During 2007 while working for a tour operator in Pretoria, I was sent to Spain with a couple of travel agents on an educational. The company I was working for specialised in selling packages to Spain and Portugal, they later expanded to selling the whole world. The owner was particularly passionate about Spain and knew the country very well.

We arrived at Malaga Airport and collected our minivan which was quite a challenge to drive and park, but that added to the fun and laughter not to talk about the stress. First stop was the charming white village of Mijas, a quaint, picture postcard town high up in the mountains with stunning views of the Mediterranean. Something special about this little town is that it houses the country’s only square bullring. We enjoyed some shopping while exploring the narrow cobbled streets. Our first night was spent at the 4* Atalaya Park hotel in Estepona.

During the days that followed, we visited Caseres, where ancient white houses, spilled like sugar cubes, hug each other as they cling to the slopes below the Arabic castle. The highlight for me during our time on the Costa del Sol was our daytrip to Ronda, one of the oldest and most visited towns in Spain. The magnificent Puente Nova Bridge, over the 120m deep gorge is absolutely breath taking. The architect fell to his death on site. This awesome bridge divides Moorish La Ciudad from El Marcella, the new town started in 1485. Ernest Hemmingway said: to test true love if you take the lady you think you love to Ronda for a week and if you still love her more than this beautiful town, she is for you. We saw palaces dating back to the 14th century as well as the oldest bullring in Spain dating back to 1784.

Another big highlight was the city of Seville, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Every spring over 10 000 orange trees in the heart of the city pervade the air with orange blossom scent. These oranges are used to make marmalade, they are very bitter. There are so many sights to see in in Seville for instance the Seville Cathedral, the world largest Gothic structure. We also had the best paella at a small restaurant in the heart of Seville.

Gibraltar was also on our itinerary and that is an experience that I will never forget. Just remember that South Africans now need a UK visa to visit Gibraltar. When driving into the city, you literally drive over the runway where aircrafts land. We had to wait at a red traffic light for an aircraft to land before we were able to carry on. Absolutely magnificent. We did a rock tour and ended up with Barbary Apes on top of our heads, posing for photos (without our consent of course)

After a couple of days in the Costa del Sol (and a few early mornings in Puerto Banus) we flew back to Madrid for a couple of nights. I have to admit I was not very excited to see Madrid. After staying in London for two years and visiting Paris and Amsterdam, I thought Madrid would just be another European city. But I was wrong. Madrid has such a lively atmosphere; I never wanted to go to bed. The tapas bars are so cosy and warm. Just be careful if you order tapas on the Plaza Mayor as the prices are insane. An interesting fact about the Plaza Mayor is that it used to be the Madrid market and many of the side streets around Plaza Major still retain interesting names like Calle de Botoneros (Button Makers Street), Calle de Fresa (Strawberry Street),Calle de Cuchilleros (Knife Makers Street).

Madrid stole my heart. It is a beautiful city with a lot to offer. If you ever get to visit Madrid make sure you spend a couple of nights there so that you can visit the beautiful towns of Segovia and Toledo just outside of Madrid.

My trip to Spain left me mesmerised. It is such a magical country and I am still in love with Spanish guitar music.

My Costa del Sol Gallery

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