In twelve years of visiting the Costa del Sol, despite several attempts, I had never actually managed to reach Estepona. On all previous tries the traffic at San Pedro de Alcántara has literally been at a stand-still, no matter the time of day or day of the week. However, the authorities have finally completed the long-needed and long-awaited by-pass, a tunnel through the town. The notorious delays are now nought but a nightmarish memory.
Come rain or shine I was determined that on this occasion I was going to reach my destination. Naturally, it rained and it rained. Still I was not dispirited. The drive from Benalmádena took less than an hour, with plenty to observe en route, so seemed much faster.
Parking is not the easiest in Estepona as we quickly determined. Thankfully my blue badge permitted us to slot into a disabled parking-bay. Although to obtain this central spot required two laps of the town centre.
Normally an advantage to me as a mobility-impaired chap, the wet marble - in its perilous slippery state - became a slight hazard to the heedless. Thankfully I had foreseen to sport shoes with good grippy soles.
My first priority once out on the streets is to track down a decent cup of coffee. To the caffeine-addict, the wafting aroma of freshly ground beans lured me into a den of iniquity, a café-bar up a side-street. Delicious and cheap - at least compared to the UK (although Swedes might be a tad disappointed as no-one makes coffee like the Swedish, not even the Viennese!).
After a strong café solo (black coffee) I was ready at last to commence shopping proceedings. Cardigans (or jackets or coats for that matter) with patches are de rigeur this winter season in Southern Spain for both sexes. I sourced a linden green cardy with the en vogue patches and wooden toggles, much easier than buttons for my arthritic hands and fingers to cope with.
My companion purchased several items from Baileys, a Spanish chain. It transpires his body-shape suits Hispanic attire better than British, so he invariably stocks up on pants and shirts whilst visiting the Iberian Peninsula.
Our shopping complete and stowed in the boot of the car, we set off to explore more of the town centre. We were not disappointed: we were mesmerised by how individual streets are distinguished - by the use of a specific colour of flower-pot (macetas), some even with polka-dots! The following are a few snaps of some of the calles.
The more we roamed about, the more we felt convinced that Estepona is a smaller and prettier version of Marbella (not to be confused with Brutalist Puerto Banús!). The main square in Estepona is more peaceful, less commercialised and much more verdant than Marbella’s Plaza de los Naranjeros.
For the gay/bi/queer man and any woman with a pulse still attracted to the homoerotic, the menfolk of Estepona are the most handsome we have encountered on the Costa: taller; well proportioned; beautiful skin; charming; and, well dressed. Even the council workers in their overalls cut a dash. Either there is something in the water or there is a distinct local gene-pool. A great place to ogle, leer and just generally window-shop!
Finally we went in search of luncheon. We found a lovely spot on the esplanade to shelter from the large drops of rain. It looked out upon the Rock of Gibraltar. The chef doubled up as gardener and was busy planting cyclamens around his potted palms. I could not help but feel a pang of homesickness for my own garden back in England. On leaving, the chef-gardener gave us a hearty salutation. Bless him! Cooking and gardening: two of the greatest pastimes in this life; both able to give pleasure instantly and on a daily basis.
We dawdled back to the car, loathe to leave such a welcoming place. My friend and I are agreed we shall re-visit Estepona in April. I can hardly wait… %)