Spain - Granada and the Alpujarras

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June 13th 2012
Published: June 13th 2012
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June 10th 2012 – June 13th2012

We left the house about 2.00pm (after I had done the washing and got it dried!!) and then had a fairly short hop to a campsite we have stayed on before at La Herradura. Its a very leafy campsite, about two minutes from the sea and usually has a few cats wandering about! The showers are not that good (ie can be cold water!) and the beach is more like a dirt track than sand but we like it there! Spain were also playing Italy at 6.00pm that evening so we wandered along to the open air bar for drinks and free tapas and watched the football whilst listening to the waves crashing....... A good evening although Spain only managed a 1-1 draw! (70 miles)

The next day we drove along to Motril and then up the old A4133 to the Alpujarras mountains in the Sierra Nevada National Park. The road zig zagged over the motorway to Granada and we reached the dam and Embalse de Rules. Our road then drove high alongside the River Guadalfeo which didn’t have too much water in it and then across the bridge to Orgiva where we

Still snow on top of the mountain!!
could see that the highest mountains still had a little bit of snow on them! From there we went to our first stop at Pampaneira.

A lovely pretty little place, a bit touristy but the flowers, cherry trees and the white-washed houses with their flat roofs and tall chimneys along with the narrow streets made it a very pleasant place to wander about. The roses and petals blown off the plants made it seem like confetti everywhere!! We then drove onto Bubion (more of the same!) and then Capileira (even more of the same!) The Alpujarran village houses are unlike any other in Spain but almost identical to the Berber houses in the Rif mountains in North Africa. They are very low buildings, with flat roofs and some have a kind of portico or bridge, made with wooden beams, that enables access from a dwelling in one row to another in an upper or lower row and create shady cool tunnels to walk under! They also seem to grow a lot of vegetables on the terraces.

We carried on, along the sides of a deep ravine to Trevelez which is the highest village in Spain at 5,150 ft
Chimneys at PampaneiraChimneys at PampaneiraChimneys at Pampaneira

Bubion is the village in the distance on the hill
above sea level - not quite so pretty but very boxy and slightly austere looking but it has a pleasant fast flowing river running through, although not too much water at this time of year. The road runs through the centre which is a large square with cafe bars and restaurants and a few tourist shops. Had a stroll up to the church before driving back to Pitres where we found the campsite (Balcon de Pitres 18.50 euros) with wifi!! (76miles)

The next day when we got up at about 7.30am it was cool enough to put a jumper on – first time in about a month!! And because the mountain air was so cool and fresh, and the sun was shining we decided to leave early and do a walk around the Taha Villages. The walk started in Pitres on the path by the side of Restaurante La Carretera which descends quite steeply at first and then turns into a mainly shady stony path which leads down towards the ravine. There were plenty of colourful jays flying about the olive groves and the small holdings full of pomegranate trees with their bright orange- red flowers, and cherry trees laden with bright red juicy cherries. The first sleepy hamlet we came to was Mecinilla and we followed the path downwards , across a road, past the Hotel San Marcos and Bar El Ajibe, turned right past a 1964 fountain and then left under a balcony to Mecina-Fondales. This pretty hamlet gave the impression that time had stood still for centuries. An old Spanish chap was walking his mule to the fuente for a drink. Mecina-Fondales consisted of about 4 or 5 narrow streets all in the Alpujarran style with balconies and flowers everywhere.

Walked to the bottom of the village and turned left along an old mule track which followed the edge of a ravine, with the last of the spring flowers attracting loads of different butterflies. The path dropped down to the bottom of the small ravine, and then across the large boulders back up the other side and continued to Ferreirola.

Ferreirola isn’t as pretty as Mecina-Fondales, but we had a wander around looking at the church and the wash- house, taking the path by the side of the wash-house, which climbs fairly steeply up to Atalbeitar. Absolutely nothing was happening here – we did
Mecina FondalesMecina FondalesMecina Fondales

One of the hamlets in the Taha
see one woman and a couple of cats that greeted us, and that was it. From this hamlet we turned left along the road and then lost!! Followed a track which was the Camino Real, but ended up in a large muddy stream that we were unable to cross. Re-tracked and decided to stay on the road back to Pitres and then after about 20 minutes of walking on the road came to another track (no bikes) that led down into the Bermejo gorge.

It was now about 1.00pm and getting hotter so we decided (probably incorrectly) to stay on the windy road which skirted the gorge – we saw where the track would have come out, and would have maybe been a more interesting and shorter walk! Ah well! Next time!!

A drink and tapas in Pitres before driving back down from the high Alpujarras on through Lanjaron and some fine views of the valley to the Campsite at La Zubia outside Granada. (Camping Reina Isabel – 26.10 euros) (48 miles)

We decided to take a trip to the old gypsy quarter for a guided tour of the old streets and a flamenco show. After a roller coaster ride from our mini bus driver, hurtling around tiny back streets at 60mphwe arrived at a cave bar where we all sat around the edge and waited for the show to begin! It was actually not too bad a show with the traditional dancing, singing and guitar, accompanied by the stamping and clapping and shouts of ole!!

A short drive to the top of the hill and a quick night guided tour around the narrow back streets to the Mirador de San Nicholas where we had beautiful views of the Alhambra lit up. Back down through the old Arab gate into a Plaza and then back on the bus to get back to the campsite about 12.30am! A good night!

The next day, as we have already visited the Alhambra (An absolute definite ‘Must See!!) we caught the bus into the centre to do a walking tour of the city that started at 10.30am. Finally located our guide and after having a brief history lesson we wandered around looking at all the different architectures of the different periods of history. Granada’s history is different to the rest of Spain as it was an independent state and a large Muslim stronghold, paying taxes to the Christians to allow them their freedom. However as the Kingdoms of Aragon and Castille were united by the marriage of Fernando and Isabel in 1479 and in 1492 the last Moorish King Boabadil fled to the Alpujarras and the Christian conquest of Spain was complete. The Jews and Muslims that remained, mainly artesans, were treated very harshly and finally expelled leading to a gradual economic decline in Granada.

We visited the old arab markets where finest silk was sold, crossed the ‘river’ (now a road!) into where the Jewish quarter was, admired the Corral del Carbon – a 14thC caravanserai, where merchants would lodge on the first floor and their animals live on the ground floor, getting their water from a huge central marble trough.

The cathedral was built on the site of the Great Mosque, building starting in 1521 but not completed until the 18thC. The Royal Chapel is attached and said to house the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, but the tombs were actually desecrated by Napoleon in knows!! Had a peer inside the Bishops Palace .......lovely courtyard with arches and a weird statue of a metal man!

Continued walking up a long narrow street, full of shops – its a very significant street but cant remember why! It has a church at the top where the Nuns pray around the clock, and then dropped down into the narrow streets of the lower Albaicin area looking at the old noblemens houses before arriving at the Arab Baths.

The baths are quite magnificent – not sure how much is original – but certainly gave you a good feel of what it was like. Apparently the men came to bathe on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sun and the women on the other days! It was also used as a place for the women to give birth – not sure what happened if they went into labour on a ‘Man’ day!!

Anyway that was the end of our guided tour, so after a quick lunch we walked back up to the high Albaicin area to view it in daylight and to visit a couple of Miradors before walking back to the bus stop to get the bus back to the campsite where Chris had a swim and I caught up with the blog!

Additional photos below
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Daisy at TrevelezDaisy at Trevelez
Daisy at Trevelez

The highest village in Spain!

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