Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chiringuitos (beach bars)

I think it goes without saying that I love the playa. And I love the month of August - in Spain it's the height of summer, when many people are enjoying weeks of vacation time, and El Puerto de Santa María is bustling. It's great to see the city full of people going out, enjoying themselves, and (most importantly for local businesses) spending money. But to be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of the beach in August. 

When the temperatures are reaching into the 100s (or 40s) inland, it seems like every Sevillano heads south to El Puerto and straight to the beaches. Maybe it's my Americana need for personal space, but I just can't handle the masses of people, packed umbrella-to-umbrella. If it's high tide on a weekend in August, buena suerte finding a piece of beach to call your own. The only way to get some sand to yourself is to show up early (10 o'clock might as well be the break of dawn for vacationing españoles), claim as much playa as possible, and leave before you end up sharing a towel with your new beach neighbors, sometime early in the afternoon. 

I prefer when the playa looks like this:

The August crowds, not to mention the lack of parking in the surrounding neighborhoods,  have me longing for September, when the beaches will be relatively peaceful again. But there is one thing about the summer season that I will miss - the chiringuitos.

Chiringuitos are temporary beach bars, usually set up right on the sand, that are only around for the summer. They pop up all along the coast, especially at the popular beach accesses. A chiringuito is the perfect place to cool off in the shade with a cold caña (small draft beer), tinto de verano, or the trendy summer favorite - a mojito. Most also offer food - normally fresh pescaito frito (fried seafood), grilled fish, and typical tapas, which make them ideal for a beachside lunch or dinner. At lunchtime, they fill up with people, most right off the playa, sandy, salty, wearing bathing suits and cover-ups, while dinner normally requires a post-siesta clean-up. 

Some are simple, no frills establishments, while others have the feel of a resort, with flowing curtains, Moroccan lanterns, loungers, and potted palm trees. 

The chiringuito that we frequent the most in Las Redes, La Concha, is the simple variety and that's absolutely fine by me. 

It's convenient, close, and makes just as good of a tinto de verano as any of the others. Sharing the crowded beach is a little easier when a cold afternoon beverage or tasty sunset meal are just a quick walk across the sand away. So while I won't be sad when all the August visitors leave, I will most definitely miss the chiringuitos when they go with them. 

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