VIBRANT VEJER DELA FRONTERA

Where to go to spend the Holy Week? Since we couldn’t climb the Rock in Gibraltar, we left La Linea and drove to the direction of Cadiz. But before that, we wanted to go to Tarifa, but a fellow camper owner told us that the place is a bit dangerous as there were many cases of robbery there. So we decided to drive to another white village, Vejer dela Frontera. We wanted to drive along the coast, but the navigation brought us through the mountains and it was already late when we noticed that! Anyway, we missed a lot on the coast. And arriving at Vejer, we took a different road in going up which brought us in the middle of a busy square of the old town, the Plaza Espana. I bet the people there haven’t seen a camper driving there yet, as all eyes were on us! Luckily we were able to get out of that and then followed a narrow street out and it was really narrow, as at one point one driver had to fold her car mirror to let us in. We parked along the way, only to find out that we were blocking the pedestrian path. Until an old man pointed us to a big parking place a little downhill. There, after a few rounds, we were able to find a place for our camper for another four  days. We drove a total of 90 kms this day.

 Campsite : Parking, Avenida Los Remedios

                   11150 Vejer dela Frontera

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The parking is a mix one, for cars and buses, and it is near the Tourist Office and Parque Los Remedios. From there is about 200 meters walk to the center. We stayed in Vejer for four days : from April 2-5, 2015

THE WHITE CITY OF VEJER DELA FRONTERA

Vejer dela Frontera is a Spanish hilltop town and municipality in the province of Cadiz. It is white, thus the name, white village”. It is squeezed between the sierra and the sea, and a labyrinth of white washed houses and winding cobbled streets. From the Tourist office, we took the concrete stairs in going up to the center and once up, we were rewarded with a magnificent view of the valley below us.

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We then took the road to La Plazuela, went up, until we reached the Santuario de Nuestra Senora de la Oliva, the patroness of the town. It is an old massive church with a beautiful altar decorated with Resurrected Jesus. Around the church are some cozy cafes and restaurants. We have there our own bar, Bar Morillo, just around the corner. Leaving the Church, we just let ourselves got lost in the labyrinth of narrow winding cobbled streets of Vejer.

The houses are all white-washed, some with terraces and balconies. There are hostels or casa rural  where tourists can stay, but no tall hotel buildings. Every now and then, we chanced upon some really nice corners with cute charming gardens. We learned from one resident that they hold an annual contest for most beautiful garden in the old town and it is every May. We can see which houses have already won, because a plaque is posted in front of the house. The streets are, as I have already mentioned, covered with cobbled stones, and they are clean, no litters on the way. But I missed the nice patterns I found at Frigiliana.

Walking thru, we came at the Plaza Espana, where we have driven when we arrived. It was not possible to drive around anymore because around the plaza, with cafes and restaurants was busy. What made the plaza really attractive was the big charming fountain at the middle which was decorated with mosaics and at the water were cute little frog images blowing out water. It was just relaxing and enjoyable to just sit in one of the nice benches and observe the happenings around.  We then followed the way to Juan Blanco and at one point, just in front of the entrance to the castle, was a Mirador where we had a wonderful view of the other side of the town. We were not able to visit the castle as it was closed.  There are also many nice cosy restaurants in and around the town.

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 Having seen the old town, Hans and I took another route the next day. We saw on the map that there were four old windmills just near the parking. Now, trying to get to these windmills was not as easy as we thought. There was no continuous way in going to these 4. We had to every now and then deviate from the way and search. Luckily, we were able to do it. Our plan to do some more hiking did not materialize as the starting point of each of the four routes are a bit far from the center.

All in all, Vejer dela Frontera is a nice charming hilltop town…Surely one of the nicest we have seen in our camper trip.

SEMANA SANTA IN VEJER

We arrived at Vejer on a Holy Thursday in 2015. Like most of the towns in Spain at this time of the year, Vejer was also active and busy during the Holy Week. A procession was held at 10 p.m. beginning from the Santuario. There were many persons waiting for the procession on strategic points/treets . We waited at one corner near the church. After 30 minutes delay, the first penitents, people dressed in white robes with purple pointed hoods passed us by, then followed by the first image of Christ carrying the cross. The procession was participated by hundreds of believers, all of them wearing the same clothes with purple hoods. The carriers of the thrones or Caro followed a certain rhythm and some were also barefooted. There were at least three bands that accompanied the procession which played music the whole time. It was almost 11.30 when the whole procession passed by us. I heard that this would eventually finish at around 2 in the morning, and I believe that, considering the pace of the procession and seeing how narrow the streets where they had to carry the big religious images.

The next day, Good Friday, Hans and I attended the Holy mass at 5 pm. At 8 pm, there was again a procession which we of course saw. This time, the penitents or participants were wearing black with white hoods. There were different group of bands this time. Again, it lasted almost 2 hours before the last participant passed us by. After the procession, Hans and I had our drinks in our local bar.

 Saturday at 11 pm, Hans and I again attended the Holy Mass for Easter. We were all given a candle and went outside the Church where the Easter candle was blessed. After that, we all went inside lighting our candle from the light coming from the Easter candle. Just like the Easter Mass in the Philippines we had to renew our baptismal vows. But what was different here , there was a baby who was really baptized! And that made the mass naturally longer than it already was. It lasted 2 hours. It was 1.30 in the night when we returned to our camper. We learned that the next Easter mass is the next day at 2 pm.

 FIESTA DEL TORO

The weekend before the Easter is the Fiesta del Toro in Vejer. We did not know that. We had the information from the Tourist office. During the Fiesta, Bull run will be held in the city, one for the kids and one for the adults, on two different days. Anyway, Saturday morning we saw that a big effigy of the Toro is placed at the entrance of the old city. The Plazuela was busy, and there were slingers and banners all over town. The highlight on the first day, Saturday, was the bull run for the children. It was really busy with children, parents and tourists. The activity began at 13.00. In this bull run, there is no real bull to run, but a young boy runs holding a mascot of a Toro and he runs with it all over the designated route which I think was about 2 kilometers long. The children would then run with him, and all the time trying to touch the bull. It was a good day, nice activity and we could feel the energy in the air caused by the celebration.

Many bars and cafes were also open, and there was even a couple of improvised bars along the streets and  mobile toilets were stationed at some places.  It was party time! In fact, after we came from the church on Saturday night at 1.30 a.m, we were hoping for a quiet night of sleep. But we were wrong. When we arrived at our camper, the parking was literally full of partying youth, scattered around the parking in groups, with their own drinks, chips and music. And the partying lasted till 5 in the morning. You could imagine that we almost didn’t sleep!

 Sunday, Easter Sunday, was the Bull Run for adults. There were 2 bulls scheduled to run : 12:00 -Aguador who is 530 kgs and at 16:00 – Eskandaloso who weighed 525 kg. As early as 10 a.m was the streets where the bull would run were busy. The nicest places were occupied. The doors and windows of the houses where the route is were all covered and protected with woods. And the open streets that led to the main route were all closed or blocked with steel fences with bars big enough for a person to pass through or use as escape route when the bull passes. There was a local music bands walking to and fro before the run.

At 12.00 the first Bull , a gray one, was released. It passed us in just a few seconds. Some men run with the bull. But it was not allowed to touch it. The bull passed on our waiting place for another 3 times until it was time for it to be brought back to its cage. It was in one hour time and the first bull had his run. At 16.00 the second Bull was released. This time I had a better place than the first one, that’s why I could make a nice film. But the Bull could only run two times. After that it wouldn’t anymore, so in half hour was the spectacle finished.

 I don’t know where the tradition came from. But I don’t quite understand what te reason is for this spectacle. It must be the kick or adrenalin of it all. But I guess, just like any other places in other parts, Vejer has its own tradition, that we just have to respect.

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Our picture together at Plaza Espana

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