Los Altos de Marbella



Nature picture

Travel Log.

Driving to Los Altos

From the UK? Am I serious!? Actually it's not such a bad idea, but only if you have three weeks or more of a holiday, otherwise you don't get enough time actually in Los Altos.

The hard way is to take one of the ferries accross to France and dirve down from there. That is a long way and the French police have evidently learned from their British colleagues what a good revenue collecting business it is diligently speed limits… Preferred, perhaps, is the ferries from Southern England to Nothern Spain. Brittany Ferries do Plymouth-Santander and both Brittany and P & O run Porstmouth-Bilbao route. Both Spanish ports are close to one-another so there is no real difference, but Brittany Ferries is infinitely preferable to P & O and the fares are not that much different. Cost? About 500 Libres return for a car and two passengers in a double bunk cabin, depending upon the time of year, of course.

Run a line through the airlines and hire car alternatives and the ferry is marginally cheaper if you on a three-week trip, for example, but you obviosly have more petrol cost and overnights if you don't choose to drive the 750 miles all in one go.
Many People do that, incidentally, driving off the ferry, exchanging drivers from time to time and 12 hours later they are… exhausted, but here. Much more preferable is o make the journey part of the holiday. We tend to take two nights over it (plus one night on the ferry), stopping one-third of the way down Spain and again two-thirds of the way down. We vary it of course, to see other cities and sometimes don't take the most direct route in order to catch different sights.

But the experience is well worth it. You realise that Spain isn't all whitewashed houses, palm trees and sunshine. The terrain on the way varies widly, from plains to mountain passes, from rolling wheatlands, to serried rows of vineyards to hillsides flooded with olive trees or massive sunflowers. And thouse who get of the ferry and drive south are missing some of the spectacular and unspoiled coastline of the west, Cantabria, Asturias, Galicia. We have often used Paradors to stay in. What are the they? 90 years ago some very astute politician suggested that the best thing to do with the surplus of ancient buildings in Spain was to turn them into governement-run hotels. So you have 5-star hotels in castles, forts, ancient houses, nunneries and monasteries ranging from the ski slopes of the Pyrenees to the beaches of Cadiz. There are over 100 paradors and they are all magnificently furnished and eminently affordable. As a 60+ you qualify for the Golden Years rate may be €70 for a room. Try the website: www.parador.es

And the driving conditions? Apart from having to be careful around Madrid - get on the wrong road and you are doomed! - Spanish road tend to be straight, wide and fairly empty. The tolls can be a pain - I was hit with one for €17 near Vitoria -. The most direct route is Burgos, Madrid, Granada and there is nothing so satisfaying as turning on to the Malaga by-pass and nearing the end of the journey (on the coast road now, as the toll at Calahonda is these days on €6.20).

*We are allway interested in hearing the travel experiencies of others, especially where day trips or tours starting or ending in Marbella are concerned. Write your own Travelloog and send it through. info@losaltosdemarbella.com