One of the breaks I took earlier this year was to a lovely part of Spain, Conil. The trip started off on a manic note – a 7am flight from Gatwick to Gibraltar with Sleasyjet. We had a couple of hen parties on board with one group sitting right in front of us. I must say, boarding a flight at that time in the morning with full make up, heels and party clothes? Really?! And they started drinking too (a wonderful concoction of white wine, gin and every other alcoholic beverage they could get their hands on?) Sheesh. To top it all, Gibraltar was having a wind storm so after two failed attempts (and the drunk hens becoming hysterical), we were rerouted to Malaga, put back on a coach to Gibs (as it is affectionately known) and after yet another 1.5 hours we finally got to our accomodation. Double Sheesh. The one redeeming grace – stunning views!
So I am not going to say anything about where we stayed as I don’t want to advertise the place, but I’ll show you what I ate and what we did… the latter being not much to be honest – exactly how I wanted it to be!
What did I eat?
Conil is like any other seaside town, a lot of hit and miss places. I was worried whether I was going to find anything plant based to eat, but to my surprise, it wasn’t bad at all. Breakfasts included the normal stuff, excellent bread, avocado, fruit salad, yummy marinated tomatoes, enough to keep me going until lunch.
We came across this little place in Conil when we went there for dinner. The main reason why we chose it? There was a blackboard with the heading ‘Vegetables’ :). I ordered a glass of wine (only about EUR3 and really nice!). We also got some bread (ok) and a little shot of gazpacho (yum). I only ordered a main – quinoa with vegetables and tortilla crisps. Interestingly enough, I had almost the same dish when I was in Spain last time, and this also hit the spot. Really tasty, and that reduced balsamic glaze added another dimension to the dish. The whole meal cost less than EUR20 – not bad!
El Jardin Del Califa
A few people were raving on about this place, so when we were in Vejer, this is where we ate. The decor was very pretty, all exposed stone and middle eastern lampshades. Even the water bottles were eye catching! The menu was very extensive and lots of options to choose from.
In a place like this, I wanted to go as authentic as possible, so for starters, I wanted the falafel (how could I choose anything else!) and beetroot hummus. I chose a vegetable tagine for my mains. The hummus was creamy enough, but I would have liked a stronger beetroot kick. As for the falafel – m m m m m. Crispy on the outside, enhanced by the sesame seeds, smooth, zingy, soft insides. They were perfect! The tagine looked simple – an assortment of veggies with some almonds scattered on top. These looks were oh so deceiving. I was surprised at how tasty this was (once I had impatiently waited for it to cool down). Veggies cooked perfectly, there was a bit of tartness from the preserved lemons, a hit of chilli, the crunch of the almonds – simplicity at it’s best. Delicious! This place was on the pricier side, but I think it was worth it.
Las Delicias Costa
One of our beach walks was from Conil all the way to El Palmar, another seaside town a couple of miles down the…beach. The initial plan was to grab a cool drink in La Torre, a restaurant that was recommended. My recommendation? Don’t go there. Shocking service, we were literally passed around from pillar to post and when we got a table, the service or lack of it was pathetic. We left and found this pretty restaurant literally a minute’s walk away. Gin and tonic, check. Cool and refereshing, exactly what I wanted, needed and had to have. The tonic water was particularly nice! We also ordered a snack – fried aubergines which were quite nice and crispy, just a touch oily for my liking. Overall though, a much nicer restaurant and level of service, and I got my G&T, so no complaints!
What did I do?
We had already lost a full day with all the travel shenanigans, so with only 2 and a bit days and not a lot on the agenda, we walked barefoot for hours on the seashore. Cool water, warm sand and a beautiful breeze – lovely. Thankfully, Conil isn’t a touristy place – well, it is, but more of a local getaway destination, as opposed to ‘I want to lie on the beach, get sunburnt and drink myself silly’ getaway.
We also visited Vejer one night for a (quick) walk around town and dinner. I absolutely LOVED the vibe of this place. It was laid back and chilled, cobbled hilly streets, a beautiful square, whitewashed buildings and independent jewellery and clothes shops. All the trees in the area were loaded with oranges (that nobody was picked because apparently they are so bitter). If I had more time (or if I came back to this part of the world), I would definitely spend it here…
We also wandered to Conil town centre one evening and it was just as quaint, but a much smaller version of Vejer. The loveliest part was that there were only a handful of tourists like us. Niice!
The highlight of the holiday? A trip to Bodega Sancha Perez, a fantastic farm and vineyard about 15 minutes out of Conil. A stunning little farm/vineyard/olive garden – it was a beautiful space, owned and run by this larger than life personality, Ramon. He built it up from scratch and you could see how much he loved it and treated it like his baby. He was so passionate, entertaining and oh so funny. You can book tours that last about an hour and a bit. It was mainly in Spanish, dotted with English words here and there. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, it is so worth it for his sheer showmanship and the stuff you see and drink and eat!
There was a small organic orchard with figs, plums, nectarines, peaches – sadly still not ready for picking. But we did manage to find random ripe ones, I was was handed a peach. OH MY WORD. Luscious and juicy! And when I say organic, I mean organic – bugs galore, snail central… and they all had a place to stay – a bug hotel!
After a walk around the olive garden and vineyard, Ramon led us through the production process through – all small scale, all with love and without any crap or chemicals – excellent! He then led us to this little shop where we could buy both the oil and the wine. We didn’t buy any stuff for ourselves as we only had hand baggage, but we did buy a bottle of wine, a Merlot, to have there and then. Ramon also supplied us with some stunning olives to go with the wine. Hands down the best wine I have had.
I would never have gone to this part of Spain, but I’m so glad I did. There are a whole load of smaller towns all around that I would love to come back and explore… will add them to the list!