Spain: Road Trip!

My heart was racing. This was a crazy idea. Crazy.

With a shaking hand I signed the last piece of paperwork and the clerk handed me the keys. It was official. I’d rented a car and was about to drive…in Spain.

How did I get here?

One of my dearest friends and mentors works with an amazing leadership academy nestled in the mountains along the coast of southern Spain. Unfortunately, when I was studying abroad in 2011 she was sorting out visa issues stateside, so I didn’t get to visit her. {Having now gone, I have to say that might have been a good thing. I’m pretty sure I never would’ve come home.} So when I knew I would be returning to Europe in January, seeing Tara was a necessity.

My first day in Spain, Tara gave me the royal tour of Malaga, stopping at all her favorite spots and introducing me to people in the community. The next day we decided to explore somewhere that neither of us had been. Little did I FullandFearless_Marbella_Taraknow that plan would involve renting a car {*travel tip* this is actually quite cheap in the off-season}. Unless we wanted to pay an exorbitant premium, which we didn’t, the aforementioned car would have to be a manual transmission. Tara doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift. But I do.

Honestly, if anyone else had tried to talk me into driving a stick shift {something I haven’t done regularly since 2012} in a foreign country I would’ve say nuh-uh, no-way no-how, won’t do it. But there’s something about Tara’s boldness, her comforting presence and her unwavering confidence in your ability that reassures you that the task at hand can be easily tackled. I trust her. If she thinks I can do something, I know I should give it a try.

I did my best to push my reservations aside and agreed. Plus, I couldn’t deny that there was something poetic about driving along the coast – the mountains rising on one side, the sea spread out to meet the sky on the other – and seeing where the road would take us.

So we did it. We rented the car, and my heart didn’t resume a normal putter-patter until we were safely several miles down the highway. I relaxed my hands on the steering wheel, sat back in the seat, and took in the view. Josh Garrels’ deep voice poured from the speakers. To this day I hear Farther Along and it takes me back to that car ride with Tara – rolling along E-15 on a gorgeous sunny day, catching up on the past and dreaming about the future, trading fear for an adventure with one of my oldest and dearest.

We first drove from Malaga to Marbella, a resort town along Costa del Sol. I pulled into a parking lot, turned off the ignition and stepped out of the car with a sigh of relief. So far so good. For lunch we found a little tapas spot along the seaside. The weather was perfect, my heart was full, and soon my belly was too.

FullandFearless_Marbella_streetview5After lunch we wandered around Casco Antiguo – the Old Town. The winding streets, quaint shops and lovely cafes had a captivating old-world charm. I’d never been anywhere quite so dreamy. We took our time. No one was waiting on us, we didn’t have any deadlines or appointments and there was no real destination in mind. What a refreshing feeling.

After soaking in the sites and sounds of  Casco Antiguo, we hopped back in the car and drove to the other side of Marbella – to Puerto Banús. Puerto Banús is the upscale resort town where the rich and famous dock their luxury yachts while staying in their sprawling estates. No joke, the average yacht in the port was the size of my apartment, with the largest close to the size of my parent’s house. Less than 15 feet from the docks were shops the likes of Michael Kors, Gucci and Valentino. Realtor’s offices were sprinkled intermittently for those in the market for a new yacht or vacation home. We ordered a cocktail at one of the bars. It was fun to people watch, getting a small glimpse into the life of the world’s most wealthy.

FullandFearless_Fuengirola_panandchocolateBut the day wasn’t over. I felt much more at ease as I settled behind the wheel this time. Heading back toward Malaga along Costa del Sol, we stopped in Fuengirola. Fuengi, as Tara and friends lovingly call it, is a few short miles from Mijas, the village where G42 Leadership Academy is located. Tara took me to one of her favorite places, a colorful and eclectic French cafe called Pan and Chocolate. I asked her what she’d recommend, and decided on the salad and quiche. She insisted that their dessert was amazing as well. Never one to object to a sweet treat, I ordered the carrot cake while Tara picked the chocolate cream pie. We sipped on our coffees and passed our dessert plates back and forth until the goodies were gone.

After the quick bite, we wandered into a nearby shop that was new in town. The owner was a friendly Spanish man with a love for New York, particularly Brooklyn. What started out as a few simple questions about the shop, his design ecstatic and his previous work quickly turned into an invitation for Tara to exhibit her photography in the shop. There were no intentions or dreams of doing so when we stepped inside, no motives behind Tara’s questions, but her curiosity and genuine interest in this man created a one-of-a-kind opportunity.

I think that’s the best way to sum up our Costa del Sol road trip – we set out with no real plan, just keen curiosity, and were given the gift of adventure in return. My friend lives a life that is bold and courageous, and I’m thankful for her constant, gentle pushes to pursue the same. Because of her encouragement I was able to tackle a fear – a fear that now seems completely unfounded – and create some priceless memories. Our road trip along the Costa del Sol is one of my favorite travel moments. A truly full and fearless day.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tara says:

    What and amazing write up. and thank you for the kind words. You really know how to describe beautiful situations with humor and emotion. LOVE IT LOVE IT! Miss you too. COME BACK! We can road trip the opposite direction or head north:) Madrid anyone?


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