Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Day at the Beach

A GOOD PLACE TO SPEND AN AFTERNOON.
Monday morning, Jerry and I were awakened by the alarm clock at the crack of dawn. It was 7:45 a.m. here but I'm sure it was the crack of dawn somewhere. We rarely see 7:45 a.m. We met Teré at the bus station (the bus we needed did actually leave from there this time) and the three of us headed down to the beach for the day. Teré is very proud of her upbringing in Conil de la Frontera, a small pueblo on the Atlantic Ocean just east of the city of Cádiz. It's about a 1-3/4-hour drive south from Sevilla.

WHERE TERÉ WAS CHRISTENED AND BAPTIZED.

MUNICIPAL OFFICES (SINCE THE 1700s) TO THE RIGHT OF THE CHAPEL IN PART OF THE OLD MONASTERY.

The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but Conil's origins go back to the Phoenicians (some time around 900 BC, give or take 100 years), who established a new way of tuna fishing called "almadraba." I won't go into the details of almadraba except to explain that it's a net maze that traps the fish in a central pool. It's used less and less now because it's tough on fish populations. By 711 AD, the Moors reached Conil and ruled until the "reconquest" by the Christians in 1265. The words "de la Frontera" were added to the name at that time.

MONUMENT TO THE ALMADRABA FORM OF FISHING.

Jerry and I arrived with Teré late morning 2012 AD, nearly 800 years after the Christians and more than 1,300 years after the Moors. We went and had breakfast (#2) at a little café in town where we got to spend some time with Teré's father and brother, who were (no surprise) kind, warm, fun, and gracious, and made us feel immediately welcome. We three then headed with Teré's brother to another café across the street from the beach for a drink. I was looking forward to some vino dulce (sweet wine made with raisins), but the café was all out. So, instead, I had a soda and we all enjoyed the warm sunshine.

THE ARCH IN THE BACKGROUND SEPARATES THE OLD FROM THE NEW PART OF TOWN.

We took a walk around town, bumping into Teré's extended family and childhood friends everywhere we went. The entire town was tranquil with few people about. It was much larger in area than we expected and has a population of about 21,000. We were told in summer the population increases to well over 100,000. I can't imagine it. Although I would enjoy browsing the shops and street markets that thrive in summer (and are mostly closed in winter), I have no desire to compete for space with the mobs and am really glad we got to explore on a quiet winter's day.

SIXTEENTH-CENTURY CHURCH OF SANTA CATALINA,
WITH MODERN "RESTORATION" IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY AND RENOVATIONS IN 2008.

We had an unbelievably good seafood lunch beginning with delicious small sandwiches of "marrajo," which turned out to be what we knew as mako shark. I didn't get a picture of the sandwiches because we ate them too fast. I did, however, get one picture of our delectable fried seafood sampler plate before knocking my camera off the tall table and onto the marble floor. The camera did not survive the plunge. My smart phone will have to do until I buy a new camera — and it "did" for many of the photos shown here.

A FRIED SEAFOOD SAMPLER FOR LUNCH. MOMENTS BEFORE I BROKE MY CAMERA.
After lunch, we walked some more and then headed back down to the water. We walked in the sand to a little beach café and sat and relaxed (over coffee and pastries) for about an hour. You can walk this stretch of beach for 17 km (10 miles). We, however, didn't walk the entire length — going about 1/4 km (about 270 yards). We then headed back to the edge of town to catch the bus home.

LOOKING WEST FROM OUR CAFÉ ON THE BEACH.
KEEP GOING, VEER A BIT NORTH, AND YOU'LL EVENTUALLY REACH THE DOWAGER DUCHESS.

There was a pleasant and very typical café bar across from the bus stop. We arrived early for the bus, so headed inside where we found a group of locals sitting and playing cards at one of the tables. Of course, Teré and her father knew the owner/bartender. Her father also knew all the card players. I got to have my vino dulce. And Jerry was pleased to find a video gaming machine by the door. Teré's father played along with him, showing Jerry what buttons to press at bonus time. Jerry never quite understood how it worked, but he managed to double his money before we left town. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for a new camera.

JERRY TRYING TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE SOME MONEY.

26 comments:

  1. I have to admit that I am envious. All the sightseeig...places I haven't even been to. Then there are the foods you guys are eating...and in my case, since I cook 7 days a week for 7 people it sounds like heaven to me.
    By the way, La Gran Dama Eloi has returned to the Dominican Republic until April 29th.
    I just left the baby and she is already grabbing the mobile at the old age of 10 weeks.
    saludos,
    raulito

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    1. Raulito:
      La Gran Dama Eloi is amazing. I wouldn't have the energy for that trip twice in such a short time!

      You may have to password-secure that phone!

      As for the cooking, I can't imagine. I couldn't even cook for MYSELF 7 days a week (hell, I can't imagine cooking for myself ONCE a week).

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  2. What a wonderful, peaceful place! So glad you are getting to see more of Spain. For some reason, after reading your blogs, I get hungry. Not sure why ... :)

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    1. Jo:
      For some reason, after WRITING my blogs, I'm hungry all over again. Very strange!

      Delete
  3. What a perfect day! Walking and sight-seeing with friends and stopping to eat at lovely spots while snapping pictures to share. It's a darn shame your camera didn't survive, but it was still a marvelous day!

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    1. I'm confused -- was this a trip to the beach or a gastronomic tour? Each and every fragment of the trip seems to have included its own time out for food and drink. My kind of trip, actually!

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    2. Ms. Sparrow:
      It was a great day despite the camera. Besides, my camera requires special batteries that are hard to find and cost at least 12 euros a piece (and last maybe 3 weeks). Time to cut my losses I guess.

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    3. Will:
      In answer to your question: YES!

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  4. I want the fried fish plate, please.

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    1. Ur-spo:
      It was by far the best fried fish we have ever had!

      Delete
    2. I suspect you must have access to lots of good seafood - and red wine!

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  5. What a relaxing little town! It had everything you would ever need! Especially that it was 'off' season too....I'm with you on the crowds Mitch.
    One can feel and see the history all around, what a marvelous experience this is being for you both! Ever hear of idiot mitts! The ones that are attached to you through a long piece of yarn? Well, I am sure the same principal would work for us camera people!!! lol The first day Ron was trying out his new camera it dropped to the ground....luckily it didn't land on its lens.

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  6. Jim:
    I've never heard those called "idiot mitts" before, but I know exactly what you're talking about (I even mentioned them in an earlier blog post... when Jerry drew me a map of the supermarket). I wish I had been as fortunate as Ron when my camera fell. It fell from a height of 4 feet onto a marble floor. Amazingly, no physical damage was apparent; it died of internal injuries.

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  7. I always think of sherry when I hear 'de la frontera'. I'm glad you both had a great day out. Can't you claim the camera on some insurance? [Or is this a European thing].

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    1. Peter:
      And you're right to think of sherry, but that's "jerez" here as in the city of Jerez de la Frontera (which we passed through on the train... and visited in January). Hmmm, don't know if our insurance includes "droppage," but I'll check. Thanks!

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  8. God those perfect blue skies....

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    1. Maria:
      Constantly (more today)! That day was especially glorious with the clouds in one direction over the ocean and vivid clear blue everywhere else.

      Delete
  9. Looks like you all had a perfect day. The seafood platter looks incredible... it made the Portuguese in me salivate!

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    1. Nubian:
      Every time we have bacalao, I think of you (and that is often)!

      Delete
  10. Every post you make seems to me that you live the life of the angels! Gentle strolls along the sand,eating wonderful fish taster plates, coffee and pastries and eventually vino dulce. All this taking place under beautiful clear skies and you being warmed by the sun. Perfection. Envious me? Never!!

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    1. the cuby poet:
      If only I could find MY bliss in all this bliss, life would truly be perfect!

      Delete
  11. I want it all..........The warm sunny sandy beach, the beautiful Spanish places to see for the first time, the delicious plate if wonderful looking seafood...........

    Well, northeast Ohio was very sunny today, though rain comes tomorrow. And I have some very nice things to cook for dinner....But I'd rather have this plate of seafood appear on my table by MAGIC!

    BTW, this new word verification is dreadful and I never know what I'm seeing. Usually after three or four tries I succeed without knowing how.

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    1. Kristi:
      Hope the sun is shining again in northeast Ohio. 70F and shining with a vengeance here today. I've had the same problem some days with that word verification when I leave comments elsewhere. Other days, it's a breeze. Very annoying. I'd love to remove the requirement from my site, but then I get tons of automated spam.

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  12. What a stunning place. Your posts are like mini holidays for me. I am so sorry to hear about your camera and hope you manage to get a new one soon. I would love to try vino dulce one day. It sounds so tasty.
    Have a great day.

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    1. Jeff:
      I'm not a big fan of sweet-tasting wines, but vino dulce has got a hold on me. Glad to be able to take you on vacation.

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