Here we go, part two of the recap of our little trip around Andalusia with Aisling. This time, I want to talk about our time in Cabo de Gata, an arid coastal area on the southern coast of Spain. Since it is a protected natural area, it has remained fairly wild, unlike most of the southern coastline which is extremely built up. Of course, there are villages and hotels, but it also has huge areas which have nothing but dirt roads, tourists abusing their cheap rental cars on said dirt roads and interesting beaches in the middle of nowhere.
We wanted to spend time on the coast during the trip, but we wanted to avoid the really built up areas, however we also didn’t have a car which is something necessary to arrive to almost all of the “wilder” coastal sections in Andalusia. So, let’s pick up the story where last week’s post has ended: from Nerja we got on a bus to Almería and then another bus to San José, a coastal village in the Cabo de Gata area. The bus ride itself from Almería to San José already proved to be an interesting sociological study. While San José was a destination for holiday-goers, along the way driving through the sea of greenhouses growing vegetables we could see people living in the middle of nowhere in shacks built out of leftover tarps and other construction material from the unused greenhouses.
San José itself is a little resort village, with its beach and many restaurants with overly enthusiastic waiters trying to invite you in. It is located in a little protected bay, surrounded by some smaller hills. We rented a really cheap little room in the edge of a campsite, which was about 6 square meters and it turned out it had a bunk bed… but that’s the life of budget travelers! It was by far the cheapest accommodation in the area, so we could survive for two nights! Certainly it was 100x more luxurious than the shacks we saw just 20 km away. And anyway, we spent almost all of our time outdoors, exploring the area and enjoying the views!
Since we arrived in the evening, we just walked around the village, exploring the beach and walking along the seashore. The next morning however, we set off very early to walk to some nearby (but actually kind of faraway) beaches that everyone would normally just drive to… But since we had no car, it was time to exercise! We walked from San José along the coast by Playa de los Genoveses (a big beach in a bay) to Playa de Mónsul, another beach with a massive sand dune and crazy varied cliffs around it.
Already on the way there we saw a lot of people romping down the dirt road in rental cars to get to the beaches, but we still arrived at a very quiet time in the morning. I climbed up the sand dune and the cliffs to see the views and of course take way too many photos. The whole coast is very moon-like with grey sand and gray rocks and cliffs washed out in very interesting shapes, but then further in that coastal bit contrasts with a largely orange and yellow-dominated dry hilly area. It is a very unusual and to me, very intriguing landscape.
I have been to a desert only once, but this was the first time I ever stood on top of a sand dune! Admittedly, Cabo de Gata is not a desert, but it is extremely arid area with very little vegetation, even compared to the already dry summer environment in the rest of Andalusia. Aisling of course was more used to this kind of area, but for me it was super unusual.
After exploring around the beach, we walked back to San José in the midday sun, because that’s what we usually do… We definitely got a few funny looks from people in their comfy airconditioned cars, but we made it back to have a massive seafood lunch in one of the restaurants. It was a challenging walk not because of the distance, but because of the heat and the dust.
For the rest of that day and the next morning, we just chilled out in San José, watching the sunset, doing a little morning swim, all of the usual things, then we hopped back on a bus to Almería and then on to Guadix, which is again a completely different and unusual landscape. For now, I’ll just say that we spent a night in a cave house and that is completely normal for that area. But again, to hear about that, you’ll have to come back here next week, for the 3rd and last installment of this blogpost-series.