With Granada in our rearview mirror, Tigín put on her hiking boots and climbed high into the mountains to the east. With the Sierra Nevada to the south and the Sierra de Heutor to the north, it made for a beautiful drive and reminded me of some of the many road trips we have taken over the years in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. We’re coming for you Colorado, in 2024…all going to plan.
The lower slopes is olive growing country and many of the villages along the road were made up of small holdings. Homes and other buildings are built into mountainside caves, with just a door and window to the front and a clay chimney protruding from the hillside. Olives groves gave way to barren peaks and it seemed every rocky outcrop had a chapel, castle or fortress on top of it.
Our home for the next two nights was the city of Murcia and we were enchanted. Everywhere smelled of citrus. Tree after tree ladened with oranges and lemons, almost too many to harvest. We biked along the riverside path into town, stopping to pick some lemons to make lemonade and oranges for a sweet after dinner treat. And sweet they were. This region and even more so as we got closer to the coast is the fruit and vegetable basket of Spain, with acre after acre of olives, vines, citrus and so much more. We explored the local market and tried our first persimmon, all the sweet deliciousness of mango without having to negotiate the messy stone. Pomegranates too are plentiful and, hence, inexpensive in this area. The town of Murica like so many along our journey was a delight but unfortunately we only had time to scratch the surface.
Our final stay, before the long drive home to Germany, was just south of Valencia. Parque Natural de l’Albufera is truly a hidden gem. Spain’s largest wetland, the lake and its surrounding paddy fields are a habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna and a huge hit with birdwatchers and anyone who enjoys a spectacular sunset.
In the heart of l’Albufera is the village of El Palmar, where time seems to have stood still. The same fishing, farming and rice growing practices have been used for generations. They fish using the traditional Lateen sailboats, adopted from Arab seafarers. And all this wonderful local produce has come together in one perfect symphony to create paella, a dish of the region, which can be enjoyed in one of the many restaurants in the village. We have enjoyed being out in a rural setting, surrounded by nature. Exploring the trails, beautiful wetlands, the birdlife and the coast has been a joy. We have relaxed and soaked up the last of the warm weather, before we face the reality of Winter in Northern Europe. Burr!