The “Verano azul” route; one more reason to visit the coast of Malaga

It seems like yesterday, but forty years have passed since that October 1981 when Antonio Mercero’s legendary series premiered. At that time, television had only two channels and Televisión Española was the only channel in the Spanish audiovisual spectrum. The brilliant and endearing Mercero (creator of unforgettable fictions such as “La cabina”, “Crónicas de un pueblo” and “Farmacia de guardia”) had filmed for no less than a year and a half what was destined to become one of the most iconic series in our country. 

“Verano azul” recreated precisely that: the long summer months in an idyllic town in the south of Spain, where a group of kids discovered milestones of adolescence such as first love, first jealousy, first losses… And, above all, one of those things that make life worth living: the holiday gang. 

It took Mercero some time to decide on the idyllic location for the adventures of Javi, Bea, Pancho, Desi, Quique, Tito and “Piranha”, not forgetting the lonely Julia and the endearing Chanquete. It seems that the director travelled to many places along the coast, from Catalonia to Huelva, but ended up falling in love with the many charms of Nerja (Malaga). At that time, it was not yet a well-known town (i.e. it was not overcrowded), had 300 days of sunshine a year and contained all the elements that the plot needed. From beautiful beaches with incredible sunsets, to wonderful urban viewpoints full of animation. 

“Blue Summer” was an expensive production for the time, as no technical or human resources were spared in its filming. If we now think of icons such as “Game of Thrones”, let’s say that “Blue Summer” was the great mainstream of the time: it was filmed over 16 months and between the pre-production phase and its broadcast, more than three years passed. A real luxury. 

The success of the series, which was sold to more than 50 countries around the world, turned Nerja into a famous town, even beyond our borders, and was fundamental for the tourist, economic and social development of the Malaga town. In fact, today, it is enough to walk through any of its streets to hear a small babel of the languages of the many Europeans who have taken up residence here.

The Balcón de Europa lives up to its name because of the views / Agatha Selgas

Let’s do the “Blue Summer” route, get on the bike, let’s start!

The importance of the series for Nerja is attested by the fact that the town council has designed a tourist route with the main locations of the series, incorporating in each of them, thanks to technology and augmented reality, the possibility of remembering what these places were like in the 80s. The self-guided route is available through the NerjaAR mobile app.

Shall we meet at the usual place?

Any route related to the series starts, without a doubt, from the Balcón de Europa. This is the name given to a beautiful viewpoint located in the centre of Nerja. In addition to the impressive views it offers of the Mediterranean coast, it is a regular meeting point for tourists and foreigners. Whether in the morning or at sunset, there is always something going on there (an impromptu concert, a local event) and it is the perfect place to take a break on one of its many terraces. Precisely because of all this, the Balcón was the meeting point for the gang. 

Very close to here, just a few metres away, is the Chanquete viewpoint, where a sculpture of the beloved Antonio Ferrandis looks out over the Mediterranean, inviting us to do the same.

Sculpture of Chanquete at the viewpoint of the same name / Agatha Selgas

See you on the beach!

Another of the great protagonists of the series were the beaches. If this part of Malaga is known for anything, it is for them. The series basically featured two of the most popular beaches: Burriana and Maro

Burriana beach was the “big” beach where the boys and their families went in the mornings. Also here was one of the most emblematic places in the series: Chanquete’s houseboat, the mythical “Dorada I”, which was situated on a cliff above the beach, surrounded by orchards. On our “Verano azul” route we can stroll along Antonio Mercero’s Paseo Marítimo (there is a sculpture of his director’s chair, which pays tribute to him), enjoy its sandy beach and waters and eat in one of its many beach bars. A luxury.

La Caleta beach in Maro. The “small cove” of the series / Agatha Selgas

If Burriana was the big beach, the “Verano azul” gang preferred its “cala chica” (little cove) for their little escapades without parents. In reality, the beach that appears in the series is La Caleta, located on the cliffs of the neighbouring town of Maro. Today it is still a more secluded and peaceful place to enjoy a day in the sun or to take a stroll among the reed beds. Nearby, by the way, is an impressive waterfall that can only be reached by sea. The legendary rescue of Javi in the first episode of the series was filmed on the nearby cliffs.

We will not be moved

If there is one thing we all remember about the series, it is its soundtrack. Carmelo Bernaola’s catchy tune was the one that called out to us from the television set at home every Sunday afternoon at four o’clock. Whistling it to the beat with the gang, we felt part of that little group, even if only for a little while. Something similar happened to us when our “colleagues” got on board La Dorada and sang “No nos moverán”, the Spanish version of Joan Baez’s song “I shall not be moved”. 

Well then. If you want to go back to that unique moment in television history, you can. All you have to do is go to Verano Azul Park, where you will find a life-size replica of La Dorada! The park is just 10 minutes from the historic centre of Nerja, so you won’t have to go far to take that commemorative photo of your childhood that you’ll show to everyone in your party, we hope, with excitement. 

The replica of La Dorada in the Verano Azul Park in Nerja / Agatha Selgas

The cave of Beatrice’s eyes

One of Nerja’s most popular tourist attractions is undoubtedly its cave. Just a few kilometres from the centre by car is the entrance to this space, considered a prehistoric cathedral of cave art that houses the largest stalactite in the world, 33 metres high. This impressive place was used to film one of the episodes of the series, of course, the one in which the romantic Javi and Pancho christened it “the one with Beatriz’s eyes”. 

Do you remember Tito, Bea’s little brother and the youngest of the group? Well, it turns out that the actor who brought him to life, Miguel Joven, still lives in Nerja and leads private night-time tours of the cave. A great experience to finish off your screen tour of the Nerja of “Verano azul”.

Don’t you want to finish yet? Well, there’s still more

Since you are in this part of the world, the wonderful coast of Malaga is in the middle of the Axarquia, the eastern part of the province of Malaga. Among many other possibilities, we recommend a visit to one of the area’s most emblematic villages: Frigiliana. Located inland, but with magnificent views of the coast, it is so beautiful that it looks like a set: narrow streets (Moorish heritage), whitewashed (this is Andalusia), with doors painted in all possible shades of the sea and an atmosphere that, at sunset, makes it irresistible to lose yourself in any of its corners.

View of the cliffs of Maro, with Nerja in the background / Agatha Selgas

And, just a stone’s throw away by road, don’t miss the Costa Tropical of Granada. You can follow in the footsteps of the protagonists of “Verano azul” along the coastal path. You will see, from the impressive cliffs of Maro, one of the most beautiful perspectives of the Spanish coast. A highly recommended stop is Almuñécar (Granada). This lively town brings together in its municipal area everything that this corner of the world has to offer: beaches, cliffs, coves, viewpoints, gastronomy, nightlife and, one last stop to honour the great Antonio Ferrandis. On the Peñón del Santo the filming of the burial of Chanquete took place.

El Peñón del Santo, in Almuñécar, site of the “burial” of Chanquete / Agatha Selgas

But there is no need to be sad. If “Blue Summer” taught us anything, it’s to enjoy the fantastic things in life. And remember: a screen tourist always lives what he sees.

By María Parcero

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