Vejer de la Frontera
ANDALUCIA, VILLAGE, BEACH, FAMILY / MARCH 6, 2016
LUZ, AMOR Y VIDA IN VEJER DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN
Vejer de la Frontera is a white washed Arab-Andalusian village perched high above the Atlantic ocean. On a clear day you can look out over its windmill dotted hills and see the coast of Morocco.
Vejer de la Frontera isn’t just eye candy. It’s also interesting, with an artsy vibe, quirky shops, a dramatic, isolated setting, a medieval castle, contemporary design flourishes and eerie tales of people being driven mad by winter winds. Vejer has been ruled by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and Christians. It leveraged its veiled position (villages were white washed in order to conceal themselves from enemies scanning land from boats) to fend off invaders and tyrants like the Iberians of the interior and the Berber Corsairs. The Romans and others left archeological remains here but the greatest influence was clearly the Moors, who ruled the place for over 500 years. They gifted the town with its narrow, winding streets and unmistakably Arab architecture.
I love Vejer de la Frontera for its small hotels, intimate restaurants and proud, artful people. The old city wall and castle remain and amazingly, residences are built into them. In the center of town, a mosaic fountain marks Plaza de Espana, which may be the prettiest plaza in Andalucía. Everyone’s crazy about the Moroccan food at El Jardin de Califa, inside Hotel La Casa del Califa, and so am I. You can dine al fresco on their lovely patio or sit in their small cave-like candlelit dining room, which I like even more. I have a favorite outdoor table near the plaza that I gravitate to in the early mornings and order a café con leche with a couple of old guys who sip beer and wine. We all have toasted bread with marmelada.
My kids love Vejer de la Frontera for the sense of freedom they have running around town, which is made up of pedestrian streets and plazas and at night: soft pools of golden light. It’s easy to get lost, which is fun. They also love Vejer because it is a short drive to El Palmar, one of Europe’s best beginner surf breaks. We rent boards and spend the day in the water; when we’re hungry we grab lunch or snacks at one of the many chiringuitos lining the beach. After a cold beer and a plate of fish I usually succumb to a nap.
There are many unspoiled beaches along the coast near Vejer de la Frontera. Google the subject and you will be given a list; everyone has their favorites. Explore the coastline as you wish and make time to cruise around the backroads, some of my favorites in all of Spain. The area is home to Los Alcornocales, a positively enchanting mediterranean forest of heath and cork trees.
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