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THE LEISURE travel

High-end restaurants are sprouting like spring flowers from Vejer’s well-kept window boxes in the new Gastronomic Capital of the Costa de la Luz, as Belinda Beckett reports. PHOTOGRAPHY DAVID CUSSEN AND COURTESY OF THE HOTEL LA CASA DEL CALIFA AND HOTEL V

T

he old lady looked wistfully around her patio, remembering the old days. Once, it echoed to a cacophony of braying donkeys, clucking chickens and women laughing as they cooked and washed clothes together under the open sky. The sense of community is what she misses most, she told me. Understandably, after years of living under the same roof with eight other extended Spanish families and their livestock, sharing one cooker in the courtyard and an outside loo! That’s the way it was, for centuries in Vejer,

until the 1970s when the Moorish hilltop village was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument. The old lady’s home became a heritage site: the Casa de Mayorazgo – an 18th century baroque mansion with access to a watch tower in the city walls – listed on the Tourist Board website and open to the public for discreet visits. Large Spanish families and communal patio homes are in a minority in Old Vejer today. Most of the original villagers have moved to more spacious accommodation in the New Town, leaving the foreigners to pay silly prices for quaint townhouses with low ceilings and rising

damp. New Vejer’s white Cubist architecture blends seamlessly into the Old Quarter across a grassy causeway that runs like a green cleavage between the breasts of twin hills. It has tarmac roads, supermarkets, schools, offices and the infrastructure required for everyday living. Once upon a time, in Spain, you could tell a good place to eat by the number of prawn heads littering the bar floor. Not today in Vejer Old Town. In this Best Kept Village where garish plastic Coca Cola terrace furniture is outlawed, most hostelries boast designer makeovers and swanky disabled toilets (although, if you have a

Vejer

FRONTIER GASTRONOMY IN

Rooftop panorama from the Hotel V

© Hotel V - Vejer

DE LA FRONTERA

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