It all started when I discovered Castillo de Castellar in the south of Spain. It’s a forgotten about hilltop castle with a spectacular view of a dense cork tree forest and the monumental straits of Gibraltar in the distance. The stuff of fairy tales. Sadly the castle was abandoned by its original inhabitants when they were offered new, modern housing in the valley below by local politicians. The empty houses within the castle walls were abandoned until they were eventually discovered by German hippies exploring the area. I can only imagine the party they threw when they realized this place was up for grabs!
Today the Castillo de Castellar is still a spectacular place, and if you come on a weekday during the winter months you’ll get that end of the world feel. The handful of tiny, cobblestoned alleys are covered in hanging bougainvillea, and the only living creatures you’re likely to stumble upon are well fed cats dozing off in the Spanish winter sun. However, the Spanish government is constructing a Parador (National chain of luxury hotels) within the castle walls. The authenticity and the innocence of the place is on the verge of being lost forever. However, I feel that as long as the German hippies are still around (most of them grey haired grandparents by now), the soul of the castle remains intact.
Another place the hippies (and I) have fallen in love with is Caños de Meca. It’s an outpost on the Costa de la Luz, and light years away from the tack and the crowds of the neighboring Costa del Sol. Some thirtyfive years ago the madrileño cultural movement born in the wake of general Franco’s death, flocked to Caños de Meca during the hot summer months. “La Movida”, as they called themselves seeked sun, sea and parties – and ever since the place seems to be attracting the Bohemian crowd. There’s a light house, there’s a huge Berber tent where you can drink, eat and party till dawn and there’s an explosive sunset – every evening – what more could you possibly wish for? Satisfaction guaranteed!I have a few more stops on my hippie trail that I would like to share with you, but I will be leaving them for another post. Meanwhile, should you decide to visit Caños de Meca or the Castillo de Castellar I recommend the following places to stay:
In Caños de Meca you can’t go wrong with the idyllic bungalows at http://www.loscastillejos.com/. At 70 euros per night they’re even budget friendly! In Castellar you can rent an old, refurbished town house with a red door for a night of total peace and quiet. http://www.castillodecastellar.com/menu.htm In low season you can escape to the charm of a place the world forgot for only 65 euros per night. But hurry up – the parador is on its way.
Oh, and be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…