I never like to have things hanging about in my ‘Drafts folder’. I’m not an organised, scheduling sort of person though, heaven knows, it would be an improvement! But this little side trip keeps smiling sadly at me from it’s lonely position in there. Unfinished, until now. So, with a flourish, let me present Ayamonte.
Remember my kings, strolling through the streets of Vila Real de S. Antonio on the Algarve’s eastern edge? They were smiling and throwing sweets to their loyal subjects, as any good king should at Epiphany. And then they boarded the ferry for Ayamonte, in Spain. Just 10 minutes on the ferry, but a lifetime apart culturally and in temperament.
Ayamonte, seen from the ferry, is a simple whitewashed Spanish town. At close quarters it reveals its medieval side in narrow streets and historical buildings. This is Huelva province, and there is no shortage of Andalucian flamboyance.
I love the colour and the tiles yet it always surprises me how very different Ayamonte feels from Portugal, just a wave away, across the water. The road bridge over the River Guadiana now links the two, for speedy access, but I prefer a gentler approach to the culture change.
A canal runs away from the Guadiana, around the old side of town and past a park at which I don’t look too closely. There are animals caged there in an environment I would never choose for them. A new boardwalk has been laid and there is an air that the town is thriving. Not the case in much of Spain, nor Portugal, for that matter.
And so I’ve had my little flirt with flamenco. Back on the ferry now, and home to Portugal (and those crazy, likeable kings).