The Balcony of Europe
One morning we hopped on a bus heading east to Nerja, the furthest town along the southern coast of Spain. After many stops to drop off and pick up others in towns along the way, we arrived 1.5 hours later. Whereas Málaga is much larger and considered glitzier than the other towns along the Costa del Sol, Nerja continues to thrive in old world charm. Spaniards retire here as well as other Europeans seeking warmth in winter, and there is a substantial population of British ex-pats. As a matter of fact, we heard more British accents here than we did Spanish on our visit.
When we first arrived, we stopped at a little bakery high above the beaches and enjoyed the morning sun. Then we strolled around town and down to a few of the beaches. Nerja’s seafront promenade, the great Balcony of Europe, sits above the Mediterranean commanding 360 degree views of the mountains, cliffs, beaches, and sea. It was worth the drive to simply stand there and gawk at the scenery. What was also worth the drive was enjoying all you can eat paella cooked on an open fire on Burrriana Beach. Salud (cheers)!
Freewheeling in Frigiliana
On another day, we once again board the bus to Nerja then grab a local bus and head high above to the white village of Frigiliana (Free-hee-lee-ahna). Fifteen minutes later we arrive and make a bee-line to Alexis’ churro and hot chocolate stand. Undeniably, the best churro and thick hot chocolate we had. We were fortunate to be here on a Thursday morning when the weekly Mercadillo (market) was set up and Alex had his churro stand open. After carbing-up we walked the many clothing and food stalls and meandered slowly up and down the lovely narrow lanes of Frigiliana. Scattered throughout town we enjoyed tossing a few coins into the many mechanical theatres along the way. Then we continued our walk up and out of the village on the seriously steep lanes (15-20% grades) bordering olive and avocado groves. While there are many other white village hill towns along the southern coast of Spain, this one is known for being a jewel and well worth going out of our way to get here.
When in Spain
Mornings start very slow in Spain, and in mid-December the sunrise was around 8:30 a.m. Most things don’t start happening until then with shops opening later morning. A Spanish breakfast is desayuno – it is typically a café con leche often with a pastry, but churros and hot chocolate are traditional. Café’s serve a mid-day lunch or comida anywhere from 12 – 4 p.m. It is typically several courses and heavier than dinner or cina. Cina starts at 7 p.m. or later and is light. Many businesses shut down for two hours for siesta, but that is common in many European cities.
The temperatures while we were in Málaga ranged from mid 50s to 60s. When on the beach in the sun it felt quite warm, but when the wind was blowing or we were in the network of walkways around the city we were in the shade so it felt cool. It was late fall/early winter here and people were wearing puffy coats, hats, and scarves with everyone wearing long pants and women wearing boots. The attire reminded me of Pacific Northwest clothing when it's 20 degrees cooler than here. So, when in Spain one begins the day with a slow, mellow start, and bundles up like a local.
Thanks for joining us on our journey.