After living in Los Angeles for 20 years, we are understandably excited to live without a car this year. We’ve done enough driving for a while, and we are so enjoying living life on a daily basis in close proximity to our apartment. We walk to the market, bank, post office, monuments, parks, river, restaurants, and stores. Our entire existence takes place within 2 miles, and it’s quite a luxury to be able to simplify our life in this fashion.
However, one of the great things about living in Granada is that it’s only 30 minutes from the Sierra Nevada mountains and less than an hour from the coast. Andalusia is filled with incredible natural beauty outside of the charming city walls of Granada, and we were looking forward to accessing other parts of the region. Fortunately for us, the bus system is incredible, and we have made a couple of trips to the beach over the past month.
For this first trip to the water, we chose Salobreña, the closest beach to Granada. The bus drops you off in town and it’s about a 10-minute walk to the beach. Once you arrive at the shore, there is a dramatic cove that welcomes beachgoers and tourists with some small shops and restaurants. It would be an understatement to say things move slowly here. We live in Granada, where people take a 3-hour siesta every day, but Salobreña truly moves at a snail’s pace.
Upon arrival at the beach, the boys were hungry, so we grabbed some bread and meats from a local shop, made sandwiches, and ate chips staring out at the Mediterranean. After lunch, we walked out to the water. The beach in Salobreña was different from the beaches in California–primarily because the surface was comprised of rocks rather than sand. Cassius lives his life barefoot, so his leathered soles had no problem, but the rest of us stepped carefully across the stones. However while this was less conducive to playing sports, it provided the perfect canvas for skipping rocks–something the boys always enjoy. And we set up shop and sent skimming rocks across the shimmering water–which is surprisingly cold. Only I ventured into the depths for a genuine swim in the chilly waters.
Nerja was quite different than Salobreña. The central plaza on the cliffs overlooking the beaches was teeming with people who were there for the “Feria de Nerja” which began that weekend. There was live music and flamenco performances delivered by performers of all ages. And hundreds of old couples walked arm in arm among children, teenagers and young adults. The town was just bustling with life on a perfect day. Perhaps it was our imagination, but the water seemed a tinge warmer than Salobreña and we all swam, played paddle ball, and threw the football on a beach nestled in an intimate cove. The rock formations are spectacular and Nerja possesses a magical quality that challenges the imagination that places like this exist on earth.
However what seemed most significant about our trips to the beach is that they reinforced the idea that we had traveled as far south as one can on the continent. Our journey that started in Edinburgh in early August had now taken us to the very edge of Europe. We stood there together, with our feet in the water, somewhat awestruck by our geographic location. We even checked it on google maps to confirm. It is difficult to encapsulate in words, but there is something about standing on the southern coast of Spain and staring out towards the African continent that is truly spectacular.
After all, this is one of those places where, as the great Raymond Carver once wrote “water comes together with other water” with the Atlantic and the Mediterranean linked just west of here by the Strait of Gibraltar. I can only say that it was inspiring to be on the precipice of so many origins and so much historical significance, so much human significance. Divided by only a thin strip of the Mediterranean that keeps these ancient landmasses apart, each continent faces uncertain times as they continue to work to redefine themselves in the modern world.