2 January 2017

Land Bridge Between EUROPE & AFRICA - Tarifa

Location: Tarifa, Cádiz, Spain
This is the southern-most town in mainland Europe. Tarifa (top of the photo) is a land bridge between the continents of, EUROPE and AFRICA and it divides the Mediterranean Sea (on the right)  from the Atlantic Ocean (on the left)

Follow our route by opening TRAVEL MAP 2016/2017 on the right sidebar ([view larger], zoom +/-, pan around). Click on any photo in this post and launch a slideshow gallery of all photos.

We really thought it would be an easy, relaxing journey from Estepona to Tarifa  ... we really, REALLY did! It's just a little over an hour, it's very scenic along this coast and as a bonus, our next Airbnb reservation would allow us in early and that would give us time to pick up groceries before checking in.  

I won't lie, we're both rookies at this kind of international road trip travel and recently, we've experienced some minor difficulties adapting to some aspects of the local ' urban tourist travel ' culture. But ... we do want to adapt, we've done our research, we've discussed our options, and compromised on a solution, we've agreed on a plan and we've decided that ... 

... It's All About The Navigating!

Parking In Spain
So, the plan is ........... when we leave our Estepona apartment we'll enter the parking garage from the outside. We'll try and find our rental car in the dark (there are no lights in this underground garage) and we'll drive out, then we'll navigate our way around the streets, through several dead ends, one-ways, private driveways and eventually and hopefully, drive the car around to the front of the correct building. 

Then, we'll steal or confiscate a parking spot as required, head back into the building for our luggage, squeeze into and out of the very tiny elevator, find a light switch somewhere, to illuminate the 75' tunnel that leads to our apartment, gather our second load of luggage, exit the apartment and leave the garage FOB and all keys behind  

Start the Car, Start the Car!
But, what actually happened was ............ we found our away outside without much incident, we opened the garage door with the FOB and pressed the FOB so the car lights would find us ... There's the car ... I SEE IT! ... it's in the back there, in that dark corner ... RUN!, before the lights go out ... whats that scurrying sound? was that rats? ... open both doors ... OPEN BOTH DOORS ... dammit, Dann, open my door too! Jump in quickly and start the car so we can see again, drive forward without scraping any of the 16 concrete columns that are located within 6 inches of all sides of the car, race up the exit ramp and keep pressing the FOB to keep the door open, drag the cars' airdam over the exit ramp (approach angle is 55 degrees) - exit the wrong way onto another one way and head in the direction of where we think we want to be.  

The two rows on the left are double parked, third row is one-way through traffic, fourth row is parked!  
We're out, we've escaped! We drive around the block, but there's no parking available, so we double park ... yikes again! 

Leave the car, wish for no ticket, wish for no tow-away, wish for no hit-and-run, it takes 2 more trips to drag all our luggage and groceries down 4 floors, we repack the car

Leave on a one way street, drive onto a round-a-bout (OMG, another one) - oops! there's a traffic light on this one ... it's a red light, stopped in the middle of the round-a-bout, this is not where we want to be, now there's a very large, double-deckered tourist bus RIGHT behind us, driver blasts the horns (yes, hornS) ... WTF?? We drive through the next 30 or so round-a-bouts and finally make our way to the highway. Well, that was EASY!

It's not over yet folks!

Once we got here ... ' We couldn't figure out how to get,  from where here was, to where we needed to be was, and we did that, several times! ' 
We drove up and  down Tarifa's main street a couple of times but just couldn't find the rental management company for our Airbnb ... we parked and began checking maps and our GPS. Looked up briefly and stared ... and there they were right across the street from where we were parked.

We needed to shop for groceries and supplies. Had great difficulty locating parking anywhere near the Supermercado and drove around the one way block several times. The wind is so strong here it nearly tears the car door out of your hands. Couldn't find the whine (oops! wine) aisle and panicked, didn't weigh the fruit and vegetables and print labels before cashing out (should have known better). New Years crowd lined up behind us while our very pleasant cashier calls the produce aisle to come and weigh, price and tag our food. Customer glaring in Spain is very similar to customer glaring in Canada.

Couldn't find the underground garage entrance to our building ... drove around the building three times and only then realized that the big, blue, moving iron gate that we had just passed three times, was the most probable location. It's almost as if they try and disguise it you know, no signage provided and the entrance was designed so you look through the gates to a white washed stucco wall. Next time I'll look for evidence not a gate ... entry is around a 90 degree corner with scrape marks on the wall and vehicle bits on the ground.

We used the wrong elevator several times ... you had to be here, this is not as stupid as it sounds! We tried four times. Not all elevators service all floors ... you can take an elevator UP from a floor but not (always) DOWN to that same floor; eventually realized a key was needed to go DOWN, corridors and floors are not marked ... I know you don't believe me, but it's true.

Floors are identified differently and buildings not at all ... first floor here is not the one above the ground floor. We accessed the wrong building in the complex ... three of them are all identical and none have signage of any kind.

Keys to our apartment just would not work ... well for us anyway. We were given 2 complete sets with 5 keys in each and a garage fob. I tried every key multiple times, I jiggled keys, locks and doors, I cursed and I kicked the door ... no matter what I did the door would not open. I know what you're thinking, we were at the wrong apartment. We phoned the management company,  Eduardo arrived 5 minutes later and immediately selected the correct key from the 10 we had, inserted it/turned and opened the door ... gob-smacked! It seems the door will only open if pulled quite strongly inwards while turning the key, who knew?

We got trapped inside the building ... there's a gate to get out, it's kept closed and locked. Aha! there's a place for a key to open it, we tried all 10 keys and could not open the effing gate ... trapped in the building! What to do now? A building resident walks by and nods buenos tarde, casually saunters over to a tiny white coloured button, literally hidden out-of-sight on an adjacent wall and presses it ... presto! the gate opens.

Tarifa is considered a world class, wind sport paradise. We walked the beach side promenade a few kilometres into town and returned to our rental Airbnb through the main part of the city. From the beach, you can catch views of Africa on a clear day. Even though it's the off season here, we saw wind and kite surfers, SUP and surf boarders. I'm still quite surprised at the number of RV's we are seeing in Spain. The wind sport crowd here camp out in a nearby dirt parking lot next to the beach.

Leaning Into the Wind ... more adversity!


We visited Castillo Catalina, toured Castillo de Guzman El Bueno and walked the Old City today.  A 10th century castillo, crumbling walls, wonderful doorways, more outdoor cafes and bodegas. 

Photo of a Murder Hole below. 

A murder hole or meurtrière is a hole in the ceiling of a gateway or passageway in a fortification through which the defenders could fire, throw or pour harmful substances or objects, such as rocks, arrows, scalding water, hot sand, quicklime, tar, or boiling oil, down on attackers ... N I C E ! 

The Old City

And of course there's always time for a snack, for the carnivores at least ... Iberian Ham!

Jamón Ibérico is the ultimate cured ham, with a decadently rich nutty flavor that evokes the countryside of Spain. Ibérico ham comes from an ancient breed of pig found only on the Iberian Peninsula and are known as Cerdo Ibérico, or 'Pata Negra.'

Crusty & Wry ... text and photos
Crusty 'El Vegetariano' ... skipped lunch, still eating too much!


  1. Happy New Year Guys! Now that was a funny report, even to seasoned European explorers. The driving and parking does bring back memories of our Sicily adventures. In Sicily if the parallel parking space is too small just angle park, traffic will find a way around you, eventually.
    Enjoy the journey.

    1. Hi Rick & Nancy - glad you enjoyed it. You're right parking is a 'wee' bit of a challenge. Enjoy..


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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty