Eager to expand my Spanish beyond the tired "dos cervezas por favor" that gets old really quickly (especially when you're not in a bar), I enrolled for two weeks of intensive Spanish lessons at the Instituto Alhambra in Malaga.

I had randomly run into their reprentatives while at the Berlin Travel Trade Show in March, and was impressed with their professionalism and friendliness. A few days later upon returning to Amsterdam, I signed up for 2 weeks of lessons and accommodation for a really good rate.

I was greeted at the airport with my (first ever!) sign with my name on it. The sign was attached to a man, actually - Miguel, a septuagenarian who took me from the airport straight to the apartment. It was a very friendly, if almost wordless introduction to Malaga (he spoke no English and did not have dos cervezas with him, so that's where it all fell apart).

My classmates varied over the two weeks to really enhance the cultural experience, with Master's students from Tajikistan to old Brits to ex-submarine captain Germans. Four hours a day with ample breaks seemed about right for the suntan vs education balance I was hoping to strike.

The courses and the school were fantastic - great, patient teachers (who were total characters too, with sound-effect wizard Andres, Guantanamera-singing Miguel and Lorenzo, who keeps it all together) and great administration in a nice sun-filled building.

Teachers Lorenzo, Andres, and Luis

And if you are a nerd who also happens to enjoy sunshine you can do your homework right after class as it's about a 3-minute walk to the beach and a ton of beachfront cafes. I am already plotting my return, por que no hablo mucho ahora e quiero hablar mas.