Jessica_Harbin.jpg

Hello!

Welcome to my blog. I document our family's adventures in Andalusia, Spain, and travels across Europe. Hope you have a nice stay!

How to Plan the Perfect Date Night in Vejer de la Frontera

How to Plan the Perfect Date Night in Vejer de la Frontera

When you live an ocean away from grandparents, and you’re in the throes of raising little people, making the most of date nights is extra important. So, where is the ideal place to spend several hours of adult time? And how do you make sure that your large American-sized, super cool minivan isn’t going to get stuck?

For Mother’s Day 2017, all I wanted was to check out Vejer de la Frontera and its restaurant, Califa, which everyone in Rota raved about. We had a great day, but not without mishap. The parking garage near the restaurant is so tight that a large cut had been made into the rock to accommodate the hoods of cars winding into the garage. Our Honda Odyssey made it, but not without a scrape on the tire well. The restaurant was the best we had found in Spain, but not necessarily child-friendly – and Charlotte choked on an olive after less than five minutes at the table. And so on. It was beautiful, and special, and quickly my favorite of the white villages. However, I knew it could be done better.

Vejerrooftop_web.jpg

Parking in Vejer de la Frontera

So, when Dennis’ mom was visiting and the kids begged for a night just with Grandma, we knew where to head. We started off on a better note by parking in a lot on Calle los Remedios, right on the edge of the old town. We were able to make a quick stop into the tourist center and then walk into the town. You can walk along a stunning promenade that overlooks the ravine and the river Barbate. Or, as we did this night, wander through tiny white walled streets and past fun boutiques and tapas bars.

Vejer1_web.jpg
Vejer2_web.jpg
Vejer3_web.jpg

Castle Walk in Vejer de la Frontera

On this date night excursion, we found the entrance to the castle wall. Though there is no castle to explore, you can walk down the wall, which takes you by private patio and private patio, all covered with beautiful potted plants and hanging laundry and tables that invite you for hours of drinking in the view. That is, if you’re okay with tourists walking by.

Vejer4_web.jpg
Vejer5_web.jpg

Right before the restaurant, the streets open up to the Plaza de Espana, which is just gorgeous. On this night in late August, there were tons of people and a stage was being prepared for some open performance. I would have been happy to pull up a chair and order a wine, however, a delicious meal awaited. 

El Jardin del Califa

El Jardin del Califa, our restaurant for the evening, is real gem of a Moroccan place, which is such a huge part of the heritage of this village. This restaurant is part of a family of eateries and hotels, to include a rooftop bar with panoramic view, which we visited prior to taking our table. It was one of those pinch me moments when I felt so lucky to be on this adventure of living in Spain with my best friend. Surrounded by vacationers from across Europe, and the beauty of Andalusia at its best, it was hard not to feel blessed. And as the other families were traveling with teenage or grown children, it was a nice peek into a future chapter of life. I will warn that the rooftop bar is tiny, but a nice change from taking drinks on a busy square.

VejerJessica_web.jpg
VejerDennis_web.jpg

As for the restaurant, a reservation is definitely needed, especially in the summer months. Even six weeks out I wasn’t able to get a table in the beautiful courtyard! However, upon our arrival, we were offered a high-top table beside the well and under a tree. Which I thought was perfect ambiance. What we didn’t realize was that a quiet cat was also in the corner, which brought all of the children. Fortunately, the manager was top notch and always shooed away the children when they became too much. Even funnier was the pair of birds roosting in the tree. We never saw them, however, they would occasionally make quite the raucous and shake leaves and flower petals onto our table. I’m not sure about Dennis, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. When you’re used to feeling rushed and worried about preschoolers’ table manners, a couple of busy birds is nothing!

VejerCalifa_web.jpg

The food did not disappoint, and neither did the walk back down to the car as the sun had finally set and the lights were on throughout town. What we weren’t expecting was that a feria was just starting. Game prizes were just being laid out, and crowds were just forming. The parking lot was beyond full, and a steady stream of car lights could be seen snaking up the hillside. We were leaving after 10 p.m., and Spain was only now coming alive! This has been the hardest adjustment for us, and always remarkable when we are out and about past our early bedtimes.

Vejerplaza_web.jpg

Historic Artistic Monument of National Importance

Vejer has been named an Historic Artistic Monument of National Importance. And truly, the city is just beautifully deserving of such a title. The village is not large, and it lends itself to a peaceful meander. You just know that you can take your time and still see all that you want to see, without rushing past the details that make it so special. You don’t need an agenda, as there are no museums or sites that you need worry about. Vejer is just one of those places that you go to be inspired. To feel the sense of history of living in a village like this under Moorish rule, through the Reconquista, and days without electricity and running water. It is a place that you go to be inspired by the beauty and the art that is real life and all around us. And it is the perfect place to reconnect with yourself as an adult and with the adult you choose to do life with. And now that we know where to park without getting stuck, I can’t wait to go back.

Rancho Cortesano: The Most Family Friendly Restaurant in Jerez de la Frontera

Rancho Cortesano: The Most Family Friendly Restaurant in Jerez de la Frontera

On Being an American in Arromanches-les-Bains

On Being an American in Arromanches-les-Bains