Sunday, 18 March 2018

The pleasures found off the beaten path, Alhama de Granada

I think that what I like most about this means of travel (ie, travel by RV) is being able to visit small places. Places that aren’t easy to get to when you are reliant on public transport and a tight budget become available when you have a motorhome, even with the tight budget still!

Most the top attractions of the world seem to be in cities, but I don’t think it’s because they are any better than some far off places, it’s just that they are more accessible to more people: there’s a big population right there, airplanes fly in, buses and trains stop, and hotels and restaurants are available. But with an RV you don’t need these conveniences. You just need a road to bring you within some proximity of the site. 

We mostly avoid cities. They’re not fun to navigate in a big vehicle and although Blac (our European motorhome) is roughly half the size of Blu (our Australian one) it’s still a big vehicle for Europe. But occasionally we will visit a city. Last month we did Amsterdam and yesterday we visited Granada. We enjoyed attractions in both. But between those two cities their isn’t a major city that we visited, but plenty that we could have. 

This place we are in now is particularly nice. It’s called ‘Alhama de Granada’. The town is high up above the river, which is carved into a gorge, and the edges of the old town are built right to the edges of that gorge. It’s spectacular.  

Within the gorge are the old flours mills, one in ruins, the other restored. From a distance, you see the old town of white buildings clustered around a tall grand church (at the highest point), all this sitting about the gorge. 

Alhama de Granada

In town the locals are friendly and we’ve observed an old man leading an old donkey with big panniers (empty) into town from the fields and also watched a flock of sheep be brought from the town area out to the fields. 

We had coffee this morning in a bar where they played loud flemenco music, gave us a map and told us what we should visit whilst giving us a taster of their homemade ‘nutella’ with fresh strawberries. Then we stopped later for tapas and were given a plate of lovely roast pork to try (as well as the selection of cured meats and cheese we’d ordered). 

This is the stuff I really like. The friendly locals and the locals doing their thing. 

Not so many tourists make it to Alhama de Granada but those who do, I believe, mostly come for the thermal pools. They’re free! Okay, normally there’d be some more that aren’t free (at the site of the old Roman Thermal baths that, I also believe, have been restored) but that establishment is currently closed and work is being done. 

Right beside the river, a couple of kilometres from town, are the thermal pools (both the free and not-free-but-closed). They’re nice. The middle pool is a nice temperature (the top pool is the warmest but also the smallest and almost always full so I didn’t try it). 

Aside from soaking in the warm waters (and it’s been cold and rainy here) I also liked the local aspect here too. The locals simply wear their underwear in the pools. And sometimes a local will go down to the bottom pool (there’s just 3) to wash with soap. Some people might find that idea horrid and some will not like it environmentally but I just found it interesting to observe that this is how things were done, and I’d read that these people may not have washing facilities in their house. 

Thermal pools, Alhama de Granada

Thermal pools, Alhama de Granada

So, we really did like Alhama de Granada. It’s one of many places that proves why travel like this is so good. 

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