Nestled along the southern tip of Andalucia is where you will find this hidden township of San Ambrosio. Made up of nothing more than a few houses and a couple of places you can get yourself some good food and a cold beer. It seems almost preposterous that this tiny town is the driving force behind my desire to learn a second language and my love for Spain. So let me explain.
I arrived here to meet up with a long time travel blogging friend in Abbey from achickwithbaggage.com. The only thing I knew before arriving was that my English would be of no use. Sevilla had taught me that it was a luxury to find a local that spoke English and now that I was in the middle of nowhere I went in expecting nothing.
What followed in the few days I spent in San Ambrosio was LOTS of beers, food, a bit of exploring and meeting some truly relaxed people. They often say it’s the people who make a place… and well this couldn’t have been so true here.
All of the fun happened at night but to keep from getting under Abbeys feet too much I wandered off and checked out a couple of the sights during the day to justify all the drinking and eating that was going on at night.
First on the “to see” list was the local dovecot turned hotel. The El Palomar de la Brena dovecot has some 7700 nests and a total area of almost 400m2 making it the biggest dovecot in the world (Guinness World Records say so). While it’s no longer in use now it’s worth a visit, if only to stroll along the dusty road that leads there and admire the countryside.
My second outing was a longer journey as I headed for a view of the coast and to see the Torre del Tajo. A 16th century tower built to warn off Moorish corsairs arriving at the nearby port. The walk itself while melting hot was a great way to see what the local bushland is like and while obviously different to the land where I grew up back in Australia, it still reminded me of home and the little town I grew up in.
There was much more seen and done as Abbey chauffeured me around Barbate, Vejer de la Frontera, Los Canos de Mecca and many other surrounding towns but it was the three bars/restaurants of Venta Luis, Venta Canuto (Miguels) and Los Majales (Vicky & Antonio’s) that cemented my love for the country, the town and the people.
Luis served up some of the most amazing (and cheap) spanish food I’d ever eaten as well as introducing me to the joy of Ron Miel (Honey Run). It came in shot glasses but the 2 bottles I brought home with me get poured into glasses as one shot just isn’t enough. While at Vicky & Antonio’s I enjoyed some killer spanish omelets for lunch and great company in the afternoons while I enjoyed many a Cruzcampo and some entertainment from the locals that stopped in.
Lastly was Miguels. Just a short (Abbey might argue) walking distance from her place. I was here every night laughing and getting the story on everyone. Miguel speaks Spanish and I speak English yet we still managed to have several conversations where I’m sure we both understood each other (ignoring alcohol intake of course). This man is my driving force behind trying to learn Spanish. Even with Abbey translating for me he would always speak to me and is seriously one of the nicest guys I met there (I’m not just saying that because of the free beer he gave us either). Hopefully come the end of the year I can return for his big new years party and thank the man in Spanish for all of his hospitality.
There was so much more to this little town than what is above. So many more people met at the bar, more to see and I didn’t even get started on how much they love their horses down this way. It’s just a place that has that something extra that flips the right switch or opens your eyes that bit more to capture you.
Do you have a place like that? The one where you arrived knowing nothing but left with just amazing love for the place. Let me know in the comments below.
Always check foreign currency exchange rates before you leave to make sure you get the most of your money.