Yes folks, we’re going to start our review of Andalusia’s highlights with Marbella & Puerto Banus, the places you need to be seen if you’re rich (and want everyone to know about it), a fashion victim or Russian. We don’t fall into any of those categories but we were curious so we went to see what all the fuss was about.
As far as I can tell, Puerto Banus is actually a part of Marbella and not a separate entity. The marina was created by developer Jose Banus (a big friend of dictator Franco) and opened in May 1970. It was always intended to be a luxury marina and shopping area for the rich and famous, which is why the Aga Khan, Roman Polanski, Hugh Hefner and the Monaco royal family, amongst others, attended the opening. Some reports suggest the King of Saudi has a berth here along with several more of the world’s more privileged individuals. I’m sure we passed a few of them sitting quietly in the bars watching the world go by or playing dominoes, jumping up occasionally to shake the hand of a pal cruising past in his Ferrari. They looked pretty relaxed.
Ignoring the richness littering the streets, this is a nice place for a few hours wander. The prices in the shops are so crazy that there’s little chance the other half will be off on a shopping spree. The restaurants and bars are reasonably priced for the location and the two we tried served decent enough food. The main attraction is the marina with room to park 915 boats ranging from 8-50m in length. You get some nice views looking over the marina with the boats in the foreground, houses in the middle and mountains as a backdrop to it all.
Of course, there’s boats and there’s BOATS. If you don’t have two million to rub together, you park your dingy here;
If you do have two million you park here;
When you’ve finished strutting your watery stuff, you need to start strutting your vehicular stuff. There’s one street that runs the length of the marina and its access is restricted by barriers operated by police. Here it is;
At least they had the good sense to get a the plate “Bling V”.
There were two pieces of street artwork I liked a lot in Puerto Banus. The first is a statue of “Don Juan” that stands, appropriately enough, at the entrance to the harbour – “Rogues and womanisers welcome here!”;
The other stands in the middle of a small roundabout at the entrance to the ‘village’ as you come off the A-7. It is a 3 ton (3,600 kg) statue of a rhinoceros created by Salvador Dali in 1956 and placed in Puerto Banus in 2004 thanks to the generosity of Lorenzo Sanz, prezes of Real Madrid. Its official name is “Rinoceronte vestido con puntillas” (Rhino dressed in lace) and is one of eight in the world, I believe. The inspiration came, apparently, from one of his own surrealist films and from the painting “The Lacemaker” by Vermeer. Amongst Dali’s wealth of hang-ups was a bit of an obsession with rhinos, notably in the 1950s when he painted his subjects as composed of rhinoceros horns, signifying divine geometry (as the rhinoceros horn grows according to a logarithmic spiral) and chastity (as Dalí linked the rhinoceros to the Virgin Mary). Each to their own, that’s what I say!
We shall leave Puerto Banus with its divine geometry and move on to Marbella itself. We didn’t spend long here, one evening was all, so this will be short. Here’s the family celebrating the fact that we eventually found a place to park the car!
From what we could see, Marbella consists primarily of a sea front promenade along which everyone perambulates. Like this;
To the other side are a terrible lot of apartments, hotels, shops and more restaurants. The shops were closed – hurrah! We walked along the prom and then turned in and found a nice looking Italian restaurant away from all the bustle where we sat, relaxed, ate and drank. As the sun sank slowly in the West, we made our way back to the car park and from there back to our hotel.
Stay tuned for more Andalsuian tales!