Review by Ceri Wheeldon.
Whenever we talk about holidays and travel on Fab after Fifty, the feedback always seems to focus on wanting to see new places and do things that are a little different – it seems that we over 50somethings have far too much energy to go on holiday just to lie in the sun and sip cocktails!
When I was approached by a new company Silver Spain offering a different sort of holiday to join them on a taster for their new Silver Week initiative, I checked out their website and said yes. The holidays are all aiming to explore the more cultural aspects of the Costa del Sol, while promoting healthy and active ageing. Sounded good to me, and a great opportunity to explore a part of Spain I had not visited before.
Healthy and Active Ageing
I was to arrive in Malaga on the Monday, and experience elements of the four holidays all geared towards healthy and active ageing that they are planning to launch this October , over the course of five days. The four holidays being Healthy Body, Healthy Eating, Healthy Mind and Healthy Relationships.
I met people on the flight (my first experience of Norwegian Airlines who were excellent – and provided wi-fi on board) on the same trip – and we were met at Malaga and whisked to our first hotel , the HYDROS boutique hotel in Benalmedena. The hotel was modern and stunning and the rooms fabulous – I felt totally spoilt as I had my own private Jacuzzi on my balcony overlooking the sea . It was lovely to relax after dinner and just look at the twinkly lights reflected in the sea.
As Silver Spain holidays are all about promoting healthy living – once packed and settled into our rooms we were off on a peaceful walk around Guadalhorce Rivermouth, guided by a bird specialist who pointed out White Headed Ducks , Bee Eaters and Slender Billed Gulls – amongst others.
That evening we went to have dinner at Puerto Marina where we got to know our fellow travellers , and sampled the local Spanish cuisine – and wine of course.
Achieving our 10,000 steps
We started the next day with an exercise session on the terrace overlooking the sea. I think my lack of coordination proved a challenge for Leo, our instructor – as I seemed to be using the opposite arm and leg to everyone else ! We were rewarded with a morning smoothie, before having a continental breakfast and then we were off for a very scenic walk at Los Gaitanes Gorge Natural Park located about 60km from the city. The surroundings were beautiful, very peaceful. A fellow traveller who was monitoring our steps informed us that we had exceeded 10,000 steps before lunchtime, so we didn’t need to feel guilty enjoying a leisurely lunch at a Spanish tavern in the hills.
Lunch was followed by a visit to the Shanti Som retreat where we took part in a mindfulness workshop . Then it was back to our hotel for dinner and live music. More about that in a separate post!
Paella Cooking demonstration and wine tasting
Day three took us to visit an organic vineyard and wine cellars, combined with a paella cooking demonstration where we were encouraged to participate. I’m sure my chopping of the red peppers must have made all the difference to the delicious lunch – combined with wine tasting. Interestingly one of the wines we tasted was a white wine made from red grapes – not had that before !
We then travelled to the second hotel of our stay – a far more traditional Spanish style hotel , La Vinuela set inland by a lake in Axarquia. It was a beautiful setting and the rooms were beautifully decorated.
We had to abandon a planned walk through the avocado and mango trees due to some unexpected rain, so headed out for a very special dinner at a restaurant the El Convento, where the chef specialises in cooking with edible flowers – everything was delicious –and beautifully presented. Quite a treat!
Experiencing traditional Spanish culture
We started Day Four with another exercise session with Leo, then set off for what was for me, the highlight of the tour. We went to the Hacienda la Esperanza, a magnificent traditional country house dedicated to the breeding and training of pure Spanish bred horses. The horses were fabulous, and we were treated to a very special show combining flamenco dancers with the horses dressage show. Breathtaking.
After that, we went off for lunch at a traditional beach restaurant before walking around the squares and streets of Malaga , where there was the option to visit the Hammam baths complete with massage.
Later we went on a tapas tour – more food!!! Although I was assured it was all healthy before heading back to the hotel.
On our last day we stopped off at one of the other hotels Silver Spain will be using for their holidays before heading to Frigiliana – whitewashed village with narrow winding streets set into a hill – then it was time , sadly, to head back to the airport and say our goodbyes.
I will be covering some of the aspects of the trip in more detail in future posts. What I can say , having met the team behind the Silver Spain holidays is that they really care about what they are doing, and to making a difference in how we approach life to get the most out of a lifestyle of healthy and active ageing. I’m looking forward to seeing the final itineraries for each of the holidays – I’d love to go back – but will find it hard to choose just one of the holidays as there is so much on offer. For more information about the planned Silver Spain holidays visit www.silverspain.com.