Although most of the things mentioned above still hold true during the winter, the pace is very different. It is a lot quieter, when there is only a fraction of the tourists compared to the high season. The promenades and countless small streets are a lot more pleasant to walk when there is not much people around. On the other hand, some restaurants and bars are closed, and quite often you can see that they are undergoing a renovation. However, the situation is not that you cannot enjoy the same things as during the more popular time of year. Spanish people themselves often spend a lot of time eating out, so there is nevertheless plenty of restaurants open. In my opinion the most important factor is that the weather is still warm enough for comfortably having a meal in the open air or any other recreation, except maybe not for activities like sunbathing on the beach. Also the late evenings can be chilly. During the daytime on the other hand, especially for those who are from the northern countries and are used to colder conditions, the air temperature may feel just right, or even downright perfect, if you don’t like a too hot climate and laying on the beach is not your cup of tea, but still want to escape the cold of winter. For me the big plus was that I could wear a suit anytime I wanted!
My trip to Spain started from the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport although not quite in the best circumstances. The airplane was over two hours late, but it didn’t bother me at all, because I had an idea, how I could use this time very productively. A little over a week before the trip while creating an Instagram account I realized that I don’t have any reasonable profile picture of myself, which I had an intention to correct during this trip. So, I put my camera on a tripod and asked my brother to press the button. Throughout this and as well few other steps I got the following picture. It is a composite image by blending multiple exposures, so me and the blurry figures, caused by a slow shutter speed, are from different shots.
In reality, the trip was only half holiday. However, most of the time I was free, which I was trying to take advantage of by hiking in the local mountains as well as taking pictures whenever there was a chance for it. In addition to the usual photography I was also shooting time lapse videos, playing with filters in front of a lens and having fun with a long exposure. I was staying in Benalmádena and mostly just spent my time there. The furthest place I visited this time was Ronda, which is a mountain town about a hundred kilometers away from my place by car. It is famous for its long bullfighting tradition and spectacular landscape dominated by the hundred-meter-deep El Tajo gorge, that cuts the town in two parts, with an old bridge Puente Nuevo crossing it. You can read about this daytrip in a separate article Ronda – a City Hidden by Mountains. When I was at home in the evenings, I often went out for a walk with my camera during sunsets. The next one and the second picture of this article are taken on the beach near my place, Playa de la Viborilla.
The weather in Spain was very good. It rained only a couple of days and even then, it was mainly during the nights. Most of the time the temperature was just a bit under 20 degrees. During the warmest days in a direct sun it felt almost as it were Finnish summer. I was a bit lucky with the weather though, because I heard that the previous week has been exceptionally cold to the extent that for a day the beaches have been covered with snow, which is a really rare view for the coast of Andalusia. On the other hand, I would actually have liked to have seen it myself! Typically, it only snows there in the mountains. Costa del Sol, as the name itself suggests, “Coast of the Sun”, is known for being sunny throughout the whole year, which this time really held true. However, as a photographer I actually have been hoping to have a bit more clouds in the sky, as they both make landscape more interesting looking and also provide a more peasant light for the subject itself. Strong shadows caused by the direct sunlight seldom look good in the pictures. When my wishes got granted I was always trying to take an advantage of the opportunity.
The activity for which I think the winter weather of Costa del Sol is exceptionally favorable is hiking in the near mountains. The air temperature is neither cold nor hot, but comfortably cool, which makes the hike very pleasant especially when you have to carry a lot. My camera backpack filled only with the camera gear weights over 14 kilos and when you add water, lunch and some extra clothes for the evening cold conditions it gets easily close to 18 kilos. I have to admit that carrying 14 kilos of a camera gear is too much for most people and this time I myself could had left some of it at home, but I decided to bring a lot with me to get some extra training and also to test my new camera backpack, which I bought just before the trip.
I didn’t go swimming, although sometimes it felt as there were no obstacles on the part of the weather. In winter, it is seldom to see someone swimming in the sea there. However, once I had to stand still in the water for over two hours filming a time lapse while the waves were sometimes reaching my knees and I didn’t feel cold. The temperature of seawater in Costa del Sol varies very little between summer and winter. Unfortunately, the beaches are not maintained in the same good conditions as during the summer. There was quite a lot of trash such as sticks, seaweed and other similar things that drifted there with the waves. Especially the beach of Fuengirola, where the next picture is taken, was in so bad state that taking a presentable picture was very challenging. Particularly, while filming videos I had to really do a lot of work trying to figure out how to get even somehow usable result. The swimming pool of my apartment complex was well cleaned and its water circulation was on. If I just had not forgotten my swimming trunks in Finland, I definitely would had tested it.
To Fuengirola I went many times. Actually, it was the first place to visit right after arriving, because I needed an internet connection. There is Mimobile, a Finnish shop selling mobile phone subscriptions. The previous summer I got a very good limited time deal there, but this time I wasn’t so lucky. On the way back from Fuengirola sometimes driven by nostalgic feeling I visited the Russian grocery store Gurman, which means “Gourmet”, hoping to find something that would bring memories from my childhood, even though in Finland I almost never do so. The shop is located in Los Boliches part of the town, on the main street Av. Nuestro Padre Jesús Cautivo, close to the church Parroquia Virgen del Carmen y Santa Fe, which is in the next picture.
Torremolinos I visited only once. It was a Sunday and of course during the winter all the shops were closed, but we needed a backpack for my brother before the Monday morning, so that he could go hiking with me. The tourist shopping area in Torremolinos was our only hope, and it didn’t betray us. After all some of the shops there were open until six. The price was also good. The quality of course wasn’t at the same level with similar products of some well-known brands, but it did the job well for the intended use. The positive observation was that the beach of Torremolinos was in much better condition than of Fuengirola, which made it a lot more enjoyable place for an evening stroll. The next picture of me on the rocks is taken there.
All in all, the trip went really well. I also got a lot of pictures, that I’m very happy about, which can be seen in the album Spain Winter 2017. More about my traveling in Spain this winter you can read in the article Ronda – a City Hidden by Mountains. During my stay in Spain I also did three one day hikes to the nearby mountains, so in the near future I will publish some articles about hiking in Benalmádena. This article is also available in Russian Коста дель Соль зимой – Бенальмадена, Фуэнхирола, Торремолинос and Finnish Costa del Sol talvella – Benalmadena, Fuengirola, Torremolinos.