The road to the mountains of the Moors…

Travelling isn’t always fun and the road leading us from Lagos to our next stop  (just south of Granada in Spain) reminded us of a little something we’d gone without for a while…stress! It was going to be a long day in transit. A six hour bus ride from Lagos to Seville, where we hired a car to drive to Malaga (three hours away) and then onto Orgiva, a town that was approximately 90 minutes away again.

The combination of not having driven for four months, being on the other side of the road, dealing with a confused GPS system and Spain’s roadwork’s was not the best start to our drive. Combine this with a navigator who can’t read road signs and a driver who won’t listen because she can and it all gets a little out of control. We got back on track pretty quickly though, we had no other choice, the speed limit on the highway was 130km! Our little car struggled to get above 80km over the mountainous terrains, but we pushed on and saw some pretty amazing scenery along the way.

I must admit when we booked this place it said it was an hour from Granada, an hour from Malaga and an hour from Cordoba. Very central to everything we wanted to see. What it doesn’t tell you, was that it was at one of the highest peaks of an area called Las Alpujarras, so high that we could see snow capped mountains…snow! Not the sunny Spain we’d imagined. Major freak out’s along the way – the navigator was about to throw me off the island and I was ready to turn the car around, but again we persisted and ended up in a lovely little country town surrounded by olive trees called Orgiva.

The roads in Orgiva were as small as the car, one-lane roads with two-way traffic. Enormous mountainous rocks to the left and cliffs to the right, that plummeted a good 500 meters to the rockiest valleys we had ever seen. Add to this having to dodge the Spanish locals with the on coming traffic – it was enough to put you off driving for a lifetime. We finally made it to our apartment and it was a sight for sore eyes. A magnificent one-bedroom apartment, with a pool and a view that was well worth the nerve wrecking drive. Needless to say we weren’t going to hit the road for a while, so the next couple of days were spent by the pool – chilling out.

The town of Orgiva itself is very remote, with a population of about 6,000 people. One main street, one supermarket, a handful of restaurants, lots of olive, apple, cherry, fig and orange trees. We had dogs chasing after us on our morning runs – it was a real treat! The days we did go out and about we’re amazing! I finally knew the dimensions of the car, we became the crazy locals the tourists were trying to avoid on the road and headed out on some day trips.

The first was to a village called Nerja. A place famous for it’s beach side town and more importantly its paella on the beach. We were told Ayo’s Paella restaurant was something to be experienced and it was one of the things on our bucket list while visiting the south of Spain.

The next day we drove to Granada to see the Alhambra Palace. We were told that we were lucky to get to go into the palace as they only sell 6,000 tickets a day and they usually sell out weeks in advance.

The palace was probably one of the best palaces we’ve been to in Europe. The gardens were perfectly manicured; full of bright colourful flowers and the architecture was very different to anything we’d seen. The Moors (Seinfield fans may remember the Bubble Boy episode referring to them as the ‘Moops’) introduced this kind of architecture to Spain and it is now a world heritage listed site. You can get some pretty awesome photos of the town of Granada here too and if you do go, stop at the café across the road for a ham and cheese toastie, one of the best to date!

In hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have located in Orgiva if we wanted to spend time in either Granada or Malaga. It was a gorgeous town, very quiet and different to anywhere we had been on the trip – but a hard place to drive from especially when you’re doing day trips. We met another couple at our place, staying for a week – they weren’t heading anywhere else so it was like a retreat for them. If you plan on just resting up and relaxing then it’s a great place to do it.

The south of Spain has so much to offer, from its beaches to its cute little towns – it’s impossible to see it all in six days. Next time we’ll allocate a lot more time!

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  • http://twitter.com/asafbraverman Asaf Braverman

    We visited Southern Spain last summer. I agree with you: give yourself much time (and you still won’t see all there is to see). I hope Alhambra’s lion fountain was not under construction when you were there (it was last year). Southern Spain is the perfect place to explore Moorish art and architecture. As you say, it is also the perfect place to sit back and relax. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Medina Whiteman

    If you had ventured further into the Alpujarras you would have thought of Orgiva as a fabulously well-connected town in comparison!! In last winter’s rains huge pieces of the mountains fell down onto the roads to Torvizcón and Pitres and you couldn’t get through for love nor money. 

    I agree with your experience of the countryside around Órgiva (it does have some incredibly beautiful gardens and mountain views here, perfect for retreats), but after five years of living here, I wouldn’t call the town gorgeous, or quiet…at times it feels like the grubbiest place on earth, and when they get going with the bangers on sain’s days it feels like war has broken out. But then that’s the cynicism that sets in after living somewhere for a while…Glad you enjoyed your stay here and didn’t get put off by the hair-raising roads!