Benvinida a espann’a! (welcome to Spain!) I am a so excited to tell you about this little puebulo (town) I visited in Spain called Benalmandena, it’s a little town about 8 train stations away from the city of Malaga.
It was really nice to experience the suburbia of Spain. Last year I visited mainly major cities Barcelona and Madrid. This town is smaller, it’s the ‘real’ Spain so to speak. It has a great deal of tourism specifically a lot of visitors from England and Sweden. Most own apartments in this area and along Malaga coast. Visitor come for the summer holidays every year to soak up the 35 degree sun shine.
My Tia (Aunty in spanish) and Tio (Uncle) that live in Sweden own an apartment in Benalmadena. Which had the classic white brick look, built on a cliff, with a beautiful view. What is really interesting about this town is that it existed 800BC. Even though now it’s mainly known for it’s beaches, water theme park and shopping, there’s more to it than that.
The first people to occupy the area were an ancient settlement of Iberian people who started the mines. Archeological remains have actually been found, in the what is now know as the bird park to wards the coastal part of the town. In 200BC the Romans used the coast to spear for fish. They would salt the fish and used this rare food to trade. One of the Roman salting villas is still in tact.
In 800BC it was occupied by the phoenician, they mined the area for iron and okra. Later on for 774 years in was inhabited by Arabs who used the mines to mine for silver. They also named the areas Benalmadena which means “The sons of the mines”. The only remains of the riches is a well built town with beautiful fountains and marble foot paths.
Other than a history lesson what can you find to do there? Well a lot, like I said there are your standard beach days, however taken up one notch. The Spanish certainly know how to find luxury in the simplest places. Why not rent a giant bed on the bed or a swinging hammock?
If your after a little more adventure than that on the beach, how about a pedal boat with a slide? I have to say this was really good exercise and so much fun. We spend a good hour diving, sliding and swimming in the deep ocean. Defiantly worth the 16 euro for 5 people to enjoy.
After you burn all your energy swimming don’t forget to get your seafood dose. Fresh from the sea there’s cheap eats all the way along the water from. BBQ sardines, garlic prawns, mussels, grilled fish, anything your heart desires!
My tip if you ever get to go there, is visit a chinguito not a restaurant. A Chingitio is just a small bar/ café. The service isn’t that great but the food is equivalent to what you would order in any other restaurant and half the price.
We spend equally the amount of time eating out as we did dinning in at the apartment. It just so happens between my aunty, cousin and I we had enough favourite Latin/Spanish dishes to whip up for the family. Accompanied with a nice glass of Spanish red wine and there’s a gourmet meal right there. Buen provecho! (Bon appetite).
In Benalmadena you can also find the Mariposario (butter fly park). It was beautiful to see native butterfly’s of all colours and sizes blue, red, orange. The butter fly park is enclosed in a slightly air-conditioned glass house. I say slightly, because even though it was cooler in doors than being outside sweating in the heat of the sun. The glass house was still hot and extremely humid, however it was 35 degrees outside and had been for the past 7 days in a row. I wasn’t going to complain.
I found it amusing that when taking the tour of the park, they touted they even have an Australian wallaby in the garden, a turtle and goanna. Now how did a wallaby get to the spectacle of a Spanish animal sanctuary I never know? The wallaby seemed happy enough roaming around the giant garden with the butterflies and of course with a lot of non-Australia tourists taking pictures.
The butterflies in all there beauty only live for 20-30 days. They bread and die in such a short period of time. It’s sad that something so lovely can’t hang around for any longer. I did make it my mission to try and catch one on the edge of my nose. I failed miserably! However my cousin did get one to sit on her finger. So I guess it’s just the luck of the draw.
If you ever decide you want a soul cleansing experience then how about visiting the local Budda temple. The giant temple has a spectacular view looking down to the coastal line and in the reverse a picturesque view of the mountain range behind it. The building itself is impressive, white, irregular shape of the surrounding landscape and dominating. So of course giving everything a try, my cousin and I decided to part take in a Spanish mediation class. It turned out to be a combination of controlled breathing and chanting desayos (wishes) in Tebetan.
The key message of the class this time was for every one candle lit, it has the ability to light many candles. Giving ourselves to others in service or kindness does not take away our light. In fact it helps to light others and makes our light stronger. I thought that was a fabulous message to take way, I hope you did too?
Addressing more materialistic things, if you’re into shopping then you will have to travel to near by bigger towns like Torremolinos. Here you can find one long street that winds down hill through the city down to the coast. Along the way you can purchase Pina coladas at the ice cream shop (Yes I know I was surprised too!). We decided on coconut and mango milk shakes instead.
Needless to say I have run into the same problem I do every time when I travel. Lots of bargain buys but minimal space in my bags! So halfway through my trip now bags are over loaded and there are so many more things to see and do. Next stop is Valencia, it’s here where we get to throw tomatoes at unsuspecting strangers at the Tomatina festival. Again the excitement is hard to contain, I have heard it’s a blast!