Pampaneira Travel Blog› entry 18 of 27 › view all entries
We were getting a little tired of the big towns, so decided to hire a car and drive out into the mountains.
Las Alpujarras is the area on the south side of the Sierra Nevada. We knew that people were still skiing on Sierra Nevada, but walking was our aim. We wound our way along the narrowest and windiest roads, manoevering to let trucks pass in the opposite direction (where were they coming from and going to??), and being overtaken on blind corners by mad Spaniards.
We took a room at Pampaneira, which is a village with good walking tracks nearby. We set out to discover them. The second day we left on a beautiful fine day, driving to a nearby village to start. After an hour of heading down the wrong track, we finally discovered the start of our track, only for the rain and hail to set in! Alas, after a hot drink it stopped and we were on our way. The countryside is beautiful, though not what we´d expected. It´s rocky, with not very many trees, though a sprinkling of goats and sheep, and a few shrubs here and there. But the valleys are what we´d call gorges, and the rivers running through are beautiful. We were of course about 1500 m above sea level, so it was very alpine. We walked to a ghost town set up (and later abandoned) to construct the hydro dam. That was half way point. Shortly after we´d crossed the river and were walking on the other side of the valley, a crack of thunder scared the living daylights out of us. A few minutes later we were soaking wet, and about 2 hours away from the end point, according to our English translation (the one which described the starting point so well!). The thunder and lightening were right over our heads, and we had nowhere to hide. Terrified (there was no-one else around - presumably they´d seen a weather forecast, or were on their siesta!), we essentially ran the whole way around, hiding behind rocks as the lightening struck! Our 3.5 hour hike turned into a sub 2 hour dash!
The food (high on our agenda) was reliant on our hotel manager, who was also the bar and cafe owner, restaurant manager and waiter. Alfonso was great. He speaks only Spanish, we made do with my rather stilted guidebook phrases, Campbell´s interpretation of our phrase book, and sign language. Luckily, despite his grouchy exterior, he must have liked us (or thought we were crazy). Apparently he gets a lot of NZers in his hotel, so maybe he just thinks we´re all a bit odd. Anyhow, when we ordered our drinks, he poured the wine out of a 3L white label-less plastic bottle (it was ok after a day´s walk, but not ordinarily great). A few minutes later he brought us a big plate of tapas - a spicy beef, capsicum and tomato stew. It was fabulous. The meals were good too. We especially like the Alpujarran Plate, which includes sliced potatoes, fried egg, blood sausage, chorizo and jamon (which is like prosciutto). Mmmmm.... The trout was pretty good too...