I spent the next two weeks sailing down the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca stopping at Denia, Altea, Alicante, Torrevieja, Cartagena, Almeria, Almerimar, and Benalmadena.
With a steady land breeze, the sailing was exceptional. Eileen of Avoca sped effortlessly along the coast, often passing within a cable of bizarrely shaped headlands with dramatic cliffs and abundant bird life.
Dolphins visited frequently, swimming beside us with ethereal splendor for hours on end. At night, their intricate performance (illuminated by the agitated bioluminescent plankton), prompted rapturous applause.
The cities I’ve visited are the antithesis of this natural splendor. They appear excessively contrived and soulless. The further I travel south, the more feigned it all becomes.
With the exception of a handful of historic buildings, period architecture is abandoned to make way for the construction of theme park styled apartments and brand name shopping centers. What has happened to the real Spain? Tourist traps and real estate agents can’t be all that’s left!
Everything is for rent or for sale. Did the recent boom come at such a cultural cost?
I put these questions to the older sailors berthed for winter in Cartagena. They assure me that the real Spain still lives but it is not to be found further south among the plastic covered landscapes and marina developments of Andalucia.
I am certainly not impressed. The scarcity of berths for visiting yachts at intended destinations (Almerimar excepted) made landfall a chore, and the frequent questioning or searches by port officials did little to make me feel welcome.
Perhaps misinformation from my outdated Mediterranean almanac was to blame, or I’ve just been in the wrong frame of mind.
I decide to break my journey and leave Eileen while I return to Belgium for a white Christmas. I’ll take up where I left off in the new year.
Seasons Greetings everyone!