It was another “alarm clock” morning…..Kris and Paul wanted to be on the road by 6:00 a.m. for their 8:30 a.m. flight out of Malaga. The sky was inky black and the highway was devoid of traffic during the 45 minute drive to the airport.
It’s always hard to say good-bye to friends, but with hugs all around, we waved farewell to Kris and Paul and continued on our long drive back to France.
Driving along the still dark, still deserted highway was eerie. Unable to discern the passing shapes along the way was like traveling through a surrealistic landscape. When we saw a sign pointing to Nerja, we decided it was a good time for a break.
We wound our way through the motionless streets of town to one of Nerja’s many beaches and, in the company of a lone fisherman and his dog, watched as the sun began to rise over the water. Then, in the shadowy light of early morning, we continued on to the cliffside old town.
Along a quiet side street, we took advantage of a bakery’s early morning opening hour and stopped in for coffee. To our unexpected delight, the bakery also served breakfast…..on a terrace with a commanding view of the beach and the sea.
Nerja was a surprise…..a charming town on the Costa del Sol…..with nary a high-rise in sight.
With full tummies and bright sunlight, we continued on our journey…..past the Costa del Sol and along the Costa Blanca toward Valencia…..under smoggy skies, through miles & miles of orange groves, and past coastlines choked with skyscraping resorts.
Although we had planned to spend the night in Valencia, a big city…..with it’s congestion and confusion…..held no appeal, so we journeyed on.
As evening approached, we were nearing Barcelona. We were tempted to drive on….it was only another 3 or 4 hours to the cottage…..but we were getting tired and decided to spend the night in Sitges, another small beach town. We drove and drove….through little towns congested with weekenders on their way home, on irritatingly short toll roads and circling roundabout after roundabout…..Sitges was further afield than we had anticipated. I was willing to give it a pass and head toward the airport…..with it’s abundance of hotels….. but by now, Craig was a man possessed…..we were going to spend the night in Sitges if it took all night!
Someway, somehow…..we found our way to the shore, stopped at welcoming hotel (right across from the beach), asked for (and got) an ocean-front room, parked car in their private lot down (down four flights of narrow, tight turns), walked back on busy pedestrian streets, stopped for cocktails (then stayed for dinner) at an outdoor cafe…..watching families with babies in strollers, teenagers with friends on skateboards, senior couples with arm in arm…..all on their nightly paseo, their evening stroll……a great European tradition.
It had been a long day and we were tired. Although it was still early, we were in bed by 9:00 p.m……in bed, but not sleeping. We listened to the joyful laughter of families until midnight…..then the boisterous conversations of young couples and singles started up…..by 2:00 a.m., the slurring arguments of rowdy drunks took over…..they finally quieted down around 4:00…..but the street cleaners were out and about at 6:00 a.m. At 8:00, we gave up on sleep, went down to breakfast on the hotel’s patio and then strolled along the shore, taking in the sights of this charming…..but noisy…..town.
Although the skies were blue at breakfast, it was starting to cloud up when we left Sitges. By Barcelona, it was raining…..and, when we passed Girona, it was storming. But, amazingly, as we neared France, the clouds parted and rays of brilliant sunlight beckoned to us.
As we crossed the border (you’re not going to believe this….but it’s true), a rainbow…..so close, it felt like we could reach out and touch it…..journeyed along with us. Ahhh…..La Belle France was welcoming us back.
“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue….and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true” ~ E.Y. Harburg