Ruins for the weekend: Baelo Claudio and Tarifa

This weekend Cody, the baby, and I quite literally had an entire city to ourselves.


It may have been 500 years since it was inhabited, but we roamed Baelo Claudia‘s market streets on a sunny February afternoon just as it had been by countless others over a thousand years before.


Roman ruins have such an alluring sound, don’t they?

Baelo Claudia aquaduct

Although, alluring may be a bit of a stretch, they’re ruins for a reason…cataclysmic earthquakes, pirate raiding, general population decline..


But thanks to ongoing excavations and a mission to open the ancient world to the public, visiting these hobs of history is like walking through a 1000 year old veil.

Baelo Claudia theatre passage

And to think there are so many scattered around us within a two hour drive.

Baelo Claudia Museo
Hay un gran museo. = There is a great museum.

Going during the off season when there’s still beautiful weather meant that we were one of only a handful of visiting groups over the two hours we toured ancient thermal baths, grand old houses, a theater, fish salting factory, and columned temples.

Off season = only people in the museum on a Saturday

The Roman ruins Baelo Claudia of Bolonia Spain are only an hour and a half drive from our house. Typically, I’d call this a day trip. But after several failed attempts to get motivated enough to drive all the way there with a baby and leave our dog behind, we knew it was time for a different approach = teeny tiny road trip. Accommodation in Southern Spain is really inexpensive to other parts of Europe, so we knew an overnight would not only be within our budget but a teeny tiny vacation put together on our literal last coins

last of the moneda
Is this enough for a decent desayuno at least?

Do you want to know how to use up all of your change you’ve got lying around in spare pockets, car trays, etc? First, forget to go to an ATM before you leave on your trip. You will inevitably be unable to find any cash machines (working or otherwise) in any of your destinations. Then, put together all your bills and coins that you have on hand. Whittle out the events and meals and necessities like so:

  • 1.50 € for entry into the Roman Ruins (free if you’re a European resident)
  • < 5 € for coffees and a giant bag of chips in a Bolonia cafe
  • 8 € for firewood at the hotel
  • Low € lunchtime prices in Tarifa at 7 pm because the kitchen doesn’t open for “dinner” until 8 pm
  • 1 € pastries (the very last of your moneda) for tomorrow’s breakfast
Tarifa evening
Tarifa old town for dinner, 15 minute drive from Baelo Claudia

Cortijo Las Piñas near the town of Tarifa was our overnight home.


Traditional, rural type farmhouse apartment-complex is how I can best describe what a cortijo is. Despite its ungainly “HOTEL” sign nailed atop its tiled roof for roadside visibility, it’s like a teeny tiny rural vacation home, complete with tennis courts, cafe, and pool. When we arrived at the grassy enclave surrounded by horses, olive trees, and chickens that afternoon, Penny and the baby were impressed at every turn.Cortijo afternoonFor about 40 euros we had a cozy studio with a fireplace, full sized bathroom, teeny-tiny kitchen, a big comfy bed and sofa for the dog and the baby to burrow in too. And the next morning when the rain clouds and the rocky slopes reminded us how unpredictable coastal weather is? We stoked up the fire, made coffee in the apartment’s moka pot, and nestled into the covers to listen to the rainfall in the super dark of a rural 7:00 AM morning.

Cortijo morning
puppy, moka, coffee, fire, pastries = good morning

Goodbye teeny-tiny heavenly vacation.


Mode To and from Overnights Accommodation
Car Puerto de Sta María to Tarifa countryside near Tarifa Cortijo Las Piñas
Transportation Useful phrases on this trip

English                   =



Driving Can I pay by card here? ¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta aqui?
 On foot Yes, but the minimum is ten euros. Sí, pero el mínimo es diez euros.

over-used adjectives this post: teeny-tiny, literal

Raining morning

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