The Barbers of Seville

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May 20th 2012
Published: May 20th 2012
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We are currently in a McD’s just outside of Granada. Although we’ve just published a blog – here’s another one

Tuesday 15 May – We left you at the campsite just out of Seville (Dos Hermanos) where we’d had some drinks with the ghastly, boring Pommies. We were up early for us, 9am and enjoyed our breakfast people watching – the French & Germans were clearing their breakfasts away from their tabled-clothed tables (with a vase of flowers on) and then they begin cleaning........sweeping vans, washing windscreens etc. We watched the boring twosome pack-up/dismantle their 4x4 and waited ‘til they’d driven away before emerging.

A shortish walk to the bus stop and by 10.30 we were hurtling round roundabouts on the local bus (they drive fast). We disembarked at the Plaza Espana and went to view the amazing sight of the same name. It’s a vast plaza with an amazing semi-circular pavilion built as part of the 1929 World Fair. Around the rim are a series of alcoves with elaborate ceramic tile benches representing the 52 Spanish provinces. A canal with several beautiful bridges link the outer to the main plaza. Although a modern structure, it was stunning.

From there we paid (8.50 euros each – a fortune!) to go into the Reales Alcazares....worth every cent. In 1364, Pedro The Cruel ordered the rebuilding of a former Moorish palace for a new royal residence. A jewel box of Mudejar patios, halls, apartments/rooms – all decorated most beautifully with ceramic tiles, carved stonework, intricate ceilings, wonderful arches and..................oh SO cool. It was lovely. We then entered the extensive and beautiful gardens surrounded by huge walls – lovely planting, pools, fountains, buildings, a galleried walkway and an underground bathing pool.

We could have stayed there for hours but it was after 2pm and we were hungry. We found a pleasant bar/restaurant for lunch, then continued our wanderings – looking at the cathedral (where Christopher Columbus is buried) from outside and the foyer (not prepared to shell out again for another cathedral). We very much enjoyed the rest of the sights by simply ambling around (with many stops in the was HOT) and finally found our way back to our bus-stop.

Rather than go back to the campsite we walked into Dos Hermanos town and found an outdoor cafe where we enjoyed a delicious and reasonably priced meal before returning for cold showers and attempt at sleep. Baz spent half the night outside on our fold up sun-bed – managing to block out the sounds of another group of Brits who were learning a new game and since it was dark, were all wearing hats with halogen beams on, giving a spectacular but irritating light show.

Wednesday 16 May – Today we had earmarked for exploring the Pueblos Blancos (white villages) and have had to choose from many. Our first couple of places, Porto Serrano, where we stopped for a drink/walk round and Baz had a haircut...........then Villamartin – gave it a miss as it was on the plains and we wanted mountains for the cool – but Prado del Rey, El Bosque and Ubrique didn’t suit at all so we drove on to Benaocaz, had a brew up and a few miles further found an idyllic spot with splendid far-reaching views of the mountains and green valleys and oh, so wonderfully cool.

So we’re freecamping and as I type at 19.44, the blissful temperature has dropped to 76.3 with a super cool breeze. We will very much enjoy our evening (it’s SO quiet) and a cool night’s sleep.

Thursday 17 May – woke refreshed to the sound of tinkling bells and the whistles of the shepherd as he drove his flock past us. Our travels took us even higher to Grazalema – a charming, small white village perched on the mountainside. Great views, lovely plaza and narrow streets – 2 drinkies stops with a longish walk to a hillside chapel and back in between.

From there we carried on to Zahara de la Sierra – reaching an altitude of 4,000ft. Another goody with an undulating main street ending in a square by the church and a much needed taverna where we had a leisurely 3 course lunch - menu del dia - 8 euros each, excellent value for lovely fresh food but the wine was an extra 12 euros – extortionate!

By this time it was very very hot again with a hazy sky. We finally continued our scenic drive through very impressive terrain with huge high mountains on either side and views of vast turquoise blue lakes, which we viewed both from afar and up close. We finally came into Ronda – a big town, heaving with tourists and nowhere to park. We crossed the bridge which joins the two sides of a huge gorge, drove in and around the bull ring and decided to give Ronda a miss.

We backtracked a few miles back into the mountains to the village of Benaojan – not special at all. We were hot and tired so have ended up parked with a view of the railway station – but we can still see the mountains, can hear the gush of a nearby river and it’s wonderfully cool......only 80 degrees and dropping. We decided to go for an evening stroll to a ‘nearby’ cave – only 180m the sign said. Well we finally found the bloody cave after walking along a rocky goat track for 2.3 kms!! And when we got there it said the walkway across the river was closed, as the wooden bridge had been largely washed away. Well having gone this far we were not to be thwarted, so clambered across the bridge wreckage and came across the entrance to the vast cave with a waterfall gushing into a turquoise pond. We further ignored the ‘Danger, do not use these steps to enter the cave’ sign and climbed a short way to the top of the waterfall. Apparently this cave joins with another 12kms away. So our walk was worth it after all. A quiet night in.

Friday 18 May – A slow start and a slow day – didn’t travel too far in seeking out more Pueblos Blancos. We headed for Olvera through the stunning sierras with their peaks and green valleys. Much of the land is cultivated and the vast views of rolling landscape is a patchwork of colours – most striking are huge fields of poppies. Within a short while we came to Setenil de las Bogegas and as we drove down into the town we caught our first glimpse of the amazing overhanging rocks, under and into which much of the town is built. We walked and walked to the heights and back via white-washed cobbled streets on this bright blue sunny day with temps below 30 degrees – very pleasant. We ended up in a cave bar, where we’d strolled through a market earlier, and lunched on various tappas. In our whole time in this charming town we saw not another tourist (beats Ronda any day).

Finally onwards to Olvera (passing by Torre Alhaquime perched on a hill) and parked in the shade. Even from afar, the church and more particularly the castle built atop a huge rocky crag, are visible. Up close it’s very impressive and with only minor protestation, both of climbed to the very top. We had to get a chap in the tourist office to unlock the castle entrance for us, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

Onwards for a couple of miles to a campsite with magnificent views and a filled swimming pool! – we did swim but being so high here it was a mere 75 degrees with quite a breeze, so not the luxury it would have been in Seville.

Saturday 19 May – Ooh errr – dark grey skies with a bit of rain – not a worry as we woke late had a longish (for us) 55 odd miles through flat uninteresting countryside. We drove in round and almost out of Antequera (quick glimpse of hilltop fort and church in square) looking for bread, water and Internet. Got the former at Lidl and advice from a pommy couple about Internet at an hotel in a nearby town. So drove to the Sado hotel in Mollina and yes it was sado ‘cos Internet was only for checked-in guests.

So after lunch in their carpark we headed for an Aires site at Villaneuva de Algaidas – in the heart of Spain’s largest olive region. An ok site with reasonable views and two other motorhomes – both English. The weather had improved – cool, windy but sunshine. After a siesta we walked into town, strolled around, had a drink in a bar with footy on telle and returned to van. Despite purposefully walking past both the other vans, no-one popped their head out to suggest a social another quiet night in!

Sunday 20 May – Happy 6th wedding anniversary to Claire and Paul currently holidaying in Kos.

That’s all for now .........

Since Dos Hermanos: Seville; Porto Serrano; Villamartin; Prado del Rey; El Bosque; Ubrique; Benaocaz; Grazalema; Zahara de la Sierra; Ronda; Benaojan; Setenil de las Bodegas; Torre Alhaquime; Olvera; Antequera; Mollina; Villaneuva de Algaidas;

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