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
cobbled streets and picturesque buildings of Alhama form an intriguing tapestry of the culture and history of southern Spain. The first day’s walk takes me down into the spectacular gorge on which Alhama is perched. The cobbled stairs cut into the cliff-face are in fact the roof of a secret tunnel built inside the town’s walls, so the residents could access the river during a siege. As I reach the bottom I can also see the Arab dungeons built into the cliff wall centuries ago. The seven-kilometre, two and half hour Walk of the Angels takes me along the river and through the gorge. I stop to explore the ruins of several old flour mills and cave houses built by shepherds. Eventually I reach a small chapel carved into the sandstone cliff. Known as Ermita de los Angeles, the Chapel of the Angels was built in the 1500s by a Spanish knight who survived after his horse plunged over the cliff at that exact spot. Ever since, fresh flowers and candles are lit daily inside the tiny chapel. The path brings me out to El Ventorro, a friendly watering hole where I stop for the menu del dia. Most restaurants in the region serve bread, soup, a main meal, dessert and drink for around ten euros. It’s the largest meal of the day, eaten in the afternoon, before siesta. I opt for a rich gazpacho soup, which is refreshingly cool in the 30 degree heat, calamari with salad, a crusty bread roll and an apple for dessert. It’s the simple yet rich and flavoursome food that southern Spain is famous for. After lunch I head back to town along the ridgeline above the gorge, passing through lush olive groves and golden wheat crops. I arrive back from my walk during siesta. Shutters are drawn and all the shops and restaurants are closed as residents escape the baking heat. Come nightfall, and the town comes alive once more. Children play in the town square while their parents sit at tables outside local tapas bars, catching up with neighbours and friends. With a population of only six thousand, most people have lived in the region for generations. Alhama is a safe, warm and inviting town. Even as a woman travelling alone, I feel comfortable walking through the streets at night, and stopping at one of the many bars for a glass of wine and some tapas, the delicious small plates of hot or cold appetisers that are such a feature of Spanish cuisine. The first day sets the tone for the rest of the week. I spend the morning on a walk in the countryside around Alhama, before returning for a meal, a swim in the river and a siesta. The evenings are spent nursing a glass of wine and eating tapas in the town square. Some nights I simply sit and watch the world go by, while others I try out my few words of Spanish on the patient and friendly locals. I take one day off from walking to visit Granada, which is about an hour away. Terry and his wife Lisa drive me into town and organise my ticket for the World Heritage-listed Alhambra Palace. I spend the mor ning wandering the grounds of the magnificent 13th century Moorish palace. In the afternoon I head to Granada’s Moroccan quarter, which began as a spice market hundreds of years ago. I stroll through the tiny streets and barter with Moroccan traders for leather goods and jeweller y, before returning to Alhama with Terry and Lisa for a final balmy night of wine and tapas. The next day I say my good-byes. With Terry acting as translator, Paco tells me he’s glad I left Barcelona to see the real Spain – and so am I. Opposite pag e: Canon d e los Tajos, Alhama This p ag e, clockwise from top left: Inside the World Heritag e- listed Alhambra Palace; the quiet streets of Alhama d uring siesta; farmers ride into town, Alhama; shopping in Granada’s Moroccan Qu arter; sh epherd’s hut built into the gorge wall near Alhama ; view over Granada from inside Alhambra Palace All photos: Kara Douglas Destinations December 2011 / January 2012 19
Oct Nov 2011
Feb March 2012