Michelle Obama went shopping on her first day on the costa del sol
The arrival on Wednesday of Michelle Obama with her nine year old daughter Sasha brought the world’s attention to the Costa del Sol and is being seen as a major boost to the area, bringing with it international media coverage and millions of dollars’ worth of publicity. The First Lady of the United States and her younger daughter, Sasha, are spending five days at the Villa Padierna hotel and on their first day visited Marbella, where they went shopping with all their entourage and had dinner in a restaurant. Accompanied everywhere by numerous security guards, they came with a full agenda including visits to Granada and Ronda, but no official receptions: this is a private holiday.
If it weren’t for the entourage of friends and almost larger-than-life security staff who surrounded them, Michelle and Sasha Obama could have been any other holidaymakers on their first day in Marbella. They checked into their hotel, the top-rated Villa Padierna, out of sight of the media, and spent some time in the villa reserved for them, taking lunch in their rooms and presumably having a rest after their journey. It later transpired that they were greeted at the hotel only by the owner and his wife: as private guests no official receptions were in order for them. Few other details emerged, though one person who emerged from the hotel was able to tell the waiting reporters that they had brought a carload of suitcases. “They’ve brought enough for a year!” said the informant with a tinge of envy.
The party then went to explore the old part of Marbella, looking relaxed and happy and pausing to let nine year old Sasha sample the local ice cream. America’s First Lady also did a bit of shopping, spending about 80 euros on a couple of necklaces and dozens of bracelets in ‘Barbarich’, a shop selling costume jewellery and crafts. A_group of four girls in the shop found themselves prevented from leaving by bodyguards when the Obama group approached, but they had no complaints. “She is very tall and elegant!” said Marta Pérez, obviously pleased to have come so close to Michelle. Another shop sold mother and daughter a dress each, both white and summery.
Then it was on to the Plaza de la Iglesia and the Buenaventura restaurant where tables had been booked in advance, in the name of one of the security staff, and where the group ate à la carte, finishing with a glass of sweet Malaga wine while Sasha got an ice cream from a cafe nearby.
It all seemed like a happy first day of the holidays, albeit luxurious and attended by crowds wherever they went. And another difference, pointed out by Obama watchers: the First Lady doesn’t carry cash or cards in her bag. Her purchases are paid for by one of the entourage.
After that, Granada was hoping that the family would enjoy their third day in the city.