During those days I was in a big preparation and in a secret planning mood. We were already on the go for several days, and we still had many kilometres ahead of us. The lovely reason of my excitement was that we had Dani’s birthday ahead of us, and I couldn’t wait to celebrate it with him during our road trip. Therefore, I had got the presents and all the decoration elements still in Barcelona and had packed into my backpack nicely in order not to get them destroyed during our tour. Don’t need to mention that all the presents took at least half of my backpack size… and at every stop, where I needed to pack out my necessary things for the night, I had to be super careful in order not to reveal what is in my backpack as well as to avoid that Dani was by any chance noticing what I was hiding there.
After the Molinos, we wanted to deep dive in Andalusia. Therefore, accordingly we had chosen some random villages on the road. Really random ones, basically where we could find reasonable accommodation on the go, we decided to stay for a night. This is how we ended up in Espejo. The village is located in the south east of the province of Andalusia in the heart of the countryside, among olive groves, cereal fields and vineyards.
“The origins of Espejo, founded at the beginning of the 14th century, lie with its Castle, which dominates the whole village from its position atop an elongated hill at the foot of which stands a labyrinth of steep, attractive streets of typical whitewashed houses. “
On the way there we were just randomly checking Booking.com where nearby we could have a nicer place to spend the night. Randomly I found Casa Almara, that looked spectacular on the pictures, beautiful interior, nice design elements chosen by taste, it looked to nice to be true. Even on Booking.com it was rated as exceptional. Alright, I thought it’s a perfect place to spend Dani’s birthday night, so I convinced him, that the places looked nice and after he agreed, I just booked it.
We arrived there late afternoon, and after struggling a bit to find a parking place in the village built on hills and valleys, with crazily narrow streets, finally we got to address. There was no one there. On the phone we got the instructions that the owner will come very soon in the meantime we could take our time and wait in the nearest bar on the square. So, this is what we have done, found the closest bar, ordered two cañas, and were keep waiting. A kind neighbour – friend of the owner – came after us and let us know that the owner is coming very soon, but in the meantime just kindly asking ifwe’re fine, all was good on the way here, and so on. It was a nice gesture.
We had been driving from the golden wheat fields of La Mancha to the southern Andalucia. We could expect going south direction a less green territory, dried an arid. Very far from the truth speaking about Andalucia. We got out of the highway to reach some random villages on the go. The roads there are nice and the landscape is an olive trees plantation ocean that provided a never-ending green background. The all-around spread villages follow there a common pattern. They are upon a small hills were you can see them from long distance because the houses have that very bright shinny white improved by the eternally blinding sunlight. Those villages are not hidden but they took some preventions of being attack including their upper locations and in some cases fortresses or castles. That way we got into inner Andalucía, enjoying our way to the coast.
Olive trees and olive trees around. That was a crop improved a lot in the region by the romans because they divided their territories into provinces to get out an efficient administration. Bética was the name of a roman province that occupied a similar territory as the current Andalucia. Romans tried to get from all their provinces the best of their local outcomes and they appreciated a lot the Andalusian oil that was an expensive and very useful good for gastronomy but also as fuel for lamps and as a beauty product, so they decide to dedicate more land for olive trees plantations. But the olives were already there brought by the Phoenicians around 11th B.C. and remained afterwards during the Arab occupation of the territory.
The Arabs were efficient constructors and they came from southern and very hot territories where it’s a must to take care about the temperature conditions in architecture. The white colour is used in warm areas because it reflects all light waves and does not absorb any, thus working as a mirror that repels heat.
Right after just finishing our beers, the owner called us that he was there. We didn’t wait a second more and went to the address. If you have ever seen a nice welcome, multiply it with 10. The owner was super friendly and kindly explained to us, that at the moment there was no one else in the Casa, so regardless we had booked only a studio apartment, basically we were alone on the 3 floor tall house, that by the way also has two rooftop gardens with spectacular views on the Andalusian olive tree fields. Also, he told us many information about the surroundings, the history of the house, about Espejo, many-many interesting and useful things. Then he gave us the keys and told us that he returns only in the morning to prepare our breakfasts. We stayed alone, it was still some daylight, so we decided to explore the beautiful house.
Of course, we went up to rooftop gardens to admire the views and simply just to realize how lucky we were with the accommodation.
Since we were hungry, we decided to take a walk in the village and ideally to find a nice restaurant for dinner. Well, then we realized that due to the fact it was the day of the local Saint, many places were either closed or already pre-booked for dinner celebrations. But after a short walk among the beautiful whitewashed houses we finally found a place, where we could have had dinner.
Tapas… bravas, chocos and some white wine. Basically, what you can expect from an Andalusian good traditional crowded bar. The tables were full of people eating. I could catch a piece of a conversation on what a teenager said to his grandparents that he didn’t want to study and his grandpa replied aiming the fields, “good, then you know where you will go to work”. The young guy said to his grandfather: “don’t be cruel” and I realized that olive trees are indeed very present in the locals minds.
We arrived back at the Casa Almara before midnight – so I couldn’t wait till it turns to midnight to cheer for Dani’s birthday. That moment we celebrated on the spectacular rooftop. It was indeed priceless.
I was a bit sick and that was a definitive cure 😊. We could hear from the terrace the light music down on the village. They were celebrating their patron’s day and everybody were on the street but us that were enjoying the party from the distance just in front of the olive trees ocean.
The next morning came finally my moment, while Dani’s taking a shower, I quickly decorated our studio with all the design elements, that survived the trip till then, and of course with the presents. After the celebration we went down to take a look if we have the breakfast ready. Of course, it was. And how lovely breakfast we got, all handmade, local goods, super tasty and super nicely served… Yumm.
We had spent many nights in different hotels, casas, motels, rural houses in our lives, but what Casa Almara was able to offer us… with its lovely vibe, romantic interior, super friendly hospitality, over the top standards, while still keeping authenticity… was indeed overcoming all previous experiences. Highly recommended to everyone with the same mindset like us. And no, this article is not a sponsored one, not at all, but why not to celebrate such great places like this, if they are amazing and if we can. 👏
After leaving Espejo we decided to go to Casares direction, in order to reach the coastline. Casares, a place that we also picked randomly, on the go, and of course some basic information as well had read upfront.
“Casares is in a dramatic position on the edge of a cliff and is considered to one of the mostbeautiful “pueblos blancos”(whitewashed villages) of Malaga”.
Indeed, it was beautiful. The view upon the hill, on the white houses in the valley, and in the background the beautiful horizon of the sea and the Costa del Sol. We arrived in the afternoon hours, so we still had the chance to wander around a bit and discover the village, before dinner. Also, we were in the hope of finding a nice restaurant for dinner. On the main square there are many bars and smaller places, but of course I was hoping for something special, in order to spend the birthday dinner in a more memorable atmosphere.
Luckily, we just needed to look up. On the main square there was La Bodeguita de Enmedio, and the restaurant had a lovely terrace on the 3rd floor of the building overlooking on the village and providing a spectacular view of the square of Plaza España.
We went up and regardless it was not dinner time yet, they welcomed us very kindly and since there was no one else yet on the terrace we could choose the best table for ourselves. Dani of course didn’t know what I was preparing in the background. After ordering some nice wine I left the table with the excuse of a quick visit in the ladies’ room. Of course, I used this occasion to talk with the waitress, how to bring to life my plan. I just wanted to pick a nice birthday cake for him within the selection of the restaurant’s cakes. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a big variety, but the waitress was incredibly helpful and finally we picked one, I left with her the birthday candles, and I asked her to serve it after the dinner as a surprise.
It was very funny, since after dinner, Dani was really in the mood of leaving and taking a walk in the village. So, I needed to improvise with random unbelievable excuses and make him stay until the cake arrived. And finally the cake arrived, they prepared it super nicely, I was very happy, that regardless the circumstances we were able to celebrate his day so perfectly.
It was such a nice surprise that I don’t know if it was because of that or what but I felt that the views from the top were perfect and walking along the white streets afterwards where the sunset came and made the perfect light, made Casares a very romantic place. Perfect for couples, believe me.