I’m writing this in the Ave, Spain’s high-speed rail system, as it takes us from what has to be one of the most splendid, unspoiled areas of this wonderful country- La Costa de la Luz.
This coast runs from roughly Cadiz to the Portuguese border. There, you can find mile upon mile of beautiful white sand and few people. We came to visit our friend, Alberto, during a three-day weekend in August and only found clusters of people- not the madhouses that are the beaches further up the coast where people have to come at 6 a.m. to stake a claim.
We stayed in a Alberto’s beach house in Mazagón, which is just outside of Palos de la Frontera (this is the town where Columbus set sail for the New World). Mazagón and indeed all the towns are relaxed and 100% Spanish. No tacky five-language menus to be found.
Speaking of food, it is fantastic and cheap. One night we went to a terrace and made a feast of all manner of boiled and fried fresh seafood. With two bottles of the best local white wine I’ve ever had, the bill came to €15 per person. In Madrid, it would cost three times as much and taste half as fresh.
After our dinner, we made our way to Palos for the village festivals. There amongst carnival rides and music, we were able to enjoy the hospitality of Alberto’s friends’ caseta. Casetas are tents sponsored by families or groups of friends with drinks and seating. Translation: free cocktails in the middle of the action.
Our times at the beach were equally wonderful. On our first day we went to the town beach near the house. While there were quite a few people, it wasn’t crowded. We were able to see enormous ships leave the port and watch children fly kites. An enormous bocadillo at the chiringuito (beach shack) set us back €3.50 each. Unthinkable in Barcelona or any other popular area. The only catch was that poor Rafa’s legs got toasted in the Andaluz sun.
The next day, Alberto drove us a few miles out of Mazagón to a natural park with beaches embraced by craggy cliffs. There, we spent the day on a nearly-abandoned beach with neighbors enjoying the sun in the buff.
Overall, a 10 out of 10 weekend getaway. Now, it’s back to marvelous Madrid. Ahh…