Driving towards Las Alpujarras
The spectacular Sierra Nevada Mountains are the highest mountain peaks in Spain, which is a surprise to many who think of the Pyrenees as higher. The lower reaches of the mountain range are known as the Las Alpujarras. White washed villages (pueblos blancos) speckle the area like fairy dust and are still among the less-explored destinations in the country. After discovering the fascinating sights of Granada we were excited to spend the rest of our trip in the countryside, looking forward to days packed with hiking, strolling through the narrow alleys of the charming hamlets and our chancing upon two abandoned villages in the Alpujarras.
The Chapel of the Virgin of Angustias
Our drive from Granada took us along the motorway South, towards the Costa del Sol, exiting in the direction of Beznar/Lanjaron. Almost straight after leaving the motorway, we turned right off the new road for the old route, leading us to the little chapel of the Virgin of Angustias. I had stumbled upon this tiny shrine on Google maps and wanted to make the detour, which also gave us a break from driving. The chapel itself was closed but there were surprisingly many locals stopping for a short prayer and offering at the altar outside. Beside the cute sanctuary the location was quite captivating. The chapel is perched on the side of a deep gorge, with three bridges leading across. A new modern structure, with cars racing above, the old picturesque country road and an ancient stone arched donkey-bridge, which offers incredible views of the canyon and chapel.
The Abandoned Village of Tablate
A short drive from the chapel towards the town of Lanjaron lies Tablate, an abandoned village. The cluster of houses was once home to families and must have been abandoned not that long ago. Walking up the dirt track, we spotted the empty buildings, including a church. While Jerome was not really in the mood to visit the settlement, I was rather thrilled. The entrance to the church, although at some point completely closed with concrete had been reopened and we stepped inside the unused house of worship. The roof had already caved in and it mainly providing a home to birds and other animals now. The altar was barely recognisable and the colourful Christian murals had been washed away over the years.
Remnants of Daily Life
It is hard to describe where my fascination with abandoned buildings lies, I guess it is the thought of people having lived there and then returning it back to nature, with plants and trees taking over every little crevice. The other houses had clearly been cosy homes at some point, the remnants of daily life still visible. A musty armchair stood in front of a fireplace with empty beer bottles on the floor, probably a place for local teenagers seeking a weekend party spot. Graffiti covered the walls in places, including some Arabic words that were unreadable for us. Outside one of the houses we came across a basket filled with recent post to the previous occupiers, it even included some personal looking postcards and letters, it is sad to know they might never reach their intended recipient. Jerome did find the abandoned village of interest, in the end. Especially when it turned out there were other visitors around, we heard their voices but did not meet them in one of the buildings or on the street.
Deeper into the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Back on the road, driving towards our village destination, Bubion, in the Las Alpujarras, the winding road, led us higher and deeper into the Sierra Nevada. Passing through Lanjaron – frequent visitors to Spain might now the name from the water bottles that can be bought throughout the country – we drove past the large bottling plant. The main thorough road was lined with cafes and shops selling local handicrafts and souvenirs. The region is famous for its woven carpets, straw bags and donkeys (I would have loved to buy one and take it home) and colourful pottery. The countryside was truly spectacular, the mountains of the Sierra Nevada towering to one side and the hills below, dotted with small villages, wind mills and the odd castle ruin, there was so much to see that we did not get bored on route to our final destination.
Arrival in Bubion
The final part of the road led us up another gorge like valley, the road in switchbacks and quite steep, with views opening up at every turn. After an enjoyable drive we finally arrived at Bubion, the scenic little village that we would call home for the next four nights. We had arranged to meet with our Airbnb host at the main car park, a good idea, as it would have proven very difficult to drive down the narrow streets to get closer to the front gate of the house.
Lunch at Restaurant Teide
We still had over an hour to spare before the agreed check in time and decided to have late lunch. Right next to the main car park of Bubion is the traditional Restaurant Teide with its shaded terrace. Despite the very busy afternoon we were able to grab a table outside, sadly not in the sun, and ordered some food and drinks. My dish contained blood sausage and other local delicacies, surely not for every taste, but I really enjoyed it. There are plenty of other local options on the menu that should satisfy the fussier eaters and the little ones. The boys certainly downed their lunch hungry after the drive.
Checking into our Airbnb Apartment
After lunch we met up with Benedicte, who guided us through the pretty cobbled streets to our lovely apartment. We were very happy to find ourselves in a spacious garden apartment, that had been decorated with passion by our host and provided us with everything we might need – even Jerome had his own bedroom with en suite bath. Benedicte introduced us to the area and gave us some recommendations on restaurants and hikes.
A Walk to Capileira
Once settled in there were still a few hours of daylight left and we decided to walk to the last village in the Poqueira Gorge, called Capileira. Read all about our adventurous evening hike in our next post.
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