Winter sun has never really featured in my yearly plans. The typical summer holiday is always a must and pre-baby Mr.R and I were rather fond of the odd city break (Manchester and Edinburgh always topping the list). This year however after a manic couple of months which saw us celebrate our daughters first birthday and open a new business (and with Christmas looming), we decided now was the time to grab a bit of winter sunshine! I’m not going to lie, this holiday was exactly what we needed and we really lucked out with the weather (November in Spain can be a little hit or miss)! We ate, we drank, we shopped. We visited each and every one of my favourite spots and yes we did the ultimate holiday activity…we watched Highlander and Bird On A Wire (maybe that ones peculiar to us – don’t knock it till you try it guys)!
What We Got Up To – Where To Explore
Having travelled to the South of Spain since the age of 9 months (coincidentally exactly the same age as Luna was on her first visit), I feel particularly well placed to recommend the things to do and places to see! But (and it’s quite a big but) if you’re after a guide to archaeological sites or want to know just what one wears to a pool party at the Ocean Club then this might not be for you! On the other hand, if shopping, eating and just generally chilling out is your bag then read on…
- Puerto Banus
Puerto Banus is my happy place. Look I know it’s not for everyone but in my mind, there’s nothing like sitting with a glass of wine watching all that life has to offer stroll by! The shopping is fantastic and contrary to popular legend isn’t confined to high end or luxury. All of my favourites are there – Zara, Massimo Dutti, Uterqüe as well as the huge department store El Corte Inglés for niche and premium brands, beauty and the shoe hall of dreams! Grab a coffee at Goyo and lunch at Picasso’s (which FYI was closed for refurbishment when we were there – how very rude). I’m a huge fan of ‘The Port’ during the day. Evenings, on the other hand, aren’t really my bag which leads me nicely on to…
When we first discovered Benahavís it was a tiny little village nestled in the hills, accessible only by a winding potholed road – authentic and gorgeous. Today the road has been widened and tarmaced. The roundabouts have water fountains to rival Las Vegas and the restaurants have multiplied by five! But to me, this is still the prettiest, most atmospheric place and the restaurants are almost universally good! Try Los Abanicos for steak and Rufino for the best prawn pill pill in the world!
- San Pedro Market
You can’t go to Spain and not enjoy a mooch around a traditional market. This market is so authentic and you can get your essentials for far less than the much more commercial and ‘touristy’ market at Puerto Banus. We paid 2 euros for a huge bag of olives and 6 for a whole kilo of sweeties (yes we did scoff the lot)!
- Olivia’s La Cala
The latter half of my pregnancy was marked by the Rio Olympics and Elliot Wright – Playa In Marbella! For the uninitiated let me explain. The programme centres around Elliot Wright (cousin to Mark of TOWIE fame) and the ups and downs of opening a new bar/restaurant in Spain. For obvious reasons Mr.R and I were glued to this particular ITV Be spectacular and we couldn’t resist paying Olivia’s a cheeky visit! The fact that Elliot – fresh from honeymoon made an appearance was the icing on the cake!
- The Bullring Market
Expensive and commercialised it may be but the Saturday market at the Bullring Puerto Banus is a must visit! The bricks and mortar stores on the plaza at the very top of the market are always worth a visit and don’t forget to start the day right – with a slap-up breakfast from Yanx…the triple stacked pancakes are to die for!
What I Bought
I had such good intentions of getting a good start on my Christmas shopping on this holiday but, (much like Black Friday) things rapidly went downhill when I spied a blazer… and a camisole (or maybe two)! I hit Zara, Massimo (you know what a soft spot I have for Massimo) and one of the aforementioned shops at the Bullring. Gunnels is a gorgeous little boutique with brands such as Wildfox, Twist and Tango and Samsøe ⏀ Samsøe! I couldn’t resist adding to my gold bangle stack and when I spied the lace camisole of dreams it was a done deal (despite the fact that it has given me serious underwear issues – the post-breastfeeding boobs are definitely not up to braless these days)! I did rather better on the Christmas shopping front for Luna! I may have gone a little crazy in Neck & Neck (a gorgeous Spanish baby boutique) but it’s just beyond me to resist all those teeny tiny sweaters and lace trimmed shirts!
As you have probably gathered, Spain for me is a bit of a home from home and I have a very concise and particular list of what I like to do and the places I like to visit. For me, its simply a little slice of heaven, a retreat and the most special of special places! Winter sun is definitely the way forward and the only downside I can think of is that as soon as we stepped off the plane in Newcastle, we were hit with the realisation that Christmas is just around the corner and, despite the very best of intentions my Christmas shopping isn’t quite as advanced as I had hoped! Are you a fan of the winter getaway? Whats your favourite holiday hotspot for a little winter fun in the sun?