We recently spent a week in Spain for our winter break. The second week in February is typically when Germans take their skiing vacation in the Alps, but we were definitely missing the sun and had decided in the fall to go as far south as we possibly could come February. It was my first time in Spain and I struggled to switch my brain over to speaking and understanding a version of Spanish which sounded so different from the Central American Spanish that I am more familiar with. We flew directly from Berlin into Malaga (thanks EasyJet!), the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, a city on the famed “Costa del Sol.” With our trusty GPS-less VW Cabriolet rental we headed straight to the mountain town of Ronda based on recommendations from friends and our own research. It was breathtakingly beautiful and very cold. In fact, it snowed our first evening in town! But the orange trees were laden with fruit and when the sun did peek out from behind a storm cloud, the white buildings glowed in the light.
view of Ronda from our apartment.
famous Puente Nuevo bridge
view of Ronda from below with its dramatic cliff side setting
Tourists taking photos of the bridge (with beautiful countryside in background)
We were definitely not in Berlin anymore. We spent our days wandering the beautiful cliff side city and eating delicious tapas. Even the kids got into the spirit willingly eating pork cheeks and trying calamari (well, one of our children). While decidedly off-season, Ronda was a popular tourist attraction with large groups of tourists roaming the town, even in early February. The best part was getting out into nature. With the cold weather and urban surroundings, we had really been craving a little fresh air and wide-open spaces after 5 months in the sprawling metropolis of Berlin. Randomly, our Berlin neighbors happened to have also chosen Malaga as their vacation destination and they drove up to Ronda for the day to meet us for lunch and a walk around town.
hiking below Ronda with signs of spring!
From Ronda we drove 2 hours south to the southernmost tip of continental Europe near the rock of Gibraltar to a town called Tarifa. Most famous for its kite surfing and windsurfing, it felt sort of like a Spanish version of Hood River, OR with “surf bars” and laid back style. We could see Morocco from the window of our airbnb as Tangier was only 14 km across the water. Again, it was not as warm as we might have hoped, but the sun did occasionally come out and we got in some quality beach time. The first day we hiked along the beach to the neighboring town of Bolonia where the ruins of a Roman town, Baelo Claudia, were located. The next day was spent wandering around the lovely old town of Tarifa with its obvious Moorish influences and thinking we probably should have caught the ferry to Tangier, just for the day. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Instead we ate churros, then more tapas and spent the afternoon at the beach. Iris, mermaid that she is, even went in the water!
walking along the beach to Bolonia
Exploring the ancient Roman city of Baelo Claudia (that’s Morocco in the distance)
We spent out last night in Malaga and took in the final evening of Carnival festivities including a parade comprised of various groups of people in themed costumes—roses, pirates, anchovies, Germans. Dan had read that the parade was supposed to culminate in the ceremonial burying of an anchovy on the beach—the meaning of which I do not know. We missed the anchovy-burying ceremony but did enjoy wandering around the beautiful old city with its winding, narrow cobblestone streets.
Pulpo (octopus) y uno en Espana
Watching the sunset on our last night in Tarifa.