I love surprises; giving them, that is. And in October we pulled off a cracking one. My brother Bob lives in Spain in the Costa del Sol, and with his 70th birthday rapidly approaching, my sisters and I decided to surprise him for his birthday, after checking with my-sister-law Lesley what their arrangements were for this day. After all, we didn’t want to arrive and find they had gone away on a trip themselves to celebrate.

As the three of us hadn’t had a holiday together for two years we agreed we would make this trip a week long, instead of just a couple of days. I’ve been to Spain on many occasions – staying with my brother, Lesley normally arranging flights and Bob meeting us at the airport; and the last time booking through a travel agent ­– but this was the first time we were “going it alone” which meant I had to find a suitable apartment for the three of us; not an easy task. Then there were flights to book, and arranging a taxi from the airport. I found the whole thing very nervy and stressful and couldn’t relax until we were finally in our apartment. The apartment was disappointing in that it was shabby, not at all looking as clean and fresh as the photos showed, but the linen was clean and the beds comfy and we did have a lovely view out over Benalmadena Marina in one direction, and mountains, town, and busy main road and 24 hour bars in the other – very noisy all night. Still, it was only for one week and we were close to the beach and promenade.

Room with a view of Benalmadena Marina.

Bob’s birthday being the next day, we spent a lazy morning, grabbed a bite of lunch then made our way up to the venue. We peeked around the wall to where we knew they would be, spied Lesley who pointed that Bob was inside the bar and in the three of us walked. “Surprise!”


“Happy Birthday To You…”

Oh and how it was. The look on Bob’s face, at first disbelief, then confusion, then utter joy at us being there for him was pure magic and a treasure to behold and remember. One of the bar staff, realising who we were, grabbed Bob’s camera and began taking photos; we were too engrossed in our hugs and kisses and tears (mostly Bob’s!) to notice or even think of taking a picture. Everyone (apart from Bob) at the party along with all the local bar owners knew we were coming and made us most welcome. A good time had by all.

After a fabulous day we fell into bed exhausted but woken up a few hours later by lightning. No thunder, just a marvellous nature light show out across the sea. The flashes continued until daybreak when torrential rain came down and thunder like I’ve never heard exploded all around. One clap was so loud, the building shook. We later found out it woke the whole town. Apparently some 1,200 lightning bolts were recorded in the Malaga region that morning. (News report detailing the storm)

The rain stopped but the morning overcast so we ventured by bus into Malaga to explore the city, hoping to take the open-topped bus tour. Bob joined us. When we reached Malaga the rains came again. A quick dash into a restaurant for a coffee whilst it eased. It didn’t, so we made for a shop selling pac-a-macs and thought to explore the magnificent cathedral close by. The queues were horrendous so we decided to take a bus up into Mijas, our favourite town, and have lunch there. There was an hour wait for a bus so instead we went back to Benalmadena to enjoy a meal there. We found out later that most of Malaga had been badly flooded due to the rain, and nearby Torremolinos and Mijas without electricity for most of the day. Good job we didn’t go.

The next day, and for the remainder of our visit, the temperature was back up to 28 degrees, the sun shining gloriously and we managed to spend three days relaxing on the beach ­­– bonus! ­­– as well as partaking in our favourite things when holidaying­­, such as food and Sangria – of which we’ve now become experts.

Enjoyable lunch at Marina on our 1st day.

It was a tearful and sad farewell when it was finally time to take the taxi back to the airport and home but a week I’m sure our brother will look back and remember with love and fondness. As will we. And I will certainly miss the sunrises over the Marina!

Not a bad view to wake up to each morning


11 responses to “Surprise!

  1. I’ll take shabby if it means a view like you had. Ah Sangria. I tried it for the first time a few years ago and Love it. It such a refreshing drink. It looks like you lucked out on the weather with only one bad day.

    Another great memory making event. The pictures are priceless.

    • The view certainly made up for the shortcomings of the apartment, as was spending the week with our brother – we had a lot of fun together and we do miss him lots. As to Sangria – was taught how to make it years ago by a Spanish bartender and whenever on holiday first on the shopping list is ingredients for our daily jugful – decent red wine, good brandy, Cointreau and lots of fresh fruit. We’ve had excellent ones and some pretty dire ones over the years but family love the version I make. Brother tells me this morning, yesterday they had an even greater storm over Malaga region. I love a good thunderstorm, and would gladly put up with them for more of that Spanish sunshine, or Greek sun for that matter. 🙂

  2. What a wonderful surprise for your brother and a wonderful adventure for you too. Loved the views and the sangria recipe sounds amazing. Now you just have to make plans to go back for another visit!

  3. Ahhhh, I LOVE surprises like that. Your brother looks SO pleased. What a wonderful thing to do. Sounds like you got a show from Mother Nature, too. Wow. Speaking of which, what’s a Pac-a-mac? 🙂

    • Was indeed a great week and we couldn’t have given him a better present. Pac-a-mac: a cheap plastic raincoat with a hood that folds up small into your handbag. 🙂

  4. WOW. WOW.I am bowled over .What an incredible surprise to pull off. What a great trip, such a nice family.How wonderful for all of you!

    • Was such a fun thing to do and something we couldn’t do again, as no doubt next year our brother will be waiting in hope for us to come and wouldn’t be such a surprise again. 🙂

  5. So happy you had a grand time and that you were able to pull it off. Sorry about the apt- sadly, sometimes we can’t trust the photos on the web, right? But it sounds like you made the most of it and had fun anyway. Great pics and there is nothing better than family time, is there? Jillian

  6. I can imagine how happy your brother was to see his sisters for his special birthday! A great surprise for him. That storm sounds horrendous but glad the weather soon got back to normal for you. Great photos. A trip to treasure in so many ways.

  7. Excellent surprise and great week despite storms. I remember them from our time there but these sounded bad. Views great and so glad you had such a marvellous time in spite of disappointing apartment. Your sangria recipe sounds wonderful! Treasure those memories and thanks for sharng them, brought back lots of mine. X

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