Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Guadix y Alhama de Granada

Every few days Joe and I like to take a drive out into the Spanish countryside.  Joe googles 'Top Ten Day Trips From Granada' in the morning, we pick a destination and off we go.

The Spanish countryside is beautiful.  I cannot get over how many olive trees are planted in this country!  The trees grow on top of hills, in valleys, on steep slopes, down in ditches.  And what I really want to know is:  Who harvests all the olives?  And how do they do it?  I need to google that.

Our first destination last week was Guadix, a small town about an hour's drive from Granada.  Its claim to fame are troglodyte caves.  But first we stopped to eat lunch.  We didn't know what to order so our server helped us.  We unexpectedly got a big dose of MEAT!

What do vegetarians eat in this country?

After lunch we went looking for the caves.  We didn't find them at first (signage isn't all that great in Spain) but what we did find was a neighborhood where all the houses were built right into the hills!  Which is kind of like a cave, isn't it?

 The fronts look like regular houses, but the rest of the abode is built into the hills behind.  Check out the white chimney popping out at the top of the hill.

 I bet this place is nice and cool in the summer.

How would you like to live here?

It took us a long time to get to the troglodyte caves.  We could see them from the highway but couldn't figure out how to get to them.  After a lot of driving back and forth, we finally found a dirt track that led to the 'Almagruz Cuevas'. 

An oasis in the middle of nowhere.

We stumbled upon a hotel in the middle of the dry hills!  The hotel rooms ringed the swimming pool.  Again, the facade of the hotel room was exposed but the room itself was dug into the hillside.

The proprietor happily gave us a tour. We even got to see inside one of the hotel rooms as the oncoming guests weren't expected for another couple of hours.

I would LOVE to stay in a cave hotel room!

We made our way to the 1,000 year old troglodyte caves.  They were incredible.

Our guide referred to the lower front section as 'new' as it's only 400 years old.  The tall part in behind is the 1,000 year old troglodyte cave.

People lived in the 400 year old buildings until just a few decades ago.

Stairway into the 1,000 year old caves.  We couldn't go into them because 
it was too dark.

Today we took a drive to Alhama de Granada.  Their claim to fame is a deep gorge the town was built into.  The drive there was beautiful.  I kept asking Joe to pull over so I could take pictures of the fields and valleys.

 Beautiful España.

 Baby olive trees in the morning sun.

 Olive trees as far as the eye can see.

 I love all the tans, browns and greens of the Spanish countryside.

The town of Alhama de Granada.

We hiked down into the gorge and walked along the river.

Ruins of old grain mills dotted the floor of the valley.

Homes perch on top of the gorge's rock formations.

We came across many stone wash tubs on the valley floor.  Running water only came to this town in the '50s.  Women used these tubs by the river until the 1980s!

 Living in the gorge walls.

 There were lots of chained doors in the walls of the gorge.  I looked through one grate and saw this abandoned home.

 This little chapel set into the rock wall was built in 1500.  A knight fell off a precipice with his horse, landed on the stones below and lived.  He had a vision of the Virgin Mary and had this chapel built.

Again, I poked my camera through the grate in the door and got this unexpected surprise.

And our reward at the end of the day?  Why, beer of course.

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