For months now, I’ve been meaning to get involved with Marianne’s (of East Of Malaga) monthly photo challenge. I suppose I hadn’t until today because I don’t really fancy myself as a great photographer. I take pictures of what I like, edit them, stick a few in a blog post slideshow and that’s about it. My thought process rarely extends beyond that. This month’s theme though – ‘Street Art’ – got me interested. I mean, how couldn’t I participate, given that we in Granada are fortuitous enough to have El Niño de las Pinturasamong us. This guy has been smearing Granada’s dull, lifeless walls with his vivid and magnetising imagination for 20 years now. Exactly 20 years, in fact; a documentary about him was made and premiered last weekend in a local realejo bar (my neck of the woods). He has daubed countless pieces in that time, and to choose my two favourites has been virtually impossible! So I chose four instead. Is that cheating? Marianne? In any case, I absolutely adore the style and depth in all of them, and particularly the interpretation in the one of the giraffe. For a look at other examples of his work see my original post here.
But the CBBH Photo Challenge is more than just an opportunity to show off your camera skills; it is a blog hop as well. The first ‘C’ and ‘B’, after all, do stand for conejoblanco (white rabbit). So each post posted in response to Marianne’s original post must include two links to two other blogs that the blogger has visited and commented on in the last month, so that his/her readers can ‘hop’ over to some unchartered corner of the frankly enormous blogosphere. It’ all about helping each other out you see. And we’re good at that in Spain.
So I will take this opportunity to direct you to Clare of Need Another Holiday. Clare’s blog, much like my own, new blog, focuses on part-time travel, as opposed to those that celebrate a nomadic and often vagrant existence. She has been all over. But mostly Greece. She absolutely loves Greece.
Secondly, I’d like to shout out to a blogger who has really wowed me with her vlog series recently. Jess, of HolaYessica!, blogs about Barcelona and various Spanish escapades. Her output rate is frankly unbelievable and her style and writing standards never falter. She’s also – fittingly – excellent with a camera. So go and say hi, and tell her that I sent you!
If you want to take part in the CBBH Photo Challenge, just head over to Marianne’s blog and read on. It’s fun and gives you a chance to share those pics that deserve to be seen!
At this stage of my Granadino expathood (2 years, 3 months), I really ought to have visited Las Alpujarras more than twice. Any discerning expat in Spain will attest to that. The first time was when I attended and (rather tamely) participated in the mother of all water fights in Lanjarón, to help celebrate el día de San Juan – the longest day of the year. The second outing came recently, perhaps at the best time of year to go considering the late autumn we had last year.
La Alpujarra’s unspoiled and natural beauty is as unparalleled as its unique microclimate, provoked by the constantly melting snow from above. In sharp contrast, the landscape below is much more arid and sparse.
A few facts and a little history…
The etymology of ‘alpujarra’ is unclear, though the most credible suggestion is that it derived from the Arabic word al-bugsharra, meaning ‘sierra of pastures’.
The average altitude is 4,000ft above sea level.
Many inhabitants of La Alpujarra descend from Galicians, after thousands were relocated from Galicia following the reconquest of Granada in 1568.
Mulhacen, the highest peak in Spain at 3,482m, is contained within the mountain range.
It contains Trevelez, the highest village in Spain, at 4,843ft above sea level.
The Alpujarras covers roughly 2,500km.
The Mediterranean, seen easily on a clear day, is just 40km away.
The enchanting, sky-scraping region spans two Spanish provinces – Granada and Almería – and comprises around forty small mountain villages. Its history is fascinating. The Moors were the first to settle there in the late 15th century, after being driven away by Spanish Christians who had recaptured Granada. This was where they remained until a hundred or so years later, when the Christians expelled anyone of Arab descent from the Kingdom of Granada. Following that, the Christians – many of them from Galicia in the north-west of Spain – resettled in the area, though much of the traditional Moorish architecture was preserved, and still is today.
It is, of course, impossible to explore each area of Las Alpujarras – unless you intend to stay for a longer period – so most day-trippers tend to stick with the main three tourist attractions: Capileira, Bubión and Pampaneira. They are all formed on elrio poqueira – a deep, yawning valley that drops towards the neighbouring villages of Órgiva and Lanjarón. Each village is characterised by its narrow, winding streets, old-fashioned crafts shops, flat clay roofs and tall, rounded chimney pots.
We began our day with a tour of Capileira – the second highest village in Las Alpujarras – and a coffee at local bar and restaurant Casa Pilar y Paco Lopez, where we were treated to spectacular views. The village brims with colourful, wooden-beam arts & crafts stores, all filled with local goods from handwoven rugs to homemade jams.
(click for slideshow)
Hand-made rugs in Capileira
Toys, crafts and clothes in Capileira
Casa de Pilar y Paco Lopez (the other Casa Lopez…)
Casa de Pilar y Paco Lopez, Garden
View of las Alpujarras from Casa Pilar y Paco Lopez
Hand-made rugs of Capileira, Las Alpujarras
A local goods store, Capileira, Las Alpujarras
View of Las Alpujarras from Bubión
The next village heading downward is Bubión, where there are yet more arts & crafts stores, art galleries and several cafés and restaurants to cater for hungry hikers. There is also a small folk museum called Casa Alpujarreña, which was free to enter when we passed by, though the real draw – as with the neighbouring villages – is the frankly ridiculous view of the Alpujarra all around you.
If you plan on completing the circuit I’d recommend you take the steep, tumbling backstreets that lead into the woods before arriving in Pampaneira. During autumn the trees’ colours turn glorious shades of yellow, red, orange and green. And if you’re wearing orange-tinted sunglasses like I was you’ll wish you could take pictures simply by blinking your eyes.
There is supposedly an abundance of wildlife in the alpujarra – mountain goats, birds of prey and even the rare lynx are sighted often – but we were not to see any other living creature except the odd, fellow rambler and a penned herd of fat, soon-to-be-slaughtered pigs. Can’t complain though, with views like this:
(click for slideshow)
Old-school signpost in Bubión
The tumbling backstreets of Bubión
Houses in Bubión, Las Alpujarras
Somehow a tree has managed to burst through a wall in Bubión. Impressive.
View of Las Alpujarras, Spain
Orange, orange, orange
The colourful walkway to Pampaneira, Las Alpujarras
Views along the trail to Pampaneira
Our hilly walk finished in Pampaneira, where things are a bit livlier. Each bar buzzed with the sound of chatter and glasses being clinked by families and groups of friends, laughing and joking. The sun was up, the scenes were classic Spain and the beers were – at least for their brief life span – blissful. There was even a chocolate factory. Yes, that’s right – a genuine chocolate factory – which, save for an edible theme park and a few oompa-loompas, was everything I’d expect a chocolate factory to be. Namely, there was lots of free chocolate. It’s curious how at first you act all coy and indifferent in the interest of being polite, but the minute hands start swooping in for the flavour you’ve got your hawk eyes on all such nonchalance suddenly melts away. ‘There’s only one chunk of caramel biscuit left and you can think again if you think you’re getting to it first girl of eight‘. Seriously, I actually took candy from a baby. Tasted great too.
Next came the food (chocolate didn’t count). A steakhouse by the name of El Castaño had been strongly recommended by a friend and since none of us had EVER enjoyed a good steak in Spain before we simply had to indulge. It was perhaps the best meal I’ve had in Spain yet, and if it weren’t for the impending and inevitable traipse back up to the car in Capileira, I might never have moved again.
I’ll be back to Las Alpujarras soon, especially now since there is snow on the mountains. It’s a walkers paradise and absolutely unmissable if you are planning on visiting the Granada province of Spain.
Given the distance between Granada and La Alpujarra (70km) I’d recommend taking a car. There are only three buses that leave from Granada per day and the first is at 10am, meaning you’ll have missed the entire morning by the time you get there. The cost, however, is probably cheaper in comparison at €11 return, though if there are four or five of you it may work out only marginally more expensive to hire a car from either Granada city centre or Granada Airport. The bus timetable is as follows:
Granada – Capileira
10.00 12.00 16.30
Capileira – Granada
07.00 16.45 18.15
All services stop at Pampaneira and Bubión too, 5-10 minutes before and after respectively. The journey takes roughly two and a half hours. Go to alsa.es to book tickets.
Las Alpujarras, Spain
Me in Las Alpujarras
Autumn orange sunset over las alpujarras
Have you been to Las Alpujarras? Which other villages would you recommend? Was this article useful?
Autumn in Spain is a fleeting and climatically confusing period, particularly here in Granada. It creeps in unnoticed, seizing one degree at a time, while we all cling desperately to the vestiges of our beloved summer. ‘Is it still beach weather?’ beach bums cry. ‘I heard the Sierra’s getting some snow tomorrow!’ exclaim winter sports fans. Truthfully, both scenarios are equally as probable, which, for those of us who embrace all weather types, is a rather agreeable set of circumstances.
Better still, autumn yields gorgeous amalgams of colour in the trees, a truth perhaps best observed in Granada’s epitomical Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens. Since starting this blog, I’ve posted nothing on the Alhambra; I’ve always felt the post would be too predictable and I wanted to wait until autumn to take my pictures.
Well I’m glad I did. Last weekend the weather was perfect for it: crisp, clear and brilliant. So up I went, armed with a ticket (€14) and my modest camera. Here are (the pick of) the results:
(click to view as slideshow)
Puerta de las Granadinas (Gate of the Pomegranates)
View from Lower Generalife Gardens, Alhambra
Generalife Auditorium Theatre
Green still winning
Torre de las Infantas (Tower of The Princesses)
Courtyard in Lower Generalife Gardens
Fountain in Lower Gardens
If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of some nice colours…
Granada seen from the Torre de la Vela – the highest point of The Alhambra
Patio de la Acequia (Court of The Water Channel)
Amazing architecture in lower generalife gardens
More amazing architecture that in no way indicates that we are in autumn…
Patio de la Sultana (Court of the Sultana)
View from above patio de la Acequia
Autumn colours in Upper Generalife Gardens
Patio de la Sultana
Arched walkway leading from generalife back to the pavilion
Round the back of the palace…
View from the public viewing area
El Albaícin seen from the window of the Mexuar in the Alhambra Palace
Patio de Arrayanes (Court of The Myrtles)
Miniature archway in Patio de Arrayanes
Patio e los Leones (Court of The Lions)
Patio de Lindaraja, Alhambra
Outside Palacio del Partal
Palacio Yusef III & Alhambra Gardens
Autumn colours in Alhambra Palace Gardens
Granadinas losing the battle against the cold, Alhambra Palace
Torre de la Cautiva (Tower of The Captive)
Alhambra Palace Gardens
Torre de la Vela (Watchtower), Alhambra
The lower reaches of the albaícin seen from La Alcazaba
Alhambra Palace Gardens beyond public viewing area
Unlike its onset, the end of autumn couldn’t be more perceptible; temperatures plummet, hats and scarves abound, wheelie-radiators clutter people’s living rooms and it gets dark at 6pm. That transition is currently in its early stages, and this year I’ll be sure to refer back to my guide on how to survive a Spanish winter for when the big chill really sets in. Should be ok though; this year I’m actually allowed to use radiators at home!
You can buy tickets for The Alhambra either from the shop along the street leading to Plaza Nueva or from ticketmaster.es.
Last month I included Nerja in my list of six of the best Andalucían beaches. I’d been just once before, in June 2011, though that had only been a fleeting visit. Needless to say, I was still mightily impressed with what I saw, and vowed to return as soon as possible.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to fulfill that vow until last week, and now I am truly enamoured with the place. Lend me your beady eye and ‘l tell you why.
Let’s not beat around the bush – pretty much any beach along the southern Spanish coast is worth writing home about, but believe me (or just believe my pictures below), Nerja is next level stuff.
There are a total of seven beaches in Nerja – eight if you count Maro, the tiny township a further 3km east. All of them are stunning, from the secluded yet spacious El Playazo, 15 minutes’ walk to the west of the famed Balcón de Europa, to the far end of the blue flag awarded Playa Burriana, 15 minutes the other way. The waters are, as you might well predict, verging on completely see-through. From the lookout on the Balcón (balcony) – Nerja’s sparkling central point – one can even spot the fish hovering in the undisturbed rock pools around 60ft below.
Playa Calahonda is the beach immediately east of the Balcón and thus draws the biggest crowds. It is here where our first afternoon in town abruptly slumps to a standstill; it’s nothing but sandy siestas and periodic plunges for three straight hours. At one point I muster the energy to go and buy an ice-cream, but even that feels like a chore.
When we do finally ascend the winding steps back into town, there is a loud ensemble of glamourous dancers and ship-shape brass bands trumpeting their way through the town’s main thoroughfare. ‘What’s going on?’ I ask E. ‘You didn’t know?’ she replies in Spanish. ‘Today’s the first day of the festival de La Virgen de Carmen’.
Good Lord. Another festival, and, as it transpires, it’s a rather important one too. La Virgen del Carmen is a celebration of the patron saint of fishermen, and has been going since the 13th century. Though there’s only so much brass band and processioning I can take; the novelty of it all soon wears off after two years spent living in Granada.
Our hotel, Hotel Carabeo 34, is one of TripAdvisor’s most recommended. Glowing guest reviews and convincing photos made decision-making an incredibly easy process. On our arrival, we quickly discover that we had chosen well; the staff are all smiles and the room is immaculate, from our perfectly plumped pillows on our massive king-size bed, to the sweeping sea views seen from our own private terrace. It’s a genuine struggle to remove ourselves from beneath the cooling ceiling fan in order to explore a bit more of the town centre.
Calle Pintada, beginning near the bus stop and leading down toward the central plaza, is the main tourist strip. Along here one can find just about anything to meet their holiday needs, and despite the bustle there’s a much less seedier feel to it than one generally comes to expect in tourist havens such as this. Just five minutes down the road – aside from Playa Burriana – white-washed houses, sleepy cafés and friendly frutarías flank the empty streets. It’s as quaint as any other Spanish pueblo I’ve ever been to.
That evening, we dine at Carabeo’s terrace restaurant, where both the food and service are outstanding. It’s rashers of jamón iberico served with pan con tomate for starters and fillets of fresh sea bream for mains. Both are exquisite, and yield prolonged phases of agreeable head-nodding as we gorge ourselves silly.
Meanwhile, the festival celebrations over on the Balcón de Europa are providing us with excellent dinner entertainment. We can see clearly the huge fiesta unfolding beside a specially erected stage and where, no doubt, scores of sardines are being greedily consumed. And as darkness creeps in, a small fleet of fishermens’ boats – one with the revered image of Virgen del Carmen onboard – chug their way past us as they see through the centuries-old tradition. When they complete their lap, the first firework of a fandangled spectacle zooms upward and lights up the sky. We picked the right time to come it seems.
Next day, we head for Maro, home to las cuevas de Nerja – the Nerja caves. These astounding caverns were only discovered fifty years ago, after a couple local lads happened upon them while out climbing, or so the story goes. Now droves of tourists flock here on a daily basis, yet when we arrive the queue consists of a mere eight people. Annoyingly, we neglect to invest in an audio guide before beginning our tour, which, as a result, finishes rather abruptly without the added info. Still, the stalagmites – the world’s largest among them – are sights to behold, and prompt us to develop a couple of our own theories, flawed and childish as they might be.
Beyond the caves the rest of Maro tumbles toward the coastline and provides the perfect setting for a midday stroll. After a quick lunch we amble our way down to another beach paradise. It’s a lot quieter, and we settle in to another lazy afternoon.
That night we are able to resist another sitting at Hotel Carabeo and plump for a simple pizzeria round the corner. It’s good but distinctly lacking in comparison. The festival, while perhaps not quite as wild as the night before, is still going strong. We join in the fun for an hour or so but before long bed is calling.
It’s a shame we have to leave the next morning; festival or no festival, two nights in Nerja just isn’t enough.
If there’s one thing that Spain knows how to run well, it’s a festival.
Last weekend, I went to SOS 4.8 festival in Murcia. It was my first trip to Murcia, and my fourth – and largest – festival so far here in Spain. Headlining the event were The xx, Bloc Party, M83 and Justice – four class acts that by chance I’d seen play live the year before at Open’er Festival in Poland. Normally, a lineup identical to one at a festival I’d recently attended wouldn’t seduce me so easily, but as I said, these are class acts, and I really, really love festivals.
At €35 for ‘el abono’, SOS is/was an absolute bargain. As it transpired, I ended up paying €55 as I had foolishly waited for a press accreditation destined for rejection until the week before the event. I didn’t care though; I was going, my mates from the UK were going and a sh*t load of booze was going too.
I also made huge savings on transport and accommodation: My ride to Murcia came thanks to carshare website amovens.com – I paid just €15 to get there and was regaled with army stories from my militant driver the whole way (actually enjoyable, honest), and I stayed in an unofficial but nearby campsite where a tent had already been provided for me, at the cost of €50…
With a capacity of around 20,000 and still plenty of elbow space, SOS is/was also the perfect size. I rarely had to queue for more than five minutes either for the toilet or bar, though this may have had more to do with the fact that drink prices had been hiked to the unashamedly ludicrous for the weekend– €7.50 for a large beer anyone? Thought not. But at festivals it’s effectively inescapable, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who manage to smuggle a premixed 2-litre bottle of God knows what in owing to the slipshod security – I even saw one lad pull a mini keg of Heineken from his backpack once inside…
I suppose I better say something about the music then.
We arrived on Friday to the poprock sound of the peculiarly named Kakkmaddafakka. Until I actually saw the band’s name written down I’d genuinely thought that it had been a proper English word terribly mispronounced by Spanish speakers. Though all their songs were lost on me, they still provoked us into jumping around like morons.
The xx’s headlining set was up next. Lots of people go on about how the band’s melancholic sound doesn’t really work for festivals; that if you close your eyes you may as well be listening to your iPod on maximum volume etc.
Bollocks to that.
They are masters at what they do, and frankly if they attempted to jazz things up a bit with a quicker tempo I’m not sure anyone would like the outcome very much. Thankfully, they didn’t, and instead treated us to a wave of hits from both albums, all as moody and docile as we had readily anticipated. ‘Intro’ and ‘Crystalised’ stood out for me.
Shortly afterwards we were watching festival heavyweights Bloc Party waltz onto stage. With four albums to their name, there would certainly be no shortage of material, but disappointingly they did lean heavily on much of the newer stuff throughout the first half the set, which is always annoying at festivals. Eventually our patience was rewarded though, with a stream of classics headed with a rolling rendition of ‘Song For Clay’ and ‘Banquet’. Much better!
At various intervals lead singer Kele Okreke attempted to interact with his audience but his sentiments often fell on deaf ears:
“How’s everybody doing at the front!?”
A wee cheer is barely audible.
“And what about you lot in the VIP section?”
The crickets seemed to chirp in agreement at least.
After sidestepping our way through and partially joining in with the mother of all botellones outside the festival grounds on Saturday afternoon, we arrived in time for the latter half of Granada’s very own Lori Meyers. Spanish people were absolutely loving it; I wasn’t so convinced. Possibly because I didn’t know the words, or maybe it was due to my being dragged to the front where about 90% of the crowd looked about the same age as my teenage students. At 25 years old and 6ft 3”, I stood out like a sore thumb.
The first indulgence of the night came in the form of French ‘shoegazers’ M83, who, for all their years of grafting in the music-making business, have only become acquainted with large-scale festivals in recent times. Their breakthrough – and my favourite – album ‘Saturdays = youth’ won them deserved critical acclaim and the follow up ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ was one of the bestselling albums of 2012. Suddenly, the front wasn’t such a bad place to be after all, as massive tracks ‘Reunion’, ‘We Are The Sky’ and the defining ‘Midnight City’ were belted out for all to sing and spring along to. It was the performance of the weekend.
Later, the French takeover continued as Justice settled in to their pounding electro set packed with epic synths and explosive drops. The festival had officially turned hardcore. Following that, Vitalic, also from France, took to the stage to ensure that the mayhem continued and threw down yet another barrage of jarring electronica seemingly loud enough to break the sound barrier.
At 6am, we conceded that it was time to be getting back – my friends to their four star hotel rooms; I to my diminutive, freezing cold tent, which quite frankly may as well have been a bed of nails. Can’t complain really though. SOS was just about the cheapest, proper music festival I’ve ever been to, yet easily one of the best and undoubtedly my best ever in Spain. Now let’s see if Territorios Sevilla has what it takes to change that next week…
“Esquiar por la mañana y tomar el sol en la playa por la tarde!”
“Ski in the morning and sunbathe on the beach in the afternoon!”
That’s how the saying goes here in Granada. Personally, I had always been a little dubious. Not in the sense that I didn’t believe the feat was possible, just as to whether the trip was actually worth the hassle. I mean, snow-covered mountains, albeit much higher up than the stony beaches to the south, must surely be an indication of not-so-hot ground level temperatures? And all that travelling to and fro; hiring a car if you don’t already have one; and the cost of a lift pass that you’d only use for half a day? Hmm.
The idea seemed far-fetched, if not imprudent. But then I asked myself, where’s the fun in life if every now and again a little imprudence isn’t applied to an otherwise perfectly prudent situation? All it had taken was a sudden heat wave and for one friend to casually suggest the idea and I was sold; if there ever was a time to do it, that time was now (or then, rather). We would see this niggling and unproven myth busted right open, and not become disillusioned by mounting expenses or the inevitable struggle of having to tear ourselves away from the mountain come lunch time.
A car was hired for the weekend, which, split between four, wasn’t at all as costly as we had anticipated (see price breakdown below), and better still, the weekend’s weather forecast couldn’t have looked more promising.
The objective was simple: Arrive at the Sierra Nevada for around 08.30am in time for the first lift, ski relentlessly until 13.00pm, grab lunch, hit the road and be at the beach with beer in hand for 15.00pm. It was on.
We awake to crisp, cloudless skies, and begin the day with the galling task of having to wedge our skis, boards, boots, beach bags, sandwiches and springtime, animal-themed onesies into the back of our terribly cramped Ford Fiesta. Eventually, after an accidental detour into Granada’s one-way street maze, we are on our way.
We finally shuffle into the Telecabina cable car and begin ascending the mountain, though we are already way behind schedule. Traffic had been scarce along the way but a combination of lengthy queuing, impromptu toilet breaks and my apparent inability to dress myself into a giraffe suit had held us up. Sun is shining brightly though, and it’s smiles all round.
The snow, as we had expected, is pure slush, which means gathering speed will be hard, but the pistes are looking surprisingly bare, given that it’s a Sunday. Slush can still be fun anyhow. We make the quick descent to the Stadium chair and dare I say turn a few jealous heads as we zip past in our trendy garb.
There’s less slush at the top, but a bit of a draft that sets off an uncomfortable spell of nipple chafage. It soon ebbs however, as we waste no time in hurling ourselves back whence we came.
With two mandatory runs down the stadium completed, we plot our next foray. We spy that Laguna – a run that for one reason or another has eluded us each time we have visited – is open. We make a beeline for its entrance, which involves crossing another, wide and often quite busy piste to get to. Earlier this season I discovered that at the expense of one very indignant skier. This time though, there are far less people to worry about, and despite the stickiness of the increasingly watery surface, us snowboarders manage to make it across in one clean sweep (skiers needn’t worry what with those stabilizers poles they use).
I get bored of the flat section and veer off-piste. Big mistake. We are on the backside of the mountain now, which up until this point has seen very little sunlight. Thus, rather than the mushy slushy stuff I was actually rather beginning to enjoy, I am met with a steep grade of rock-hard ice, which then develops into actual rocks. Thankfully, I am able to quickly dodge and navigate my way through without falling or scratching my board (much).
Back at Laguna’s summit, we head as far right as possible to where there appears to be some actual snow. We are wrong. It’s just more ice slowly melting into slush, though we do find a nice jump, which, after a rather wobbly run-up, I fling myself from with one arm flailing in my wake.
Time for a stroll in the Sulayr superpark. Things have improved since our last outing – at least at the top anyway. Three more boxes and a slanting picnic table have been added, and features of the resort’s recent Freestyle World Cup still remain, though almost all of the jumps are unworkable due to yet more slush. Further down, however, there is a nice beginner section that allows for quick grabs and mini spins. Fortunately, I do not almost kill myself like the last time, though the giraffe onesy at this point has become extremely sweaty. One more run and it’s back to the bottom for a quick bite to eat and Piste 2 Playa part two.
Fed, changed and almost an hour and a half behind schedule, we finally exit the resort and begin the race down to the coast. The overabundance of slush had meant that it wasn’t as difficult to drag ourselves away.
Playa de Cantarriján is the chosen destination. I have kept my onesy on so I can have my photo taken in the same clothes on the mountain and the beach. This, rather predictably, turns out to be another big mistake, as the temperature seems to increase by at least half a degree for every mile we cover. Photos are taken and some high-pitched whoops are let out before I promptly fall into a dribbling coma.
I awake to a cheer. We have arrived at Cantarriján, a small, secluded beach just beyond Almuñecar, where, judging by first glance, there doesn’t appear to be an awful lot of beachgoers. I am dripping wet by now, but refuse to remove my novelty outfit until that memorable snapshot is taken. We make our way from the car park.
So it turns out Cantarriján is a nudist beach, yet as we creep past the restaurant and onto the scrabrous sands the only oddball being gawped at is me. In fact I could not be dressed more inappropriately. The photos are promptly taken, the onesy duly taken – sorry – peeled off and the afternoon’s first beverage swiftly consumed. We’ve done it.
Time for a dip in the sea. We last a mere 10 seconds before retreating in tandem with an outburst of squealing more redolent of a group of 12-year old girls. It’s back to the towels, where we eventually pass out to the sound of woozy indie music and waves lapping the shore.
We awake, and sluggishly make our way to the beachside restaurant for an early dinner. The views – if you’ll forgive the surfeit of unkempt genitalia on show – are wonderful, and the food – freshly caught Bacalao served with chips and steamed veg – and accompanying mojitos go down very well indeed.
As the last of the sun’s rays finally disappears behind the craggy overhang, we concede that it is time to leave. We cram ourselves back into the Fiesta and begin the steady climb to the highway.
The car boot is wide open, and none of us have noticed.
“Maletero abierto?” my friend says bewilderedly as she points to the dashboard.
“Shit. The boot’s open” replies another, as we suddenly break.
We each envisage a snowboard skidding its way down the hill and ending up beneath the wheel of an unsuspecting vehicle. Fortunately, all skis and snowboards are still with us, but we learn from the next car to arrive that a Tupperware box had been narrowly averted a few corners back. It was mine.
“Step on it” I tell my friend, “we are not leaving without it”. I’m not joking – that Tupperware box is an essential vessel for mountain fodder and I’d be hard-pressed to find another one as good. Thankfully, the box is retrieved and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The journey recommences.
Stuck in heavy traffic. Not looking good for getting the car back to the hire office (at Granada airport) on time.
Made it – with fifteen minutes to spare, though we have just missed the bus back to Granada city centre and must wait for another that leaves at 23.00pm. No matter. We crumple to a heap among our bags, boards and skis and reflect on what has been a truly epic day. Mission complete.
The trip was well worth doing, despite my initial uncertainty, and will most definitely take place again. Unfortunately this marked our last day at the Sierra Nevada for this season, which by the way, has been brilliant, even if I did only make it up six times.
Here’s a breakdown of the cost of our ‘piste 2 playa’ daytrip:
Car Hire: €35
Car Hire Insurance (optional): €36
Total (split between four): €115
Ski pass: €41
Parking Fee (between four): €10
Ski rental (if you don’t have your own equipment): €20
Lunch at the beach: €11
Two mojitos: €10
Has anybody else ever attempted this grand challenge? Would you now you know that its doable? Please share and comment!