Posts tagged tarifa

The Easter Bunny Doesn’t Come to Spain

Ahh, Easter. That time of the year when the Easter bunny makes his sweet deliveries to all of the sugar-addicted children, when eggs are painted bright colors and hidden in the grass for hunting, and chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks are mass-produced. I suppose, if you’re Catholic, good chances are this might be the second time of the year you go to church (Christmas and Easter Catholics, anyone?) Or, maybe not, but that just about accurately describes me.

Growing up, Easter was always a favorite holiday. HELLOOO, have you tried Cadbury eggs?! But here in my dearly adopted country of Spain, I’m pain-stricken to say no jelly-beans or Peeps will be consumed, no plastic eggs will be hidden, and no Easter baskets will be filled. Instead, I’m heading up to the lush, green north of Spain to consume pintxos and kalimotxos to my heart’s content and maybe take in some traditional Semana Santa processions.

Good news is, if I’m really desperate for Cadbury, I can hop over to Gibraltar or even buy the Lindt chocolate eggs I saw advertised in the stores yesterday. We’ll see how I hold up. Until then, my Easter-bunny believing readers, indulge for me and enjoy these pictures of Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions I witnessed in Tarifa my first Easter here, last year.

P.S. YES, I know they look like Ku Klux Klan, but I promise this is the traditional uniform for brotherhoods during Holy Week in Spain. They’re called capirotes and are used to conceal the identity of those wearing them. In Andalucía, where I live, the processions are among the most famous, and thousands gather in crowds to witness the elaborate (and HEAVY!) statues being carried through the streets. This week is a solemn affair for which each city takes the entire year to plan. Yesterday, when rain fell in some parts of Spain and processions were cancelled, everyone was crying in the streets. Intense!

Photo Essay: Seeing My Surroundings With New Eyes

Lately, I’ve been consciously attempting to not slip into the feeling of being blind to my own beautiful surroundings. That must be what happens when there’s no certainty as to where you’ll be calling home. But, it also happens no matter where you are. I remember being back home, and majestic Mt. Rainier towering over my hometown in Washington State would somehow slip into the backdrop as I became accustomed to seeing it everyday. Now, it seems the Mediterranean is just another body of water until I focus on seeing my daily surroundings with new eyes.

So, I set off to explore my own backyard, be a tourist in my own area, and let my eyes absorb the same beauty that first-time visitors see. Where did this journey take me? A 20-minute bus-ride to one of my favorite coastal cities; Tarifa.

Futuristic sculpture overlooking the Atlantic.


Entrance to the Old Town.

Crumbling buildings are a photographer’s dream.

That’s Morocco in the background!

I’m slightly obsessed with taking pictures of pretty doors.

Palm trees and peeling paint.

Posing puppy.

Pretty brickwork.

Photography Exposition.

The library. Where I could get lost for hours.

All it took was escaping my daily routine, a few hours in the sunshine and the company of a friend to better appreciate the area that is my home away from home.

I encourage you to get out of your house this weekend, take a camera and explore on foot your surroundings. It could be your town, or a neighboring town, but get out there and try to see it from a traveler’s perspective (which generally means “I won’t be back here any time soon, so I better enjoy these sights.”) You’ll be surprised what you stumble upon.

Have you ever played tourist in your own backyard?

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Where I’d Take a Visitor to in Andalucía, Spain

Despite it being January, I can’t help but be SO excited about summer. My parents plan to spend a month here in Europe with me, my aunt is constantly checking flights, and my brothers and their significant others are throwing around dates and saving up vacation days. By the looks of it, I’ll be having a steady stream of visitors, not to mention my friends who have already bought their plane tickets!

With the exception of my brother’s lovely wife, none of them have stepped foot in Spain before. With all of their different itineraries lasting from a few days to a few weeks, these are a collection of my favorite spots I’ll show them in Spain’s south; and where you should map your itinerary if you plan on visiting Andalucía.


Countryside leading to Tarifa, and Morocco behind.

Tarifa goes from quiet coastal village to buzzing beach town as the weather heats up. As Spain’s (and continental Europe’s) southernmost city, Tarifa beckons kite-surfing aficionados chasing the notorious winds of the area, and sun-worshipers setting their sights on the long white stretches of sand. Tarifa also delivers views of Morocco, as Tangier sits directly across the Strait of Gibraltar, and is where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet. Go here, channel your inner Sarah Palin and say you “can see Russia Africa from your backyard.” 


View of Old Town across the El Tajo Gorge in Ronda.

Ernest Hemingway was so in love with Ronda, he decided to call it home and penned his novel For Whom The Bell Tolls about it. Ronda is an enchanting hill-top town perched precariously atop the El Tajo gorge that plunges down, and is surrounded by valleys of olive groves and vineyards. It’s the quintessential pueblo blanco of Andalucía.


Just thinking of Sevilla reminds me of its signature fragrance: orange blossoms permeating the air. Sevilla embraces all of the things that make Andalucía what it is: the bullfighting, the ferias, the sangría and the flamenco and they do so with absolute gusto.


View of the Moorish Quarter from the Alhambra Palace

Complimentary tapas, a heavy Moorish influence and a fascinating history all add to the allure of one of my favorite Spanish cities. Though the summers here are notoriously hot, it’s still worth braving the high temps for the views of the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens alone.


From the Balcony of Europe: Nerja

Northerners flock to the shores of Nerja for a sunny summer retreat. Picture secluded coves, white-sand beaches and whitewashed houses against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea and one can imagine the allure of this quaint seaside village.


Marbella at sunset

Marbella may have a hedonistic reputation, but there is more to it than its glitzy veneer. The city’s rich history as the result of being conquered by none less than the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs can be seen everywhere from crumbling castles in the casco antiguo (old town) to its mosques. Whether you come to partake in the excess of this elite resort town, or wander through its ancient streets you won’t leave disappointed.


The Cathedral of Cádiz

Cádiz, despite being a major port city, manages to be a worthy destination
with a thriving café culture and history that goes back further than Jesus Himself. It is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe and was founded by the Phoenicians, and later thrived from an influx of riches from the New World. It also boasts mainland Spain’s biggest Carnavale celebration, only steps behind Rio’s.

Andalucía swoons visitors with its intriguing history and perpetual sunshine—and though I’ve yet to go—Cordoba, Arcos De La Frontera, and several more pueblos along the Costa de la Luz and Costa del Sol are soon to be added to my list of destinations after this sweeping tour of the South.

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