Spanish Road Trip 2023

Spanish Road Trip 2023, Day 4 - La Cala de Mijas to Tarif via Estepona, Sotogrande and Gibraltar 191km.

4th November - As we bid farewell to La Cala de Mijas we made the decision to venture into Estepona, we had visited on a prior road trip back in 2020, but opted for overnight accommodation further inland, close to one of the numerous golf courses that dot the landscape, however, we did not visit the town itself, making this the perfect opportunity to do so.

Spanish Road Trip 2023, day 4

I am sure our sat nav sent us a lot further than need be but, we always have it set to avoid toll roads and major highways, and this year we were given an option of another setting, "Efficient", which seemed like the perfect choice for us, but it did end up taking us into some very strange places and zig zagged us across the main roads into various urbanisation and towns along the way, but this did mean we saw so much more on our journey, although it was obviously adding a lot of extra millage and time between destinations, so we were not quite sure what was efficient about it.....

Spanish Road Trip 2023

Spanish Road Trip 2023 Estepona.

In Estepona, even this time of year, securing a parking spot near the old town proved to be quite challenging, I dread to think what it would be like in high season. However, after some searching, we stumbled upon a convenient car park and set out to explore this charming town, which is referred to as the "Garden of the Costa del Sol"

Estepona is nestled between Marbella and Gibraltar, it boasts a rich history, picturesque landscapes, and a relaxed atmosphere that attracts both tourists and residents.

Spanish Road Trip 2023

Estepona's history dates back to ancient times, with influences from Phoenician, Roman, and Moorish civilizations. The town has preserved its historical character, evident in the narrow streets of its old town, most of which are adorned with pretty flower-filled pots and there are charming squares at every turn. 

Spanish Road Trip 2023

Old Town: The heart of Estepona is its Old Town, where whitewashed buildings, cobblestone streets, and colourful flower arrangements create a postcard-worthy scene.

Spanish Road Trip 2023

The old town was very picturesque, but despite the visual appeal, it was so quiet, robbing it of any atmosphere. It was a genuine disappointment, considering the otherwise enchanting ambiance of the surroundings, but we still enjoyed our visit.

Cultural Attractions: Estepona is home to various cultural attractions, including the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church, the Clock Tower, and the Casa de las Tejerinas. These landmarks offer glimpses into the town's history and architectural heritage.

Gastronomy: The local cuisine is a highlight, with an abundance of seafood, tapas, and traditional Andalusian dishes. Visitors can savour the culinary delights in the numerous restaurants and tapas bars scattered throughout the town.

Beaches and Coastline: The town is known for its beautiful beaches and a well-maintained coastline. Visitors can enjoy a mix of sandy shores and traditional fishing ports. Playa de la Rada is one of the main beaches, offering a vibrant atmosphere with numerous bars and restaurants along the promenade, sadly this time of year although the weather was good, major road works were taking place along the promenade and most businesses were closed.

Whether you're interested in history, beaches, or simply soaking up the Andalusian charm, Estepona offers a delightful blend of cultural richness and natural beauty.

Our next stop on our way to Tarifa was Sotogrande.

Sotogrande, located in the province of Cádiz. It is strategically positioned between Marbella and Gibraltar, offering easy access to both the Costa del Sol and international airports.

Sotogrande is an exclusive resort and residential development known for its upscale real estate, Sotogrande is a haven for luxury living. The area features a mix of high-end villas, apartments, and gated communities, attracting a discerning international clientele.

Marina: The Sotogrande Marina is a focal point for boating enthusiasts. It offers a range of services, including berths for yachts, upscale shops, restaurants, and a vibrant social scene. The marina is an ideal place for leisurely strolls and enjoying waterfront views. 

This was very quiet this time of year, but surprisingly all the bars and restaurants were open, taking one look at the prices on the menus, we decided a coffee was all we could budge for, with starters at around 14€.

Spanish Road Trip 2023

Golf Courses: Sotogrande is renowned for its world-class golf courses. Valderrama Golf Club, one of the most prestigious courses in Europe, hosted the Ryder Cup in 1997. Other notable courses include Real Club de Golf Sotogrande and La Reserva Club.

Polo and Equestrian Center: Sotogrande has a strong connection to polo, hosting major tournaments like the Santa María Polo Club. The area is also known for its excellent equestrian facilities, attracting enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Sports and Outdoor Activities: Beyond golf and polo, Sotogrande provides a variety of outdoor activities. Residents and visitors can enjoy water sports, tennis, paddle tennis, and hiking, taking advantage of the region's favourable climate.

Beaches: Sotogrande is situated along the Mediterranean coast, and offers access to some pristine beaches which are known for their fine golden sand and clear waters, 

The overall ambiance of Sotogrande reflects an exclusive and sophisticated lifestyle. The area caters to those seeking a high standard of living, with upscale amenities, fine dining options, and a focus on privacy and security, it was nice to visit, but I am not sure we would want to stay here.

Sotogrande reminded us very much of Port Saplaya, in Valencia, this is known as Little Venice, and to be honest a lot prettier than Sotogrande.

The next part of our journey took us to Gibraltar, it would be a waste to be so close and not visit, as this place holds a special place in our hearts as its where we were married.  We were a bit worried about the queuing time to get on and off Gibraltar, but it was not as bad as expected, we were queuing for about 20 minutes to get through passport control.

Gibraltar, general information: 

Gibraltar is a small British Overseas territory with an area of around 6.7 square kilometers (2.6 square miles). It is known for its prominent landmark, the Rock of Gibraltar, a limestone ridge rising 426 meters (1,398 feet) above sea level.

The history of Gibraltar is complex and has seen various rulers over the centuries. It has been under Moorish, Spanish, and British control. In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht formally ceded Gibraltar to Britain, and it has remained under British sovereignty since then.

Gibraltar has its own government with a Chief Minister as the head. While it has a high degree of self-governance, the United Kingdom is responsible for defence and foreign affairs. Gibraltar is not part of the European Union but has a special relationship with it through the UK.

Gibraltar has a thriving economy, largely driven by its status as a financial services centre and a hub for shipping and tourism. The territory is also known for its low taxes, which attract businesses.

The population of Gibraltar is diverse, but English is the official language, and the majority of the population is bilingual in English and Spanish.

The Rock of Gibraltar is not only a geographic feature but also a symbol of the territory. It is home to a population of Barbary macaques, the only wild monkeys in Europe.

Due to its strategic location at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar has been of military significance throughout history. The British naval base in Gibraltar is a key asset for the United Kingdom.

Overall, Gibraltar is a unique blend of British and Mediterranean influences with a rich history and strategic importance.

Up until now we had been very lucky with the weather, it had been a bit windy but bright and sunny, but as we entered Gibraltar it started to rain, welcome to Britain..... 

We enjoyed a trip back down memory lane and a stroll around some of the streets and lunch at one of the many restaurants in the Irish quarter.

Spanish Road Trip 2023

Sadly we could not spend as much time here as we would have liked but the minute we left Gibraltar to continue our journey to Tarifa the sun came back out!

We finally arrived in Tarifa, slightly later than we had planned and it was already dark, one of the downsides to a road trip this time of year is the lack of daylight hours for travelling and exploring.

Spanish Road Trip 2023 additional photos.

Night 4 Accommodation El Levante Hostal 49€, full Spanish Breakfast 5.50€

The owners had phoned us earlier in the day to check what time we would be arriving, and were waiting for us to check in, they could not have been more helpful, giving us a map of the area and pointing out all the places we should see on our short visit.  Having arrived at around 19:00 it was too dark to really appreciate how lovely this accommodation was, until the next morning.

The room was on ground level, very spacious with their own patios, some even had their own kitchens and all fittings are excellent quality, (the owners kindly showed us around).  The beds were the most comfortable we have had on our journey so far, internet service was great, which made a nice change.

The bathroom was lovely, with plenty of hot water and hairdryer.

There was also plenty of FREE parking, another added bonus.

What really made this accommodation so fantastic was its position, located just a short drive from Tarifa, situated in quiet green surroundings, where you wake up to the call of the cockerels and the jingle of the bells on the sheep in the nearby fields.  

It was wonderful in the morning sitting on the patio enjoying the mountain scenery in the distance.

Would we stay here again?  100% yes, we got a great deal price wise as it was out of season.

Never be scared to book hostals, we have stayed in some really wonderful ones over the years. 

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