Before going to bed in Pension Correo, we thought the picturesque Church of San Mateo was a great relic to have nearby. It has a long history, dating from the 1500-1600s when it was originally constructed but the present version stems from reconstruction work in the 1700-1800s. Located between our overnight accommodations and a nearby sidewalk restaurant that caught our fancy, we walked past it a few times during our first evening in Tarifa.
It was not until after we were comfortably settled in bed that it revealed its darker side. For some reason, the bells of this church chime a great gong at 15 minutes past the hour. On the half-hour it gives two gongs, followed by three gongs at 45-minutes past. This is followed by a major outbreak of bells at the top of the hour and the sequence then repeats itself - ALL NIGHT LONG! We experienced something similar at Lamego in Portugal during a 2004 trip there, but they at least had the common sense to stop the chiming during the overnight hours. I wondered if it maybe had something to do with the Christmas season, since we were in the midst of it, so checked the internet when we returned home. Apparantly it could happen at any time, because one of the other visitors at Pension Correo mentioned in his 'comments' that this all-night gonging took place during the autumn months. The worst of it was that the 15-minute interval of quietness was almost long enough that a person was just about to fall asleep, then the next session started. On our return to Tarifa two nights later, we made sure we stayed well clear of the Church of San Mateo regarding accommodations.
We actually had a look inside the church in the morning and found its interior to be quite impressive.
As when always in sunny locations take precautions against the sun, especially if at sea on a boat or windsurfing. It will certainly not break the bank to get some suntan lotion, and will avoid you acking and looking like a red lobstar !
The positioning of Tarifa, the most southern tip of Europe, but more so, the point that separates Europe from Africa and the Mediterranean from the Atlantic produces a unique micro climate. This is immediately identifiable by the strong prevailing winds which keep the temperatures mild all year round. These very same winds have discouraged mass tourism and development. However with the new trend of nature related holidays, places such as Tarifa which boast virgin beaches and vast uncontaminated landscape are becoming ever more popular.