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Thursday, 22 March 2007

This is Tarifa

I am never sure at what point exactly I fall under the spell of Tarifa. I think it happens somewhere between the last roundabout behind Algeciras before the winding climb through the straits and just before I catch my first glimpse of the long white sandy beach stretching away from the walled frontier town to the foot of the giant dunes on Punto Paloma in the distance.

It could be that I am revitalized by the energy radiated from the humming generators nesting high above the road on wind turbines. First there were only six and now there are hundreds of the giants lining the hills and blown ceaselessly by the levante and poniente winds sweeping this most southern point of Europe.

We make for Hotel Restaurante La Torre where we have often stayed before. They have a special offer this weekend, dinner bed and breakfast for € 45 per person. It is a 100 year old house which has been extended and decorated in warm earthy colours. After our welcome we unpack and make straight for Punto Paloma.

Kite surfers slide across the cold clean foam flecked Atlantic waters with their sails soaring high above them. The butterfly coloured sails of board surfers flick backwards and forwards across the bay. On the beach elite wet suited athletes chat or lie entwined in the heat of the late afternoon Saturday sun. This is Tarifa.

At 9pm we are first down for dinner. The dining room is almost deserted. Our waiter explains apologetically "Real Madrid is playing Barcelona this evening". I catch the replays of the six goals by craning my head back to see a screen in the lounge. The meat roasted in a wood oven is delicious. Two good looking young men photograph each other and then examine the pictures approvingly. The wine is excellent and our room is comfortingly close above the dining room.

We go down to Sunday breakfast at ten. We have toasted rolls with olive oil and brushed with newly cut tomato. Fresh orange is followed by cups of coffee. Our waitress, different to the local girls is a Madrileña, a curly haired young woman with exotic features.

Checking out we make for the Hurricane a few hundred metres along the beach. The colonial style hotel is set amongst tall trees and tropical gardens. It is a beautiful morning and we pick an outdoor table overlooking the sea on the beach restaurant terrace.This becomes our base for the day.

Between excursions to the beach we have a salad and paella lunch piled high on our plates. We queue for large glasses of hot tea. No one is in a hurry, this is Tarifa. You will get your food and drink. At some point the magic of the clean Atlantic waters, the white sands and surrounding hills will wash over you.

On the way home we drive slowly, it has been a perfect weekend. As we climb back over the straits the whisking sails fade into the distance behind us. The enormous blades of the windmills are still turning. Across the straits we can see the flat roofed houses on the African shores. The peace of Tarifa stays with us long after we enter the sprawl of the Costa del Sol.

PS: You can now do online bus ticket reservations from the Costa del Sol to Cadiz using the gomarbella reservation system.

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