The wind howled all night - those roosters knew what they were crowing about for sure! Steve and I didn't sleep much with all the noise from the wind whistling and banging things around. We awoke early, got dressed and finished our packing. We had planned to drive to Gibraltar and spend the day before heading to our resort, but the wind was blowing hard in Gibraltar too and was only in the 50's. So we scrapped that plan and decided to head directly to Costa del Sol, and stop for a couple short side trips along the way. Maria packed us some fresh bread with butter, some goat cheese and blue cheese, and several fresh oranges for our trip. Hugs, cheek kisses and we were off for a week!
Our first side trip of the day was to "Conjunto Arqueologico de Baelo Claudia" which is the site of old ruins on the Bolonia beach south of Chiclana about 40 miles. We entered through a museum which was nicely arranged and then out to the actual ruins. While these pale in comparison to what we saw in Rome, it was impressive being on the coast with the angry sea around us. We were thoroughly wind-blown by the time we got back to the car and headed on to our next stop.
We drove another 60 miles or so and came to Tarifa which is just west of Gibraltar. On a clearer day, we would have been able to see across the ocean to Tangier on the northern tip of Africa. We parked the car and walked to a BBVA bank (my employer in the US) to retrieve some Euros from their ATM. Unfortunately, the ATM did not have an English language option and my Spanish is not quite good enough so I had to go inside and find someone who could help me. The people in the bank did not speak English so I used my pantomime skills to explain what I needed. I managed to get my 300 Euros, so all was well. We then crossed the street and headed downhill through the old stone wall and gates into "old" Tarifa. It was like entering another city - the streets are too narrow for modern cars and are "paved" with cobblestone. We walked further down hill and came to a bakery with wonderful smells - I had to go in! The young lady behind the counter did not speak English but I was able to point to what I wanted and said "dos" several times to get what I wanted. I then said "pan"? and received a large crusty loaf of bread from behind the counter. All this for 4 Euros! Steve and I nibbled on these treats as we walked farther through town and then we climbed back up the steep hill to the car. Off to our next adventure!
We continued to drive East along the coast towards Gibraltar, saw the rock in the distance (it is really big by the way) and then continued along our way. As we reached Costa del Sol, the number of resort developments increased dramatically....this area is a huge resort draw for the French and English who come here in the summer to warm their bones on the wide beaches in an area that receives over 300 days of sun a year. As we are in the low season now, it is not as crowded as it will get come May, but there are still quite a few people here. We finally made it to our resort, Royal Oasis, which is owned by the timeshare company in which we have points available to use at any of their resorts worldwide. We are a block up the hill from the coast, directly across from a large park. Our room is in an "apartment" but is well outfitted with the luxuries of other Diamond Resorts we have visited - but with some European twists!
We have the typical key card entry, but the key card also must be inserted in the slot inside the door in order for the lights to work - that took a call to the front desk to figure out. We also have a washing machine - but the directions are all in Spanish. The "dryer" was folded up behind the door and is now out on the terrace with two loads of clothes hanging off of it - yep, the old fashioned "hang to dry" system! The A/C is mounted on the wall in each room - haven't had to use it yet - the patio door is open and we have a nice breeze coming in. There are no washcloths - but I was forewarned and brought two microfiber washcloths from home. Our fridge came furnished with 6 brown eggs, butter, jam, milk, orange juice and a large bottle of water, as well as Corn Flakes and a loaf of bread (I had ordered these items from home). Once we unpacked, Steve and I walked down the hill and stopped at a local English pub for some Fish and Chips with smashed peas. Quite tasty! We then walked around a bit more and stopped at a small local grocery store for a few more items - some cheese, chocolate, Diet Coke and laundry detergent - woo hoo! Back to the resort's front desk where we inquired about the Wifi password for our room. Free Wifi for two devices since we are Diamond members, otherwise it is 6 Euros per day! We also saw that there is a tour bus that will take us to Gibraltar and back for a reasonable price - we may do that on Monday if the weather cooperates instead of driving back to Gibraltar in our Opal.
We are all unpacked and settled in our room - I've been working on the blog (and doing laundry) while Steve checked out the comfort of the beds and pillows.... We are probably in for the night - cheese and ham and bread will likely be dinner, and then tomorrow, we are off to Granada with a visit to the Alhambra being the main event of the day. Good Night from the Coast of the Sun!