Antequera, El Torcal, Via Verde
07.05.2012 - 08.05.2012
After a day of rain in Granada, we woke to find that the sun was back and we left Niguelas on our way to Antequera. En route we passed a town named Archidona and decided to drive through the centre to see if there was anything interesting. After crawling in traffic and struggling for parking we discovered that the town was so busy due to a regional dog fair taking place! It was like the Spanish version of Crufts and there were dogs everywhere – so many different breeds and it was quite fun and definitely a surprise. We didn’t stick around long though in case Sully started sneezing.
Arriving in Antequera (or anywhere in Spain) on a Sunday meant that it was awfully quiet in the town and felt rather deserted (maybe they were all at the dog show?), there were also no shops open. We found a nice little restaurant where we ordered some vegetarian food. After being served a plate of kidneys we had to explain that ‘no meat’ also means no poultry, no offal and no ham either. Eventually we got some tasty tapas and sat in the sun in the square outside the church and a large water fountain. Very relaxing. We had a look around the town and found the expected old churches and a fortress on the hillside, it was very picturesque, just like everything we’ve seen here so far.
Next we drove around ten miles up into the hills to a National Park called El Torcal, a plateau of eroded grey limestone dating from the Jurassic period with lots of walking routes for hikers. No dinosaurs in sight. The drive up there was amazing due to the views for miles around. We took the easiest option and selected the shortest walking route which took us around an hour to complete. It was a fun walk as there was quite a bit of climbing and jumping involved!
We had a restful evening in our self-catering bungalow where Sophia cooked up a feast and then the next morning we drove for ten minutes to a nearby lake where we did some more walking and were eagerly looking out for the flock of flamingos that live on the lake. We did see them in the distance but unfortunately we couldn’t get close enough to them to get a good look. Still, it was a good bit of exercise!
Back in the car, we drove into the province of Cordoba and its ‘Campina’ region in the South – a rolling landscape of grain fields, olive groves and vineyards. Along the way we visited some small towns and villages and then stopped at Cabra where we saw the oldest bull ring in the region and ate our packed lunch :-)
We then made our way to a point on the Via Verde. An old olive oil train line that once passed through the region has now been transformed into a rambling and biking route and links many towns and villages. We left the car and walked for a couple of hours along the route passing through gorges in the hills that had been cut for the train to pass through, over ancient viaducts and through numerous olive groves. It was a lovely afternoon and not a difficult walk since train lines are so flat! We’re thinking of coming back in future for a holiday and cycling more of the route.
As we drove through some country lanes we were pulled over at one point by the Guardia Civil who requested to see our papers. Fortunately it was just a spot check and we were sent on our way with a smile. Phew! They didn’t seem to mind Sully driving in his flip flops either!
Our last stop in this area was Zuheros, a stunningly beautiful village nestling in a gorge and backed by steep rock cliffs. The best part was the view as we approached it on the road below – a cluster of white houses tumbling down the hill below a Moorish castle that has been built on and into the edge of the rocks, giving the appearance that it could all fall down at any moment.
In the late afternoon we decided that we had walked enough and drove towards the city of Cordoba, the home of the Mezquita…