Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Winter Sun Spain & Portugal 2019. Castillo de Banos Part 4.

After a pretty spectacular drive through the Sierra Nevada, still covered in snow, and down through Granada we arrived at Castillo de Banos. The sun was out and we were greeted by the friendly rally stewards Chris and Gill with a cup of tea. We were given a choice of pitches and opted for one in the interior rather than the beach as it was slightly more sheltered. We were soon settled in. The site is well organised with a new toilet block, restaurant and pool. We ate on the first night in the campsite restaurant and excellent paella with masses of prawns and a bottle of red. We slept well.

A dash cam of our arrival and the beach.

View through the campsite down to the beach. We can just about see the sea from ours.

The campsite is on the edge of a small village of Castillo de Banus, 2 minute walk with small but well stocked supermarket and restaurant nearby. A short walk along the beach, around 2 miles,takes you to another village La Mimola, slightly bigger with more shops, restaurants and a bank. Motril is the nearest large town.

It was our first rally so we were not sure what to expect. Our minds were soon put at ease. Rally events are planned and put on a board in the rally area for people to sign up for. There are small costs for various activities. We signed up for the next days trip to the nearby town of Motril. More of a shopping expedition really although we would have a full three hours to look around as we pleased. For a total cost of 10 euros for both of us we though it excellent value.

At 9.30 we were on the coach on our way to Motril. Quite a pleasant town and also a port. Motril is the second largest town in the province of Granada and used to be a major centre for the production of sugar beet. The port is still in use as a commercial and fishing port and regular boats come in from Algeria. We walked into the town and had a look at the church and main square.

The main church in Motril dedicated to The Virgin de Cebeza and built in the 17th Century. The inside of the church I felt was rather cold although very ornate, something was missing. It was much smaller than it appeared.

The park surrounding the church on Virgins Hill was well done. There were some interesting statues.

Motril was worth a visit and there were loads of supermarkets and shops but probably one visit is enough.

The modern centre of Motril. Worth a wander around.

The next morning we were up and ready for our next rally trip. Off to a Bodega in a place called Murtas in the mountains by coach. The bodega was up in the Contraviesa  Mountains about an hours drive from the campsite. Well worth the journey. Slightly perilous going up the mountains in the coach. Den was pleased he wasn't driving.

As part of the visit we were taken to see the vine yards and how the wine was produced. There is an extensive museum which was really interesting. Unfortunately our guide could speak no English but there was an English video which was very well done. We rounded off the visit with tasters and then a three course meal in the restaurant. a great day out.

Still snow on the mountains. The people who live here are pretty isolated hardy souls.

 A fascinating insight into life on the mountains it was so harsh.

Wine is made here from around 10 different grape varieties.

The next morning a slow stroll along the beach and tacos at Nico's Bar. This made a pleasant change. Later we donned our walking boots for the scuttle along the rocky beach to La Mimola. The weather was beautiful hot and sunny.

Even a few hardy souls on the beach. Not quite warm enough for most! Its a great walk to La Mamola along the shore though tough under foot. You can scoot along the beach or opt to go through the road tunnel if the weather is rough. Wine and tapas further down the beach at yet another Nico's Bar. Such a hard life.

The next trip we did was to the nearby village of Adria.

 About an hour in the coach on the scenic coast road and we were there. It was market day. Not that inspiring for us although lots of our fellow campers bought fresh fruit and veggies. We opted for a stroll along the harbour to the end of the town.

The harbour at Adria. Full of boats bet it's even busier in  the summer.

Adria is still a working port and the fishermen were busy mending their nets. Shame there is such a reduction in the fishing fleet down these days by 70% since it's heyday in the 70's. The fish shop looked interesting.

 We were not impressed with the free/wild camping area which was obviously well used. We would rather have a proper camp site. Lots of Germans Dutch and a few Finns parked up though. The area down by the end of the town would be a popular place in the summer. Peaceful on a cooler Feburary morning.

 We made for the town centre and enjoyed coffee and cakes. 

Later we made our way to the tourist info office and then explored the fishing museum by the harbour. Very well worth the 1 euro cost we thought, the staff were very friendly.

A view towards the lead tower from the fishing museum. Adria was a prime producer of lead shot.

Inside the fishing museum. A well thought out museum explaining how the port operated and why it was now on the decline as a fishing port.

Adria is not on the tourist circuit but was a good place to look around. Very much a working Spanish port for real every day people. We enjoyed our few hours there.

While we were back on site the next day our neighbours Trish and Peter invited us to "climb a mountain" with them. Slight exaggeration! It was the walking route over the mountain to the next village La Mimola. A challenging climb to start but some tremendous views across the sea. We even managed to spot some wild life although they photographed very badly as they were so well camouflaged, so no pictures we had the wrong lens!. Trust me, a whole herd of Ibix scampering on the hillside.

View from the top of the mountain behind the site. A fabulous walk! Down hill on the other side and we stopped at La Mamola for beer and tapas.

Den did a great job of cleaning the boots, super clean.

The rally was going well with loads of activities to dip in or out off. We signed up for two more trips. A day to see the Alhambra in Granada, followed by another day trip to the tourist town of Neja just East of Malaga.

The taxi had been booked by Gill for our trip to Alhambra and tickets ordered on line. We had been warned it could be cold in the mountains so to dress appropriately! Gill even had a supply of hats and gloves ready in case they were needed! We were so lucky that morning as the weather looked promising. We set off in a taxi this time with some excitement. It took about an hour and a half to get to Granada a lovely drive through the mountains and this time Den could admire the scenery as he wasn't driving. 

Granada from Alhambra. 

Alhambra is quite well organised and they only allow 7000 people in every day. You are given a time slot for the visit to the main castle ours was at 1 pm so we had plenty of time to explore the fabulous gardens.

We wandered through the grounds taking in the atmosphere. The grounds were pretty stunning and must be even more amazing when the flowers are blooming. The subdued water effects were brilliant and the low winter light created some beautiful effects of light and shade.

The central area of the King Carlos Palace, which now houses the museum. We walked through court yards, towers, gates and gardens.

It was soon time for our date with the main palace. Well worth waiting for. We strolled from one breathe taking area to the next. Through areas of the place and bathing rooms to the Golden Chamber to the Courtyard of Lions.

We took loads of pictures so it was very difficult to choose the ones for the blog. 

Here is a few of our favourites.

The Lions of course.

The facade of the Comares Palace. No one really knows why there are two doors. The inscription says.

"My position is that of a crown and my door is a parting of the ways: the West believes that in me is the East. Al Gani bi-liah has entrusted me to open the way to the victory that has been foretold and I await his coming just as the horizon ushers in the dawn. May God adorn his works with the same beauty that resides in his countenance and his nature"

Everywhere we looked was something beautiful. Pictures can't really do it justice.

I think I could have lived here!

The courtyard of the myrtles. We were so lucky to get this picture minus visitors.

A few pictures but lots of lasting memories and so much to see. 

Our next outing on a much more basic level was a day trip to Nerja and the sugar cube village of Fruliana. At Nerja we went to see the caves Cuevas de Nerja.

The caves are massive and filled with stalactites and stalagmites  and the worlds largest known stalactite at 63m. Pretty impressive though quite commercialised. We enjoyed our visit and it was all pretty well managed with a film and audio guide in English. We went into Nerja for lunch and a wander amongst the shops. A nice but busy seaside place and a hit with UK retirees who filled the bars and eateries.

Fruliana was another interesting village. here we took the little train on a hair raising trip around the village. Brilliant value for 3 euros.

The views from the mountain top village were stunning.

A interesting place to park a car!

All too soon our time at Castillo de Banos was up!. We managed the mountain a couple more times and once on our own. It was a stunning walk. We even made it up to the tower on the hill and massive hike upwards but worth it for the views.

From the top of the mountain.

This was actually quite a climb!

Our final day at Castillo was spent tidying up and then we walked into the village to see how the Andalusian Day celebrations were going. Speeches a marquee and a huge paella on the beach. Sadly the paella didn't really do it for us.


We settled for a meal at a local restaurant and very nice it was too.

Time to move on the next stop La Manga. we wondered what excitement that would bring.

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