• Tarnie Simms

The most beautiful part of Spain

Veja de la Frontera


After two days of driving, in which we stumbled upon Carnival in Cadiz which was an amazing city wide street party we arrived at our final location before Africa. A small town on the Southern Coast of Spain, Veja De La Frontera. Sitting atop a hillside bathed in late winter sunlight, this white town is the epitome of picturesque. It owes its striking white facade to its Moorish conquerors, whilst the town is centred around a traditionally Christian cathedral. It is a stunning meeting of cultures sitting only 10 minutes from the Spanish coastline.



It’s hard to describe the beauty of the town but I will try. At its centre the cobbled streets wind up and down impossibly steep hills, being hugged by old moorish style buildings which now house a combination of shops, restaurants, tapas bars and residences. Entering our own very own oasis in the centre, you come into a central courtyard with steep stair wells from both directions climbing to the individual apartments. We entered our and my breath was taken away yet again. With a central stone pillar the downstairs is dark, protecting from the summer heat. You make your way upstairs, again impossible steep, to an open and light kitchen spilling out onto a roof terrace with 260 views of a truly spectacular town surrounded by the rolling green hills of Andalucia.


The town is steeped in history having played host to some of the world's oldest civilisations from the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans over the centuries. Because it is perched perfectly atop the hills it was traditionally a fortress town for both defending against Iberians of the interior and pirates from the coast. Veja was named a Historic Artistic Site in 1976 This makes it all the more interesting now with this history coming through not only in the architecture but the food as well. There are far too many restaurants to name them all, and not once did we have a bad meal, but this town is a culinary delight with food from Spanish tapas, to Morcoon and more northern European influences.



The highlights for us, and this was an incredibly difficult decision came down to a couple. Restaurante Las Delicias and El Aljibe. The former has the most amazing decor of any restaurant I have ever seen, being housed in what looks like an old theatre with soaring high ceilings, incredibly striking lights and what could pass for an indoor nursery. All this aside they have an amazing wine list and their beef is local Andalusian cattle which is flavoursome and perfectly cooked. The latter is vastly different, a tiny local tapas place run by a mother son team, they will pretty much cook whatever tapas you are in the mood for. There serrano ham with a house white is particularly good, if beer is more your thing they have an excellent local beer menu.


Plaza de Trafalgar.

Yes this is named after the same Trafalgar square as it is off this coast that the legendary battle of Trafalgar took place. The square opened up before us as we wound our way down one of the many paths around the town. It was something out of the Mummy, an oasis amongst the desert, not that we were in the desert but you get the picture. The square centred around a beautiful water feature which was ringed by palm trees and a mosaic floor. Around this central roundabout restaurants spilled onto the pavement with delicious scents wafting from every direction. It is possibly the most unassuming and beautiful square I have seen to date. I didn’t get there but if you can, there is an amazing looking Sherry bar perched on one of the streets leading to the square, filled with locals and tourists alike most days of the week.



The Andalucian Countryside.


The area around Veja was just breathtaking with farmland stretching in three directions with the coast being in the fourth. Off in the distance are wooded areas and some Nature reserves which play host to some beautiful hiking.



Beach

Ten minutes drive from Veja is a beautiful surf beach, Playa del Palma. This is your quintessential surfers paradise, which beach shacks, renting gear and selling beer lining the road opposite the beach. As you walk down the one footpath, surfer rental, makeshift gyms, the token up market restaurant and an endless supply of beach bars make this place is perfect. The clear standout for excellent coffee, wine and the best, albeit Australian style breakfasts, Is Homies! Homies is a wooden surf hut, with more outdoor space than indoor with a surf rental on one side and a skate bowl on the other, this is grand central at all times of the day with some truly awesome skaters. I tried several things on the menu and I have no recommendations except all of it.


The waves are generally on the smaller side but at least a couple of times a week are great fun for a ride for both the more experienced and beginners like me.


Walk

I had been desperate for a hike, so I started at a small and incredibly desolate town around Cabo Trafalgar to Barabate. The Trafalgar lighthouse is the site of the battle of Trafalgar and the famous General Nelson. The town surrounding this is like a creepy, deserted amusement park complete with tumbleweed. It's incredibly sad and a clear sign of how hard Spain was hit in the depression. As you walk out of town along stunning stretches of beaches you climb what seems a giant sand dune, the only difference it is covered in trees. The Walk along the Barbate cliffs is stunning, as you trek through a wooded cliff town with the horizon stretching out beside you.



After around 2 hours you reach Barbate which on the outskirts seems to be a stinky fishing village but you soon find the main waterfront area full of local Spanish seafood restaurants. All serve similar fair and are packed with locals. This was exciting for us as, out to the distance there you can see Morocco in the distance. It’s a walk that is well worth it, it’s about a 4-5 hour return trip with a stunning sunset from the Trafalgar lighthouse at the end.


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