Family Fun - When it rains in Spain
Some – particularly those who have only been here before on a summer holiday – may find it a bit of a shock to discover that it actually does occasionally rain on the Costa del Sol. While sometimes six months might go by without one drop of rain, winter and spring can often make up for the summer drought with torrential downpours of the sort that rival humidity-driven rainy seasons in the jungles of the southern hemisphere. When it rains here it tends to rain properly, not like the seemingly eternal sideways drizzle that gloomily pervades countries like the UK and Ireland.
So what can you do when the skies are overcast and the water is of the heavenly kind and not the swimming kind? The answer is plenty! And believe it or not, the rain does sometimes make for a welcome break following months of sunshine and soaring temperatures.
It’s the weekend, you get up out of bed and open the curtains only to be greeted with wet streets and overcast skies. That game of golf is now out of the question. So what to do? Well, why not visit another continent for the day? Just because it’s raining in Southern Spain doesn’t necessarily mean it’s raining in North Africa. Jump in the car and take a trip to Algeciras, Gibraltar or Tarifa. A 30-minute ferry ride later and you’re on a different continent, soaking up the unique sights and delicious smells of a completely divergent culture in the city of Tangier, Morocco. Spend the day exploring the maze of streets, souks and bazaars before making your way back to Europe for a cold beer before dinner.
Málaga’s Picasso Museum honours the city’s most famous son and is a culturally satisfying way to spend a rainy afternoon. His birthplace in Málaga is now a museum dedicated to his life and work and art lovers can while away a wet day discovering all they need to know about the great abstract painter and sculptor. Two other world-renowned museums have popped up in Málaga and will be with us for the foreseeable future. The Málaga branch of the Centre Pompidou is housed in the ‘El Cubo’ building, and across town the State Museum of Russian Art of St Petersburg has taken up residence in the historic ‘Tabacalera’ building. A truly cultural city, there is much more to Málaga than simply its airport.
Art not your thing? Go shopping and a bit of retail therapy might help banish those rainy day blues. There are several indoor shopping centres on the Costa del Sol, including the vast La Cañada shopping mall in Marbella and the Miramar retail park in Fuengirola, as well as several in Málaga centre and its outskirts. Most feature a wide variety of quality stores, have extensive food courts and some malls house cinemas too, meaning you can shop, eat, catch a movie, and won’t have to set one foot in a puddle until you’re ready to go home.
Caves – particularly for our ancestors – have long been a traditional shelter from the elements, and nowhere better to seek a little respite from the rain than the caves of Nerja. Home to the world’s biggest stalagmite and featuring around five kilometres of spectacular caverns and natural formations, the caves also host concerts during the summer season as one of the chambers doubles as a natural amphitheatre. There are prehistoric cave paintings, guided tours, and a restaurant on site too.
As a treat for the kids (or for yourself), a visit to Mayan Monkey Mijas - 'the world's smallest chocolate factory' - is an ideal destination on a rainy, or indeed, sunny day. Here, your cherished little chipmunks can learn how to make the chocolate bars of their dreams. For a modest fee, each participant gets to make three of their very own chocolate bars in workshops carried out in a variety of different languages.
There is a myriad of things to do and see when it’s raining on the Costa del Sol, far too much to list here. Go to the Bonsai Museum (yes, Marbella has a museum dedicated to tiny trees!), visit the Butterfly Park, see the fish at an aquarium, go to a bar and hang with the locals, go swimming (you’ll be getting wet anyway), have a spa day, go to the cinema or simply crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy gazing out of the window at the often spectacular thunder and lightning storms that can accompany the stronger downpours. Occasionally the Costa del Sol won’t live up to its name, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do…