Thursday, December 12, 2013

Travelling Spain: Tarifa

Leaving Ronda afforded me the first opportunity to use Spain's renowned railway network. And a two-hour journey to Algeciras was enough to deduct that Renfe is very much worth its reputation. The train ride was clean, comfortable and complimented by yet more mountainous scenery. 

I did, though, have another dose of loudness. This time, a group of elderly women made intermittent, yet very unsettling, exclamations. One was so sharp that it shook me suddenly in my seat. 

After a brief stop in Algeciras, I made my way down to Tarifa. As Europe's most southerly point, this small town is vitalised by the port's use as a gateway to Africa. Indeed the Morroccan coastline is perfectly visible across the water. When I told my father that on the phone, he replied simply: "You're Joking!"

Before becoming a kitesurfing hotspot, Tarifa was morbidly known as one of Spain's suicide blackspots. Speculation as to why centred on the constant presence of very strong winds. Having spent just over one day there, I have to agree that they were depressingly difficult to tolerate. Sandblast and sunburn tainted my lengthy walk on the otherwise beautiful beach.

Nevertheless, the old quarter provided enough for me to stay occupied with. The San Mateo church and the sculptures inside were one point of interest. Spain's Catholicism is different than its Irish cousin. Chapels are more elaborate and depictions of the crucifixion and saints' martyrdom more graphic. It's made me think even harder of what exactly the message is. 

Ultimately, I'll remember Tarifa for two eqsuisite meals. For obvious reasons, seafood was very much on the menus. But I was lucky enough to discover a tiny Vegetariano that served up the finest of samosas. I also divulged in probably the largest amount of tomatoes I have ever eaten, sandwiched by mozarella cheese. It would be nice to eat like that more often. 

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