Yes yes, I know this is so incredibly overdue, but after starting my internship I spend my downtime zoning out Well, here are some of the pictures from my last two weeks in Spain, a few days of which were spent visiting my friend in Marbella. I had heard over and over again how much Marbella was like the Miami of Spain… how true that is. And Puerto Banus was its South Beach.
It’s not just the beach and the weather that remind me of Miami, but just the whole Marbella culture. One of the biggest culture shocks I got in Miami (despite holding a US passport) was when I went to the supermarket and the checkout lady automatically assumed I spoke Spanish (that, and the fact that they also assumed I was South American). When I apologized (why did I apologize?) and said I couldn’t understand her, she dind’t understand me! This is Florida! What? Same concept in Marbella except the other way around. Everyone in Marbella speaks English and expects others to speak English even though we’re in Spain! I found this more bizarre than the Spanish in Miami. At least in Miami there is a good geographic reason for it. The reason in Marbella? Marbella is a resort town for the rich, mostly British (or other non-Spanish speakers). Actually, I didn’t meet a single Spanish Marbella resident.
In Madrid, where tourists stick out like a sore thumb, it’s the Madrilenos that stick out in Marbella. Even I can pick them out of a crowd. How bizarre it must be to feel out of place in your own country. Although, I can name a dozen places where I’d feel out of my element in the US. In fact, no one in Marbella speaks Spanish! Spanish is a third language there. When we went out to eat, my friend ordered in Spanish and the waiter gave us a confused look, apologized and admitted he didn’t speak Spanish (he was French). I’m not gonna lie though, it was nice to be able to understand what was being said to me instead of communicating in mixed broken Spanish/frantic sign language like I had been doing in Madrid. Even the road signs and advertisements were in English! If I had not known better, I would not have guessed I was still in Spain.
And both cities are extremely superficial and full of good-looking (albeit possibly plastic) people. Lots of yachts, lots of palm trees, cities built on drugs and corruption and a reputation for good nightlife. I even saw a tan, bikini-clad girl on roller blades while I was in Marbella – the similarities are spot on!
Unfortunately, this city known for all its excess sunshine, rained the entire time (with the exception of sporadic 10 minute intervals). Not to mention that it was abnormally cool for the time of year. After four months living Madrid’s winter, I was so looking forward to a sexy Mediterranean beach. Damn. The closest I got to the beach was walking along the boardwalk in my leggings, sweater, umbrella and trench coat… not exactly what I had in mind.
Ok, so rain was going to stop me from enjoying the beach, but what about a sprained ankle? My bad luck knows no bounds (together, my friend and I had been sick 100% of our time in Madrid. Also another reason why the beach sounded so appealing). But physical injury is where I draw the line. A lack of good weather could get in the way, but not my own damn foot. I made sure to rewrap it everyday, twice a day, and carry an arsenal of Ibuprofen wherever I went and all was good (enough). I even managed to walk through the “old city” of Marbella, which was slightly hilly and full of cobblestones. Well done, me. The Old City is beautiful and quaint, and definitely one of the cleaner old cities I had been in. I have a feeling the major draw of rich expats is partly the cause of that. Actually, most of Marbella looks much like anywhere in the US – strip malls, highways, unimpressive buildings. Not to say that it was ugly, because it was not, but in terms of architecture and layout it was nothing special. The only exception to this is the old city, which I found enchanting. I wish I had more time to walk around it, as I only managed to go on my last day there. It still managed to be bright and colourful on a rainy, gloomy afternoon. I didn’t even manage to sit down and have a coffee *sob* would have been perfect, but I had a bus, a train and a taxi to catch back to Madrid.
Out, what about the nightlife you ask? Isn’t Marbella notorious for that? Yes, it is. No, I did not go. If anything, my trip to Spain has realized what an old granny I can be. We were both always too tired to stay up late enough to go anywhere… damn the Spanish and their disregard for sleep. The closest we got was a 10pm Flamenco show (my first and only), which was actually really entertaining despite the fact that there were no seats so we sat on the floor with all the little children (ow, my back). On the bright side, we eluded the cover charge since they didn’t notice us come in. That, and we also ate dinner at the restaurant next to one of the most popular nightclubs in the city (town?) – nothing to brag about obviously, didn’t even manage to drag ourselves to the entrance. We even attempted to stay out as late as we could, but since the clubs don’t get busy until 2am earliest, well… I need my sleep!
Let me get one thing straight, Marbella is by no means unimpressive, quite the opposite. The drive there and back from Malaga is breath-taking. Geographically, it’s more or less what I pictured a Mediterranean Spanish town to look like. Awesome, jagged mountains with beautiful houses perched on cliffs and hills, and a wide beach and a port full of yachts that make me hate my life. I also noticed that old ladies in Marbella have a love of ugly (metallic silver covered in oversized rhinestones), expensive (upwards of 300Euros) shoes, just saying. Overall, there is just something about Miami that has a sleazier quality about it, while Marbella seems a little more upscale and exotic. It could be the Mediterranean climate, the tapas, the culture…. or it could be because I have Europe-goggles on.