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SOUTHERN SPAIN: On narrow roads from Alicante to Málaga

Southern Europe is a world of its own. But perhaps not in the way you would think. Erik Bergin on how he found the Wild West, a fairy tale castle and the continent's largest palm farm on Spain's narrow roads from Alicante to Málaga.

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FROM ALICANTE TO MÁLAGA. The journey starts with a brisk walk. I am in Alicante, the south Spanish city along the Mediterranean, which has an old fortress looming on a hilltop, which I attempt to climb. The fortress is called Castillo Santa Barbara. And the air is hot.

Being May, summer is already well under way in this part of Europe. But the wind is blowing nicely and the view up here on the hill over sea, city and the mountains beyond is incredible. Down below, narrow streets and alleys are winding around old, worn and beautiful buildings that were once proud mansions in another era, long gone.

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Later in the evening, down by the seafront along the harbor, couples are strolling slowly under the palm trees, looking at the yachts, taking in the views and smells of the city. With a beer at one of the seafront cafés, as the sun sets, I find myself thinking that I could learn to like, maybe even love, this city.

View from Castillo Santa Barbara, Alicante.

 

Welcome to the mountainous regions of Andalusia, Murcia and Valencia, southern Spain, a part of Europe that often seems very far from the rest of Europe; the hectic life of Berlin, the broad avenues of Paris and, for that matter, the Spanish capital of Madrid. Here, many people remember the days not long ago when dictator Franco ruled a Spain in fear. Before that, a cruel civil war was fought up in the mountains of Sierra Nevada and on the countryside, inspiring Ernest Hemingway to sit down and write “For Whom the Bell Tolls“. And it wasn’t too long ago that Spain was still considered a developing country. These days, modern freeways cross the valleys and run through the mountain range. But Spain is again burdened with debt, rising unemployment, falling real estate prices and an overall struggling economy.

In Alicante, though, to a visitor all that seem to pass right by, or at least not disturb the quietness of the city. But I am not staying for long – I have arrived to Alicante to embark on a ten day drive to Malaga. The journey will take me via squiggly roads along the Mediterranean, via even narrower paths up in the mountains, through the great Moorish city of Granada, and down to the Andalucian hometown of Salvador Dalí, Malaga, to where he swore not to return as long as Franco was in power. Dalí never returned.

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The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.