I love it. We have finally managed to get to Spain after 12 months away. To garden. To deal with house issues. But. . Ian has said. “ We aren’t working in the garden for three whole weeks. We are going away.”Before I knew it he had planned a three night adventure where we would have our breakfasts made. Suppers cooked. Ian is the holiday person in our household. He researches and organises. But we had to do some work before we were able to go.
The trip. A 1hr 45 min drive toward and beyond Granada. To Moclín. No. I had never heard of it until recently but to be honest I had never heard of Competa before March 2017. Now I bore the pants off everyone in my posts of Competa. My photos. Just generally wittering on. But Moclín it was. Booked. Suppers arranged. Bags packed.
So. Moclín. What about Moclín. Well. its 1,065 metres above sea level on the route of the Caliphs and has an impressive 14 th century Moorish Castle looking into the valley. There are breathtaking views towards the Sierra Nevada as well as toward Granada, and the Alhambra. Imagine. Me visiting the Granada Province and not going to the Alhambra. That’s a first. Actually. No a second.
Driving into Moclín you are struck straight away with the volume of olive trees. As you drive up along the main roads there are olive trees as far as the eye can see. So Ian told me as my eyes were on the road most of the time. But he was right. How many olives can people eat. There were literally millions of trees. All in straight rows. All looking beautiful. I’m having words with the one tree in our garden. Though it is full of olives this years. You can’t miss Moclin Castle though. . Talk about high on a hill. And yes. There was a lonely goat herd. Ibex actually.
The castle dates from the 12 th century when the Nasrid Kings built their stronghold. The Moors managed to stave off the Christians when the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella ordered an assault on the village in 1485. Enough history. If you want more you can always google it. I don’t want to bore the pants off you. Again. There is more to come before you fall asleep.
Ian had booked Casa Higueras Moclin for three nights. It’s a beautifully restored house high on the hill with amazing views to Granada and the Sierra Nevada. Owned by Ian and Andrew ~ which may confuse some. But we are Andrew & Ian. They are Ian & Andrew and they have the skills and patience at making you feel welcome. I’m too miserable to run a B&B. I had followed them on Instagram. I had listened to Ian’s podcasts where he interviews people who have settled in Spain. Looked at their website. Followed their adventures. Have a look at their blog www.twosouthofgranada.com which details their adventures > a great read. I too had done some research.
We arrived to a great welcome. It’s even better than the pictures. Amazing views from the terrace . Tea and cake on arrival and a natter taking in the amazing views. Talking Spain. Previous lives in London. Future lives in Spain. More Spain.
They also run some fabulous courses from Moclin. Art. Flamenco. Cookery. Children’s book writing. The week after we left they had guests arriving for an art course. Check out their courses www.granadaconcierge.com
As well as great hosts the cooking is amazing. We decided that for two of the three nights we would eat in. Give them 48hrs s notice and they whizz up restaurant quality food. One night we had a lovely starter of roasted tomato tart, teriyaki salmon with a delicious salad. Why delicious? Isn’t a salad a salad. It’s all in the dressing. Dessert a chocolate olive oil cake with homemade plum lemon and ginger ice cream. The second supper was an amazing pork dish with a sherry reduction and sliced mango cheek in lime and ginger syrup. I know it’s called a cheek as I sourced the recipe as I forgot to ask Ian. I’m hoping that one of their projects is a book of their recipes.
I would have normally taken photos. Surprisingly we were too busy eating and talking. To each other. Breakfasts were great too ~ Homemade granola. Homemade jams & marmalade. Homemade fruit compote. Get the drift. Homemade. And delicious.
Did I mention the entertainment. No? Meet Alfie the resident entertainer. Now I’m more cat than dog but you couldn’t help but love Alfie. He entertained from the time we arrived. And if you ever need an almond cracker Alfie’s your dog. Found in the campo at 7 weeks old and initially fostered by Ian and Andrew it’s easy to see why he hasn’t left.
Ian & Andrew ( it feels weird saying that) ~ have a wealth of suggestions for trips from Moclin. But before we ventured too far there was Moclin to see. There are great walks around the area. Yes. You can guess we walked a short way up to the castle each day no further. But it’s a great base for longer walks.
One of the recommendations was to stop off at a Roman Villa on our way to Priego de Córdoba. That’s the joy of staying somewhere where the hosts are full of recommendations. We had asked for some places to stop at on our drive, over dinner and at breakfast there was a note of where to go ( politely of course) and leaflets and directions.
First stop was somewhere that wouldn’t have been on our radar. Almedinilla to see a 7thc Roman Villa. The Villa Romana El Ruedo. The site dates from the 1st to the 7th century A.D. and is one of the largest on the Iberian peninsular. It is notable for its enormous structures,mosaics, paintings and paving. It’s remarkable to find the place ~ you can easily drive past and not know it is there. We did as we turned off the main road and drove straight past. A really unassuming entrance and ticket sales with a really helpful person to go and open the gates for us. We were the only ones there at the time and had the place to ourselves. Shame we had left our Roman togas behind. Imagine the photos. No. Don’t. Ian would not be amused.
As well,as an original Roma ruin there is also a faux amphitheatre on the edge of the pueblo. very faux indeed.
Onward we go. I’ve probably said it before but the roads in Spain are excellent. Often just double lanes. Usually quiet where tourists like me pull over to let the locals go past as they know the road. unlike me they don’t stop breathing as they drive into the hillside towns and breathe in further as you drive through the narrow streets. Going into Priego de Córdoba was a bit like that. I’m not going to mention leaving. There was a diversion at which I chickened out and went the other way. Thankfully it was a short cut. But Ian wasn’t allowed to,speak until we were in the main road. It was a better route out of town actually and one I will remember for next time.
Priego de Córdoba was an Ian research find. It’s a very lovely place with an extremely helpful tourist office. Plied with information leaflets we headed for a walk around. It’s a place we will go back to for a long weekend.
We had walked and walked over the previous two days and decided to go into Granada for our last full day away byes. I know we have been to Granada a few times. In the first 12 months of buying Casa Verano we or I had been to Granada so many times. But not into Granada itself but skirted the outskirts on the drive up to the Alhambra Palace. Every visitor we had wanted to go to The Alhambra. I could have had a job as a tour guide I went so many times. But to be honest I love the place. Our next visit will be a night one.
This visit we were going into Granada just to go into Granada. Oh and Ian & Andrew had recommendations for Tapas for lunch. But first we had to get into Granada. I knew the approach to our favourite car park. Yes. I have favourite and least favourite car parks. I once nearly cried when I lost the car in the car park of EL Corte Ingles in Malaga. I didn’t realise there were two buildings on different streets and the car park spanned both. I learnt my lesson that day to make a note of where I exited the car park. Oh and the car park in Torre del Mar. Must have the darkest parking spaces in Andalucia. In Granada my favourite is next to the Monastery. We found it.
We had walked past the citadel San Juan de Dios twice before but had never ventured in. That was a mistake and I was glad I had my sunglasses with me. All that glitters and all that. Glitters wasn’t the right word. Bling bling bling. From the Lonely Planet guide “Built between 1737 and 1759, this spectacular basilica unveils a blinding display of opulent baroque decor. Barely an inch of its interior lacks embellishment, most of it in gleaming gold and silver. Frescos by Diego Sánchez Sarabia and Italian artists Corrado Giaquinto and Tomás Ferrer adorn the ceilings and side chapels, while up above the basilica’s dome soars to 50m. The highlight, however, is the extraordinary gold altarpiece in the Capilla Mayor (main chapel).
Have you been dazzled by the light? I was. An amazing example of opulent baroque. An excellent audio guide and at times the whole basilica to ourselves. What better to do after all that bling. A garden. Another treat close to my favourite car park. The Jardin Botanico de la Universidad de Granada ~ a small botanical garden attached to the university of Granada.
A small but lovely gardens with most plants labelled which is a joy to see. I’m not good at plant names but it’s a help to be able to identify them. Easily.
Lunch at Paccuri a great tapas bar and a general wander and a people watch through the streets of Granada and back up,to Moclin for one last night. That’s one last night for now.
Back to Competa for more gardening. Cleaning. Eating. And Spanglish for me. Spanish for Ian.