Dwight Peck's personal Web site

We flee South in the winter

Two weeks in Andalucia, December 2011


You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Alhama de Granada

La Seguiriya and the walks in the tajos

We're out of Granada in a very nice hired Europcar, an hour or so to the southwest, and my driver pauses to survey the landscape. . .

. . . mile after mile of olive trees, the Sierra Nevada on the horizon, and a vast gorge down the middle.

To the Hospedería La Seguiriya in Alhama de Granada. If you keep a hit list of the 20 places you need to go before you become a dead person, put this one in the upper middle.

It's a 1745 building, partly a cave back into the hillside, renovated in 2000 by the famous flamenco singer Paco Moyano, and they don't make higher recommendations than this place deserves.

The walk out to the patio overlooking the "tajos", or gorges which make Alhama famous.

The patio, and our room. Mr Moyano is an extremely friendly and charming host, and figuring out who he really was, in flamenco terms, provided some pleasant investigations on the Internet.

The view of the tajos from the patio, and abandoned mills

A solitary house up the gorge a ways

The Old Mill

Kristin making friends, immediately, and predictably

We're off on a scoping mission

Abandoned mills

Alhama in late afternoon sunlight. The town, and its thermal baths, have been prized since Roman times, but in 1482 it was the first city to fall to the final Christian Reconquista, and thus heralded in the fall of the whole Nasrid kingdom of Granada ten years later.

The church of Saint Mary of the Incarnation (or "Iglesia de la Encarnación", for purists) (built squat over a former mosque, of course)

We've just passed the hollowed basins in the rocks where (we're told) the ladies used to trudge down and scrub out the laundry and chat whilst it dried. (And then plod back up and bear children.)

A bridge over the Río Alhama

Geological artifacts. And Kristin over to the left.

The mighty River Alhama, which has wrought all this geological havoc over the millennia

The church incarnate

We're on what's called the Camino Medieval, viewing Alhama across the gorge

Kristin monarch of all that she surveys (i.e., me)

Trudging back up into town, with high hopes for dinner

Narrow streets in the old town (when we got lost driving into town, Kristin roared our hired Micra through here at speed)

Not down that way, of course

The church square (with a prison, granary, so-called Inquisition House [but not really], 15th century hospital, 16th century "Wamba fountain", you name it)

Church (Encarnaciones, etc.)

All very beautiful, but we can't stop anticipating dinner.

Street scene

That's the old "nunnery church", ha ha, called the "Carmelitas Calzados", where Alhama grandees were buried in former times and the Sacred Virgin's jewels are kept.

We're striding past the nunnery.

Dinner at La Seguiriya is optional but shouldn't be. Mr Moyano's wife and himself offer an inexpensive, limited menu of wonderful things from the region. My advice is, choose the dinner option; you'll be happier that way.

And there's a little lounge for apertifs, with wifi Internet for catching up on the children's news, if any, and the US wars.

Still in La Seguiriya, above, the painting on the right is striking and well known in Spain -- it's of Mr Moyano, by Javier Rodríguez.

 

In the dining room, we were introduced to a nightly regular in the restaurant, whom Paco invited to give us directions for a worthy sightseeing trip northwards a few days hence.

Our interlocutor addressed us reluctantly in heavily-Spanish broken English and asked if we were British. When we said 'Americans', his English instantly became perfect, he confessed that he was a Swiss who'd fallen in love with Alhama and moved here decades ago, accepted our invitation to join our table, supplied us with an evening's worth of great travel stories, and mapped out an optimum drive north to Córdoba.

But today we're out for the Tour of the Tajos.

Up the Camino de Los Angeles

Still up the Camino de Los Angeles, headed for the Ermita de Los Angeles and whatever adventures may lie beyond.

There's the hermita de Los Angeles.

Modest in its claims, but earnest. I can't recall the source now, but, more or less, here's what happened: a Christian knight drew his horse up sharply at the top of the cliffs, but for whatever reason fell over anyway; on the way down, he promised the Blessed Virgin something-or-other if he wouldn't die this time; his horse hit the rocks below, and the knight was a wreck for weeks afterward, but survived for the time being and came back to found this little chapel here. (Presumably he died eventually, anyway, so bob's your uncle.)

Here's Kristin clambering ungainly onto the rock that preserves, miraculously, the hoof prints of the knight's horse when it hit bottom. (That may not be Kristin, but rather, me.)

There are the knight's horse's hoofprints as he smacked into the rocks from the cliffs above. So that ought to settle the question of authenticity.

Kristin herself is unimpressed about this and many other miracles. We're coming out of the Camino de Los Angeles, suitably refreshed spiritually, and stopping in for a quick one at the hotel at El Ventorro.

After a quick Coca Cola/coffee americano at El Ventorro, we're resuming our promenade up the far side of the tajos, or gorge, of the Alhama.

Kristin in fine form for a sunny late-December day out in Andalucia

We were held up a bit when I had to stop briefly to remove a stone from my shoe.

Alhama in the distance

Alhama slightly Lumix-zoomed

Kristin loves nothing so much as sheepsies. Except for marmots, messieurs les renards, and kitty cats of course.

Incarnation church, across the gorge

Incarnation church, across the gorge bis

Incarnation church, across the gorge ter

Out north of town, the famous "Roman bridge". The explanatory plaque indicates that it's really neat but might not actually be Roman. (Not unlike the "Inquisition House" in town, which also probably isn't.)

Kristin peering off the "Roman bridge"

Kristin assuming a leadership position in the expedition to find the Moorish thermal baths

The Moorish baths, now bought in within the grounds of an hotel, were closed for the season, and the few thermal pools in the river were occupied by young people laughing too loudly for comfort, so we trekked back out again.

"Close the gate, please, when you leave."

Back up into town

Back upper into town

Alhama schoolchildren celebrating the holiday of Feliz Navidad.

I'm out for a last wander-around before we have to leave tomorrow.

This is a fabulous place to visit, and Mr Moyano's La Seguiriya is worth a few days of your time just for relaxing and dining in; after a walk round the town and a hike in the gorges, and a thermal bath if that's your inclination, there's not a lot more to see or do, but for a few days, you can't do better.

A last look at the Incarnation

And a last zoomed view of La Seguiriya from the ridge farther up the tajos, Kristin probably sipping the local wine and catching up on the news on the Internet in our room.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 23 January 2012.


Southern
Spain, 2011