Mucho Gusto, Andalucia


EN EL CAMPO (“in the fields”)… that’s where I am. My monthlong European rail trip is well and truly underway. On Thursday I took an AVE train — Spain’s high-speed rail service — from Madrid to Malaga (2-1/2 hours), then caught a local bus and rode an hour east. For the past couple of days, I have been visiting friends deep in the mountains of Andalucia, in the Axarquia region of Malaga province, a part of Spain that feels so ancient you can easily imagine the narrow roads, even now barely paved in parts, plied by Don Quixote and Sancho Panza on horse- and donkey-back. Rows of olive trees dot the hillsides. as they have for centuries. The Alhambra, the greatest architectural masterwork of the Muslim rulers of Spain during their 800-year reign, is some 75km distant, beyond the cleft in the rock, above.

My friends, Sylvia and Anton, below, are among the many Northern Europeans who have chosen to live in this sunny, relaxed, affordable region. They’re full-time residents here, as are most of their Dutch and British neighbors.

Syl Anton 1A

Their house, below, began as a cortijo, or farmhouse, with thick stone walls, beamed ceilings, and an entry courtyard, and has since been converted to a three-bedroom, two-bath home with a luxury kitchen, a long rear terrace, and views that challenge my supply of superlatives. Breathtaking is an under-statement. Spectacular barely cuts it.



They’re surrounded by some rustic ruins and some newly built or recently renovated homes, owned mostly by ex-pats.


The nearest village is Canillas de Aceituno, below, where we went yesterday for the small produce market and some errands. Turns out Canillas is known for its Mudejar architecture — the arched doorways and stucco houses built by Hispanic non-Muslims after the Christian re-conquest in 1487. It’s a pretty, house-proud village whose inhabitants decorate their exterior walls with glazed ceramic tiles and potted plants.


Today, Saturday, we drove half an hour down to the coast for a look at the Mediterranean. Lunch was a long, leisurely affair at Berebere, a beachfront restaurant with a Moroccan feel, in the resort town of Torre del Mar.


We’ve been walking the hills, playing with the dogs, eating and drinking well. (That’s Sylvia’s paella, below.)


All is good, with the possible exception of the fact that my Visa cards don’t seem to work here. I’ll figure that out on Monday. Right now, life couldn’t be better.


About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in SPAIN, TRAVEL and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Mucho Gusto, Andalucia

  1. CRS says:

    Won’t blame you if you stay there!!!

  2. Barbara Peck says:

    Damn! These people know how to live! Lucky you, to have friends to visit there.

  3. ada says:

    So great that places exist where there is no McDonalds in sight. Fabulous pictures. And BTW did you get the espadrilles.

  4. Love it Sounds like just what the doctor ordered – for everyone. I am following in your footsteps soon. It sounds like Heaven, my kind of place.

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. claiborne ray says:

    Did you notify the Visa issuer that you would be traveling? Sometimes they suspend it anyway if suspicious transactions are reported. Happens to me all the time. My last
    “suspicious” usage was getting cash at the airport!

  6. Lula says:

    Whoa! Blue, Blue sky! Always wanted pots on my exterior walls. You’re doing just fine.

  7. Judy kahn says:

    Sounds really wonderful.

  8. Astor C says:

    Are you collecting recipes? The paella looks amazing

  9. votre-cousin-pamela says:

    A joy to read.

  10. Anonymous says:

    . . . now THAT’S a lifestyle . . . Sylvia and Anton and Yours! just read the comments above — looks like everyone wants to move there!

  11. Anonymous says:

    and i don’t see a speck of trash anywhere!

  12. Diana says:

    How lovely is this area. You and your friends are very very lucky to be there.
    Keep it coming, diana

  13. cara says:

    CR, I called my bank TWICE before I left with a ‘travel notification.’ A restaurant in Torre del Mar ran my Visa and said it didn’t go through; a supermarket wouldn’t accept it because I didn’t have my passport with me. But then I managed to get cash out of an ATM (Deutsche Bank) without any trouble, so I think I’ll be OK.

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