The morning light shines bluish through the canyons of the Pyrenees. Fog and sunrays cover the rugged rocks. I am six miles above the spectacle in my "favourite" travel vehicle -
the plane (long live the fear of flying). On the way to Jerez de la Frontera where our three-week road trip through Andalusia is starting. When we get off there
at half past eight in the morning, a gentle breeze touches my arm and the first palm trees rustle in the wind. "Gee, that's nice," I say to my best friend Alex, with whom I also traveled to
Japan last year. We walk to the train station at the airport, where strangely enough there runs only one
train to the city center every two hours. When the train arrives, the conductor approaches us in Spanish and leaves us standing. Welcome!
Here comes a short report about blazing heat, colourful churches, rushing waves and Africa on the horizon.
Some time later we manage to share a taxi with a girl from the US into the city center and arrive at our Airbnb. Because we have been awake since midnight and had only barely slept before, we put our feet up for now.
At 3 pm we get the great idea of visiting the old town of Jerez - although several people told us that the hottest time of the day in Andalusia is between 3 pm and 5
pm. But we forgot that thanks to spontaneous amnesia and dullness. As we step out the door, we almost comatosely fall into the sea of flames that opens up in front of
us. I just noticed that it wasn't even that hot in Needles, California, close to Death Valley, before the last bit of oxygen escapes from my lungs.
In slow motion we drag ourselves to the Alcázar in Jerez. By seeing a fountain of drinking water, I almost embrace it and want to tear it down and take it with me. After one hour we surrender and drive back home, where we are in a bad mood because we were so stupid to go to southern Spain in August. Then we make a real plan, because giving up is not an option.
The next day we get up around 7 am before sunrise to explore Jerez once again. At freezing 75 degrees. I am looking forward to meet the colourful, historical and narrow alleys of Southern Europe again and to drift without a city map. Especially the Catedral de Jerez impresses me with its checkerboard-like church towers in blue and white.
Around noon we drive back and have siesta to finish the evening with our feet in a fountain first and then with olives and salad on the terrace. "I think we have now understood Andalusia," says Alex and we laugh, while downstairs a moped is carpentering through the village at 110 mph, so that the long palm avenue trembles in the dark.
Before we pick up our rental car, we have planned a day trip to the coastal town of Cádiz. There we take the train from Jerez, which only costs about $5,80 and takes 40 minutes. Over a long land connection the train crosses the sea and stops right at the center of Cádiz. White and ornated, the town hall piles up directly at the entrance to the city. Fountains bubble, flower tendrils decorate the gates in front of the parks. Although Jerez also has its own charm, Cádiz is much cleaner and prettier - just like many coastal towns in Germany. Especially the Catedral de la Santa Cruz is impressive with its yellow dome roof and white stone facades. You have the best view from the promenade less than a minute from the cathedral.
We run to the promenade in high spirits, for the sea is waiting. That's always reason enough to freak out. The turquoise water swings against the stone city walls and breakwaters. Although the sun is already reaching purgatory temperatures again, the cool breeze can prevent renewed sweating. If you want to go to the beach in Cádiz, stay away from the places around the city centre, because they are hopelessly crowded (in summer). It is more beautiful further out along the headland, where also the railway line runs. In the late afternoon we sit on the steps in front of the cathedral and watch a guitar player and a thousand pigeons. The guitar player is playing, the pigeons are destroying dishes in cafés.
Finally the day of truth has come when we pick up our rental car. The employee leads us to an Opel Corsa with hail damage, which she specifically points out. Of
course - otherwise we would have had the idea that the hail would have happened on our route. I stare into the cloudless sky from which a jet of flame shoots down. And will
continue to shoot down in the next weeks. We start the air conditioning and store the suitcases in the back. Then we set our course for the coast. Fortunately, the first
stops of our journey are at the sea and not inland. Only a few days ago, Córdoba reported a heat record of 116 degrees. Once again, I am
thinking that I do not want to think about things that I cannot change or that do not affect me right now.
Once again we pass Cádiz and between the villages the sea flashes again and again.
This tempts us to stop at a dubious parking lot that looks like someone is about to break our windows and steal our tasty olives from the footwell. We still jump out of the car and run into the sea. The waves boil high and the salt water hits us in the face. What a wonderful cooling off!
In bathing clothes we sit behind the steering wheel again. So we are dressed typically Spanish, because here less is obviously more in this respect... Half an hour later, Playa Bolonia spreads out in front of us - one of the most beautiful beaches in Andalusia. Here, too, you should park a few miles from the village at a quieter part of the beach so as not to be overrun by 200 colourful umbrellas and roaring tourists. But escaping this is no problem, because Playa Bolonia is almost five miles long and we find a very quiet spot despite the high season. On the east side there is a 30 meter high dune, which we only look at from a distance, because we are busy with swimming, eating ice cream and taking care of third-degree burns, because Alex forgot to protect his back properly.
Our last stop is Tarifa. The European mainland protrudes into the aisle between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean like a long nose. On the opposite bank, light brown, majestic mountain formations pile up. "Is that Africa?" I ask breathlessly against the thundering wind, while I have hair and sand between my teeth. It is Africa. An incredible moment. Only a few miles away there is a completely different continent with all its problems, cultures, idiosyncrasies, landscapes and beauty. We are at the southernmost point of Europe (mainland) and soak up the atmosphere between the seas and worlds like wet seaweed.
A few miles away there is a fantastic viewpoint, El Mirador del Estrecho. Violet, pale grey and pink colors of the evening sky are covering both continents. Huge crickets rustle in the grass and the dry stalks strike each other like the strings of a violin. I stand on the low wall and feel the magic of this moment deep in my heart. Traveling is and remains a box of chocolates - bittersweet and beautiful and every time a surprise that overwhelms and impresses you for your life.