So, life being so tough aboard Rose Rambler of Devon, we decided that we needed a little holiday…
Our friend Steve planned to be in Portugal in early/mid March, so we decided to make for Tarifa for a bit of kitesurfing… Steve and I met learning to kitesurf in Poole about 10 years ago, so it was fitting that we headed to the Mecca of the wind and kitesurf world in the southernmost point of mainland continental Europe (36 degrees, for those of you interested). We had sailed round Tarifa on our way to Gibraltar from Barbate nearly 4 months ago, so we were excited to see it from another perspective.
We found a kiteschool, hired cars, booked an apartment and we were all set. We ignored the mocking of friends and neighbours of our ‘holiday from a holiday’ (“it’s a lifestyle choice!!!”), and off we went.
We arrived on Tuesday, and Steve was to join us on Wednesday for two days of kitesurfing… The apartment was super – beachfront and with a bath and a washing machine!!! It was strange to be somewhere so spacious again though, and Hugo almost immediately registered his distaste at this, his first time in an apartment in his life, by screaming for several hours until we found where we’d packed the Calpol…
Bella almost instantly found that there was a dog in the apartment that looked exactly like her and spent quite a while playing with her until she realised that she was just a big copycat and not as interesting as all the dogs outside or on the beach.
The first evening was taken up with dinner, doing some laundry, and having a bath (and finding the Calpol)… Crazy times! We certainly know how to relax on our holidays!
Steve arrived on the Wednesday and after a cup of tea and a tour of the apartment, off we set for the kite school. We met up with the guys from Dragon Kite, got our kite gear, donned our wetsuits and some rather fetching helmets (safety first… rather luckily as it turned out…)… We were to do a quick refresher with the kites on the beach before hitting the water. My kite went up, it was all going well, then it came down. Quickly. With me still attached to it. I am reliably informed that there was a bit of whining coming from my unconscious form lying on the beach, but to be honest the time period between the kite hitting the power zone and me waking up with my mouth, nose, eyes, ears and other bits full of sand, and a rather sore shoulder is a bit of a blur… Soon I had lots of company though, and I was forced to admit that my shoulder was ‘really quite sore’ as I was taken off the beach and someone came to drive me to the hospital in Algeciras. Lucid I still may not have been, but I was forcefully insisting that Steve ‘must go and do some kitesurfing’… Which he didn’t particularly feel like doing, but gave it a shot for a while with a good British stiff upper lip.
The hospital in Algeciras was excellent, and within an hour they had discovered some mild concussion and a broken collarbone. Miri from Dragon Kite stayed with me the whole time, taking me to x-ray, and translating while I had lights shone in my eyes, a rather weird shoulder harness fitted, painkillers injected in my arse etc, and buying me some more wonderfully strong painkillers on the way home, as well as recommending a steak restaurant.
Needless to say, not much got done for the rest of the day, and I retired early. The washing machine went on again though – damned if we weren’t going to achieve something on this holiday, even if was only a lot of clean laundry!
The next day, we set off along the beach with Bella. We walked down as far as the Isla de las Palomas – a fort now occupied by the military at the southernmost part of the town, around the Guzmán el Bueno tower, part of the Tarifa Castle complex, past the port (where the fastcats go to Tangier) and into the old town of Tarifa. Lots of beautiful old winding alleyways and cobbled streets, and we had lunch in the sun, just in front of the Iglesia de San Mateo (Church of St. Matthew), built over a former mosque. Upon sitting down at the table, I got stung on the leg by a wasp… We are still waiting to see what ‘number 3’ will be….
Tarifa town is really attractive, and although there are not scores of sights and places of interest, they do have several that are worth a look, and it is an easy place to spend a few days wandering around. The beach is absolutely stunning – several kilometres of sand, lovely and wide, and plenty of space for all the kite and windsurfers that descend in the summer season. Hopefully not as fast as one kitesurfer descended this off-season…
We retired to the apartment for a siesta, as we wanted to try out the steak restaurant later. The kitesurfers had recommended Vaca Loca (Crazy Cow), so we headed out in the evening to find it… It is located down a small alleyway off lots of other alleyways, but we eventually got there and found the best steak and red wine we’d had in some time. The restaurant has about 8 things on the menu; no starters, no sides, they just do what they do. And it’s excellent. We took a post-meal wander through the alleyways, had some more wine, and some more wine…. Until there seemed to be nobody left in Tarifa at all… Bella had a run around the deserted streets on the way home – even the 24-hour kebab shop was shut!
Steve left the next morning to go back to the UK, but we decided to stay on (and use the bath and washing machine aside from anything else). We took a drive to Estepona on Friday, then did some more exploring of the town, although all the crazy exploration and laundry of the previous days was taking its toll, and we were back home and tucked up well before midnight. Very un-Spanish!
We wanted to watch the 6 Nations on the Saturday, so we left Tarifa on Saturday morning, but we would love to return – it’s a beautiful city, the people are friendly, the beach is fantastic, and there are great places to eat and drink. And you can go kitesurfing if you fancy it.