Marvelous Marbella and Ronda
Celebrating birthdays in Europe is pretty much the greatest, considering the potential to spend your special day traveling to fabulous new places. This year, I rang in my 23rd birthday in Sevilla with friends, botellóning by the Guadalquivir and then dining at one of our favorite tapas places in the city, Levies. But, to cap it all off, that weekend, my friend Linnaea and I set off for the province of Malága to explore two cities that had been on my bucket list for ages: Marbella and Ronda.
Marbella isn’t exactly known as the center of Spanish culture, as it’s usually flooded with tourists, mostly British, many of whom own mansions and yachts in the southern beachside town. (Speaking of which, one beggar in Sevilla has a sign that says, “Need money for my mansion and yacht in Marbella.” Win.) Nonetheless, I was curious to check it out and more than happy to spend a warm day relaxing on Marbella’s beaches. Plus, getting to Marbella by taxi is a cinch.
The town turned out to be adorable and picturesque, with lots of traditional Andalucían architecture (whitewashed buildings, flowerpots hanging from balconies). The beach we arbitrarily chose to spend the afternoon on was mediocre as far as beaches go, although I’d imagine with a bit more guidance we’d find some spectacular Costa del Sol beaches in the city. Along the water is a fun boardwalk, bursting with life, where I was taken back to childhood memories in Hawaii upon discovering a Del Sol, a shop I was obsessed with around age 10.
That evening, Linnaea and I found a restaurant near our hotel, where we enjoyed delicious tapas and wine, taking in Marbella’s pleasant weather and laid-back atmosphere. We wandered around town, finding a bar with €1 wine (insanely cheap wine is definitely one of the things I’ll miss most about Spain), where we also started up a conversation with a group of British guys who were in Marbella for a bachelor party. They were incredibly entertaining, and we joined them walking around the town and wound up in an Irish pub, discussing our lives, imitating their accents, and generally having a grand time. There’s nothing like the friends you make traveling!
The next day, we took a bus to nearby Ronda and spent the day, as all great travel days should be spent, aimlessly wandering on foot. The most striking aspect of Ronda is undoubtedly its sharp cliffs overlooking a green canyon and the tall, ancient bridges spanning from cliff to cliff. It’s an absolutely gorgeous and charming city to lose yourself in, especially when you begin to wander off the beaten path and along the poppy-filled hillsides.
It kind of blows my mind how many amazing towns are scattered throughout Andalucía. One could spend months traveling from town to town and never get enough of the region. If there’s one part of Spain you can’t miss, it’s Andalucía, and the towns of Málaga, including Marbella and Ronda, are two must-sees on any journey around the south of Spain.