The Mediterranean…But Not As You Know It
09’39 on a Monday morning and we are flying out over the shimmering Mediterranean en route back to London after a superb weekend of fun, great food, wonderful sights, incredible wine… and not enough sleep! The question is… where in the world did I enjoy all this?
First let me take you back a couple of Fridays; our little group met at Heathrow, checked in and headed for the BMI lounge to kill time before departure. So, Bloody Mary in hand, we indulge in a bit of celeb spotting as we spy a certain 70 something chap with his entourage of Radio 1 DJ Sarah Cox, and dancing choreographer ‘legend’ Arlene Philips, as they head off to Baku to do our country proud (?!) at the Eurovision song contest.
Four and a half hours later, we arrive at our destination and are whisked through the immigration and with luggage loaded into cars, make the 15 minute transfer to the luxurious Four Seasons hotel. A quick check in and shower, then up to the roof for pre-dinner drinks at the pool come Über cool bar. Very obviously one of the best addresses in this city if the beautiful people on show were anything to go by! We reluctantly leave for dinner Em Sherif, a beautiful if not a little quirky restaurant, where the stunning food, wine and company made for a very nice first evening. Apparently, you need to book this restaurant a few years in advance, one of those sorts of places! Oh, and no menu, you get what the kitchen wants you to eat, but served ‘mezze’ style, offering an incredible array of food to choose from. The entertainment was very ‘local’, but hey, we were making up our own lyrics to the music, so we had fun even though we didn’t have a clue what they were singing about… little things ha!
Day two saw sunshine streaming through the window and a splendid double aspect view from my room onto the marina. I was looking forward to the 3 hour walking city tour, taking in sights of truly historic importance; we checked out gardens, the modern shopping and partying streets and plenty of archaeological digs. One quarter of the city was jammed full of immaculately reconstructed / refurbished colonial buildings, now home to the likes of Gucci, Hermes and Louis Vuitton… there seems to be a lot of money in this city. The churches were grand, the mosques even more so. It was enlightening; we saw skeletons, mosaics, layers of ash showing how parts of the city were raised to the ground in centuries past; the museum displayed ancient remains of tools of war, ceramics and jewels. The tour ended with lunch in a rather trendy bistro type cafe, Tawlet, which offered fabulous fresh food, served buffet style from the open kitchen. I partook in a bottle of the local brew – 971; it was very welcomed after all that walking around in the sunshine. The beer (here’s a clue to my destination) is named after the country’s international dialling code, which I thought summed up the creative nature of the locals pretty well indeed. Some of the group had the chilled, crisp local white wine; I was saving my wine consumption for the scrumptious full bodied red wines to be served at dinner, in the nearby new and very cool marina. A hedonistic lot these locals, eat your heart out Puerto Banus… the beautiful people come here now!
Dinner on our second night concluded with a visit to a place called The Music Hall. OMG! They say never judge a book by its cover, never was a truer word spoken. We walk into a crowded and slightly smoky theatre (smoking not as yet banned in public places… due soon apparently). The stage was huge with ornate gold surrounds and red velvet curtains; seating was at tables – a cabaret style venue from times gone by. It was noisy, surreal, packed, but it had the best vibe ever! That hedonistic ‘gene’ was evident here too… It seems that everyone in this town just loves a party! The cabaret was completely random, with local artists singing everything from incomprehensible (to me anyway) songs that got the crowd going wild, to what looked like the guy from the ‘Go Compare’ ads singing in Spanglish; right through to 1970′s favourites. We tried to compile the evening’s play list, simply because it was so incredibly off the wall! This was a party night which, when we left at 2am was still going strong with the locals doing YMCA one minute to bopping to an Arabic duo with long beards singing what sounded like heavy metal Arab songs the next! This is a concept that we should bring to London, awesome!
There is still more to tell and part two of my blog will let you into the location of all this amazing culture, fun and fabulous food. But if you think you know let’s have your suggestions in the comments section below.