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i-ESCAPE - THE EDIT

Andalucia, in southern Spain, has inspired great writers, poets, actors and painters and is a unique place where east meets west in an exotic melting pot of Moorish, Christian, Jewish and gypsy cultures. Tarifa, with ancient foundations set on its southern most tip, on the edge where the Atlantic clashes with the Mediterranean, is the last outpost separating Continental Europe and Africa. This fortress town offers a pure reflection of its heritage with a wind-worn patina that perfectly complements the raw nature of its surrounds... striking views across the Atlantic to Africa, vast white stretches of isolated beaches; rippled dunes bordered by cork forest reserves; a light quality that urges the creative to create; a laid-back bohemian vibe with a hidden underlay of sophistication; and a kite surfing Mecca that relies upon the constant Levante or Poniente ocean breeze.

TATLER TRAVEL by Louis de Rohan and featuring apsara!

APSARA's co-founder and creative director, Samantha von Huetz, lives between London and Tarifa...Why Tarifa? ‘The tipping point was a long-held desire for a different quality of life, and a small window of opportunity to bring Spain into my life as a constant!  I often speak of that all elusive balance in life, so difficult to achieve when leading a work induced stressful existence, and now I feel I have found that balance. Some describe Tarifa as the new Ibiza, whereas I would liken it to Ibiza 20 years ago at a time when ibicenco as a vernacular way of living was an aspiration. Tarifa is still authentic, not because it is isolated, as Andalucia has many cultural pursuits, but because people here have common values and live extremely well with an awareness of mind, body, balance. With regards to running a business, the London commute is 3hours and even a large project such as the launch of the APSARA online boutique, is just as easily managed whether in Tarifa or London…the main difference being that in Tarifa at the end of a day’s work I can dive into the ocean!  As a designer, I appreciate the daily inspirations: the incredible light quality, barefoot walks across white dunes, the colorful fabric butterflies of the kite surfers, vast moonlit skies and views across the Atlantic onto the northern most tip of Africa…But, most importantly, here I can be still with my inner thoughts and truly recognize my blessings!’ [excerpt for Louis de Rohan's article for Tatler Travel]

APSARA Resort Wear ¦ Travel Talk ¦ Tarifa

an invitation sent to friends for an Easter break...

WHAT TO DO IN ANDALUCIA

Andalucia is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso; it held an enduring fascination for Ernest Hemingway; it is the setting for the most famous opera of all time, Bizet’s Carmen, and it is the cultural heart of flamenco. After the Moors invaded Spain in the 8th century the region became the kingdom of El Andalus and the capital of Cordoba was transformed into a centre of unimaginable wealth, sophistication, culture and learning unrivalled anywhere in either the western or Islamic eastern worlds. According to Islamic legend, the people of El Andalus asked Allah for five favours – clear blue skies, seas full of fish, trees laden with every kind of fruit, beautiful women and a fair system of government. Allah granted them everything except the last favour on the basis that if all five gifts were bestowed, the kingdom would become an unearthly paradise.  Some of Spain’s most fascinating cities are within 2 hour’s drive of Tarifa – Sevilla [the city of Carmen and Don Juan], Cordoba [with the historic Arab ‘mezquita’], Cadiz, Jerez [known for the Spanish Riding School and Sherry Bodegas] and Granada [the architectural jewel of the Alhambra Palace].

Vejer de la Frontera [40 minute drive from Tarifa] - a ‘pueblo blanco’ perched precariously on a cliff and a must-do excursion....explore the meticulously maintained cobbled streets and order cocktails on the panoramic roof terrace at La Casa del Califa or stay overnight at Hotel V, the hippest boutique hotel in town.

Sevilla  [1.5 hrs drive from Tarifa] - one of the most romantic cities in Spain...wander through the medievel streets around the Cathedral to the strains of spanish guitar. In a 17th-century former convent, Seville's Museo de Bellas Artes has cloistered courtyards and a collection of Spanish paintings second only to that in the Prado that includes works by Velázquez, Murillo (both born in the city), El Greco and Zurbarán among many others. Visit the old Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz as many of the city's most prized properties are among the cobbled alleyways or opt to stay at the Corral del Rey boutique hotel. Tucked away in one of the side streets is the 18th century “Casa de Palacio”, home to the Museo del Baile Flamenco” which celebrates flamenco, an important facet of Andalucían culture.

Day trips to Ronda, Gaucin and the “pueblos blancos” or to Tangier/Morocco from Tarifa [but travel on a day when the wind is not blowing, as the waves can be huge in the middle of the crossing]

WHAT TO DO IN TARIFA

Tarifa

check www.windguru.com for the 5day forecast in Tarifa...in simple terms, if colours are pale blue there is a light breeze; when fuchsia there are 35knot winds and it is 'gnarly'!

Fly [Kite] Surfing & Wind-Surfing: Francois – m. +34670362396 or Juan Ma, whose daughter Gisela Pulido is a world champion kite surfer m.+34685425735

Hiking / Walking:  follow trails in the Parque Natural de Los Arconocales, Bolonia. Also visit the Roman Ruins in Bolonia.

Mountain BikingThe Hurricane Hotel and a store run by a German couple in Tarifa old town rent bikes for trips into the valley of the Moon! Recommended: The ride up to Betis and inland roads near the Santuario de la Virgen de la Luz

Horse Riding: There are stables at Dos Mares and also at The Hurricane.

Tennis: Dos Mares Hotel has 3 flood lit tennis courts

Climbing: The hills in the San Bartolo area, Bolonia, offer over 250 routes. Chris:

Yoga: The Hurricane Hotel on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings at 10am with Adrienne Gabriel, a South African who has arrived in Tarifa via LA. Her classes are Fabulous!

Diving: in the natural park of the Isla de las Palomas is an abundance of marine life such as moray eels, octopus, scorpion fish.

Restaurants

Misiana –  a fun bar and restaurant in the heart of the old town near the church with an extensive menu of fusion food.

La Moreria - if you are standing in front of Misiana, looking into the bar and with the Church to your right, this new moroccan restaurant is in the small alley to your left. Filled with berber tents and sequin cushions, this is a great alternative if you can't make it across to Tangiers... and the vegetable tagine is delicious. t.+34663342621

Per BaccoAnother favouritelocated on the paseo to the right of the Harbour Arch. Pierro the chef is from Verona and the food is delicious so, despite the bad lighting, the restaurant is always filled with expat locals!

Posada La Sacristia – Located in the centre of the old town, La Sacristia is a beautifully restored 17th century inn with an arcaded central courtyard that retains many original features. Owned by Miguel Arregui from Barcelona originally but who has lived in Brazil and Rajasthan, designing Oberoi resorts, and who spends time in Japan designing his various collections… he has many stories to tell! The atmosphere is lovely in the evenings but only offers a small set menu. t. +34 956 681759

SILOS – recently opened by a German…worth a visit if only for the overhead projector images! Walk through the main archway and take the immediate road to your left…it is a large warehouse space also on the left.

The Eco Centre Restaurant - a vegetarian restaurant run by Belgian chef Mika. The atmosphere is muted but for a chilled out evening with delicious food it is perfect... takeaways can be organised too. [The wine store is next door with Roberto to give invaluable advice]

La Vaca Loca – a small and super relaxed but incredibly popular restaurant in the cobbled streets of the old town that serves excellent argentine beef and delicious chicken 7 days a week..perfect with children although no landline to make a booking so try to get there before 8.30pm for a table.

Mandragora - tucked away in the backstreets of the old town behind the church for Moroccan food. There is little atmosphere but  the food is delicious and some of our most discerning Belgian friends always make a point to visit when in Tarifa.

La Tribu – a local hang out for kite surfers...the best thin crust pizza whilst watching extreme surf on the many screens.

Café Republica Playa – Located on the edge of Tarifa...I have not been since the Belgian chef left but it might be somewhere to try at the weekends either for an evening or Sunday brunch. REPÚBLICA CAFÉ · t.+34 956 685 361

Bar El Posito - the hippest bar in the old town, under La Ruina nightclub.

Restaurants near the Beach

Banti – on the main road out of town, has a relaxed vibe with a small menu of delicious fusion food.

WET on the main road next to the Helly Hanson store, is the best place for delicious fresh juices & brunch

The Hurricane: for dinner on the terrace, and lunch at the Chiringuito/Beach Bar. Relaxed lunches at Val de Vaqueros: [drive away from Tarifa towards Cadiz, past The Hurricane until on the left a rust coloured arch over a dirt road with Val de Vaqueros written on it not very visibly]. It is affiliated to the ‘beach bar’ /chiringuito at The Hurricane. This is where you will find all the windsurfers and kite surfers + teachers and Ibiza's boutique Grafitti. Also for lunch and sunset drinks the Chiringuito to the right of Valdevaqueros…walk along the beach towards the dunes until Tangana Beach ‘Spin Out’. Sunset volleyball matches at EXPLORA. For weekend brunch: WET is the best for brunch and is alongside the Helly Hanson store opposite the large Los Lances beach.

WHERE TO SHOP

La Sacristia: the boutique hotel offers jewelry and clothing brought in from Japan and Thailand. Hand Made – offering ‘hand made’ goods and gorgeous hand loomed silk Moroccan bed throws. This tiny store is down a small cobbled street to the right of the church and is open seasonally. Deco – offering interiors brought in from Provençal France. This store can be found on the main cobbled walkway from the arch into the old town. ElsIns – a Lifestyle store tucked away in the side streets near the fish market [the fish market at your back, walk straight and the second turning on your left] is filled with items brought in from France. There are a couple of cute boutiques by the arch on the main cobbled street into the old town.

WHERE TO STAY

LA SACRISTÍA - a beautifully restored 17th century inn in the centre of the historical old town. This is a lovely boutique hotel, its only flaw being that it is not on the beach and the location can be noisy in high season.Price rating: 3/5   t.+ 34 956 681759

"Among the area's most stylish hotels [is] La Sacristia in the heart of old Tarifa."Conde Nast Traveller, September 2010

La Residencia - a contemporary boutique hotel new to Tarifa, close to the old part of town and with a rooftop swimming pool with views across to Africa

The Hurricane Hotel: Although The Hurricane's beach is teeny-tiny and its rooms good but plain, this is the original hotel on the beach and has become an institution with its loyal clientele. The attraction includes the outdoors restaurant during the summer under the high arches, the riot of subtropical gardens around the pool and the fact that it is family friendly. There is a small gym overlooking another pool and the beach, with yoga on Saturday mornings. Price rating: 2/5 t. +34 956 684 919

Hotel Punta Sur: The suites are newer and slightly more contemporary than its sister hotel The Hurricane [ask for junior suites 53/54/55 or the Bali suite]. The restaurant is popular with locals who do not wish to venture into town and the pool is large...but just to warn you, there are kitsch features in the reception and gardens and the peacocks are vocal!  t. + 34 956 684 326

El Aguilon - is set back from the road near the turning to Bolonia beach, about half an hour from Tarifa, and is a quiet retreat in a traditional cortijo with seven spacious rooms and suites. Breakfast is served at wrought-iron tables in front of rolling fields, lunch at an enormous wooden table in the kitchen, and dinner anywhere you want. Price rating: 3/5   t. +34 637 424251

Hotel Dos Mares - popular with couples or families who wish to walk straight onto one of the best beaches in the area, Los Lances, and popular for kite surfing or wind surfing depending on where the wind blows. The bungalows are simple but the location is great. Ask for a bungalow on the beach front and away from the stables. Price rating: 2/5 t. + 34 956 684 035

Dar Cilla [on the edge of the old town] - "Dar Cilla may appear to be a faceless mansion block from the outside, but the attractions of this traditional Arab townhouse lie within. A labyrinth of corridors and staircases lead to patios, terraces and living spaces, decorated from the bazaars of Tangier. You can't beat the view of Morocco from the top terrace." The Independent

During the summer it is possible to rent a selection of private homes on a weekly basis. Visit TARIFA BEACH HOUSE

APSARA Resort Wear ¦ APSARA Capucine python print kaftan

 Luna wearing APSARA Capucine python print silk kaftan ¦ photographer: elsa marj ¦ location: tarifa

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