Being in a foreign country alone – has been an enabler for me. All the experiences I had in Ireland have prepared me for walking and hiking in the mountains, finding places to pitch a tent and even discover secret places that only locals would have seen.
Last weekend I looked up ‘Skiing in Sierra Nevada’ and found two centres in the Sierra Nevada National Park. One was in Granada Province – and one in The Alpujarras, Almeria Province – on the border with Granada.
In Almeria province where the average temperature is in the low 30’s during July and August – it is great to take a break from the beaches and head into the mountains – particularly with the dogs.
So I pulled up Google Maps and wrote down the names of the villages I would visit on the way: Fondón (home of the last Moorish King of Spain), Laujar de Andarax – built on the Andarax River at the Foot of the Alpujarras and Paterna Del Rio – a village at almost 1200 metres with an inviting town square and three café bars full of people relaxing and catching up on the past week.
Spain has a fantastic ‘Coffee Culture’. Forget about caramel macchiatos and frapacchinos. In Spain you can order ‘cortado con hielo’; you’ll get a strong coffee with a little milk and a glass of icecubes. Some cafés will also give you some small pastries or donuts with it – and like tapas and wine in the evening – its enough to get you through to the next watering hole.
I took my time driving; really enjoying the views and taking pitstops to water the dogs.
Eventually, I arrived at Puerto De La Ragua: a ski resort for cross-country skiing.
Outside of the ski season the piste runs are winding, marked trails of varying difficulty. Night was falling and I set a time-limit for my ‘out and back’. This wasn’t a day for getting lost!
The resort is at 2000 metres altitude and the temparate was 10-15° lower than in the valley. The dogs were excited but as usual, Púca, the Swiss Shepherd walked at my side and Hond, The Spanish Mastiff, scouted 200 metres ahead.
He found water. A babbling stream. They played whilst I listened to the inviting sounds and recorded my visit to share with you.
The evening walk was a success – and gave me the confidence to explore more next weekend.
I am really lucky to have stumbled upon this piece of paradise in an unexplored corner of Almeria.