Fresh from Morocco (Begin the journey here), we had three days to enjoy the warm, ever sunny coast of Southern Spain. We are staying at Aunt Katka’s place in Marbella, so our obvious starting point is right out the front door.
Marbella is a bit of a plastic town, recently developed to accommodate the boom of foreign investors wanting property along the Andalucian Coast. This is good and bad. The good being a ten-minute walk to the Coast, which is pretty special.
It is warmer along the coast than it was in the Moroccan desert, and pasty tourists from all over the Northern countries redden in the sun. The coast is crowded with fake tans and boob jobs, accents varying from Russian to British, and bathing suits ranging from Calvin Klein to Sauvage. Not my scene. We walk along and eventually stop for a pumpkin seed and beer break with a view of Marbella’s enigmatic mountain “La Concha”.
But underneath the glitz and fake glamour, there is a truly beautiful quaint old town with lush gardens and cobbled streets.
We are still tired from a messed up sleep schedule from the Moroccan road trip, so we relax the rest of the day away in the sun drinking beers and barbecuing with the family.
The next day, we wake up a bit too late and head on a road trip with Ivana’s father Patrick, and her Uncle, Roman. The destination: Tarifa, the most Southern point in Mainland Europe.
Only an hour and a halfish from Marbella, Tarifa has some lovely views of Africa and a less fake touristy environment. We sat along the coast watching the Atlantic, enjoying the perfect breeze.
Just like Marbella, Tarifa has a cute little old town with locals eating tapas and drinking wine, little squares with flea markets, and cobbled streets.
Uncle Roman is still a bit tired from Morocco. You’ll be home soon, bud.
It’s been a lovely time wandering around in Tarifa, and I wish I could stay in the paradise of Spain forever. I know that soon I will be back in Denmark where it is cold and windy, so I try and soak up as much sun as possible.
We hop back in the car and head towards a bucket list location of mine: Gibraltar. I have a fascination with the little countries of the world, like Brunei, Hong Kong, and Macau. Obviously, I had to visit Gibraltar to see what was going on in Englands little stronghold in the Mediterranean. A quick drive from Tarifa, we parked the car on the Spanish border and walked through the border. I was expecting a whole procedure, as is usually the case when entering the United Kingdom. But the border procedure was merely flashing your passport to the police while walking through the border and then entering on the other side. Easy.
The weird part then came when we had to cross an active runway to get into the country. Real estate is a bit of an issue on the Rock, so the airport is also the marker for the border.
The architecture was most certainly Spanish, but Irish pubs sat and Union Jacks flew abundantly. Gibraltans speak with a very interesting accent, not quite British and not quite Spanish but somewhere in between. We wandered down the main street to buy some absurdly cheap tax-free liquor and cigars for later use. Gibraltar is quiet and cute, with not much going on aside from some locals drinking beers in the warm sun.
We walked to the outskirts, where there were only apartments and locals sunbathing, to get a spot along the coast. We were welcomed by the most ‘British’ public safety sign, perhaps ever.
Hemingway translation: “Enter at your own risk”.
Here we sat for quite a while, eating peanuts and oranges, sipping on Scotch, and puffing on Cuban cigars while writing postcards. Paradise.
Gibraltar’s is an interesting stop for a few hours, and we did not even make it to the “touristy” destinations of the city. Well worth the journey and unraveling in this odd land. We stopped in the pub for a pint before hitting the road back to Marbella.
The next day was another bucket list destination for me, in the form of seeing the beautiful Alhambra Palace of Granada. Few destinations are more special in Europe, representing the border to a time when the lines between the West and East were heavily blurred. A two-hour drive from Marbella, we made the journey and arrived in Granada in time for a Jamon Serrano sandwich and coffee before entering the palace.
Despite a large number of tourists, the palace has a calm and enclosed feeling. It feels completely isolated from the outside world. I can understand why the Sultans chose this spot to set up camp, with beautiful weather and surrounding mountains.
The palace itself is a masterpiece of elaborate craftsmanship that makes all who enter feel at peace. Water gargles quietly from the mouths of fountains, and the hushed chatter of tourists passing by makes one feel the desire to stay a while and contemplate those who once called this palace home.
I love the geometry of Islamic art, and I am sure I will never tire of the perfect patterns adorning mosques across the Muslim world.
The town of Granada itself is relaxed and youthful, with a University nearby tailoring to the Andalucian youth of the region. The town is quaint and easy to get lost in, but the privilege to do so is one worth taking.
We stop for a quick beer and peanuts to get back on the road. Ivana and I have an early flight the next morning and have thus chosen to spend the night at the airport. This entire trip has been a whirlwind of exotic sunshine and smells, from the early morning drives into Morocco to the rides through the Sahara. I feel grateful to have been able to experience such amazing places and to have had the privilege to experience the vastness of the silent Sahara. A trip of only ten days felt like a month, and every moment was pleasant and fulfilling to the spirit. I found a bit of paradise in Spain and Morocco that I will soon miss as soon as the Danish winds freeze me to the bone, and I am sure I will already crave the ability to be back on the road seeing this beautiful planet we call home.
Thank you for joining me on this ride through Morocco and Spain. I will be up and running with some new posts soon and hope to write a bit more about this enigmatic Denmark that I am currently calling home. Please like, subscribe and comment if you feel, and I hope to see you again soon. Thank you again!