Martin and I were about to turn 60 and 50 respectively and decided not to let this one go without a fanfare or two. Living as expats between Spain and Dubai with most of our friends spending the summer on Mijas Costa, for us, there was only one choice of venue: Triana is a little beachside chiringuito in Las Chapas, just off the main road from Malaga a few miles outside Marbella and as far into the village as you can go. When you see the sparkling waves, the boats and the odd nudist, that’s where you need to stop. It’s a Shirley Valentine type of place, where you can sit on a promontory, surrounded by bougainvillea with the sounds and smells of the sea mingling with the delicious tang of the best paella on the coast.
We celebrated with 25 friends, and being a bonkers kind of girly, I performed a belly dance, a skill I picked up in the Middle East and teach to this day. Francesca who runs the place was, and is, adorable, and her staff are outstanding in their attention to detail, flavour, presentation and the warmth of the welcome. This is the kind of place that makes a mark in your heart and your mind – a romantic sort of place that whispers to you to return and return and to make it yours. When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, the ocean sparkles and glows haunting green as the plankton moves silently with the ebb and flow of the waves.
Such is this place that I preserved its memory forever in my novel, The Thinking Tank, set between Spain 2003 and 1970s London. As Sarah and Stephen struggle to piece together fractured relationships of the past, they spend time at Triana, repairing broken dreams, their secrets still unspoken but pressing, needing to be heard.
Triana is a place for friends, lovers, families and the soul that wants to mend. It is also a place to share.
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