I am writing from hour four of my bus ride back to Madrid, a long but so worth it return from Nerja, Spain, where I spent my weekend. I left early Friday morning with my friend who had heard great things about Nerja. Just an hour and a half bus ride from Malaga, Spain, Nerja is a beautiful, walkable beach town in Southern Spain.
I don’t think I realized how much I had missed water until I got to Nerja! Its clear blue water as far as the eye can see can’t even compare to the Madrid Río. We found a surplus of beaches, though our favorite was Playa del Salón, slightly off the beaten path with gorgeous rock structures in the water. Another great beach was La Playa Burriana, which definitely caters to tourists but there are some more remote spots we enjoyed! La Playa Burriana is near a strip of restaurants, bars, and ice cream stands. If you want to avoid paying eight euros for a drink, I recommend buying picnic snacks at the grocery store across the street for a more affordable (and more fun) option of eating on the beach.
We spent most of our time soaking up the sun and swimming, but there was loads more to do in Nerja! We were lucky enough to be there for a Puente/holiday weekend, with a big concert and festival in the town square on Friday night. There was a stage full of women in classical flamenco dresses singing accompanied by Spanish guitar and it seemed like everyone in town was there to see them perform! We had a blast dancing in a circle of women near the stage. Nerja was a friendly, close-knit community that we loved being a part of!
On our last day, we made a day trip to Frigiliana, a town known for its all white buildings and stunning water views. It was full of windy cobblestone streets and artist studios! We joked that we had ended up in Greece and kept thinking that the cast of Mamma Mia was bound to appear somewhere amongst the cobblestones. We ended the night with a classic Spanish Tinto de Verano with a gorgeous view.
We couldn’t leave Nerja without trying its culinary specialty, pescado frito. Unlike Madrid, Nerja is right on the water, so seafood is a huge part of the local diet. My host mom, professors, and Airbnb host told us we HAD to try pescado frito while there, so we went to a local tapas spot called El Puntilla. Assuming in our annoying American way that the calamari would be fried, we confidently ordered una ración g rande. But when the waiter brought a toppling plate of slimy fish to our table, we were caught off guard as he laughed at our reaction. I realize now that this is probably a Spanish rite of passage, ordering the wrong tapas, but it ended up tasting just fine and it allowed us to learn more about the dish. We also had delicious meals at Gusto, a Mediterranean spot, and Cuatro Caminos, a sweet breakfast nook with great churros y café.
I highly recommend Nerja as an accessible and amazing weekend getaway! I’m happy to be coming back to Madrid refreshed and ready for another great week of classes.
¡Nos vemos pronto, Madrid!