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As we picked up our rental car in Valencia to head south to Frigiliana, the gentleman assisting us recommended that we visit Cap de La Nau on our way down. So we put it in the GPS system we had brought with us and off we went! It turned out to be off the beaten path, but well worth the 3 hr diversion! This was our first glimpse of the Mediterranean since our teenage years. And so worth the effort!
The roads were great and the scenery was far more lovely than we had expected.
Almond trees in blossom!
Eventually we pulled into Frigiliana just as the sun was setting. The “trusty” GPS showed that we needed to climb a set of stairs, so we knew we could go no further! I called Filippo, our Airbnb host and he soon turned up in his car. After loading us and our two heavy suitcases and 2 carry-ons into his car (his English was very basic and our Spanish even more basic), he took off, winding his way higher and higher up the mountain (I was clinging to the center of the car!) until he could go no further. Then, against our protests, he picked up both of our cases and we scampered after him. Over the cobbled stones, down narrow lanes and up a few flight of stairs, we came to our little cottage – with probably the best view in Frigiliana!
And this is what we awoke to every day for the next two weeks! Not bad, hey?
Voted as “The most beautiful village in Spain” by the Spanish Tourism Authority, Frigiliana is just 7 km north of Nerja, on the Southeast coast of Spain. It is situated up on the side of El Fuerta, on the edge of the Sierras de Tejeda National Park, and overlooking the Mediterranean.
The village is a tangle of narrow cobbled stone streets lined with white washed houses.
Access by car is for delivery of goods and services only; groceries, restaurant supplies, etc. There are a few horizontal streets, but mostly it is up and down stairs – which is great exercise! We worked out that from where we could park the car to our cottage was like climbing 14 flights of stairs!
Pictures are really inadequate in conveying the quaintness and atmosphere. Between the homes and apartments for rent, are cafés, tourist shops, galleries and restaurants.
On any given day one could hear a variety of European and Asian languages spoken. Very few Americans. But quite a few Spanish tourists, which I was glad for.
These are the last flight of stairs leading up to the highest street, on which our cottage was located.
It so happened that our visit here co-coincided with the annual visit our dear Norwegian friends, Immi and Bertil Meland ( Immi via Finland!) have been making to this area every year for about the past 5 years. What luck! It was so good to see them again, and we really benefited from their knowledge of the area, customs and history.
On our first day there they showed us places along the coast, including old towers which were used to look out for marauding pirates – back in time!
And then we enjoyed a delicious lunch of fresh fish on this idyllic beach.
Another day they took us up into the mountains behind Frigiliana, to have lunch at the….
….very special Lost Village of El Acebuchal. (I highly recommend reading the history which goes back to the Franco times).
As we sat eating outside on a patio, a group of Spanish Cowboys rode up on their horses.
They then sat down and started to sing some traditional songs. I wish I could download the video I took, but for some reason I am unable to. The vibrancy and joy and harmony coming from them was such an unexpected bonus!
After eating we explored the village. A very memorable experience carved into our hearts and minds!
We started off another day buying some fresh veggies and baked goods from an organic market. After enjoying a cup of coffee they led us……..
over the Zafarraya Pass, through quiet towns and more White Washed villages. We would never have found these places on our own!
We stopped to explore a crematorium and this is the view as we exited!
Driving back along the winding roads, the sun low in the sky.
Rural life doesn’t stop just because some tourists drive by! As far as I was concerned, it added to the charm to see that some things still continued as in bygone days!
That slow pace of life was still evident in Frigiliana, too, where the older gentlemen would gather every day – probably to assess us tourists! And the elderly women would still dress up in a skirt and stockings every day!
Cars were not allowed nor could they access many of the lanes, but donkeys could! We almost missed seeing this fine fellow, we were so intent on our climb.
We never tired of seeing the sun set over the village and the ocean.
Looking west from our cottage, is a view of the highest lane in the village, which was like a continuation of our front gate!
Immi and Bertil are avid “horse people”, and they would often go riding with a Dutch couple they got to know, who own some wonderful horses and their home and ranch is situated on top of a hill with a 360 degree view of the ocean and surrounding countryside.
One day they were very generous and treated us to an hour’s riding lesson. What a thrill!
I even got to practice my Royal Wave!
Fortunately I cannot download the video of me trying, very clumsily, to dismount!!
In the afternoon we took off on our own to explore Comares, a White Washed village perched on top of a mountain, so that from a distance it looks as though the mountain were snow-capped! It dates back to pre Roman times and again, I highly recommend reading about it’s history.
But we had worked up quite an appetite after riding and needed to find somewhere to eat. Eventually we found a very local tapas bar on the beach and ordered sardines and marinated peppers. I saw some smoke coming from the beach and decided to take a look. They were cooking our fresh sardines!
Along with some other fish, our sardines were layered onto a stick. I thought it was very cool and they certainly were tasty!
The narrow road took us up 739 meters (2,438 ft) from sea level, along steep, hair-raising, twisty lanes. I seemed to spend a lot of the trip, almost on Jouko’s lap with eyes tightly shut!
Of course once up there, the views were spectacular!
Ceramic footprints set into the footpaths would lead one on a self-guided tour. Along the way were ceramic tiled pictures depicting the Moorish/Spanish history of the town.
With my fear of heights, I think I would have a problem living on such a cliff!
It didn’t take long to walk around the little town accompanied by the sweet scent of Orange Blossom.
Camares, Frigiliana and many other towns in Andalucia, share a common history where Islam, Judaism and Christianity at one point happily co-existed – until they were torn apart. In an effort to celebrate the history, traditions and culture of these 3 great religions, Frigiliana holds the Festival de las Tres Culturas every August. Throughout the town one can see the symbols of these 3 religions celebrated, as in the above sculpture.
We had come to Spain with pre-conceived ideas that it was just a place where central and northern Europeans went to get some sun in a tourist ghetto by the sea. We now knew that it was a beautiful country with a rich history, interesting and proud people and the cost of living was still lower than that of other countries.
Next, our visit to Córdoba!