only because I was happen to be up there looking at land, (again for developement) but if you go up behind this racecourse you can look right over the course.

      Next to it there is the equestrian centre which we drove into my mistake, but looks interesting enough though couldn’t see much as the main buildings were bolted up and obviously closed for the season!

      NIGHT LIFE

      If you move up from the beach area into the many precincts, you can catch a piece of everything in Fuengirola! There are hundreds of bars, including Karaoke bars etc……. Lots of good eating places too. It is a hive of activity through the summer, and again it attracts a lot of younger people to its nightclubs and bars. A lot of the partying starts around the beach area and marina, and spreads across the whole town! For the ardent football fan, Linekar's Bar is reckoned to be the largest bar in Fuengirola and attracts a mixed crowd from families to the young at heart. Drinks are cheap, music is very loud and the atmosphere is good, though probably a bit too 'British' for me! This is situated near the port and at weekends there is a DJ or live music playing.This bar is big and boasts live football on 10 screens!
      I would honestly say Fuengirola is bordering on manic
      through the night and nothing appears to stop till the morning!

      MARBELLA

      Now, after the previous places mentioned, Marbella is the next largest resort along the Coast. Marbella was once thougt to be the rich mans Costa, and even today you can find quite a few drivers of Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Aston Martins cruising around this area unashamedly.

      This is the most expensive resort along the coast and has been a haven for a number of years for the rich and famous, and now attracts ‘celebrity spotters’ from the neighbouring resorts. Nowadays though, even the humble holidaymakers can come here and enjoy the Marbella beaches running along ‘The Golden Mile’ right up to Puerto Banus.

      The beach is lovely along this part of the Costa del Sol, and as like the other resorts you have your sun beds and canopies all along the beach, but this is where the shock factor comes in…..you will pay more than double for your sunbed, and as I was driving, I had parked in the car in an underground car park for the day, and this cost me a whopping 52 Euros for the day! One lesson was seriously learnt by me after that!

      Most of the bars etc along here take advantage of the lazy tourist, and provide waiter service to your sunbed. Again we were shocked by being charged 6 Euros for the smallest bottle of water!! The next time we needed refreshments, I was not going to be ripped off again, so wandered off to a small shop and got the bigger 2 litre bottle for the same price.

      This place is for posers (especially the Puerto Banus end) and you can spend a fortune here just sun bathing! You may spot the odd celebrity here, but you pay the price in sun beds and waiter services for the honour!

      We felt peckish round about 2pm and decided to stroll away to find a relatively cheaper place to eat, and all we could come up with was a restaurant in the old part, and all we had was a small Chicken salad with a small bottle of water, and this came to 35 Euros each!
      The main centre of Marbella things are a little, and I repeat ‘little’ less expensive, but even so, the difference from the other resorts are apparent!

      In contrast to its image, Marbella (the ‘old’ town) has got some lovely buildings and the Orange Square is a nice place to relax and count what's left of your Euros after this over indulgence! The Orange square is a far cry from the modern beach fronts, and you can actually marvel at the beautiful old Town Hall dating back to 1568, the church of St Mary which has been renovated but was originally built in 1618. The Governors House dates around 1552. The actual Square itself is dated back to 1485. It’s hardly credible that this Square is set right in the middle of a rich mans playground!

      We decided to find the little side streets, and well, what a relief! Yes, you can still see a little bit of the tapas bars, shops etc that you can find in a lot of the resorts (if you look hard enough)! So Marbella has got a lot to offer and a lot of rich people running around in their super expensive cars!

      PUERTO BANUS

      Although Puerto Banus is really part of the Marbella scene, it deserves a mention in itself! Puerto Banus is well know for the marina and is outstanding, although, much to it’s disgust, Benalmadena Marina has won the award for best marina for 7 years insuccession!

      Here is where you really see how the rich live! You can see Ferraris, Astin Martins etc lined up against the quayside, and I am sure some of the drivers of the cars just drive round in circles, just to be seen!
      The yachts in the marina are out of this world and some bigger than your average house!
      I hate to admit it but you stand in awe of this almost obscene display of riches!

      We strolled along this quayside and noticed how many tourists were actually taking photographs beside these huge smart cars and yachts. I don’t know if it was envy I was feeling or nauseous!

      As you walk around this display of wealth, there are bars and eating places lined along the quayside, but you only need to look inside most of the doors to see it will invite you only if you park your Ferrari outside the restaurant and be seen walking in there! Needless to say, we passed by on these 'I want to be seen' establishments!

      SUMMARY

      The Costa del Sol is great if you want a lively holiday!

      My review is based on me living there at the time (well, further up the mountains), so I can’t comment on hotels etc, and the restaurants and bars I have frequented are too many to mention, but there is such an amount of them, no one will be lost in trying some good eating places as there are hundreds of them along the Coast.

      All these resorts are all connected by the notorious N340. This can be the road to hell, if not careful and avoid it on a Sunday when many Spanish families use it to visit relatives etc...! Also, remember this coast is also nicknamed 'Costa del Crime' and it lives up to its name often!
      Another thing is, when driving along this coastline, you can't ignore the amount of cranes everywhere, all building more hotels, and apartments! Now they are in danger of 'over building'!!!

      I personally love Spain, but I am not too enthralled with the resorts. The good thing about the Costa del Sol, is it is a fun place to be, but also nearby are some stunning places to visit, and only perhaps less than an hours drive away.

      I love the Costa del Sol for giving me somewhere to have fun on a daily excursion, and it is fun,fun,fun, and some great places to eat and drink but for a 2 week vacation? Not sure if it is really me!

      It will always attract many Brits to its beaches, but you are not really seeing the 'real' Spain here!

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        20.02.2002 18:53
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        I have made several trips to the Costa del Sol area. Some things have improved (if you include Malaga to be in the region, I do not) and many things have got worse: for Spain, the environment, and ultimately for residents: Spanish and English a like. The rest of Spain has pointed the finger and accused the Costa del Sol for abandoning its Spanish culture. And they are right up to a point. Not that the Spanish have abandoned anything, just that progressively over the years, the tourist peseta, pound, deutschsmark and now Euro have spoken loud and clear. It has been the last ten years that has seen a rapid erosion of anything Spanish, the quality of the environment, the resorts. All this is due primarily to globalisation ? making it easier for multinationals to operate, which tend to do only one thing: suck the life out of the local vibrant, diversified economy and replace it with a sterile, homogenised global consumers heaven/hell. Depending on your opinion of course. I spent a week on the Costa for the first time in 6 years to visit a friend now living between Fuengirola and Marbella. I can say I was disgusted by what I witnessed. TRANSPORT In six short years traffic has doubled on the N340, something that is celebrated as being a good sign! This road is a monster! We should celebrate the fact the traffic levels have fallen in half over the same period. This rapid increase in traffic is due no more than to the continued development of the region for northern Europeans, primarily now for retirement. Blame can be apportioned to the local governments responsible. They have made no effort to improve the public transport system in six years. Thank god RENFE saw fit to build the railway line from Malaga to Fuengirola. But where is the extension to Marbella (metropolitan Marbella has a population of 250,000, and taht is just residents!). RENFE wants to build this extension, and there are very amb
        itious long term plans to build this railway to Gibraltar and on to Cadiz. No one seems to know why there is a delay. People in Torremolinos tell me, the developers don?t want the railway to go in a particular line, because it would hit the saleable of future developments. I would have thought myself that increased noise and pollution would have put off potential buyers anyway. In the same time period, the federal government in Madrid has built a new motorway (even I have to say, is long overdue) between Torremolinos-Fuengirola-Marbella and should run to Gibraltar in the next few years. This motorway has, however, accelerated development. This was unseen, I suppose, but now I can see why people say new roads only generate more traffic and development. DEVELOPMENT It is a new type of development, which I think spells disaster for the region. If you were to visit Ronda, travelling back you would soon see what I mean. Complete mountain foothills are being taken over by greedy property development companies and turning once pristine mountains into complete villages with security, private roads and golf courses. So this means a local young boy could not now go for a walk along fantastic mountain valley side, because now some rich northern European wants a secure and private community. This is the most disgusting form of tourism I have ever seen. If you travel to another country then the least you can do is the following: Get to know the country /region Meet local people Experience the indigenous way of life Speak a bit of the language. None of this is now seems to be wanted. Even if you wanted to do the above things, you will not be able to in five years time. These new sort of communities on their Marbella mountain foothills are sealed against whatever bit of Spain still clings on in these areas. This is nothing better than colonis
        ation. Think about it. Arrive at the airport, be met by a friend, and travel down motorway. Fancy something to eat, they said. Stop off at McDonalds, or Burger King, arrive at villa, go for swim, afterwards go to the community shop for the tea bags you forgot to pack and then go out in the evening to one of the restaurants on the development for a roast dinner. Why bother? Imperialism has its many forms. This is just the latest version. MARBELLA Not impressed. The development being seen now around Marbella in the mountain foothills, primarily by English construction companies, has it roots in the free-for-all development that overtook places like Marbella years before. Travelling through Marbella, reminded of only one place. Surburban LA. Now if I wanted to go the California, I would go. If you are looking for Spain or any glitz and obvious wealth at Puerto Banus, you won?t find here. You will find plastic people with money in Puerto Banus, wanting to be seen, wanting to be noticed. You will not find any of these people at the local college learning Spanish, you certainly would not find any of these people trekking through the once virgin Marbella mountain foothills. What you are sure to find is a group of people who are going through life with an empty head. Life is for learning and experience. We can all drink a gin and tonic in the sun and look glam! You can guess. I did not spend much time in Marbella. TORREMOLINOS This town has gone down hill in six years. It was, to be fair, rebuilding its image and has, for a season, successfully reframed itself as a little bit more upmarket. This seems to have failed. There is now a definite <watch your wallet> about town and people here tell me muggings and street robberies are on the increase. Something that was largely unheard of before. I stayed in an area called Playa Mar, which was always the Spanish end o
        f town and had a load of fond memories there: people and places I knew. All that I remember had been swept away. Local restaurants closed through lack of business and replaced by banks and themed bars. All the local fields are now being built on. I used to walk through a lane to a railway station called La Collina and there was a little white farmhouse. In the adjoining field was this donkey that always used to come up to you, may be because I always had a carrot. The fields are no more, the farm has gone and donkey is not there to eat my carrots any more. A whole new development stretching across the fields is being built. It does look like it is being marketing for the Spanish. The middleclass is rapidly expanding in Spain and young people want their own place ever so younger, than living at home until 30. However, there is now a McDonalds and a Burger King and a KFC all in the neighbourhood. We walked along the beach and after a minute we never took our shoes off again. It is clear that waste is being washed up on the beaches. This did not used to be the case. No needles but an enormous amount of sanitary towels and condoms. Didn?t anybody tell you NOT to flush these things down the toilet! Walking along the beach at Torremolinos towards Malaga the tampon frequency increased. At Torremolinos about 1 every 20 metres, Playa Mar 1 every 3 metres, at Los Alimos 2 per metre. Obviously it is being washed up shore. There a sewage pipe not far out to sea at Torremolinos. This was not the cas before. The beaches were clean. It is the rapid development that has caused this. The sewage works cannot cope. And it does not help when lazy people think flushing the loo gets rid of the problem. Kids are stepping in these towels several days later. Think about it! Torremolinos has one saving grace. The only thing now keeping Torremolinos a float is that it is a very large gay destinatio
        n. It probably has the biggest resident gay population in southern Spain. The weekend sees people travel from Almeria, Granada and far away as Cadiz to a fun filled Friday and Saturday night. It is known for the huge range of bars, restaurants and clubs. You have probably been in some and not known. You have been in some and though to yourself, what a nice load of young Spanish men. Hmm! CONCLUSION I will return to visit my good friend, but that is it. I do not include Malaga in this and anyway it is a million miles from the Costa del Sol. The region has been ruined. Hemmed in by the mountains from Gibraltar to Malaga is a godsend. I don?t want to see anymore of Spain suffer environmental damaged, waves of colonisation from Northern Europe and insulting imperialism in the form of multinational food, shopping and construction companies. Do yourself a favour the next time you go. Learn some Spanish and try it out. You will be welcomed with a smile. A whole new world will open up. Get a mountain bike and go to one or two small inland villages and get a ceverza and a tortilla. Then tell me what a good day you have had. Indeed I did travel about in a car, only when necessary. Mostly we used trains and buses, quick, cheap, safe, clean. But I know I cannot be a part of what is happening on the Costa del Sol. It?s not me. I intend to retire in Spain myself (so do virtually all my 30 something friends). But it will be one of the thousands of villages crying out for people to live there, re-populate and reinvigorate. And this can only be down if you adopt the lifestyle and respect the ways of the place. This is not what I happening along the Costa del Sol. I have seen what is happening and I do not like it and it will be the downfall of the Costa. Where will people go then I wonder? When every beach is covered in plastic waste and sanitary towels and condoms, every mountain foothill developed, every field a gol
        f course, every wood chopped down for another urbanacion, then that will be they day that people realise they cannot eat money. Even if it is the mighty Euro. Costa del Sol, just call it Costa del Meurte.

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          19.02.2002 20:53
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          Probable the worst road in southern Spain is the coast road between Fuengirola and Marbella the N340 (Motorway). Its a four lane highway on which you require nerves of steel and eyes in the back of you head and your wits about you. Getting on to this highway requires fast reactions as the entry ramps are none existant. Members should also note that beyond Estepona the road is reduced to one lane only in each direction which is currently (Feb 2002) one hell of a traffic jam, hence it will take you a very long time to get to Gibraltar or beyond. Be prepared for long queues at the security point at Malaga Airport and arrive early for your flight home. However once past security control the aiport is fairly good and the shops are cheaper for alchol than the local supermarkets.

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            25.08.2001 03:57
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            We had never been to mainland Spain so this year we decided to give it a try. We booked a timeshare resort in Mijas-Costa (around 5 minutes in a bus from Fuengirola) through my father in law. The flight with JMC was excellent, I was concerned about the flight as they had said that the tour operator was quite poor but I found them to be very pleasant and attentative. Good food and service. Flew into Malaga airport which was very clean and tidy. We arrived at the carousel and our bags were virtually coming round. We stepped outside the arrivals and found taxis everywhere. We paid for the taxi ride and arrived safely at our destination. Excellent accommodation - Los Amigos resort - and very well kitted resort, especially for families. 5 pools, 2 indoor jacuzzis and plenty of sunbeds outside around the pool area. One day we decided to hire a car and travel a little, my husband had never driven abroad before but found it fairly easy after a while. We travelled for 2 hours to Gibraltar as we were so near. Gibraltar was a very different town as everything was English and Sterling is in use. A little odd after being in Spain dealing with peseta for a week beforehand. Beatiful town with lots of different bargains to suit all. We found the town to have a lot of things to do and couldn't really fit it in the One Day. We travelled the Rock in a courier Mini Bus at a cost of £7 each and £7 to enter the Nature Reserve i.e St.Michaels' Caves and to see the Barbary Apes. They were tiny with lots of the apes only a week old. They weren't big at all and were used to travellers. Well worth the visit if you ever get the chance. Fuengirola on the other hand was really another Blackpool. Quite dirty in parts and full of the normal lilo shops etc. Teh upper parts of the town was a lot cleaner with nice Clothes Shops. A bus travelled from Fuengirola to the Los Amigos Beach Club every 20 to
            the hour and was 130 peseta each (50p). We found that in general Costa Del Sol was a lot cheaper than Tenerife (which we like) for food and drink with Supermarkets having excellent value for money. I would highly recommend Costa Del Sol area with plenty to visit for all ages i.e Aquapark and Parque Aquatico (smaller version of the Aquapark).

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            29.04.2001 04:02

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            Benalmadena is midway between Torremolinos and Fuengirol on the Costa Del Sol of mainland spain.It is also probably midway between a quie classy resort and lively.there is a strong British contingent wwho are now permanently living out there, and give it a friendly atmosphere and a choice of British style home comforts.Benalmadena is a easy bus ried or walk away froml the more family orientated resorts of Fuengirola and Torremolinos, and the more up market golf crazy Marbella. Benalmadena is 40 minutes away from the airport and the Arabic style Marina gives the resort a classy feel of its own. It is probably mmore suitable for couples than families, but it is ideal for anyone as a base. Gibralter and Morroco are also pleasure trips away from Benalmadena, the latter by boat.Beware though timeshares canvessers are plentiful.

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            24.01.2001 01:11

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            I have been to Spain over 4 times. It was my first holiday destination and I Loved it. We stayed in a villa rather than a hotel just to make a change. the weather in Spain was not too hot but it certainly wasn't cold. The flight is a nice length and when we got there I was so excited. We stayed up on the side of the mountain in fuengerola in a lovely 2 bedroom villa. the pool was ours and it was lovely having it all to ourselves. On the first day we went to the beach and I was straight in the sea. the only drawback to Spanish beaches are that the sand is too hot to walk on and the beaches often get crowded. Spanish people are very nice and it seems that they all speak very good english. Spain can be qite expensive but you can always barter at the many markets. There are alot of restaurants along the costa del sol, as it is a massive tourist area. There are a lot of trips to do and you could never get bored. We went to a lovely lamb house called La Perla which was delicous. On another occasion we took a two and a half hour drive up and into the mountains to visit some freshwater lakes. it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen in my life. Spain is one of the best countries for people who are going on holiday for the first time as everyone is helpfull and speaks good English. Spain is very commercialised and definately caters for the English. Over the years we have made alot of friends in Spain and I would definately return!

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            29.11.2000 22:37
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            In June of this year, I went to Spain with my partner. For the both of us it cost us, for a week £385. This was for travel, food and bed. Not bad you say, but keep on reading. We took a coach from London to Dover, then when on the boat to France. We then got back on the coach. All together it took 24 hours. It wasn't so bad going, cause we were really excited. It was the first time I had been to Spain and never knew what to expect. When we got to our hotel, we were suposed to be meet by a rep to tell us what was going on. Also to welcome us to Spain, No one was there. Only alot of upset people, waiting to get to their rooms. We had to sit for two hours before we could get in. Not only that but the weather wasn't good, which didn't help matters. Infact for four days we had nothing but rain!. When we got our keys, and after resting for awhile we took a look around the place. I have never meet so many money grabing people in my life. The Engilsh are the worst too. There are more English pubs and shops than London. The only thing that was cheap was drink and fags. The reason I wanted to go to Spain was for the sun and to meet Spainish people. By luck, the sun came out for the last three days. That was nice, and the fact it came out on my Birthday made it worth while!. I would say, don't go on a coach to another country. Get a plane. If you go to Spain make sure you know what your getting from the hoilday before you book!. Ask people who have been before.

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              21.10.2000 04:58
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              I think I know almost every possible thing there is to know about the Costa Del Sol. And so I should, I've been there ooh... a good 10 or 11 times. I dislike this place. Yes, it could quite possibly be down to the fact that I've been everywhere there is to go and seen everything there is to see, but I thinks theres more than just the lack of excitement that gives me a negative opinion. There is a lot to do. There are theme parks, donkey rides, bars, shops, castles and a stupidly large number or beaches. You can do almost anything you want, and theres something for all age groups. However, the one thing it lacks is in my opinion, the most essential factor in a holiday abroad. The lack of Spanish people and 'real' Spain is really noticeable. Everyone will automatically speak English to you unless you look very Spanish. (I do look Spanish, but don't speak it. And feel very stupid when I mumble something about my lack of knowledge of the language) I feel that this completely destroys the point behind going to Spain. You could just as easily be anywhere else, surrounded by English tourists. During the busy season it's impossible to go anywhere, simply because anywhere of interest is packed full. If you want to lie on a beach and not have to worry about speaking the language, then this place is perfect for you. It's warm and sunny, and everything you could want is there at your feet. However, if you're more interested in gaining new experiences and seeing new countries, look elsewhere.

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              23.09.2000 16:13
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              My wife and I have been on two last minute out of season holidays to Costa Del Sol - not the holiday destination that captures everyone imagination (our main Holiday is always to California , Nevada and Arizona) but we have been very impressed on both occasions. First trip to Fuengarola , excellent long walks each day ,loads of bars offering cheap beer , food was very affordable. Second trip to Benalmadena , long flat walks stretching for miles. Hundreds of Bars and Restaurants to chose from all at well below UK prices. But the best thing for us about both places is that they were excellent resorts to take little children. The flat walks were easy for them. Out of season , places were quiet but still enough life to engender sufficient enjoyment for them. They were made to feel welcome and food to readily available. For a first trip abroad with little kids , we can strongly recommend the Costa Del Sol.

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                03.09.2000 20:58
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                My third visit now and I am just starting to work up a bit of affection for it! I hated it at first because it didn't have a focal point of a town centre and a very fast road runs along by the beach all the way towards fuengirola- but it is compensated by the fact that it has a very nice promenade well tucked away from that road and the new marina has fast become the focal point and you can meander along between both Benalmadena and Torremolinos at your leisure. The Marina is lovely with lots of little white turreted apartments like mini mosques that meander in and out of the marina like the dusty blue bells and provide some cover in the little walkays from the heat of the sun. You can look down into the water at the shoals of little pescadas and bring a line and fish if you want. There are little shps and bars all along the prom and it is a really nice way to while away many hours. Like I said I am now appreciating its finer points. Eating and drinking is very cheap on this coast- you can really push the boat out for the price of a decent night out over here. Just up the hill is the Tivoli garden leisure area with rides and shows etc- you can even take e telecabina- cable car up into the mountains and back. Hiring a car is quite cheap. A punto with air/con- a must in the hottest months cost £45 for 3 days! That's virtually nothing- considering the use we got out of it. Gibraltar just 2 hours away, marbella 30 minutes and with the air/con it is a very pleasant way of cooling down when outside the temperature was 92. Loads to do for young and old on a night with clubs or if Irish Bars are your thing their is anarea where I counted 3 or 4 within 50 yards of another. Further up the hill is an area with bars, shops and restaurants called the arroyo de la miel which is lively and worth a visit and also is a train stop too! I can definitely recommend it!

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                  23.07.2000 18:09

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                  costa del sol has unfortuantely been tagged as one of the sterotypical costa's, and therefore deters many people from discovering this very cultured, clean and friendly place...yes the raucious nightlife can be found in Torremolinos and Fuengirola, but venture alittle away and you will find villages and towns of abundance culture and history...there is a train that takes you from malaga airport down the coast to marbella, which is very cheap and takes pride on the security. on the way discover little quiet beaches with fishing villages, the smell of sardines smoking on the clay ovens and the locals chatting in the sun...portabanus is the filthy rich area, with speed boats ad luxury yaughts dawning the marina...you can smell the money but well worth the trip..mijas and nerja are the authentic spanish villages in the mountains, with the local transport being the donkeys, a great treat for the kids... do yourself a favour ans spend a week discovering this beautiful area of spain

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                  16.07.2000 06:48
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                  The Costa del Sol has had a bad press over the last few years. If you believe all you read you'd think there's no-one here but drunken English footbal hooligans but the reality is different. The Coast covers a wide range of facilities with something for everyone - even untouched Spanish areas still exist if you move slightly off the beaten track. Malaga itself is more than just an airport with a wonderful historical heritage and plenty to see. The traditional resorts have everything you need for a family holiday yet you are within easy reach of Granada, Morocco, Gibraltar, Seville and much more. And yes, the Spanish do holiday here as well.

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                    28.06.2000 03:48

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                    I have just returned from our hols there. This is a purpose built resort and mainly suited to families. Everywhere is very clean, but beach is all gravel! There are lots of bars and cafes and they are very cheap! I like cocktails though and they were a bit limited. Markets are excellent, and very good value. They encourage you to barter! Watch out for the traffic - its very busy and very fastand they don't like to stop at red lights! There is an excellent fun fair and a nice park too.

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                  "The Costa del Sol is a region in the south of Spain, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, comprising the coastal towns and communities along the Mediterranean coastline of the Málaga province and the eastern edge of the Cádiz province. The name translates as "Sunny Coast" [1] in English. Formerly made up only of a series of small, quiet fishing settlements, the region has been completely transformed during the latter part of the 20th century into a tourist destination of world renown, with a near-continuous urban agglomeration of high-rise settlements and resorts running along the length of the coastline. It includes the city of Málaga,and the towns of Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella, Puerto Banús, San Pedro de Alcántara, Vélez-Málaga, Nerja, Torrox, Estepona, San Luis de Sabinillas, the community of Sotogrande, San Roque and La Línea de la Concepción."