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Remembering Fuengirola & the Costa Del Sol

Too much of travelling – if there is ever such a thing – over decades seems to have taken a toll on my memory. When I travelled in the late nineties and early naughts, it was a time when we didn’t have digital cameras as readily available as now. Mobile phones were just becoming affordable for the ordinary man/woman/kid, and travelling was done without the number of gadgets we have nowadays. Not to mention, no Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to instantly update the progress of these journeys. While being “disconnected” had a charm of its own, because I never made notes or kept a diary – something that I do now – I realised that I have forgotten a lot about the places and people from these trips. Here I am trying to remember a little of the forgotten past… 

After the first in the series featured Melbourne, Australia it is now time to head on to sunny Spain and the beach town of Fuengirola. A trip with a couple of friends, taken in 2003, we toured around the Costa del Sol soaking in the sights with the sun in tow. Memories might have faded over time, but I still remember some episodes, others I better not disclose, and those that are lost, must have been for a reason;

I remember our little apartment in Fuengirola that we rented; cosy, with a pool that we never used considering the beach, was a stone’s throw away, and views of the Mediterranean in the short-distance blocked in patches by apartment complexes.

I remember that on a good day if I were to squint my eyes, I could actually see Africa.

I remember the anxiety that initially took over me, as this was the first time I was driving in a foreign country and that too on the “other” side.

I remember burning rubber as I tried to go uphill on the first day of driving. Over the next few days, I eased up and was quite confident as long as my friend kept reminding me that I have to drive on the right side.

I remember driving to Gibraltar (we parked in Spain and crossed on foot) and thankfully having a visa for the UK.

I remember crossing the tarmac to enter Gibraltar right after a plane had landed… How cool is that!

I remember being a little disappointed because Gibraltar came across as more industrial and lacked the glamour and beauty of being near the sea.

In Gibraltar, I actually witnessed one of those flash sales where they sell lesser known products for real cheap prices and most of the time they turn out to be fakes or broken. Thankfully, I didn’t bid high enough to get anything.

I remember climbing up the Rock of Gibraltar. Or wait, I think, on the way up we took the tram/car and walked back down?

I remember the monkeys – a whole bunch of them – at the Rock. They were the type of cheeky and snatchy monkeys one isn’t always fond of.

I remember the long traffic jam that we got stuck in on the way back.

I remember the lazy days spent at the beach just relaxing, talking, taking it easy.

I remember the pirated CD sellers coming over to sell music CDs every day at the beach. Evanescence and Justin Timberlake were the popular chart-toppers around that time.

I remember the warm summer water of the Mediterranean, perfect for a swim and the bright sun that didn’t leave you cold upon leaving the sea.

I remember beaches being clothing-optional, most were only topless, but family beaches nevertheless.

I remember it was the first time I had a heat rash in my life. It was pretty unusual and moderate, but later, in the following years, it would develop into something severe and a lot more uncomfortable.

I remember driving to the beautiful town of Mijas and visiting my very first bullfight arena. No fights, just the stadium.

Mijas was a quaint small village in the hills about forty-five minutes drive from Fuengirola and presented with some spectacular views especially of the white-washed house clusters all around.

I remember the day trip to Marbella, with its famous beaches and grand affluent lifestyle.

I remember doing the touristy thing and taking the little train ride through the city. It really is the playground of the rich and the famous.

I remember the late night, or rather, early morning clubbing. Hopping from one place to another and experiencing the real advantages of a happening, seaside town. It had been a few years since college, and although my body wasn’t as adaptive to the change in the scene, it was still great fun.

I remember this one shot that should have knocked me out after a couple of glasses, but I ended up having 5-6 and feeling fine. It was called Salmiakki – I didn’t remember the name and had to ask my friend for the same.

If memory recalls, there might have been some international drunk dialling after all the shots, so maybe it did hit me eventually.

I remember meeting a female bartender in one of the clubs who happened to be half Goan (Indian connection).

I fondly remember getting a lap dance in front of everyone in the club from one of the performing dancers. They go from club to club doing “performances” every night.

I don’t remember seeing much because she removed my glasses – making me pretty much blind – and my friend had to fetch them for me after the performance. There’s a video on an old Nokia phone of that somewhere.

I remember telling tales to a guy who was trying to hit on my friend that the reason she could not leave with him was that she was my “real” half-sister. He was too drunk and too confused by the end of it but still bought us a few drinks.

I remember the drives along the Costa del Sol, passing through seaside towns, each with white beaches on the right and rampant commercialisation and building of apartments on the left.

I remember visiting the Sea Life Center in Benalmadena, one of the seaside towns we stopped at, which was just like any other Sea Life Center around the world. This one though had a massive pool with stingrays and guests could even feed them.

Also in Benalmadena, I remember taking a boat trip on an authentic Chinese Junk Boat that took us for a cruise into the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, I also vividly recollect that one of the other three co-passengers spent most of the time throwing up.

I remember the Spanish omelette that my resident friend made for us. YUM!

I regretfully remember the Full British Breakfast at one of the beach-side shacks. Now, I always remember to eat only local preparations.

I remember the weekday local market in Fuengirola and parking a good 10 minutes away from it, in a no parking zone. Thankfully, the authorities are lenient on market days.

I remember walking in the busy market full of wonderful food treats, trinkets of local arts and crafts, and of course Spanish football jerseys.

Then, there was the drive to Malaga that we made a few times.

From arriving into the city airport to heading there for some retail therapy, Malaga is a Spanish town full of culture and art and boasts being the birthplace of some prominent celebrities – Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas to name a couple.

I obviously remember doing the tourist rounds of the city, visiting the main shopping areas and the cathedral.

It was in Malaga, I remember that my driving skills were put to the test and I managed with only getting a few locals irritated.

I remember my friends, who made it unique and perfect… you know who you are.

I remember having one of the best times of my life…


  • Andrew Petcher
    Posted 23 January, 17 at 4:54 PM

    Some good stuff there for sure. Like you I have memories that are unsupported by photographs or souvenirs. I find that Google helps a lot, looking at maps and old pictures can soon stimulate the mind.

    • Post Author
      Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 23 January, 17 at 5:05 PM

      Exactly, but felt that I need to jot down the personal memories before they fade away. Thanks

  • Brittany
    Posted 27 January, 17 at 10:49 AM

    What a cool series! I’d love to take part in a flash sale… more for curiosity than to actually get anything. And I never thought of monkeys being in Spain! I wonder if they’re still there.

    • Post Author
      Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 27 January, 17 at 11:56 AM

      Thanks and yeah the flash sales are very interesting. The monkeys were in Gibraltar so technically UK and not Spain but as far as I know they are still there

  • Michaela Harrison
    Posted 27 January, 17 at 3:02 PM

    Thankyou for sharing, it brought back memories. I have been to Torremolinos and Malaga. Travel around Spain for a month I loved it!

  • Bhushavali
    Posted 27 January, 17 at 10:38 PM

    Is there something called too much travelling, most definitely not!!! At times n it’s great to take a break from all gadgets, and spend solo or with your loved one! I visited Spain once and I went to Barcelona! This place looks splendid too. And yeah, switching between left side and right side driving is definitely challenging…

    • Post Author
      Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 28 January, 17 at 2:55 PM

      Cheers! I’m starting to do that a little once in a while and just travel without the need to “update”.

  • Abigail
    Posted 28 January, 17 at 6:42 AM

    Looks like you’ve been to so many amazing spots. Spain is truly a gem for travel lovers! The coastal views and the beaches are on a league of its own!

  • hairtothereblog2
    Posted 28 January, 17 at 7:57 AM

    I love this post! I’ve given so much thought to whether or not I should post my travel stories from so long ago, but have shied away from actually doing it! Your format of posting what you remember is so unique & entertaining. Also, your mention of needing a friend to keep you on the proper side of the road made me giggle. When we’re in right-side driving countries, Brigette has to help me with each turn to ensure I’m turning in the proper direction!

    • Post Author
      Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 28 January, 17 at 2:53 PM

      I’m a pretty good driver but always get tense when it comes to driving on the “wrong side” and yeah turns are a horror for me too. As for travel stories from the past – Go for it!

  • Jean
    Posted 28 January, 17 at 9:39 AM

    Oh I too remember the joy of travelling pre smart phones. It gave you a totally different perspective on life. Loved your flash back to this beautiful town

  • Aleks F.
    Posted 28 January, 17 at 9:47 AM

    Love this post! And thanks for taking us on the journey down memory lane! It’s so great to look back and think about past vacations. Although I do agree it makes it harder especially in the past before the social media and cell phone craze. However, the real benefit of that is being to enjoy a place in a way that I don’t think many of us allow ourselves to do anymore. We all need to disconnect more often in the moment and then just look and remember afterwards!

    • Post Author
      Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 28 January, 17 at 2:52 PM

      I agree. Past summer I went to Switzerland and did very basic research on the net leaving most of it to find out once I was there. Felt great!

  • Sonia
    Posted 28 January, 17 at 9:56 AM

    Travel makes one such an awesome story teller! So you travel full time? Have you revisited any of the places?

    • Post Author
      Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 29 January, 17 at 7:22 PM

      Ah! I wish I could travel full time, or maybe not… I’m not sure really because I like travel but also the everyday life with family I have at home. But yeah, travel makes us all storytellers and each episode comes with a different director.

  • Janine Good
    Posted 28 January, 17 at 12:27 PM

    Great post! Spain is a country that is full of culture and does something for everyone. I have fond memories of Spain and your post spoke to me as I too can compile thoughts of a place and regardless of photographic documentation, they resonate with me. The white beaches in Costa Del Sol sound incredible. Beaches are such a joy and bring relaxation to us. It’s too bad that there is so much development on one side to take away from the tranquility of the beaches themselves though.

    • Post Author
      Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 28 January, 17 at 2:50 PM

      Yes, I guess it’s all prime property and to cater to the tourists sometimes things get looked over. Still, Fuengirola had some nice and not so crowded beaches

  • neha
    Posted 28 January, 17 at 7:16 PM

    You are really lucky that you have such beautiful memories to look back at. And you have a good memory as well 🙂 you seem to remember so much from your trip

  • Wanderlust Vegans
    Posted 14 April, 17 at 3:31 AM

    I love that you are sharing your past memories with us. I can’t believe how much detail you remember. Did you have a memory book already? I love Spain, it is such a beautiful place. We haven’t been here, but we have explore various other places in Spain.

    • Post Author
      Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 15 April, 17 at 4:04 PM

      That’s great and hope you explore the Costa deal Sol. No memory book but just memories and photos help and then whenever I meet my friends who were there with me, we talk about all the things that happened. But I’ve started to forget a lot too.

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  • Bhushavali
    Posted 18 November, 17 at 12:05 AM

    From your archives??? Wow! That’s a nice thing to do. I did a couple of posts of just pictures that I scanned from the prints in the age old photo albums too… Its a nice thing to try remember those travels when photography was a costly affair!!! Absolutely beautiful memories you’ve shared!!!

  • Swati Sam
    Posted 18 November, 17 at 6:03 AM

    Time spent with friends is one of the most amazing times of life. Also, the good old days of photo printing had its own charm. We also tend to eat mostly local stuff.

  • Lisa
    Posted 18 November, 17 at 3:56 PM

    Sounds like you had a very good time! I think having an English breakfast on the Costa del Sol is part of the routine there now! I love Spain and go often. However, I’ve not yet been to Gibraltar, maybe one day!

  • Sherrie
    Posted 18 November, 17 at 6:20 PM

    I remember a wonderful summer spent in Salamanca, but I never made it to the Costa del Sol. It’s definitely on my list for next time! Looks like a fun area to visit.

  • Joanna
    Posted 19 November, 17 at 1:05 AM

    Mijas is my favorite place on Costa del Sol. I spend quite a lot of time there, near Fuengirola, and every time I need a bit of quiet time I go up to Mijas Pueblo. Is such a special place. There are so many beautiful places on Costa del Sol and it seems you have visited a few of them.

  • Jen C.
    Posted 19 November, 17 at 3:34 AM

    So many good memories! I’m glad you were still able to recount them. I understand how you feel when too much travels or those that have small gaps affect ou memories. I rely on photographs and conversations with friends and family to refresh my memory as well!

  • Ami Bhat
    Posted 20 November, 17 at 12:05 PM

    I love the way you have done a throwback to your trip and with such lovely memories. It is funny how you can remember some really tiny details that bring that smile on your face and also, how it sets the whole memory train going.

  • Abhinav Singh
    Posted 22 November, 17 at 1:08 AM

    True. While I abhor too much of social media, I also find it useful to record my journeys as I also tend to forget of my travels details easily. I enjoyed reading this story from your past travels. It paints the picture of another time.

  • Joanna Davis
    Posted 29 January, 18 at 6:53 PM

    I love this area of Costa del Sol, especially because everywhere you go you will find something different. Funegirola is so fortunate to be at the seaside, with a beautiful beach, but also have the mountains behind it, at a no more than 20 minutes drive away. I went to Mijas Pueblo as well and got charmed by its beautiful white houses.

    • Post Author
      Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 29 January, 18 at 6:54 PM

      Awesome, but I hear that it has become too touristy now.

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