Along the Mediterranean Sea

Tarifa (Spain), 12.04.2014

In bright sunshine and 24 degrees the day started off quite well, with little traffic on the road. The last time I drove along the Mediterranean coast in Spain was over 15 years ago, and I remember being shocked by the massive construction everywhere and endless green houses covering entire valleys and plains. Today I wanted to check out if anything has changed.

After Murcia I chose the southern motorway towards Almeria. The area was very dry, few green spots appeared in the dusty hills, and occasionally palms, cactuses or huge aloe plants. In all this brown desert a bright fuchsia flower added a touch of color every now and then. Soon afterwards the first plastic fields appeared. Nothing had changed. It seemed surreal to drive through an arid Mediterranean landscape that got converted into one big green house. For two hours they kept passing by, in all sizes and forms, plastic after plastic. I couldn’t even see the point where they stopped and the sea began. This is the place where a huge amount of Europe’s fruit and vegetables come from, at any time of the year, and it all tastes like water. Water that is scarce around here, the mountains and valleys came in all shades of brown. I wanted to stop and document this madness, like I would have done during Eurasia2013. But on a European motorway you can’t just stop to take pictures.

The motorway ended at some point and traffic got diverted to a smaller road right along the shore, where 2m waves clashed agains the beach. The seaside was a constant mix of beautiful small beaches, horrible ghost towns and “urbanizaciones”, industrial areas and green houses in every single free spot. I kept driving, enjoying the sun and counting the urbanizaciones. Then quite suddenly, reaching Gibraltar, the landscape changed to green hills with cows and trees, I crossed a river with water. It reminded me a lot of Portugal actually. The motorway ended in Algeciras. From there it was a half hour ride through a hilly landscape to Tarifa.

With all the detours during the day, I reached Tarifa very late, and the weather was chilly. The owner of the hotel said bad weather was expected for the following day. I checked into the room, exhausted from the day driving. I wanted to relax a bit, but the neighbors started to have a good time and I left for a walk through the old town. It is a lovely place. Small alleys lead along whitewashed houses. Bars and tiny boutiques were everywhere, and the street lights spread a yellow light. I ran into a procession, the first of this kind for me. A wooden Maria was carried through town, followed by a band, a crowd and a cloud of frankincense. The tapas and red wine were delicious, I found a bar on a small square where I had been already some years ago. That was it for this first day, tomorrow I’ll have to catch the ferry in the morning.

Trip data

– Km driven: 798

– Hours on the road: 9,5

– l diesel/100km: 5,8