Like many people, I grew up with an image of the Costa del Sol. TV programmes showing 1980s package holidays in Torremolinos and countless programmes on late night ITV since then (not that I watch late night ITV of course). The tales of streets populated by bars and Fish and Chip shops to serve the holidaymakers and ex-patriates has meant it never really bubbled to the top of my “to see” list. Further east, yes, Granada and the Alhambra is still high up on that list, but the Costa del Sol could wait until I retired.
Or until I had a meeting there, which is what happened recently.
This year’s TERENA Networking Conference was held in the University of Malaga in early June, and I appear to have wrongly stereotyped the city. Once I stopped unaccountably giggling at being confronted with road signs to “Torremolinos,” it is a beautiful city with polished, cobbled streets, a mighty cathedral, a huge castle — as befits a city on a hill leading to the sea, and of course a bullring. Whilst I didn’t see a bullfight, we did have a social event consisting of a barbeque inside the bullring, which was a wonderful structure. It looked like a 1920s or 1930s building with a concrete base and iron and wooden upper tier.
I’ve only been to Madrid and Barcelona before, but I love Spain. I love the history, the culture, the food, but in addition to the view of the Costa del Sol, I also had a stereotyped view of Spanish government. I think I have to re-evaluate that too. The streets were clean, and the conference organisers had even worked with the municipal transport company to put WiFi on the bus route from the centre of the city, where everyone was staying, to the University campus to the west and information on the dot matrix signs at the bus stops. We have a UK networking event in Manchester next year. I wonder what the chances of a similar feat are? The host of that was also at the Malaga meeting and is going to give it a try.
I also flew into Larnaca for a meeting in Nicosia a few weeks ago. Where next? Magaluf? Mind you, if the talk on climate change that was presented at the conference is anything to go by, that whole region could be close to uninhabitable in a century.