The last two days have been quite busy with some interesting bits and pieces to report on as well as, very unusually at the moment, quite a lot of work! First, Wednesday, after our usual exercise and so on in the morning, we walked into the other part of Marbella, Puerto Banus. Such is its reputation that some of our ‘grander’ friends around the Pueblo have never even been there (despite it being just a ten minute drive in the opposite direction from the Old Town, or a half hour walk). As you can tell from the name, it is a port, but not just any old port – this is where the footballers and the girls chasing them, the soap stars and, dare I say it, petty (or maybe not so petty) criminals and various other un-savouries, hang out – in the beach clubs during the daytime and then, at night, in the many clubs, restaurants and casinos that line some of the streets.
I quite like it though – during the day, the roads around the port area are filled with Ferraris and other similar cars, usually being driven very slowly by very dodgy looking characters who want everyone to look at them, but the boats are amazing and the shops, well, they are some of the best in the world… plus if you go off the beaten track, as with everywhere, there are some interesting places to see. Obviously we haven’t been there since the lockdown (with the exception of Jan’s longer runs early in the morning), so we were keen to see how it was looking and that, much as with the Old Town of Marbella, was a bit of a shock.
The walk in from the main road was completely deserted – we have seen it like that before as in ‘normal times’ we often used to run through the port area whilst everyone was still asleep, but it was strange to see it like that in the middle of the day. All of the beach bars and restaurants were closed (although a couple looked as if they might be getting ready), but in the port itself a few café-type places were open and desperate looking, as were the majority of the designer shops. But just no-one there. I actually ventured into a shop as I had no summery shoes here (we arrived in big coats and boots, and whilst we keep lots of clothes here, other than trainers, I had nothing else for my feet!) and bought some (another experience – disinfect hands first, then put on special plastic covers to try the shoes on (anyone heard of catching the virus through the feet??), then a bit of a jiggery pokery performance to get said shoes from the assistant and then hand back through a hole in the plastic protection by the cashier and ask to buy, all the time not really hearing what she said (big mask again), but I got it that she was pleased to make a sale (and very unhappy to hear that there were so few people around – I did hear her ask that)…. actually this shop is one of my favourite, and has become even more of one as it was the only one that was offering any sort of discount – all the others, whilst being open and having their usual ‘security men’ by the door (to do what??), seemed to still be asking their usual exorbitant prices…
So that was Puerto Banus and I wonder how it will survive…. but, and here I go again, I can’t help but think that this could be yet another ‘hand of God’ type situation – maybe all the wealth and over-the-topness of the shops, boats, cars, etc, had to come to an end one day… and maybe that day has just come….
Yesterday (Thursday) was a relatively ‘normal’ day – tennis again in the morning (and a brief meeting with Manolo Santana himself… his first day out since the lockdown (he is very old and frail), but so pleased to be in the club and actually on the court for a while with my Juan! Even though he is not at all well, he still glides about (albeit a bit slower) at the back of the court!). Then in the afternoon we decided to pay a visit to another shop – this time a wonderful furniture store nearby. A quick story on this – when we bought our first house in Marbella (about 18 years ago) we couldn’t find any furniture that we liked (at that time all the shops were focused on selling to the huge modern villas (where most of the Puerto Banus people mentioned above live!), and whilst I do like a bit of glitz and vulgarity, not that much, and not for our very Spanish house. So in the end, we had a lot of stuff shipped over from our favourite store in Prague, called Kare (a Czech driver drove a big van down here in two days, non-stop, and when he arrived and we offered him a cup of tea or a beer, said not, as he was heading straight back…!). Since then, we have paid so many visits to Kare in Prague, and each time have pondered whether we should ship some more down here, even though it is easier to find things now. And then, last year, we were just driving along minding our own business in a nondescript road, and what did we see but a sign to the newly opened Kare of Marbella – they must have heard about me!!! So that’s where we headed yesterday – I love it there, and they, of course, love us (since I can’t resist buying something, pretty much every time, and also because the Romanian manager, when asked by Jan where she came from and told him, was completely overwhelmed when he then spoke Romanian to her – he has a way with women…..).
They (Kare, not the women), are, of course, in trouble, not only because of being closed for such a long time, but also because they do a lot of ordering from Germany for foreign clients, the majority of whom are not now here… so the warehouse (that they can’t yet go to as it’s in another Province) is full of stuff that now, potentially, no-one will want). Ooof. I will go back to cheer them up when Jan is not looking……..
The rest of yesterday, and on and off today, in addition to our usual activities, has been spent by Jan, in the dentist chair for round two, and me, battling with broken watches (the new watch still doesn’t work, the old one came back to life when paired with my new phone, but has now packed up again….aaggggh) and the car-hire – I originally hired the van for just two weeks as we weren’t sure how much we would use it, or how long we would still be staying (haha….we were under some illusion that there might have been a plane flying by now!), and the cost was Euro 102 for two weeks. Now, however, for another three weeks, they are asking for Euro 350, which I think is a bit absurd. The reason being that they have had to put their prices ‘right up’ as they have so little business…. hmmmm..
I don’t want to sound like I am always on the lookout for deals (I really am not like that… although Jan has his moments), but, you know…. I can’t help but feel that the only way for everyone to get going is to look after the very few customers that are out there – for all of us… and I really don’t think that upping the prices is the way to go. We shall see.
More from me soon!