Wednesday, 27 April 2016

What is Free in Sotogrande

The drifting mist that has veiled the Rock of Gibraltar is slowly dissipating like a curtain before a show. The thick layer of shapeless clouds is gradually breaking up, allowing a patch of blue sky to peak through. The calm sea waters of the Mediterranean was heaving softly as it danced with the gently blowing trade-wind.

There by the crags where we stood in trance are some of the few pleasures in life that we do not have to pay for - the sea, the sky and the wind in our faces. But these are perhaps the only things that we can get for free in Sotogrande, the Spanish luxurious holiday estate of the super rich and powerful.

Tucked away from the cheap seaside resorts that dot along the Costa del Sol and the rural villages that overlook them, the estate has an air of exclusivity that attracts its high end market. When the property markets crashed in Spain, the house prices in Sotogrande remained stable.

Money likes to clothe itself in respectability. Around the neighbourhood, we walked along streets that are lined with palm trees and admired a huge collection of boats docked around the marina that hugs the coast. We followed the sea going inland through a canal that goes through the back of the houses where more boats are moored. Along the sea front are a selection of bars, restaurants and artisan shops buzzing with activities. It was such an an idyllic setting you almost forget that you are in Andalusia, one of the poorest regions in Europe.

Sotogrande is quite popular amongst tourists, fascinated perhaps by the the lifestyle of the worldly, and have found it charming. But there is very little of Spain within it and I've always preferred the simple attractions of its much poorer neighbours. It's still a worthy place to visit, even if its just to enjoy the free pleasure of looking out to the sea and sky and feel the wind on your face. 

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