It feels like I have a moment to settle in after the craziness of planning the wedding, the day itself, flying off for our Spain honeymoon, and landing back to earth straight into a bustling work season. Last week was our already our “one month” wedding anniversary, which sounds ridiculous because I swear it just happened.
My first “married” photo taken on my HTC phone. This was taken on my birthday on August 30th while we were at the JFK airport for our honeymoon.
The plan, which really was “unplanned” as I barely had time to organize a trip itinerary, was Spain for 11 days and 4 cities. Working with a travel agent, I told her that I wanted to visit the beach, Sevilla, Madrid, and Barcelona – in that order. So long as we had our hotel, flight, and train tickets, J & I would figure out the rest when we arrived at each city.
Our first stop was the Marbella area, which is off the Costa del Sol and in the southern Andalucia region. We flew into the Malaga Airport where a driver picked us up and dropped us off in Guadalmina, the peaceful outskirts of Marbella.
Our hotel, the Guadalmina Spa and Golf Resort, was still roughly 30 minutes away from the main Marbella downtown. But we couldn’t complain about the beautiful beach view that we woke up to every morning.
When we tired of the beach and its rocky sand, the poolside view was pretty nice, too. Even though there wasn’t much excitement going on in this area, it was the perfect backdrop for our first few lazy days in Spain.
After lounging for the first two days, we were ready to venture out into Marbella. Our hotel concierge recommended stopping by Puerto Banus, the glittering Costa del Sol port en route to Marbella.
It was fun strolling through the city and port area and I was happy to finally put my camera to use on the trip. The downside about traveling as a pair is that it is difficult to take photos together and I don’t want to risk someone running off with my dslr, especially in popular European cities where purse snatching or pick-pocketing is common. However, for some rare moments of solitude and to capture scenic shots, I brought along a portable tripod. As there weren’t too many tourists wandering around the dock area, J & I couldn’t resist taking some snapshots of us.
It would drizzle on and off throughout the day, but it was still warm outside and didn’t stop us from enjoying downtown Puerto Banus and its high-end shops and lovely, narrow alleyways that felt very Mediterranean.
I snapped this Dior storefront while waiting for J to shop in Boggi, an Italian men’s boutique. He wound up buying Italian style Converse shoes, with a sole design of the Milan Metro map. Little did I know that this would be one of J’s many excited fashion purchases on our Spain trip.
We hopped back on the bus and another 15 minutes later, we finally arrived in Marbella’s downtown. We wandered through Marbella’s historic area, which was rustic and charming with its alleyways, restaurants, cafes, and garden plazas. The rest of the city looked a bit more modern so it was cool that the city dedicated the “Antigua” area to remain like old Europe. The experience of drifting from one alley and narrow street opening up to several others and plazas was very reminiscent of my time in Paris and Italy.
J and I were craving to venture out for dinner for our last night in Marbella, as we were also tired of the hotel food. Per the information desk worker’s suggestion, we were excited to try our first taste of Spanish tapas at the Taberna La Nina de El Pisto. After going around in a few circles trying to read the street signs, which are posted on the building walls in varying fonts and sizes, we squeezed ourselves into a narrow alleyway where we finally found the restaurant.
When in Spain, just know that you will not eat dinner until 9pm, or 8pm if you’re lucky. Although I read in advance about the siesta break that many businesses take between the 2pm to 8pm time frame, we were still dismayed when the owner told us that we had to come back “around 8 or 8:30.” Luckily, the Plaza de la Victoria was right next door, where we sat at the Chocolate Y Churros outdoor cafe for some drinks and people watched. Tourist-watched is more accurate, as we encountered several British and French tourists roaming the Marbella area throughout the day.
When it was finally dinnertime, J & I returned to hover at the front door of the Taberna La Nina de El Pisto at exactly 8:30pm. Of course, we turned out to be the very first customers, but hungry people do not have room in their belly to feel embarrassed. The waiter handed us the menu and it was entirely in Spanish, filled with a lengthy amount of tapas. In Spain, food can be ordered in varying sizes such as the pincho (tapas), media (slightly larger), or racion (full entree sized). It’s like the tapas form of the Starbucks tall, venti, and grande. I stuck with ordering the standard tapas size, which turned out to be quite generous as our four orders filled us up.
We sampled the sweet and salty Aubergines with honey (fried eggplant), lightly breaded and succulent calamares frites (fried calamari), crisp and creamy croquetes de jamon (fried roll with ham filling), and solomillo iberico al vino oloroso (Iberian pork braised in a sweet red wine). The jamon was incredibly tender and the savory wine sauce made the dish a hearty comfort food in the drizzly weather, very much like an Asian beef ragu or stew. The battered aubergine, croquette, and calamari were satisfyingly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I washed down the delicious and hearty food with a copa de tinto, a cup of house red wine. Drink as the Spanish drink, which is plenty of vino.
We took a taxi home that night as we needed to go home and pack for trek to Sevilla the next day. During the 20 minute drive back, J nodded off in the car while I chatted it up with our driver Manolo the entire way in Spanish. We exchanged stories about the tourists who came to Marbella, the best night clubs in town, and living in California. Before he dropped us off at the Guadalmina hotel entrance, I told him we had just gotten married and he smiled and taught me how to say the best phrase I learned throughout the trip. “Viaje de Novios” – honeymoon.
Guadalmina Spa and Golf Resort: Urbanización Guadalmina Baja, SN 29678 Marbella. Málaga. (+34) 952 88 22 11
Boggi: c/Rivera Local 7 – Casa P, Puerto Banus.
Plaza de la Victora: 29600 Marbella (Málaga)
Taberna La Nina de El Pisto: Calle San Lazaro, 2, Marbella. (+34) 633 43 00 22