Spain’s “sun coast” has an enviable location fenced off from the rest of the Iberian peninsula by a mountain range, which keeps the excessive heat of summer and cold of winter away from this strip along the sea. As Northern Europeans discovered the area, it was developed as a vacation and winter home spot. Many housing developments which started with a view of the sea were hemmed in by ever taller ones. Some would say the coast was over built and some of the folks involved in the out-of-control construction who turned a blind eye to zoning regulations are now in jail.
Our ship docked in Malaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol. We were the only ship in port today, but it looks like they are expecting many more. The port facilities are quite lavish already, but the area was dotted with bulldozers and construction cranes, making it even more so. Malaga had a mixture of the old colonial architecture and stylish modern buildings and appeared affluent, but our guide deplored the 20% unemployment in Spain, which is even higher here. Malaga is the birthplace of Picasso so of course he has a museum here, but our guide seemed even prouder of local boy made good Antonio Banderas.
We traveled into the countryside and up the mountainside to visit Mijas, a town that handled the tourist development with a little self control. All the buildings are low and white washed and brightly colored doors and window frames give the place a cheery feeling. Bougainvillea and jasmine hung over the walls and a park along the edge of the town provided great overlooks to the overdevelopment below us on the coast. Cafes and restaurants were intermingled with tourist shops and folks were sitting outside eating tapas and enjoying the fine day. Although the town was easy to walk by foot, there were many donkeys on duty ready to take us around in carts or on their backs.