Red, White and Yellow

Granada Travel Blog

 › entry 17 of 47 › view all entries
The plan was this - Saturday we would head up to the Alpujarras to visit the White Villages, Sunday I would catch up on housework, blog and study while Sarah went to the Alhambra for her wonderland visit.

All set, I was up very early for some emailing in a wifi cafe until 9.30. By this time Sarah (not a morning person) had arisen, eaten and made her way down from the Albaicin to the town centre. We met in the cafe for a wonderful cafe cortado and a plan of attack. The regional bus left the station at 12 noon so we figured that if we caught the bus at 11.30 it would give us plenty of time to get there and get our tickets. The buses here (unlike nearly everything else) seem to run on time from the major cities.

Well, after some hurried shopping for a specific style of lingerie (many of the dresses and tops are a little see-through here), we headed back, via tea alley, to the house. Tea alley is a name I have given a narrow strip of Moroccan style tea houses and tiny shops selling all kinds of Arabic souvenirs. The walk is an assault on the senses with coloured sundresses and scarves overhanging the path, jangly brass and silver earrings hanging from bright boards and the intoxicating scent of sweet fruity tea from every second doorway. It’s difficult to hurry as people stop in groups to chat or purchase. The Arabic men sit outside their stores on heavy wooden chairs, moulding the rustic leather seats in the heat of the day. They are friendly and not too pushy so it is always one of my favourite things to do - using tea alley as a shortcut from the Albaicin to the town.

So back at home I hurriedly collected home made rolls, sunglasses and frozen water bottles before re-tracing our steps through the alley to Via Gran Colon to catch the bus, just as it pulled up. What we did not know was that there are 2 buses that will take you to the station (33 and 3) and one is a slightly longer route. No prize for guessing which one we had hopped on!

We finally arrived at 11.50 and decided that it would be quicker to use the automatic machines for our tickets than wait in the snaking Alsa bus company queue. We were down to the wire after all.

Fumbling with buttons and coins we managed to get a return ticket to Capileira (our destination) but then realised we only had a ticket for 1 person so had to repeat the exercise for a second ticket. By now it was 11.56 and the machine refused to sell a ticket 4 minutes prior to departure! Gutted, (seeing red) we dashed down the escalator to the bus platforms, manically trying to create a plan B on the fly. The platforms were jammed with Saturday morning crowds, bags, cases, even a puppy in a carry bag.

We ran the length of the platform and back again, unable to locate the bus we were supposed to take - still waving the one and only ticket. We thought we had missed the bus and wasted 11 euros. But finally, finding a bus driver we asked where the Capileira bus was. He shrugged and then the light went on as I explained that we wanted to go to the Alpujarras (the lower section of the Sierra Nevada mountains). He pointed to a nearby bus so we now knew we had half a chance of making it.

The next trick was to explain that we could not get 2 tickets as the machine was ‘broken’ (well, it was worth a try!). Smiling the driver calmly took our money for the second ticket as we realised that on regional trips, it is perfectly normal to buy your tickets on the bus. We needn’t have worried about a thing. We fell into our seats, laughing uncontrollably. What a pair of lunatics. We are clearly not ‘Spanish chicas’ yet! Tranquilla, tranquilla.

The three hour trip was lovely. We ate our pre-prepared rolls filled with Jamon and manchego cheese, followed with fresh fruit. By the time we had completed the slow climb to the top of the Alpujarras and stopped at the ‘white village’ of Capileira we were ready to walk.

(If you are interested in learning more - here are some starting points I found on the web)

And so my tour of this beautiful chalky village began. Last year I had stayed here overnight and knew a little of the landmarks so I acted as tour guide, showing Sarah the hidden nooks and crannies.

The main street is lined with beautiful shops selling the local crafts and delicacies made in the mountains. Almonds grow freely and two of the popular ‘souvenirs’ (not that they last very long) are the crunchy raw almonds and a yummy meringue type biscuit, made with almond meal. The other favourite sweet is the local honey, collected from hives hidden in the mountains. I bought myself a small jar of the liquid medicine in the hope that it may assist me in healing the cough I brought with me from Melbourne!

My other favourite thing to do in Capileira is marvel at the beautiful loom-made floor rugs. They were originally made of rag strips torn from old clothes but nowadays they are made with new cotton thread. Thick and durable, they come in every colour of the rainbow. Each store seems to compete with the others in creating the most beautiful streetscape of rainbow hues hanging them in rows from the heavy wooden doors. It is a water colour painter’s dream!

Food food food - where do I start. The Alpujarras is also famous for pork products but seem to have a different spice mix to the rest of Spain. I have tried the morcilla (black pudding), chorizo (spicy sausage) and jamon (air cured ham) and can say that I would be back for seconds every time.

The locals have some hideaway haunts off the tourist route and I took Sarah up behind the village for one of the best views and a tinto verano (literally ‘wine of summer’ made from wine and lemonade with loads of ice). As is usual in this part of Spain, you are served free tapas with an alcoholic drink. We had a small but tasty serve of fresh bread and manchego cheese and then continued our exploration of the village.

The little paths and streets are either heading up or down (as in the Albaicin) so you need to be careful not to slip. There are handrails down many of the steep alleys. I could imagine in the height of winter with snow and ice - it would be treacherous.

In the height of the day, locals are secured behind their cool doors for siesta or family meals but today was quite mild (about 28C) and many were still out and about, creating a lively atmosphere. At 4.45 we boarded the bus to return to Granada because we had planned to meet some of the girls from school for the evening.

Élie (a TEFL student who lives in Granada) found us at an outdoor bar perched on the edge of the tiny river (stream really) which nestles between the Alhambra and the Albaicin. In the warm evening air we chatted, laughed and took silly photos of each other. The group then hopped on one of the mini buses which circle the Albaicin assisting weary folk up to the top of the hill. We weren’t weary, we were just lazy (but my healing toe thanked me).

At the back of the Albaicin we followed Élie to a large ‘restaurant’ and sat outside in the large garden patio for drinks and (free) tapas. Inside the glassed restaurant section we were treated to a perfect view of the Flamenco show. So passionate, so gypsy -but for me I would prefer to just stumble across a back street bar full of locals only and an impromptu flamenco show. The restaurant ‘shows’, although lovely, are just not my cup of tea.

Surprisingly enough, we were quite tired and after chatting in English and Spanish to some of Élie‘s friends we all headed home. As a night cap when I arrived home I had a small syrupy glass of Pacharan (herbal liquor) golden yellow and chilled over loads of ice.

A colorful day came to an end - Red, White and Yellow: tomorrow is another day!
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photo by: Chokk