The Sierra Nevada mountain range and the city of Granada are relatively close to Almerimar and we want to take the opportunity to experience both places for the nature experience and feel the wings of history in Granada, a city dating back to Roman times.
The only car rental option in Almerimar is via the marina. The price is a bit high, but it would be more complicated to rent a car up in El Ejido and we will only have the car for 3 days. It seems to be a bit more expensive to rent a car now than before the pandemic, but prices might still have gone up for other reasons during the two years of the pandemic.
We have a few different routes to choose from that include both the Sierra Nevada and Granada. One is straight north from Almerimar across the Sierra Nevada via Guadix to Granada, the other is to drive on small roads along the south side of the Sierra Nevada via Pampaneira.
We choose the route via Pampaneira, as we are unsure how good the road to Guadix is given that it crosses a pass over 2,000 meters of altitude. Before Pampaneira we also take a detour over Trevelez, at an altitude of 1,600 meters. There are many fantastic views of the mountain valleys and the air is clear so you can see at least 50 km. I am always impressed by mountain views, had I not loved the sea and its varying color and shape, I would probably have lived up in a mountain area with its valleys, ravines, cliffs, and mountain peaks.
Trevelez turns out to have many nice hotels and even now during the winter, there are some visitors here. There seem to be a lot of hiking trails that depart from here, so it might be a hiking mecca here in the Sierra Nevada.
Almost every village we drive through has a company that produces air-dried ham (Serrano or Jamon Iberico). However, we do not see a single pig farm, perhaps it is the dry and fine mountain air that makes the ham dry here, the pigs grow up in other places.
When we get to Pampaneira it’s time for lunch and we are so lucky that it is a small paradise village with some open restaurants and sales of dried ham and rag rugs in bright colors. There are some restaurants in the village square and we choose the one that has vacant tables out in the sun.
Pampaneira is a very picturesque village with narrow winding alleys and some mouths towards the valley behind the village with nice views of the mountains.
After Pampaneira, the road winds slowly down towards the plains where Granada is just over 20 km away, below the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada.
We get there just before four o’clock in the afternoon and have received detailed directions to the hotel which is located in the old town. There are many one-way streets, some streets only allow cars with a permit to drive, and Anacapri (the hotel we will be staying at) has helped us get such a permit.
We have entered the route in Google Maps and everything works well until the penultimate turn onto a street near the hotel. Across the street is a two-meter high fence with some Spanish text that we do not understand. We understand that it is not possible to drive here and are forced to continue straight ahead and keep up with the heavy traffic. Meanwhile, Google Maps is trying to find new routes to the hotel but is struggling because all roads near the hotel do not allow car traffic. In addition, the GPS works poorly on narrow streets with tall houses on the sides so we try to find a way in the old way, local sense, and the map. Finally, we enter the street where the hotel is located, but when we have a block left, there is a strong barrier in the middle of the street and we are forced to take left. Shortly afterward, a guy on a scooter stops by the car and signs that we are going to open the window.
Shall we be robbed or what’s going on?
No, he wants to show us the way. He asks where we’re going?
Follow me, he says (in English) and then he pulls away on the Vespa and we follow. Through pedestrian streets, wrong directions on one-way streets, and into such narrow streets that we can barely take the curves without scraping in the corners of the houses. After 10 minutes with our hearts in our throats, we arrive at the hotel. We understand that he wants some payment, the question is how much? I start by offering 5 euros, he signs that he wants 10. So ten euros will be, we are happy to be here, but almost 30 minutes late, which both the porter and the parking attendant point out. The car must be driven away from the hotel and parked elsewhere. Luckily we chose that service when we booked the hotel.
It’s a small hotel and we’ve got a room at the top. It has a large nice bathroom and we even have a large terrace, certainly nice in the summer, now it is a bit cold, it is facing north.
Tonight we would like to feel the atmosphere in the city, but first, we look for a post office so we can send home a letter with tracking. Thanks to Google Translate, we manage to buy the right kind of letter postage, at least we get a tracking number.
We walk in the center on the streets that have Christmas lights, we think that only the major shopping streets have it. This has been the case in other Spanish cities we have visited now before Christmas and it seems to be like this here as well. They have many nicely lit fountains and we manage to take reasonably good photos of them with our mobiles, even though it is dark.
We also found an interesting vending machine, it was not filled with sweets and such, but completely different necessities. Tape, shower hose, gas hose, lamps, and more
There are many nice buildings in Granada and just as in Portugal, tiles are used as wall cladding on the outside of the houses.
We probably walk around a couple of hours before we are back in the area near the hotel, where we choose to eat at Bodega Castañeda. There were only ”strange” things on the menu (or exciting if you think positively) and Carina who does not eat meat (except in emergencies) drew a real raffle with this plate to ”share”. I’m a little happier even though I got my share of meat for several days to come.
We have finally cracked the Spanish food code and it is almost always just pick-me-up (is that the right word?) food whatever you order. How much is on the plate is determined whether it is a tapas, an appetizer, a plato, a tabla. Then there is soup, salad, meat, fish and dessert. An appetizer and a tapas are the smallest amounts, although different restaurants have different sized tapas. In some places I get satisfied on two tapas, in others it takes four. Plato or tabla is a little more food, often several different varieties and large enough to share. Soup, salad, meat, fish, and dessert are enough as a main course for one person. Sometimes you also have to order salad, rice or potatoes, otherwise, you get a grilled fish, nothing more. These can naturally be shared as well, it is almost as if you always share all the food you order.
After dinner, we go to a cocktail bar we saw before (Silk Road). We are the only guests when we get there and it’s lucky because it’s a small venue. We each order a drink and have time to finish it before new guests arrive. The drinks were good, but the environment was boring, we had to stare straight into a plain wall.
Now it’s late for us long sailors and we have a strenuous program tomorrow with a tour of Albacain and then a 3 hour guided tour of the Alhambra, more about that in the next blog.