In Octubre 2015, we had the opportunity to drive a Volkswagen T4 California Exclv. around Andalucía, in response to the invitation of Flamenco Campers.
Our experience will be narrated as follows:
- In the first part of the tour, after our arrival in Málaga, we will set off for Cádiz.
- The second part will lead us to the higlights of Córdoba and Granada.
- In part 3 we will explain all the details about accommodation.
So, let’s get started! An amazing tour through the highways and byways of Andalucía is expecting us!
As the distance between Dortmund and Andalucía is about 2,000 km, the journey began on a Ryanair flight. Since we had booked in advance, the flight was not only reasonably priced but also quite convenient as boarding directly from our hometown.
Apart from the expected narrow seating, the flight became a really pleasant experience, and we landed in Málaga on time.
Once we have taken our luggage (15 kg for two persons!), we had time to familiarise ourselves with Málaga’s high temperature before Gonzalo, the owner of Flamenco Campers, rushed to greet us joyfully.
After several emails and a face-to-face encounter at the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, I had the chance to see him again in the south of Spain. It only took us 10 minutes to reach the base of Flamenco Campers, where “Lola” welcomed us warmly.
Why we decided to choose this model precisely? We’ll let you know in an upcoming article.
Gonzalo supplied us with a variety of accessories like camping chairs and guidebooks and he also asked us about our plans and interests. Based on this information, we worked together to develop the most suitable measures to cope with along a 9-day tour.
There were a good number of tips on the route and campsites to be taken into account. As we could manage with very small luggage, we thanked Gonzalo for having kept all the rest of our massive packing inside their wardrobes.
We were anxious to get on route with Lola and, after a couple of attempts to command the gears, brakes and steering of our new vehicle, we finally set off.
The first stop was however very close: at a Lidl, to store supplies!
We reached quickly the coastal highway and crossed over Marbella. We had heard about the swanky Puerto Banús Marina and so, we decided that such an impressive port would have been worth a visit.
Anyway, we turned eastwards behind Marbella heading for a 70-kilometre-long winding road and after so much steering and switching task, Lola and I became an inseparable team.
Shortly before nightfall, we reached the campsite of Ronda. Ronda City, highly recommended and appraised by every person we met, lived up to our highest expectations. Full of excitement, we got ready to taste the first tapas.
The next morning, we were on our walk into town, which took us about 20 minutes. We passed through the city wall and then we went uphill towards the city centre.
At first sight, Ronda looked like a fascinating old city on the slope of a hill but then, when we reached the “New Bridge” (‘Puente Viejo’, built at the end of the 18th century), we could understand why so many visitors from all over the world come and see this typical Andalusian city.
The town lies at 723 metres above sea level. The Moorish-influenced old town is situated on a round precipitous rocky plateau. The modern district and the old town are separated by a 100-metre-depth canyon.
Although the bridge, its main attraction, invites to take photos from all posible imaginable angles, you can also discover plenty of other fascinating places: architecturally charming squares, churches, narrow streets, restaurants, cafes and typical shops.
Should not go unmentioned the bullring (“Plaza de Toros”) built between 1779 and 1785, where bullfighting rules emerged and whose arena can be visited for a small admission fee.
Ronda offered us an impressive start in our Andalucía tour. After the trip to the mountains, we headed back towards the sea. On the way back to the coast, and after more than 1,000 curves, we still made a few stopovers.
The first one was the “Castillo de Castellar”, a castle built in Moorish times transformed into a hotel, apartments and craftmangift shops.
The same winding road led us to the parking lot. Lola made an unimaginable effort and, after the climb to the castle we were rewarded with a very special place from where we discovered beautiful houses and fantastic views over the national park, and the massive rock of Gibraltar.
A poster offering paddle tours in one of the surrounding lakes tempted us to enjoy such an experience. If we had more time…!
We had time nonetheless to take a stroll through the bending streets of the castle before heading back to the parking lot.
Our destination was the coast, more precisely Tarifa, the southernmost point of Europe.
Gonzalo led us to a vantage point just before Tarifa from which we could have a wonderful view of the opposite coast of Africa.
Coming from the east it is however not posible to turn left into the parking lot. In my opinion, this manoeuvre is worthwhile in clear weather as a one-time “detour”.
As a clear conclusión: 9 days in Andalucía are too, too short.
We reached the campsite in Tarifa before it got dark. Since we had a really busy day full of scary impressions, we opted for a relaxed dinner at the local pizzería.
To visit Tarifa the next morning, we took a walk along the beach … Had not anyone told us this would take about half an hour? In fact, it was about 6 kilometres long, so it took us more than an hour. In addition, there was a shocking moment when we realised that water was not only on our right, but also on our left …! But as we learned later, it was a lagoon.
In order to play safe, we reached a plot of land through the water … to discover we were wet up to our underpants! Perfect condition for a pleasant stroll through the surfer’s stronghold: Tarifa.
It must have looked pretty funny, when we were still for a long while standing on the beach trying to dry our pants using just sun and wind!
As this was reasonably successful, we strolled along the beach promenade, which we did not find especially attractive, but where we found out some nice beach bars and cafes.
Tarifa is not only a meeting point for kite surfers who find the place as an ideal area, but also for “digital nomads” ̶ people who work on line.
The old town of Tarifa is really nice and has a pleasant atmosphere, with people coming from all parts of the world. We opted for the Tapas Bar “El Lola” ̶ how appropriate! This can be found at Calle Guzmán el Bueno, 3.
Later in the afternoon we met Johannes, a German man who operates a so-called “coworking space”. Johannes is also autor of a nice guide of Tarifa.
At sunset we sat at Papagayo Beach bar and ordered some cocktails. At about 8 p.m., when we have thought that it was about time to have dinner, I got an invitation from Stefan, a man who lives in a campingbus and who manages a company of 20 employees.
You will now probable say: “Was that all?”
Although I did not know Stefan personally, we accepted to meet at a steakhouse with eight people, all of which operate in and from Tarifa. We formed an international group with exciting stories to be told to one another.
After the second quiet night in Tarifa, it was time to continue our journey. All of us had a fixed idea in our minds: “We will be back!”
We drove west along the coast not far from the nearest visiting point: the Roman archaelogical sites “Baths of Claudia” and its museum.
Even if you are not so interested in “Stone watching”, I would recommend you the trip to Bolonia.
The museum is in fact an impressive architectural design and all the complex is situated in a beautiful bay with magnificent beaches to relax, swim or climb dunes.
All those who decide to visit the excavations will have the chance to learn a lot about the Romans: its fantastic buildings and infrastructure at that time.
In the future course of the coast we fell by chance in the area between Zahara de los Atunes and Bahía de la Plata.
Stunning houses, partly in classical style and partly in Bauhaus, are spread in the hills near the sea for anyone who appreciates the real zest for living.
On the way towards our destination –Cádiz–, we visited one of the famous “white towns” of Andalucía: Vejer de la Frontera, whose central square “Plaza de España” is well worth a visit.
We had an excellent lunch at “Califa Express”, an Arab restaurant right on the Plaza.
In the late afternoon we arrived in Cádiz. This supposedly Europe’s oldest town is situated on a promontory. To reach the old town, you must drive along a straight road into the city passing through the less attractive new town.
After fumbling around for a while, we found a parking space for Lola on a large parking lot right on the water, which was reasonably priced. From there, we set out for a stroll by Cádiz and we must admit we felt a little scared walking along of these narrow streets full of corners.
The unusual Spanish daily rhythm was evident in the numerous lively shops open until early evening. When we first found the shopping streets, it was getting dark, and our vision of this urban scenario was progressively changing for better.
Unfortunately, it was too late to visit the market hall in the city, so we planned to visit the fist market in the morning. We were carried along the captivating atmosphere before going to the supermarket to get supplies for dinner.
We had previously chosen a parking place on the harbour with the intention of catching a privileged overlook of the bay for free.
Why we failed in finding the desired peace…? I will let you know in the following articles.
In the meanwhile, we will continue our itinerary towards Córdoba and Granada.