The province of Cádiz: traveling between pueblos blancos, divine food and wine and hot beaches

Cádiz and its province are part of Andalusia, one of the most fascinating regions of Spain and, I am not exaggerating, of all of Europe. The province of Cádiz, which has 45 municipios and about 1,300,000 inhabitants, almost touches Africa with its coasts. The Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean and the Atrantic Ocean meet, is only 14 km from the coasts of the African continent and rest assured that a boat trip between Tarifa and Tangier will not take you too long. With an average temperature of 18 ° C, 300 days of sunshine, equal to about 3000 hours a year in which you can enjoy the blue sky in these parts, the province of Cádiz can count 268 km of coastline including 138 km of beaches.

But it is not numbers and beaches (not only) that I will talk to you this time. If in other articles on this site I have praised Andalusian gastronomy, today I will do it again, passing by one of the most beautiful things I have been able to admire while living in this beautiful Spanish region: the pueblos blancos.

The pueblos blancos

Arcos,
Photo by Santiago Galvin

The pueblos blancos are many, beautiful and different from each other. If you travel by car you will happen to “spot” some of them between Seville and Cádiz, so much so that you will want to leave the main road to run to admire all its beauty up close.
Arcos, Grazalema, Setenil de la Bodegas, El Bosque, Olvera and Zahara de la Sierra are just some of the best known villages that make La ruta de los pueblos blancos (the route of the pueblos blancos) a wonderful route between these white Andalusian villages.
They also have small or large hotels that allow those who want to stay at least one night and local craft shops that tell the past and present in all their purity.

Arcos de la Frontera

fPhoto by Juan de Dios Carrera

Arcos as well as being an excellent starting point for the Ruta de Los Pueblos Blancos is also considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of Andalusia. Its history and the sensational panorama that can be enjoyed from the top of the cliff where its major monuments are located, make it an almost mandatory stop when coming from the parts of Cádiz.

Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Botegas
Photo from www.cadizturismo.com

Setenil de las Bodegas has become famous for being the village of the rock. In fact, a huge rock hovers above several streets of Setenil, making an already beautiful village incredible for the white of its houses. A visit here cannot be missed, also for the views and the good food of course.

The queso Payoyo ( Payoyo cheese)

Tabla de queso payoyo _Setenil de las Bodegas
Photo by David Ibáñez Montañez

In the hinterland of the province of Cádiz, thanks to the production of cheeses derived from the milk of payoya goat and merino sheep, many national and international awards have been won. Among these, Queso Payoyo is one of the most famous cheeses produced in Villaluenga del Rosario, in the heart of the Sierra de Cádiz.

Olvera

Olvera
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Olvera definitely has nothing to envy to the other white villages of the ruta de los pueblos blancos. Here the streets between the white houses, the vases hanging on the walls in typical Andalusian style and the streets that go up and down steeply are the order of the day. Getting lost in the streets of these small towns, savoring the beauty of the locals and the tastes of the products of the local gastronomy, is a pleasure that you cannot miss for any reason in the world.

The green way

Gree way
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

The green way also passes through Olvera, a nature trail that extends from the Sierra de Cádiz to the Sierra sud de Sevilla. Combining the Ruta del Los pueblos blancos with the green way could be a unique opportunity to admire divine places, explore the Andalusian nature, breathe clean air and eat excellent Mediterranean food from the area! For all the info on the green way, you can consult the dedicated website.

Zahara de la Sierra

Zahara de la Sierra
Photo by Andrés M. Dimungues Romero

Calle Ronda.
I only tell you this.
Zahara de la Sierra has many wonderful corners, including its incredible location, but Calle Ronda is something truly unique (to me).
An uphill street with a cobbled floor full of white everywhere with many terraces, doors and windows.
Andalusia as I like it …
The one that excites you just to set foot there …

Local food and wine

Olive oil
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Most of the traditional recipes of the province of Cádiz have olive oil as their main ingredient, which since 2002 has obtained the denomination of controlled origin of the Sierra de Cádiz.
An oil has wild, slightly spicy and bitter aromas, the result of a harvest in rough terrain where massive production is almost impossible.
A divine oil.

The wines

Consejo regolador del vino de Jerez
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Even the wines are starting to give a lot of satisfaction to this territory, traditionally linked to white and fine wines but which, for some time, have also been starting to produce excellent red wines.
The province of Cádiz and many of its municipalities have made food and wine tourism a major attraction for tourists from all over the world.
Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María, Chiclana and Sanlúcar de Barrameda together have more than 7,000 hectares of vineyards that have been producing Jerez wines and grappas for centuries. And it is not just an attraction for wine tourism lovers. Heritage, nature and landscape have made it all a wonderful place to spend whole days.

Manzanilla and Prawns in Sanlucar


Manzanilla and prawns
Photo from sanlucarturismo.com

One of the many things that you cannot miss while traveling in the province of Cádiz, are the famous prawns of Sanlucar de Barrameda and, why not, also one of its most famous wines: Manzanilla.
This almost perfect pairing lends itself well to a light meal on the beach. The ancient traditions of Manzanilla make it one of the lightest white wines of the Jerez cellars, excellent to be enjoyed with the famous prawns of the area.

The Cacao Pico

Cacao Pico
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

In the “marco de Jerez” wine area, you will find a liqueur born in 1824, still made today with ancient techniques that respect the times and the environment.
The Cacaco Pico was born in El Puerto de Santa Maria, not far from Jerez de la Frontera.
Cacao Pico is used in confectionery, it can be eaten cold together with ice cream or perhaps with ice cubes. It has received some awards, both as best liqueur and in some cocktails it was part of as a main ingredient.

Tarifa

Bodegón de Atún- Conservera de Tarifa
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

We move to Tarifa to discover two specialties of the gastronomy of the province of Cádiz and also one of the windiest and hottest places in the whole of Andalusia.
Tarifa is one of those special places you fall in love with, even if there are no gorgeous white villages or glaring monuments. In Tarifa there is wind, huge beaches and life even in winter when I first set foot there.
A student of mine used to say that everyone here is a bit crazy because of the wind that blows constantly.
In truth, the strongest wind I can remember was a night in Cádiz: suddenly a window in my room flew open and the Mediterranean wind entered my room without permission!
Together with the scents of Andalusia …

Tarifa
Photo by Peter Pieras from Pixabay

We were talking about the gastronomy of Tarifa, right?
Going around this town you will find many shops, bars, restaurants, people on the beach who surf and kite surf, but never forget that you are in Andalusia, the Spanish region where it can be very hot and where you can eat divinely.

Tocino de cielo

Tocino de cielo
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Tocino de cielo is a typical dessert of the area, whose most famous schools are in Tarifa and Jerez. It is created with egg yolks, sugar and caramel and is the right dessert to sweeten your days.
One of the most famous pastry shops to try it in Tarifa is certainly the Pasteleria la tarifeña.


Before going inside and climbing the hills a bit among other typical dishes and some pueblo blanco, let’s stop for a moment on these two wonderful “sea view” specialties

Amontillado and shrimp with fried egg

Amontillado y camarones con huevo frito_ E Puerto de Santa Maria
From Sprint Sherry

Amontillado is one of the many wines of the area that you absolutely must try. It is an elegant wine that should be drunk chilled and is well suited to every need. In this particular dish, with shrimps and fried eggs, it enhances and mixes the flavors of the sea and nature.

Atún encebollado

Tuna with onion
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

With all the seaside resorts in the Cádiz Province, finding good tuna shouldn’t be a big deal. However, if you plan a trip to these parts, you will find that between May and June, in places like Tarifa, Conil, Barbate and Zahara de los athunes, various events called Ruta del Atún are organized, in which you will probably also be able to try many dishes at tuna base like the one in the photo (with tuna and onion).

Tuna fillet in butter
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

El gastor

Returning a little towards the interior of the province, you can discover other beautiful villages but a little less known to mass tourism: El Gastor looks like a real garden with its typical white houses like a true pueblo blanco, vases hanging everywhere , palm trees in the squares and huge plants scattered here and there.
El Gastor is also known as “el Balcón de los Pueblos Blancos” (the balcony of the pueblos blancos) for the position that favors the breathtaking views.
One more reason to come here, I think …

Typical dishes

Popular dishes from the el Gastor area include stew, soups, asparagus scrambled eggs, and others based on poultry and pork.
But a typical dish of this mountain town is certainly the Asparagus Stew (Guisote de espárragos) which is a compound made from bread, oil, water and of course ground asparagus. All this is served in a large family pot which everyone, provided with a spoon, bread and wine, can use and eat.

Algodonales

Algodonales
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

No, I didn’t go crazy all of a sudden! Algodonales is also a splendid pueblo blanco in the province of Cádiz, but I wanted to start by telling it with one of the many events that make it distinctive and famous.
The one in the photo above is the historical re-enactment of May 2nd (dos de mayo). Here in Algodonales the event that at the beginning of May 1810 put the inhabitants of this village and the regiments of the French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte against each other.
The battle left 273 dead and about seventy houses destroyed.
Since 2005, this celebration in traditional dress has been born, which aims to pay homage to the brave who faced the French army.

Split olives
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Local gastronomy

Algodonales is located in an area full of olive groves. Olive oil in this area is an important and well-made product, as are the split olives (aceitunas partidas).
If you come here, you should definitely try the local cheeses and wines, but also a traditional pastry with a bit Arabian “tendencies”: the gañote.

Ubrique

Ubrique from San Antonio
Photo by CPL

Ubrique has been declared a historic site. In addition to pueblo blanco, keep in mind that a stretch of the ancient Roman road passes through here, revealing its ancient origins (photo below).

UBRIQUE (SIERRA DE CÁDIZ).-
Roman road that connects Ubrique with Benaocaz.- Photo by Fernando Ruso

Typical products and gastronomy

Chorizá – Ubrique –
Photo by Francisco Javier Sánchez Ramírez

Ubrique, like other mountain pueblos blanco, also has its beautiful food and wine tradition.
It starts with local cheeses produced in the area: the products from payoya goat milk already mentioned are among the best known.
Sausages, salami, hams and other sausages created with the techniques of the past are also excellent products to be enjoyed as a snack.
Among the desserts you can also try the traditional gañote here, which is offered among the participants in a dedicated competition once a year.

…and finally…

I admit it … when it comes to eating and traveling, life takes on a wonderful meaning and everything shines in a different light.
From Cadizturismo (thank you thank you thank you !!!) they sent me so many photos and info that I would like to continue this article indefinitely … Instead I close with the last three tapas, with the hope of returning soon, indeed very soon in this wonderful province!

Tapa de atún y queso – San Fernando –
Photo by David Ibáñez Montañez
Tapa de jamón – San Fernando –
Photo by David Ibáñez Montañez
Croquetas
Photo from Cadizturismo.com





9 good reasons to visit and fall in love with the Greek islands

I know it. The Greek islands do not need many introductions around the world, because their good reputation is so recognized that it should be enough to attract tourists for the next 1000 years. However, I find it fascinating to tell the beauty of this part of the world, trying to “summarize” in a few points what really attracts so many people to these parts. At least from what a simple traveler like me can see …

1. The friendliness, the welcome and the Greek people

Skiathos… Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

The Greeks make hospitality and kindness a way of life. You ask for information in English and they answer in your language. Ask 500 questions and they (almost) never lose patience, keeping calm and smiling. Tourists and travelers in Greece are considered a treasure and are treated as such. Contrary to what one might think, on the Greek islands there are essential services that work excellently: from car rentals to emergency services, everything works perfectly to ensure that those who visit the island have an optimal stay. I saw firefighters putting out fires and gardeners working early in the morning in the green spaces of hotels and tourist resorts. The Greeks you know around are always available and a smile corresponds to a smile.

2. The excellent Greek cuisine

Image by Claire05 from Pixabay

Greece boasts a culinary tradition that is nothing short of excellent. As in the whole Mediterranean area you will find fresh dishes, tasty products, excellent olive oil and even good wine.
A simple Greek salad is a delicious rich and tasty dish ideal to satisfy anyone on a hot summer day on some Greek islet. Trying any freshly caught fish from the sea is still the best way (in my opinion) to approach the delights of the island you are visiting.
There are restaurateurs who let guests in near the kitchen to choose the fish that is still fresh. Here you will have the possibility to choose the type of cooking and the side dishes.
… and while you wait outside with a few slices of pita (soft and tasty Greek bread), the chefs prepare sublime dishes for you.
There is nothing better than relaxing in a Greek restaurant overlooking the sea while sipping good wine or a cold beer…
Don’t forget Ouzo, the typical liqueur also served with ice cubes. Personally, I also love Greek coffee, but beware of the slightly “dusty” bottom. It’s not like espresso that you can throw down in an instant and run away…
Greek coffee is to be drunk calmly…sitting down…

3. The transparent sea

Paxos… Image by conolan from Pixabay

Whether you prefer the pebble beach or the fine sand one, on the Greek islands you will always find a blue and transparent sea to welcome you.
I remember The intense blue of Platis Gialos in Lipsi welcome me after a long walk under the June sun. But also the transparency of the waters on more “touristy” islands and crowded beaches such as Tsampika beach in Rhodes, in the scorching July 2021.
However, I think it is also a question of “tourist presence”. The most beautiful and cleanest beaches are always those a little off the beaten path. It depends on what you are looking for…
Greece has many beaches without any service or tourist that are real terrestrial paradises. Seek and you will find.

4. Greek history and monuments

Lindos Acropolis…Image by 11333328 from Pixabay

The history of Greece has very ancient origins, so much so that Greek art and culture are defined as the “cradle of Western civilization”.
Visiting the Greek islands does not only mean spending whole days by the sea sunbathing or swimming in the sea (no one forbids you to do it of course!) But also having the opportunity to explore many buildings that belonged to the past and archaeological sites that nowhere else of the world you will find so preserved.
Touching and admiring amphitheaters, immense columns of temples with sensational views of the sea will give you an idea of what Greece and its islands were in history and how civilization has evolved over the centuries.

5. Nature and animals

Kastelorizo…sea turtle

Despite the many tourists, the Greek islands still preserve areas where uncontaminated nature holds up very well and some animals live in absolute freedom. You will immediately notice the imposing presence of cats all over the islands that go in search of food among the tables of the restaurants. They are not annoying. Just a little hungry.
Donkeys are among the most common animals in Greece and are used both for carrying things and for attracting tourists. If you love to walk and look for unusual places off the beaten track, you will find small outdoor stalls by the sea where they stay and return after a few short morning outings.
Goats are everywhere! you will find them day and night climbing on the most inaccessible mountains and on the paths to reach the beaches. Be careful if you rent a car! They are often on small roads that lead to the sea. But they just observe the strange individuals moving around in as many strange tin boxes: the tourists in their rental cars.

Lindos: goats grazing at dawn

A good time to see Greek goats running and jumping in total freedom is dawn. Early in the morning the Greek shepherds take the goats to pasture and leave them free to roam around the small villages. Tourists are still sleeping and it is a sight to see these animals running freely. If you want to wake up so early (in the summer the sun rises between 5.30 and 6.15 in the morning), you can admire beautiful breathtaking views.

The lucky ones also have the pleasure of admiring and photographing some sea turtles swimming in the seas of the Greek islands. They are very strong and very resistant animals that approach the harbors of the islands in search of some fish and in search of food. They give a sense of life and constant presence of nature as well as joy. In kastelorizo there are five or six who have been returning and living around the island for years. An inhabitant of the island told me how their presence was constant over time despite the tourists and boats present in the small port.

Not least is the vegetation present on the Greek islands. Don’t be surprised if in the gardens of the houses or around the island you are visiting you come across some strange flower or tree from time to time. The spontaneous variety of the Mediterranean in this area is truly incredible
f you want to learn more and know more, consult this article on our partner site dedicated to the flowers of the Greek islands.

6. Colors

white signage beside purple bougainvillea beside body of water
Photo by Gotta Be Worth It on Pexels.com

Imagine the blue of the sea and that of the domes of the Greek churches. Then think of the doors and windows that are also blue.
The blue sky.
The burning sun.
The colors of the flowers: from the purple of the bungavillea to the red of the hibiscus.
Nothing is missing on the Greek islands.
Not even the whiteness of the houses or the perfectly kept paths of hotels and tourist resorts. And if you like shades you can throw yourself on the sunsets: Santorini has the reputation of having the most beautiful ones but I challenge anyone who has been on a Greek island to go home without a photo of a crazy sunset by the sea or on top of some Mountain.

7. The scent of the greek islands

Hydra: girl sniffs flowers… Photo Shutterstock

Explaining a perfume is really difficult but I’ll try.
The scents of the Greek islands are the most unique and devastating (in a positive sense) there is.
From the flowers to the sea, from the sky to the earth, everything smells of something.
Imagine waking up in the morning and already smelling some perfume that comes from the sea, then passing from the coffee, to the scent of the sand, arriving at lunch with the table filled with colors and scents.
The Greek islands are a bit like this: wherever you set foot you will feel something good, different sensations and something pleasant to welcome you.
…and if that’s not enough…

8. The sun

Sun in Santorini… Image by Russell_Yan from Pixabay

Since I started traveling between the Greek islands, I don’t remember cloudy days, much less rain or cold days.
The hot sun constantly floods this part of the world for much of the summer, giving warm weather and beautiful tans to those who come here. Personally I also find the morning shade and the air conditioning out of place. But I think I am a bit strange to love the heat and the scorching Greek sun so much.
After all, no one is perfect.

9. The beaches and the empty streets

My Mini (for rent) on the way to Prasonissi beach

Over time I realized one thing: the earlier you wake up in the morning, the more tranquility and peace you will find on the beach.
Since I started to love photography, I have discovered that better photos are taken at sunrise (and at sunset). Except that at sunset it is full of people while at dawn there is hardly anyone.
In Greece there are beaches that are overcrowded during the day that remain almost empty until 10 in the morning, others out of the way, which are almost always deserted, because there are no umbrellas, bars or restaurants on the beach.
The same goes for the streets.
If you travel between May and mid-July or after August until the end of the season, the problem hardly arises, but there are roads not far from super tourist areas where you will come across more goats than cars.
People have a habit of following the “beaten” and safe roads, ignoring the smaller road signs.
Personally I am attracted by the small signs that read “beach”, “anywhere” or by the small white villages with the streets so narrow that a woman in the ninth month of pregnancy would have difficulty crossing.

But it’s the best way to get lost…and I love getting lost in the Greek islands…

Texel: the pearl of the Wadden Sea

Image by Evgeni Tcherkasski from Pixabay

Texel is the largest of the five Dutch islands in the Wadden Sea, considered a protected area and a UNESCO heritage site. About 13,000 people live on this island and its “capital” is called Den Burg.
Despite its decidedly northern position with respect to Holland and Europe, Texel is undoubtedly an island with a tourist aspect. and more relaxing than ever.

The reasons? First of all with its 30 km of coastline, Texel offers a “glimpse” of the sea to both photographers and lovers of the north sea and, secondly, there are so many kilometers of cycle paths here that not even a big city dreams of having.
This means more safety, silence, and the possibility of moving with an ecological and economical vehicle to every corner of the island.

Panorama of a couple riding towards the lighthouse on Texel island, Netherlands

The naturalistic aspect

Whoever thinks of finding only beaches, a lighthouse, kilometers and kilometers of cycle paths on Texel, perhaps does not know that here, as in other islands of the Wadden Sea, many species of seabirds come to “seek shelter and home”. The dunes present in some areas such as those around De Koog, for example, are home to cormorants and spunbills. Arriving in these areas through some paths you will realize that you have entered a real nature reserve. Here it may happen that some areas are limited to allow migratory birds to nest at certain times of the year.
Never forget that one third of this island is considered a nature reserve.

Tourism on the island

Beaches, bicycles, nature and even the wind. If we combine these elements then it is easy to think that Texel is a great attraction for the tourist who loves one of these four elements or all four together. 70% of the profit of the island and its residents comes from tourism. Bike rentals that are essential to allow everyone to ride on the 130 km of cycle paths. A spider’s web if you think about the size of the island!

But there are also beach activities like surfing, kite surfing and everything related to bathing. Without forgetting shops, hotels, restaurants and everything in between. Seven villages on one island which is part of a group of five islands which belong to the Frisian islands.

The world is so small…”