Saturday, 22 February 2014

Dolmenes, the Alhambra and walking the Sierra Nevada

Dave walking in the Sierra Nevada 
Only a week since my last post yet so much has happened that it feels like a month! After the small pitches of Camping Villsom we headed to the bizarre town of Humilladero, near Antequera - bizarre because a lot of it isn't built yet. On the side of the town where Camping Sierrecilla is situated there are several roads all laid out with play parks, street lamps and pedestrian crossings, but no houses! Or maybe just one or two per block and the rest is still wasteland. Sierrecilla is a pretty good campsite. Large pitches, nice shower blocks and washing machines at only €2 a load. The wifi was irritatingly weak though and was to get worse for the next two sites. Grrrr!

Our first full day here saw us on a two-hour hike around the natural park area of El Torcal. Difficult terrain by our standards, the path was very muddy and involved lots of scrambling up and down rocks. Great fun which reminded us of some of our walks along the Mira near Ourique. We also got to visit three ancient dolmens in the vicinity. The largest, Menga, is thought to be about 6000 years old and we were able to walk around inside it which was an amazing experience. There was an informative - and unintentionally amusing cgi video at the visitors centre. The dolmen faces towards a distinctive mountain that looks like a sleeping giant. 

El Torcal natural park 
Inside the Menga dolmen 

A few days later we were on the move again, to La Zubia, just outside Granada, so we could visit the Alhambra, somewhere we have both wanted to go for years. And it didn't disappoint! We had to get the staff at Camping Reina Isabel to book our tickets due to no bloomin wifi - even often right outside reception where it was cold. Having read horror stories of lengthy queues and poor organisation, I was pleasantly surprised by how well our afternoon went. There were a lot of people there, but the Alhambra complex is spread over a huge site so there was plenty of room for us all and tranquil space in the Generalife gardens. Apparently, it's pronounced Henera-lee-fay and is from the Arabic. Nothing to do with how the ordinary people lived in the shadow of the great royal palaces! The architecture and Moorish decoration has been extensively recreated using authentic designs and techniques. The walls are covered with intricate plasterworks and the wooden ceilings are beautifully carved. We were both so glad we did get to visit at the Alhambra IS all it's cracked up to be. 

Beautiful courtyard at the Alhambra 
Outdoor theatre at the Alhambra 

We considered bussing back into Granada for our final day in La Zubia, but the weather was so nice that we wanted to get out walking instead so set off into the Sierra Nevada hills above the campsite. We had been delighted to see snow-capped peaks in the near-distance but didn't get quite that far. There were a lot of steep ups and downs but it was lovely to be in the cool fresh air and also in warm sunshine! 

Now we are in Camping Sopalmo, still in beautiful sunshine and I'm trying to type this on a very reflective laptop screen outdoors. Limited wifi again! This afternoon we plan for more walking, possibly to the beaches at Mojaca, or maybe we'll just laze in the sun? They have lots of books here :)

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