The Málaga Province: Sierra y Costa

Taking advantage of the latest in Spain’s interminable list of puentes (literally “bridges” or long weekends), the Immaculate Conception and the 1978 post-Franco constitution being the occasions this past weekend, Esme and I went southeast to the province of Málaga. With her aunt and her aunt’s boyfriend, we first hiked a 13-mile route in the Serranía de Ronda, near the clifftop town of the same name, then headed south to the aunt’s apartment in Marbella. While only about an hour of windy mountain passes separate Ronda from Marbella, the contrast couldn’t be starker. The Ronda mountains offered quiet isolation, chilly autumn air, and roaming herds of goats, amid a forest of pinsapo pine, a species unique to the microclimate of this mountain range. Just south in Marbella, a distinct Mediterranean microclimate of 72 and sunny all the time meant the small, impressively florid old town was overrun with pasty anglos (most of whom are actually ex-pats, not tourists). From virgin mountainsides to the most stereotypically inviting Spanish beach city in under an hour, just another one of Andalucía’s endless contrasts. Ah, and let’s not forget the pescaito frito, the traditional fried fish dish which rightfully dominates Málaga’s coastal menus, and was not absent from our visit.

Serranía de Ronda

Detail of the pinsapo, which only exists in the Sierra de Ronda and the Sierra de Grazalema (though there are purportedly a handful of specimens in northern Morocco)

Serranía de Ronda

Late afternoon in the mountains of Ronda

Marbella's boardwalk

Marbella's old town

Marbella's old town under Christmas decorations, with the mountains in the background

The view of the lighthouse and Mediterranean Sea from Esme's aunt's apartment in Marbella

Another shot of the lighthouse

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~ by lincolnbrody on December 10, 2009.

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