May 13, 2006

We were up and out of Hostal Arias early on Saturday morning so we could catch the 9:00am bus to Tarifa, the southernmost city in Europe. We got all of our stuff packed up, and walked to the bus stop since it wasn't too far from the hotel. We were hoping that the Starbucks would be open for breakfast, but it was still closed. Once at the bus stop, I snacked on some Frosted Mini Wheats and Gardettos that I'd brought so I could free up some space in my bag as well as get a quasi-meal. We met a man in the bus station who said he owned a house on the beach in Tarifa, and tried to give us as many tips as he could in his broken English.

Our bus left right at 9:00am, and we were seated in the row of five seats at the back of the bus, so we must have gotten two of the last five seats on the bus. A man in the row in front of us had horrible, piquant body odor, but luckily he got off well before we reached Tarifa!

What country are we in again? Bull! We're still in Spain!

During a stretch of road just north of Tarifa, we started to see wind power generating windmills! When I worked at Universe of Energy at Epcot, the wind power segment was one of my favorites since I thought they were so pretty, and I thought it was so cool to see them in person! I really wish we'd had a minute to get out of the bus and get closer to them because, for whatever reason, they strike me as so kinetic art.

We arrived in Tarifa around 12:30, and made our way to our hotel. As we walked, we passed surf shop after surf can tell what the main tourist draw is in Tarifa! The walk got pretty tiring with my big backpack (next time, I am packing even lighter than I did this time!!)...

...but soon we found the city center, with its majestic archway entrance.

Our hotel was La Casa Amarilla, the Yellow House. It was pretty easy to spot as you approached it since it's the only building in the area that's yellow!

La Casa Amarilla's lobby

The interior of the hotel was gorgeous...this was by far my favorite of the hotels we stayed in.

The lobby was covered in gray marble and ironwork, and all the walls were a happy, bright yellow (the same yellow that I have in my bathroom at home!).

The room was opposite the front desk, and had two balconies, a small but full kitchen, marble floors...

...and probably the prettiest bathroom door I've ever seen! Plus, it was located pretty much in the center of the old area of the city, so it was central to everything...nothing in the area was more than a 10 minute walk.

Our room wasn't ready when we checked in, so they stored our luggage in the laundry room, and we headed out for a bite to eat.

Cafe Central was right across the street, so we stopped for a bite. Luckily for me, the menu was full of Julie friendly food choices! I was nearly ecstatic to find pasta on the menu since I hadn't seen it on any other menu in the last three days!

I promptly ordered the tortellini with herb sauce, and Kevin got a plate of four tapas. I guess since both things we ordered were "fill you up" sized meals, we confused the waitress when we ordered two! She was like "One for both?" and we're like "No, one meal each please!" haha North American over consumption rears it's ugly head! Needless to say, my pasta was awesome, and I think I made yummy noises through the whole meal.

Kevin got tortilla de patatas, a meatball dish with fries, a dish that he said he thought was pig knuckles, and a dish that was apparently fish, but didn't look remotely like any fish I'd ever seen! He said they were all great though!

After lunch, we walked down to the port to get our tickets for the ferry to Morocco the following day. When we first walked down there, it seemed like a long walk, but over the course of two days, I bet we walked that same way five times or more, and each time the walk seemed to get shorter and shorter. On the way, I popped a Euro into a vending machine with these huge balls with toys in them, but instead of giving me one toy for a Euro, it insisted on two Euros, then gave me two toys. They were interesting little junk, and probably stuff I will hang onto since they were the only non-useful souvenirs I got during the trip!

A boat in the Meditteranean Sea

Once at the FRS Iberia office, I got some confusion regarding my reservation straightened out, and we were headed off with our tickets fairly quickly. As we walked, we spotted this two-lane causeway that led out to a little island named Isla de las Palomas, so we decided to walk out to the end of it. We'd already noticed that Tarifa was quite breezy, but as we walked, the breeze turned to wind, then to howling wind! As we passed the beach on the Mediterranean side of the causeway, we were basically sandblasted by the wind picking up the sand! It was quite painful, but really really funny at the same time! My sun block had not quite soaked in yet, so not only was I getting sandblasted, but the sand was sticking to me!

We kept walking, trying to protect ourselves however we could from the wind. The view was really beautiful...too bad I could barely keep my eyes open to enjoy it!

When we finally reached the end, we found the signs that pointed out that the Atlantic was to our right...

...and the Mediterranean was to our left. Having never seen the Mediterranean, I thought it was pretty cool, despite the fact that the water looked just like the water off the beaches in the Bahamas.

We also found the sign telling us that we were in the "southest" city in Europe, which was a nice photo op. There was also a wall enclosing the whole area, so we got a brief break from the howling wind.

After taking a few moments to enjoy the island and chat with some folks from Miami that we spotted along the way, we walked back to the city. Really, it was so windy that it was hilarious, including a second sandblasting as we passed the beach a second time. Just as we got past the beach...

...the wind caught Kevin's hat and blew it into a construction zone behind a fence! After pondering for a moment the best way to retrieve the hat...

...he took the brute approach and pulled up one of the poles holding up the fencing and ran in to get it.

He was glad to have it back since it was the only hat he'd brought with him, and it was also an Epcot souvenir!

Tarifa's city center

A statue of Guzman El Bueno guards the port

Arriving back in the city, we stopped in the main plaza area near the tourist info center and each got a Frigo popsicle...I got a Twister and he got a lime calippo. It was really good, and a nice way to slow down and take in the beautiful city we were in. We browsed the tourist info center, then headed back to our hotel for a bit, purchasing a Coke along the way.

Once at the hotel, we decided to do a bit of laundry since we were in Tarifa for two days and the wind would effectively dry any laundry left hanging out. When Kevin was done, he laid down and napped while I did mine, then I laid down for a bit as well. We whiled away another two hours or so just laughing, watching tv, looking at our pictures, eating M&Ms and resting.

At one point, Kevin dropped a glass and it broke everywhere. The lady at the desk was very nice about it though...I guess you can expect that kind of thing when your hotel has real marble floors!

When our break was over, we headed out to explore the city a bit. We stopped in a little place next to our hotel that sold sandwiches and such...

...and we each got a "panini" which was pretty much just pizza toppings on French bread. They over-warmed it a little bit, but it was still good! As we continued walking, we realized that the walled part of the town had tons of small restaurants and shops that just oozed character, and for whatever reason, I fell in love with this city!

El Rincon de Juan...Juan's Corner

It was much smaller than Sevilla, so we could just wander and wander and not really worry about getting truly lost.

Buildings in Tarifa

Around the corner from our hotel

Kevin said he was gonna follow me, so I walked and walked, turning into every alley I found. Twice, I paused and said "Well, are we completely lost now?" then looked up only to see our hotel a little ways down the road! Even trying to get lost, I couldn't! I also found a fantastic t-shirt in one shop that said "Tarifa blows" with a cloud on it. They only had one in my size, so I bought it immediately. I'd hoped to find some really random shirt in Spain, and I thought it was perfect!

Goofing around with the lobby mirror in the hotel

After a bit, we were both hungry again, so we set off in search of dinner.

Hmm...I think I'd like some chops of sucking lamb please.

I'll also have some jumbled of the house please!

While wandering around earlier, I'd spotted an Italian restaurant that looked like a safe bet for having Julie friendly food, so we ended up stopping there.

We got a bottle of blush wine, and started off with a tomato and mozzarella salad. It was very, very good, and I liked it even more with a touch of vinegar.

For the entree, I got a pizza Margherita, and Kevin got a pizza with a soft white cheese and some type of meat, but I don't remember exactly what it was. My pizza was very nice, and too large to finish. We both ended up leaving some on our plates, but of course we finished the wine!

Tarfia's city center at night

Having had a really awesome day, we wandered back to our hotel. Upon arrival, we realized that there was a nightclub just outside our window on the first floor, and they were quite loud. I rearranged a bit of my laundry, and when I went to push open one of the windows on the balcony, the entire pane of glass I was touching fell out and shattered on the ground! My initial reaction was that I was very glad no one got hurt, since it could have easily hit someone from the nightclub. Second was that I hoped I didnít get charged for it since I didn't *break* the window...the entire pane fell out along with the little strip of wood that is supposed to hold it onto the window. With the desk already closed for the night, and since no on was hurt, we went on to bed. That night was the most pleasant we'd had thus far I thought because of the cool breezes all night. And despite the loud noise downstairs, I slept really well.

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