Fly.com is delighted to report that David Wishart, a well-known international travel writer, has joined our guest blogger team as its cruise expert. David has extensive journalism experience and has been writing about travel for over 20 years. His work has appeared in various publications around the world, including the Los Angeles Times, the Toronto Star, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times. He is also well versed in all things pertaining to cruise vacations, with more than 200 sailings under his belt. We hope you enjoy this first post about Marbella. Be sure to check back in with us for some more insightful reviews from his travel exploits.
How good is Marbella in Spain?
Well, when I started travel writing more than 20 years ago the other guys were doing mostly budget travel, so I went the other route. Like turning left when I got on airplanes. I mean, someone has to drink the champagne.
My focus was on the best places, and I tracked them down one by one. It was tough, I can tell you – St Tropez, Sydney, Hong Kong and Whistler, but I stuck at it. Then, because I was also doing lots of cruising (and that’s not hard to take either) and cruise ships are built in Europe, I decided to base myself there.
And where did I choose? Marbella.
It’s not paradise – that does not exist on this planet, at least not on a flight schedule – but it’s not bad.
Like it has 320 days of sunshine a year, with an average daily temp of 65 °F. It is also very cosmopolitan, meaning almost everyone speaks English.
Getting there is a breeze as well, which is important whether you are a resident or a tourist. And although my job means I live like a tourist all the time, I can tell you being in Marbella is so beneficial it really does make me feel as if I am on vacation, without any effort.
What you need to know:
The closest airport is Malaga, about 35 minutes away on good roads. Cheapest way to get there is to bag an economy return to somewhere like Madrid or Dublin, then a budget flight to Malaga (do not fly to London Heathrow because connecting flights go from London Gatwick).
If you are rich or your dad is paying, stay at the Marbella Club Hotel. If not, get on the internet.
The best place to eat is Zozoi in Marbella’s old town and, for fish, Chinales in nearby San Pedro (both have lots of charm). As many tourists are British, curry restaurants are abundant, with my favorites being Bollywood and Bangkok Thai. The Polo House, run by Princess Diana’s former lover James Hewitt, also makes for a good night out.
Nightlife happens at Puerto Banus, but if your dad is with you send him to Beaky’s Gig just on the other side of San Pedro.
For the best value try a chiringuito, or beach bar, such as Victor’s, and you can rent a lounger just a few feet from the warm, gentle Mediterranean. Some girls go topless too – changed days from the Franco regime when even bikinis were banned. Lore has it that a Spanish policeman who told an English girl that two-piece swimsuits were not allowed was told, “Well officer, which piece would you like me to take off?”
Although Marbella is more upmarket, and less overbuilt than other resorts nearer to the airport, I like to head down to chic Sotogrande, which has a fine marina, and some carry on to the historic rock of Gibraltar – but there is a border post and you need a passport to enter. Tarifa, not far away, has superb wind-surfing beaches and a ferry that skims to Tangier in 30 minutes. You can do Africa for lunch!
Finally, a bit of paradise that does exist – Marbella’s golf courses. There are 50 within a day’s drive but you don’t really have to go beyond what is known as the Golf Valley up the road from Puerto Banus. Aloha is best by far, but Los Naranjos and La Quinta won’t disappoint (Las Brisas is currently under renovation).