Guest writer and expat Jo Chipchase is based in La Alpujarra, a region in Andalucía, southern Spain. She takes us on a drive through the rugged, gorgeous landscape on her perfect day.
I first came to La Alpujarra in 2000 and immediately fell in love with the mountain scenery, the peublo blancos, the Spanish culture, the more tranquilo pace of life and the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables such as avocadoes, oranges, lemons and almonds.
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In 2008, when my first son was just nine months old, we started spending time in Lanjarón: a town best known for its mineral water, which is bottled and sold throughout France and Spain, and its annual Fiesta de Agua y Jamon that takes place around 23 June each year.
Now, we like Lanjarón and La Alpujarra so much that we are based here permanently.
To kick off my day, I head down to Ambienza Café-Bar on Senor de Expiracion, Lanjarón, for a coffee and chat with the friendly proprietor Aaron, and to catch up with any gossip. It is Friday – market day – and the town’s market starts at 10am, so I stroll around the stalls searching for bargains.
Sometimes, I can find Zara and Berksha ladies garments for 2 Euros each. Other times, the market is a place to buy fruit and veg or dried produce, such as nuts and raisins.
Afterwards, I collect a tote bag containing my swim wear, beach towel and latest choice of novel and head up to Hotel Andalucía, where the in-house swimming pool (Piscina Andalucía) is open to the public during summer months (June to September).
Attractively landscaped, the pool is surrounded by grassy areas and sun loungers, while the bar provides a shady spot to partake of a tinto de verano (red wine mixed with Fanta Limon and ice) or a chilled cerveza (beer). It is the perfect place to while away a few hours, while topping up your suntan.
After leaving the pool, I walk to Café Bar Health for an Ensalada Karen – a salad featuring chicken, bacon, green leaves, walnuts, kiwi fruit and balsamic vinegar, amongst other ingredients thrown into the mix by talented cook, Karen, after whom the salad is named. I also enjoy a chilled glass of vino blanco.
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In the early afternoon, I climb into an air conditioned vehicle with friends and we head off for a scenic drive. We initially motor towards the market town of Orgiva, which has played home to many alternative communities, and then take the road serving the north side of the Alpujarra, towards Trevélez.
En route, we drive through the charming tourist village of Pampeneira, which sells many artisan products such as Alpujarran rugs, leather goods and miel (honey).
We then head onwards to Trevélez, which is the highest recognised town in Spain, with its main church located 1,476 metres above sea level. Trevélez is famous for its cured ‘Jamon Serrano’ and, in winter months, the snow-capped peaks of the sierra dominate the scenery. A keen photographer, I snap at the mountain peaks and the town nestling below.
We drive back to Lanjarón and, just before we reach Orgiva, we stop off at Camping Orgiva for another refresco. Although we are not planning to camp here, it is one of the better campsites in the area, set in an attractive location, and the tapas served by the bar-restaurant are always tasty.
Camping Orgiva (known to locals as “bottom camping”) also has a handy play area that the kids can enjoy while the adults relax on the terrace.
We reach Lanjarón and return to Ambienza Café-Bar for a Shawarma Sharing Plate, featuring hummus, steak, chips and salad and costing a reasonable 8 Euros.
As it is a Friday, the town’s late night bars are open and we venture to Bar Triangulo and Bar El Molino for copas and to dance to some Spanish pop music (not my top choice of tune but catchy after a few drinks!). After attempting Spanish conversation with some new friends, it is time to go home for a well-earned sleep!
Have you had a perfect day in southern Spain? Tell us about it in the comments below!