I’m really glad I decided to spend the last days of summer in southern Spain, given I’m now sitting rugged up in the Netherlands trying to get feeling back in my hands to write this post.
Truth is I wasn’t actually planning on going south, in my head I was going to San Sebastian then up through France on-route to Oktoberfest in Germany.
I blame Spanish guy for the sudden change of plans.
It was something about the way he told me in his most sincere tone – ‘you’ll deeply regret it if you don’t see Granada.’
And he was right, Granada is a weirdly meshed mix of Moroccan, European and university town, not to mention the place Michelle Obama learnt flamenco and Bill Clinton is said to have seen the most spectacular sunset of his life over the Alhambra.
I blame the walking tour guy for those useless facts and I have to admit this is as close as I got to Granada’s number one attraction.
Before someone yells at me, I tried, it was booked out and besides I’ve seen more than my fair share of temples, mosques, cathedrals and churches over the past nine months.
As for my hostel it was more like staying in a brand new apartment – with bunk beds.
Given that it also attracted this ‘too cool’ backpacker crowd who just seemed to want to get stoned, play guitar and cook pasta.
The last part perplexed me the most given Granada is the home of truly free tapas.
It’s a backpacker’s dream. You buy a drink and they feed you. You buy another drink and they feed you more.
It’s a good life and you can see why some backpackers never leave, especially the ‘lost souls’ once they discover they can carve a cave into the hillside and live rent free.
As for my beach time I decided on Nerja, a little coast town on the Andalusian Coast.
All the hostels were booked, so I ended up renting the front room of a local’s house through Air B&B, which gave me a much welcome respite from dorm life.
There’s really only so many – ‘Where are you from? Where have you been? Where are you going?’ – conversations you can have before you want to shoot yourself in the face.
So for the next 48 hours my days in Nerja went a little something like this: go for a run, cancel out my run by eating churros and chocolate for breakfast, lie on the beach on my tiny microfibre towel as I’m too much of a tight arse to buy a real beach towel, swim, eat gelato, lie on the beach, swim, eat gelato, find free tapas, read 50 Shades of Grey (I blame Jenn Smyth for this), go to sleep dreaming of my unicorn, and lastly – watch newlyweds pose for their wedding photos.
In fairness how could you not watch this bride, especially once she decided to take the nicest dress she will ever own swimming.
It was a nice way to bid farewell to summer, though I have to admit the concept of a European beach still scares the shit out of me.
They’re too commercialised, there’s too many people, they always seem to have this tacky ‘Brits’ abroad’ feel and you’re always rudely awaken by a – ‘Excuse me Miss, you want a massage, a sarong, a henna tattoo, sunglasses, a bracelet, a drink…’
My last gripe with European beaches concerns the nakedness.
No I’m not a prude and I did actually quite enjoy the bronzed stallion of a Spanish man in his metallic blue budgie smugglers, but quite honestly, is there a secret rule of law out there that says the more old, crusty, pruney, fat and out of shape you are the more naked you should be?
Seriously, some of the ladies could/should have tucked their tits into their bikini bottoms – it was disturbing.
As for Malaga, truth is I only came here to catch a cheap flight to Amsterdam but I did enjoy my afternoon given Spanish guy gave me a gastronomic tour via text from Madrid.
Freshly barbecued sardines on the beach, seafood tapas, and the liquid raisin-tasting dessert wine which had me in such a state it took me three hours to navigate my way back to my really really shit but really really cheap hostel.
Amazingly, I made my red eye flight the next morning and before I knew it I was in Amsterdam.
It was cold, I blended in for once with all the blondes and my fear of being pick-pocketed quickly morphed into a morbid fear of death by bicycle – or tram – but most likely bicycle.