Southern Spain: We Could Get Used to This

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | Marbella, Spain (map)

Spain's Marbella Club Hotel: now those are some nice digs.
The second leg of our trip with Jacqueline's family took us from Marrakech to southern Spain.

We planned to stay outside Marbella, the nightlife capital of Spain's Costa del Sol, where a Powers family friend owns a condo. However, when the airline misplaced our bags—including the one with the condo's keys inside—Jacqueline's dad Jeff picked up the phone. A few calls and an hour later, we pulled into the swanky Marbella Club Hotel, for decades an exclusive beachfront retreat of Europe's rich and famous. Framed black-and-whites of Spanish royalty lined the walls of the reception; our room came stocked with a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries and fresh fruits. This was a lot better than any "Plan B" I might have come up with (as Jacqueline was quick to point out).

* * *

The next day, after several hours' waiting at the Málaga airport, we moved into the condo, located just down the coast from Marbella in San Pedro de Alcántara. The family relaxed on the porch that
evening, overlooking the ocean with the Rock of Gibraltar in the distance, while Jacqueline and I prepared a paella in the kitchen. (Ever since our last trip to Spain, I've been obsessively perfecting my paella recipe in Rabat, in order to provide Jacqueline and myself with a break from the Moroccan food.)

Luckily, this time the dish turned out fairly well, and the whole family seemed to appreciate a break from dining out. The six of us made a dent in the dish, but because I had cooked enough to feed a small army, the paella's role in our travels had only just begun.

* * *

For the next several days, we sampled the coast around Marbella, relaxing, swimming, and reading at places like Bora Bora Beach (distinguished by crooning lounge singers and flabby, older, mostly British holidayers) and Nikki Beach (distinguished by all-day house music and tanned, young, mostly British holidayers).

After a lunch of sushis, salads, seafood, and chilled wine beside the ocean, Jeff gave Nikki Beach his highest honor: "You know what sucks about this place?" he asked us, then paused, a smile on his lips. "Absolutely nothing!"

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