by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Journeys : Dec2011 Jan2012
Tasmanian journalist Kara Douglas explores the world of self-guided walking holidays in southern Spain Paco greets me at the door of his family’s guest house with a kiss on the hand and a torrent of Spanish, of which I don’t speak a word. It doesn’t matter though, as he takes my arm with a fatherly pat and shows me to my room. He stops to point out paintings, which through a steady stream of Spanish and explanator y gestures, I understand were painted by his daughter, a well-known artist. I later find out Paco himself is a retired flamenco singer who is famous throughout Spain. After relieving me of my bags Paco ushers me upstairs to a small restaurant on the roof-top terrace for a cool drink. Tables and chairs are dotted across the terrace and golden sunlight bounces off the white-washed walls. It resembles a scene from a movie, but it’s the view that steals the show. La Seguiriya guesthouse sits perched on top of a cliff in the tiny Andalusian town of Alhama, overlooking a stunning river gorge known as Canon de Los Tajos. It’s the gorge and the surrounding mountains of the Sierra Tejeda, in southern Spain, that have brought me half-way across the world on a one-week, self-guided hiking tour. I’m joined a short time later by Terry, a British tour operator. The former policeman left the cold English climate and moved to the region eight years ago. He’s fr iendly and knows the area well, offer ing practical advice and no-nonsense tips, which makes him the ideal counterpart to Paco’s flamboyant charm. I’m a novice to the world of walking holidays, but Terry explains that he’s there to offer as much, or as little help, as I need. He runs through the itinerary and maps for each day’s walk, explaining the route and what to expect along the way. I’m invited to join Terry and his wife Lisa for dinner or for any of the walks during the week, but if I prefer I can enjoy total solitude. I opt for a bit of both. Next morning Terry takes me on a tour around the town before I set off on my walk. A lhama emerged in prehistor ic times because of its thermal hot springs and strategic position at the cross-roads of the main routes across Andalucia. Every cobbled street tells a tale of the r ich, and at times dark and violent history of the once Roman, Moorish and now Christian town. The Roman bridge and baths were built in the first century, while an Arab castle lies just one street away from a 16th century Catholic church and convent. Around the corner is Inquisition House, reputed to be the first building ever used for questioning and torture during the Spanish Inquisition. Just how many people passed through the imposing gothic wooden doors, and how many came out, will never be known. The Spanish steps Destinations 18 December 2011 / January 2012
Oct Nov 2011
Feb March 2012