When we planned our trip to Andalusia, in the south of Spain, we became intrigued by the idea of Casares, a fortified Arabian settlement of beautiful white-washed dwellings strategically nestled in the mountain-tops with a strong wall and sheer drops protecting the town. Having hired a car with mobile Wifi, we were able to have a very free-flowing and spontaneous road-trip in Andalusia, deciding our route and plans as we went, booking accommodation online as we approached a town we wanted to spend the night in.
We planned to visit Casares as a day trip, because there appeared to be only one small inn in the town itself, and Casares is close enough to many other towns.
So we decided to spend the night before in Sabinillas, at the Hotel Dona Luisa on the beautiful Costa Del Sol. We rose early, eager to start the day. After a leisurely breakfast, we walked out onto the beach and were greeted by a breath-taking sunrise, as the first rays of sunlight diffused orange and gold above the water. There was something very special about being up at the crack of dawn. The prospect of the whole day, filled with promise stretched out before us. A day with nothing to do but please ourselves.
We bumped into some fellow tourists who suggested that a trip to nearby Castellar de la Frontera would be well worth the time. It was a beautiful day so we took the suggested detour through the sun-drenched, mountainous landscape and found ourselves exploring a delightful little town. There were charming winding cobblestone streets where ceramic vendors displayed their wares and weathered stone buildings reaching up towards a brilliantly blue sky.
By now it was lunchtime and there didn’t appear to be many places to stop for a meal in this beautiful but isolated spot. Actually just one tiny pub as far as we could tell…
So we went in. There were very few tables and no one inside except one young bartender. We resigned ourselves to the prospect of a simple and probably not very tasty lunch and asked for a few tapas. Next thing we knew, our host brought out plate after plate of mouth-watering dishes, made with seemingly the simplest fresh ingredients but assembled and seasoned with such flair as to be unbelievably delicious. The showstopper was the tastiest chorizo sausage which he dramatically set aflame before us! We agreed that somehow the adventure of stumbling upon this gem of an eatery in the most unexpected spot made it one of the best and most special meals we had ever had.
We expressed our appreciation as best we could in broken Spanish and finally headed to Casares. The numerous white buildings clustered like gems in the mountains were everything we had hoped to see as we approached. As we took a closer look on foot we saw that the town was immaculately kept. Even the cemetary was beautiful. We wandered up towards the highest point and past some castle ruins and a church.
By now, the sun was setting and we had found the perfect spot to admire the town. From our vantage point above the village we heard the strains of habitation at dusk from below. The voices and foot-steps of children playing in the streets, dogs barking, the breeze in the trees, birds, the occasional motorbike winding through the streets and the church bells ringing…
Watching the town from a distance, there was a stillness in the air, and we all fell silent, deep in our own thoughts. I thought about how it was almost as if we had lived the best parts of a lifetime in one day. From when the day was young and full of possibility at dawn, to a care-free day filled with adventures, spontenaeity, surprise and wonderful food shared in good company in amazing surroundings. Then the end of the day. The white buildings glowed in the last rays of the sun, as memories of this incredible day continue to glow and bring a smile to our faces well after the trip has ended.