We detoured back west again — around the mountains and down past Jerez — to the Costa de la Luz. It’s that bit of Spanish coast to the west of Gibraltar. It’s on the Atlantic rather than the Mediterranean, so I thought it might be colder. But there was nothing to worry about. It does get a lot of wind, but that keeps the windsurfers happy. And you can always find a nice sheltered cove no matter which direction it’s blowing from.
I went because I heard about the area from friends. I wanted to find a stretch of coast that’s free of the ugly overdevelopment of places like the Costa del Sol or Costa Blanca, and free of the blight of out of control package tourism.
The Costa de la Luz sees a huge influx of Spanish tourists from cities like Madrid in the August high season. But it’s otherwise pretty quiet. And it’s light years away from the British and German tourist scourge that makes those other stretches of coast one ugly beer-stinking fish and chip shop hell.
I was initially interested in Los Canos de Meca as a base. But upon further research, it felt like the small town’s hippy vibe might have too much of a party atmosphere for my taste.
I was looking for a quiet place where I could completely unwind. A place where I could sleep late, work for a couple hours in the morning, and spend the afternoon relaxing on a sparsely populated naked beach or exploring some hill town. Late afternoon would signal the time for an aperitif at a beach bar and a nice seafood dinner. And then reading and maybe a little more writing after dark.
We decided to base in the small town of Conil de la Frontera. And it was the perfect choice.
We’d be staying a week, so we found an apartment on HomeAway.com so we could self-cater for breakfast and a few other meals.
Casas de Conil is run by an Austrian expat called Lisa Wengbauer who has lived in the area for over a decade. I highly recommend their apartments if you’re ever in the area. The furnished one bedroom we rented was on the outskirts of town, with a view of the sea as well as broad rolling hills with wind turbines in the distance.
It was quiet. It had a nice terrace and those electric metal shutters that turn your room into a crypt — heaven if you like to sleep late like me. The place was also kitted out with satellite TV, a DVD player, and every kitchen gadget and appliance you could possibly need.
My goal for this part of the trip was to poke around the neighbouring towns and get a feel for this stretch of coast. I’m researching my next base for “life after Malta”, and Spain is a strong contender. I’ll tell you more about how I do it in the next blog.
So yeah, the Costa de la Luz. What can I say? It was a small slice of paradise.
We spent some time exploring medieval “white towns” like the hilltop Vejer de la Frontera. We drove over to Bolonia to see the ruins of a Roman city right next to the sea. We feasted each night on fine Rioja wines, Iberico jam, and tuna sashimi fresh off the boat. We made a really cool side trip to the rock of Gibraltar. And we patiently mapped miles and miles of deserted beaches and coves, where swimsuits were as rare as an honest politician.
Here are a few photographic highlights of the trip and the region:
Do me a favour, okay? Don’t tell anyone about this place. I’d hate to see it overrun. It’s so great the way it is.
And speaking of relocating…
I’ve had a few requests from folks who want to know how I go about choosing my next base. What sort of things I look for. How I do my research before changing countries. And what I’ve learned along the way.
We’ll talk about that in the next blog. Don’t miss it!
Photos ©Tomoko Goto 2013