whenjakeandrubriagotmarried

september 9 2006

vejer

Vejer de la Frontera

Last summer we were fortunate enough to enjoy life in Vejer (de la Frontera) for six months, and we grew to love the town so much that we chose it as the location for our wedding.

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Vejer is a traditional white town (pueblo blanco) perched decoratively on a hilltop. The relative flatness of the surroundings allows for spectacular views in all directions. One can see the inland town of Medina Sidonia 28 kilometers to the north and the sandy bay of Barbate 8 kilometers to the southeast. Further southeast, across the narrowing Atlantic Ocean, the mountains of Morocco are visible on clear days.

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The town of Vejer is ancient. Locals claim it to be 3,000 years old but more levelheaded and detached historians, while agreeing that it is one of Europe’s oldest still existing towns, estimate it to a mere 2,500 years. Safe to say it is old by almost every standard. Click here for a panoramic view.

Being located close to the strategically important entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, Vejer has been conquered by expansion-minded Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Moors and Catholics in turn. The mixed cultural and religious background of the town is obvious to this day in the architecture and decoration of houses. Most houses have very simple white washed exteriors with few and small windows, but upon entering the inner courtyard (in Arabic known as Riyadh) the visitor is frequently met by a welcoming oasis: Whitewashed round or hexagonal pillars, colorful tiles as well as a multitude plants and even trees. The fact that the architecture internalizes life doesn’t rob the tourist from viewing these courtyards as most doors are open constantly, allowing for peeks inside.

Suggestions for places to spend a few hours or a day:

o The fish restaurants of Zahara de los Atunes: This costal town is situated about 20 kilometers from Vejer, but it is worth the drive if you like seafood. A number of restaurants (shacks) close to the beach serve exquisite grilled swordfish and tuna caught right off the beach. We have never tasted it better.

o The town of Arcos de la Frontera: It’s a full hour’s drive inland from Vejer, the latter half on meandering roads. The upper part of town is built in sandstone and includes an array of decorative churches. The buildings lie on the very edge of a cliff, allowing visitors to enjoy the view of a two hundred meters vertical drop. Go early or late in the day as temperatures in September are often well above 40°C between 12 a.m. and 4 p.m.

o Whale watching: Tarifa, on the Spanish side of the isthmus between Spain and Morocco, is a mere 40 minutes in car from Vejer. Several tour operators offer whale/dolphin guarantee on their two-hour boat trips.

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o Have your choice of beaches: The coast offers many sandy beaches of high quality. We especially like El Palmar and La Barrosa.

o The marble ship of Cadiz: It was said by Lord Nelson that Cadiz, situated as it is on a peninsula stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean, looked like a marble ship when approached by ship. The luxurious marble clad mansions were a result of trading with early colonial America. Harder times have since befallen the city, but it still oozes grandeur and charm.

And a personal & exclusive message from the bride to her female guests on what to do in Spain (sorry guys!): SHOP! This is the place to spiff up your wardrobe, it’s cheap, it’s good quality and it comes in a lot of colours.

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