Las Alpujarras: A whistel stop tour of 5 mountain towns

Andalusian Adventure post 5

Due to lack of pre planning and time we simply didn’t have time to go hiking in the Alpujarras. We , well i was very keen to see this region of mountain villages  that cling to the southern flanks of the Sierra Nevada,  and was determined to get there even if just for the day. WE quickly learned that transport from Granada and back was in a day was more a less impossible so we was left with no other alternative but t book a”day tour” Im not a Day tour type but this was the only way we could get there and back in a day, and also get to see the region as a whole as opposed to one  or two towns. It was actually a great full day our if im honest, Antonio our guide was great and full of information and not having to navigate or drive myself took the stress out of the day and i was able to just enjoy myself. We met out local guide Antonio, and driver Juan Carlos, at 7.30am we was joined by a few moreelder couples,  and off we went Alpujjaras bound……

Lanjarón

LAJANRON– Was our first stop.  We took a little stroll through the town but, primarily went there as to  have breakfast in a  restaurant on the opposite Lanjaron, and therefore had an amazing view overlooking the valleys and the town itself. Still a little sleepy and hungry i didn’t even take a picture of the view but i did of my toastadas 🙂

899340532c0b203d8d7cdbf6c56c4e3bFun fact :Lajaron is where the famous Lajaron water is bottled  and distributed. People used to visit this spa town for the therapeutic properties in the water. However, sadly as trends change, people now prefer to go to the beaches and coastal towns. apparently this town has the longest life expectancy rate in the country.

On the way to our second stop we passed through largest town of the Alpujjaras, Overja , also the capital of the region and  where you’ll find all the public services , schools, transport links, etc.

Stop 2- PAMPERNIERA  Or as i call it – SlateVille!

I call it SlateVille because everything in this sweet village, and i mean everything,  is made/built out of slate. Sounds strange, it is and also oddly beautiful!

Fun Fact Slate is used  because its the material that can be found in, abundance, in the surrounding hills and mountains. 

This Slate maze like town also has many other quirky features such as the super cool water system that runs through the middle of the street! the chimneys that appear to have hats on  and random tiny doors.:)

Stop 3 PORTUGOS – a.k.a The town of the Red Iron Water.

This was a pretty awesome stop, where we visited a phenomenal waterfall called La Fuente Agria, that carried natural mineral waters with such a high iron content that it turned the water red.

At street level across the road there is a fountain with 5 taps.

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From right to left the water goes from less iron but more gas to more iron and less gas. It looks  and sounds mad but it’s acutally pretty tasty . We tried a little of each and by tap five you can really taste the iron yuk!! but it did feel super heathy and strong.

Stop 4 – TREVELEZ  a.k.a Cured Jamon Ville

Fun Fact – This town sits at at over 4,840 feet above sea level,  making it  one of the  highest villages in Europe

This particular town has the perfect natural conditions for producing cure ham (jamon) so,  that is exactly what the entire town is dedicated to, Ham, Ham and More ham!! so guess what we did yes,  correct we went to visit a Ham Factory where we were walked through the process. Fernando loves Jamon with a passion so he was in ham heaven and loving it! It was interesting and we did get to try some delisious hams too and then brought loads to bring home. But it didn’t make it that far within 3 days it was finished 🙂

fun fact: pigs are not breed in Granada so all the ham here is sent to the village.

Our final stop CAPILEIRA – The Retreat

P1080758Capilerira, is yet another lovely town. The perfect mountain get away. Of all the towns we visited, except maybe Lanjaron, Capileiera  has the most to offer, by way of bars & restaurants, variety of accommodation and activities. It has the most Mountain Retreat-like vibe without feeling to remote, if that makes sense. I’ll be back;)

LUNCH TIME – was deliciously interesting! we had a few courses of some typical and traditional spanish dishes and local wine. Ensalada Mixta and fried aubergine in honey to start, then gazpacho, then a unique plate of Fried egg,jamon,  chorizo, black pudding and patatas pobres.

Before the 2 hour journey back to the city Fernando and i went on a little stroll  around this town then found a nice spot to chill and play some cards. An hour later we boarded our mini bus,our stomachs still full , Antonio suggested we take a siesta. This was good advice so much so that he actually fell asleep before we did:)

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I enjoyed this day out more than I expected I would. It was a great escape from the city and i was finally starting to feel i was away from it all. The couples we met were also very interesting. though they were old enough to be our parents we all had a lovely day together.  I would very much like to return to this region and do a purely hiking holiday, as what was missing from this day  out was the space in between the towns , the wildlife and nature, the valleys and gorges, then arriving at these towns after a longs days walk resting up and setting of again. Now that’s! the Alpujjaras i want to see next time, but this was a good taster.

 

I’ll be back:)

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Las Alpujarras: A whistel stop tour of 5 mountain towns

  1. Amazing to see this blog! I actually lived in Portugos during the Spring and Summer of 1975. I came back in 1976 and spent the fall and early winter, but mostly I was learning how to build guitars in Granada that year. I never imagined blogs in 1975! And I certainly never imagined other people from the rest of the world coming way up into the mountains.

    Yes, I was able to walk over the ridge to Trevelez, up to the top of Mulhacen, across the rio Trevelez and over to the villages across the next ridges. I had various traveling companions: Francisco from Atalbeiter bought and sold animals. I knew him because his wife was the tailor for the region and made my clothes, but we met up on the paths and hung out traveling together for a day. We walked to the villages across the valley and further up past Trevelez. There was one manufacturer: a woman with a loom in a shed. She made all the blankets for those dusty villages cutoff from the snow melt from the mountain tops.

    Then Juan Miranda Rodriguez, who was just 14 at the time, took me up with his goats into the pastures, introducing me to all kinds of paths and vistas as well as a half dozen shepherds. We met some older guys and they took turns taking me around on their work for a day so that I would get an idea of the details of life there.
    Juan drew me pictures, because he said he wasn’t up to making maps. Once I learned the paths from Juan I could get to the other villages on my own.

    Celedonio’s wife Theresa took me to Atalbeitar and Ferreirola. She introduced me to this old guy who lived there; he was pretty high up in the fascist organization. He was a pretty scary dude, I was glad I was with his relative. I wasn’t exactly scared, just uneasy, wondering if this was one of the guys who shot Garcia Lorca. It would be like having an interview with Howard Hunt or Dick Cheney in an abandoned building 10 miles from the closest road and they had a loaded shotgun on the table the whole time.

    I hear there is a guitar maker living in Ferreirola now. I had the same idea back in 1976, but that was a crazy idea back then. There was no way that would have worked. I love that people can do that now. But, I hope they saved one village without cars. That would probably be Atalbeitar. There was no road, just a donkey path. It was almost a ghost town then. Francisco, his wife, an older relative who also worked as a tailor, the mayor, and a family of gypsies squatting in an abandoned house. That was it.

    The gypsy father and uncle really were hilarious; we had a party on the roof that involved a bicycle, wine, and my friend Juan who owned the bicycle. I’m pretty sure one of the guys rode the bike of the roof into a tree. Juan and I only had to say these words for the rest of the summer to bust out laughing for hours: “! Juan, vendeme tu bicicleta!” Yeah, well it was funnier coming from the top of that tree.

    Celedonio Carrasco Millan was my host in Portugos: beekeeper, fruit tree expert, local historian, storyteller, plumber, electrician, and the town music teacher. He taught me how to make sandals out of esparto grass and took Juan and I up to the top of the Mulhacen to see the statue of the Virgen of the Snows. Now, this will give you just a hint. His wife spent a day cooking a whole chicken and vegetables in a cast iron cauldron. We carried that cauldron the entire way tied up in a blanket over our shoulders. Seriously, it was a very different place then.

    He also took me to visit every single place, literally every stone, in the town of Busquistar, and he had a story of historical importance about each one of those little cubby holes. I had to write really fast in my notebooks to keep up with him. When he was done I had made a map with 153 locations indexed to stories.

    There was no technology then: I had a Leica 3F with an attachable rangefinder, a 35mm alternate lens and an 85mm Japanese zoom lens. That was it. I took the bus to a store in Granada every few weeks to get pictures developed.

    Guys, things were REALLY different then. There was a van and a small car in town. That’s it. The van took people to Granada and ran commissions (errands) in Granada. They would leave packages and mail at a meeting place called Bar Alaska in Plaza Trinidad near the University. Back in Portugos those two vehicles could only get as far from the highway as the church plaza. The little car went to Motril every morning to buy fish and they sold it on Celedonios doorstep.

    From what I can see from Google Satellite, there are at least a hundred cars today and there are actually roads! There was one telephone in town back then. They came to get you if anyone called. No one called. Once I walked all the way to Capileira just to get toast and butter! It took me half a day, but it was worth it. It saved me, really.

    The people were so friendly, kind, and eager to share their world with me because they knew things were about to change. I took hundreds of photos and wrote a book. But the first day I arrived it was foggy, early spring. I didn’t know a single person yet so I just started walking on a path up along the fields above town. Some people stared like I was a ghost. But then an old man carrying kindling came down the path and suddenly his grandchildren were everywhere. He and I could not actually communicate. In those days older people had their own dialect. The grandchildren translated, and one of those grandchildren became my friend Juan.

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