Algar, Arcos de la frontera, Cadiz, Tarifa, Gibraltar, Algeciras
16.05.2012 - 19.05.2012
Leaving Seville after a breakfast of toast and chocolate spread (when in Rome..) we drove South towards a town called Algar. It was a scenic countryside drive and just before we reached the town we arrived at our 'resort' - a cluster of small bungalows on a hillside overlooking a turquoise lake with a mountain backdrop. We had booked this place cheap online and were very pleasantly surprised when we arrived! The views were stunning and there didn't seem to be any other people in sight.
Although we were meant to be spending two nights here, we quickly decided that we should extend and spend another night as it was just too peaceful and relaxing. Plus, the weather was gorgeous so we found lots of reasons to sit around doing nothing! We managed to get exercise each day by walking down the steep hill to the lake (easy) and then walking back up (not so fun). One evening, there was a small fiesta taking place in the town and we walked around for a while watching the local people in their celebrations. There was a fun fair for the kids and the ladies were dressed in flamenco dresses.
The bungalow was a cute little place with a nice living and dining area. We bought some supplies from the local town store and cooked up some feasts. It was good to have a little break from the tapas. There was a small dog at the resort called Blanquita who took a liking to us and slept outside our front door at night. It was a very peaceful place and a lucky find - there's a good chance we'll be back here in future!
After our few days of doing not much we drove through Arcos de la Frontera where some of the town's buildings are perched very close to the cliff edge and looked like they could fall down at any moment. This is one of Andalucia's famous pueblos blancos (white towns) that are very popular with tourists because they are so picturesque.
We then drove to the coastal city of Cadiz, a busy port centre with lots of history. We spent a couple of hours there, where we saw the cathedral and other important buildings, saw the sea wall and had a good lunch. It's an interesting city but we didn't feel like lingering there too long.
We stopped over night on the Costa de la Luz, the Atlantic coast of Spain's South and much less visited by tourists than the Costa del Sol further along. It was quite windy and we sat and watched some kite surfers making the most of the opportunity. There were some pretty beaches along this coast and we visited quite a few of them. We were surprised to find clear water and almost white powdery sand at some of them!
We also called into another pueblo blanco called Vejer de la frontera that was similar to Arcos and is a nice way to spend an hour or two looking around the streets and the small boutiques and craft shops.
Our next stop was Tarifa, a port town with regular passenger ferries across to Morocco. We booked our tickets for a couple of days ahead and were instantly excited to be heading across the water to Tangier, which you can vaguely see on the horizon from Tarifa, on a clear day. Tarifa had a nice atmosphere as we wandered the streets. It was a very windy day and as we walked along by the water we were almost swept sideways. Along the beach area, there was a constant spray of water and sand whipped up by the wind!
Before we could leave Spain, we found ourselves lodged in Algeciras, an uninspiring and rather ugly port town, but with cheap accomodation and a good location for departure! From here we took a day trip into Gibraltar, a strip of Spanish soil with a big mountain on it that belongs to the British. It's quite bizarre to cross over the border and instantly see English everywhere, English red phone boxes, proper policemen and bunting for the forthcoming Queen's Jubilee. We sat in the square and ate fish and chips like tourists. It would have felt like we were at home, if only the weather weren't so nice!