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To the end of the world, back, and everywhere in between Some take holiday, some go on gap year and some never come back...this is for all of us, lost in travel

Back to Europe (Andalucia: Malaga, Grazalema, Arcos, Jerez, Cadiz, Tarifa)

SPAIN | Monday, 30 June 2014 | Views [560]

So it’s been a fair while since I have posted but that doesn't mean that I haven't been doing a bit more exploring over the last year...Wow, its actually been 15 months since I returned to the 'normal' life. Unfortunately at the end of the day, I need  funds to pay for the next adventure so until that time (it is coming very, very soon) I had to satisfy my itchy feet with smaller scale adventures...

Anadalucia 2013

And so in February last year, just before starting a 'proper' job again I head out to Anadalucia for couple of weeks.. I absolutely love that area of Spain, have been there before a few times before but this time decided to take a road trip through a few less known places.

I have thought about doing this journey using public transport but to be perfectly honest after investigating the infrequent buses and not very convenient train connections, and travelling with my sis, we decided that car rental is the way forward, at £180 for 10 day with unlimited mileage - is a bargain!

We started off in Malaga which I have to say charmed me this time around. I always thought about it as a rather unattractive city but this time, staying with some friends and having some time to explore the new harbour and the castle, I must say I rather liked the experience. There are also some really nice veggie places to dine in which always brings a smile to a vegetarian traveller J

But the whole point of this journey was to get out of the city (after just a month in London, filled with looking for an apartment and a job, I felt like the city is suffocating me) so after a day in Malaga we picked up our car and headed for the mountains. I love the  mountains around Sierra Nevada, although the main range is very popular among the tourists, the smaller ranges are fairly unknown so you really tend to be the one foreigner in town.

On the way we quickly stopped at Ronda and it’s beautiful gorge – well worth visiting even if just for a cup of delicious chocolate at Café Chocolate.

We stayed in the most charming town of Grazalema from where there are plenty of shorter and longer walks through the surrounding ranges (up to 2200m). These are quite chilled out which suited me just fine as one of the surprises that waited for me at home was that I have managed to break a toe and a base of my foot when climbing in Bolivia and the bones did not set right so prolonged climbing was not really advisable as I was waiting for an operation.

The day after arrival myself and my sister have set out on a lovely leisurely walk in the mountains. What we were planning to do was the loop walk that would take about 3 hours, was not too high and not too challenging… Reading a map proved to be too challenging though and with fairly confusing track markings we actually ended up on a top of mountain with me politely asking fellow walkers where the hell am I and how to go back to town! It turned out that we did totally miss the loop but climbed 1600m in the process and the view was amazing (even if my foot did suffer in the process)!!!

We spent the evening in the best possible way – drinking local wine and eating some delicious cheeses, olives and other local produce – you really can’t go wrong with food in South Spain even if you are vegetarian. I totally fell in love with Grazalema, it is beautiful, charming and full of lovely people.

The drive through the mountains, though filled with some rather scary moments is absolutely amazing and well worth the detour.

From Grazalema we headed for Arcos de la Frontera. Again not really a place that sees lots of tourism (especially in February) but the old cathedral and the view from the wall down the gorge is truly breath taking. There is a slight problem with staying inside the old town if you have a car (no parking and dangerously narrow streets to navigate – my sis was not impressed!) so we settled for a comfy place just outside with parking spot right in front.

There is not much to make you linger in town so after an afternoon walking around the old town we decided that it’s pretty but not really worth staying another night and so next day headed for Jerez – the capital of Sherry!

As you approach Jerez it actually doesn’t look that attractive but once you get into the small streets of the old town, tiny sherry bodegas, the sounds of flamenco and of course the obligatory visit to Tio Pepe site.

We were in luck as we arrived at the time f the International Flamenco Festival  and managed to get a ticket to an amazing, modern flamenco performance.

But for me the charm and spirit of Jerez is in walking round the town, sipping sherry and looking through the windows to see the practicing flamenco dancers and listening to music played on pretty much every square.

It was a very relaxing place and after few days whiled away, we headed for Cadiz.

Cadiz doesn’t seem to get that many good write ups. It seems to be largely omitted from travel guides but we were pleasantly surprised. Of course the cathedral is very impressive, no doubt about it, but so are the winding streets of the old town, great walk around the sea promenade, amazing, delicious food, lovely people… It was a true surprise of how nice the place was. Being rather large city is till retained nice and clean long beaches and was a pleasure to stroll through. Oh and the food!!! Food was amazing mix of Moroccan and Spanish influences – great stuff!

But it’s still is a city and so I was really keen to get out of there after a few days and get to our last stop – Tarifa. Now, that is unfortunately more of what I got to know on the Spanish coast – a very touristy place, overrun by English and German expats. Nevertheless it is beautiful, easy going with long beautiful beach (braved by two sisters in some horrendous winds, nearly turning us into kites) and of course a perfect place for wind and kite surfing.

We stayed in a great little b&b (there are plenty of those) and with abundance of charming places to eat and drink (amazing falafel place!!!) we were more than happy to spend a couple of days winding down before the inevitable return to ‘reality’.

We drove back to Malaga by the way of the coast – a bit longer way to take but definitely more scenic and of course you get to go past the Gibraltar rock. We of course nearly run out of petrol I the middle, running late for our car rental drop off point but in the end managed to get there on vapour and then safely return to England and Poland (my sis)…

And then I started to work again…

Tags: andalucia, arcos de frontera, cadiz, flamenco, grazalema, jerez, malaga, sherry, tarifa


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