Travel by mini bus to La Calahorra to visit the 6th-century castle, it sits atop of the hill with the Sierra Nevada providing its backdrop giving an excellent lookout point to protect the pass in days gone by when this was required. The castle looks Moorish from the outside but the inside is in a renaissance style with lots of marble. David gave an interesting tour of the castle and explained the history of the area a little. The castle has been used for a variety of film sets including El Cid.
We went on to the Roman town of Guadix and several people visited the grand cathedral. We drove out of the town through the area where the troglodyte cave homes are that have been occupied for hundreds of years, many now have modern facades and are a very sought after type of eco home maintaining roughly the same temperature all year.
We met at the Las Chimeaneas restaurant to watch and help Sole to cook the local garlic and almond soup and also to make a delicious rabbit stew. Andrew made an orange and date dish, all of these dishes we then had for supper – delicious!
Today we set off walking down the village of Ugijar accompanied by Emma and the dogs and Jorge a naturalist guide. We were also accompanied by a little dog from the village, Linda, who always tried to come with us on our walks. Jorge was able to point out many interesting sights, different wild flowers, butterflies, geology, birds and we saw a booted eagle directly overhead and heard a Sardinian Warbler. When we arrived in Ugijar we enjoyed a lovely tapas lunch with many tasty dishes. We went back to Mairena in the minibuses and had to take Linda back to the village after her adventure !
We walked up through the village in the evening to the olive oil plant, owned by Adolfo the local taxi driver, this is where the local people bring their olives in January and February for pressing. It is run as a cooperative, all the olives are weighed on arrival and one then receives a corresponding amount of oil in return. On our way back down through the village to Las Chimeneas we saw the old olive stone which would once have been pulled round by donkeys to crush the olives and obtain the oil.
As we made our way back down to the village square we passed houses with wonderful, colourful flower displays.
As the weather was hotter than ever (over 30º) we had a change of plan and drove to the high pass Puerto de la Ragua to enjoy a walk in the forest where it was cooler. We walked to the water fountain that is supplied by the snow melt, the water is cold and delicious. On the way up to the pass we saw an Ibex and a golden eagle. We travelled in the mini buses along a forest track to a pretty picnic spot but abandoned another short walk as the pine trees were covered in the cocoons of the Processionary Caterpillar which has irritating hairs that can cause on a nasty rash. We drove down the unmade road in the direction of Mairena and stopped near to a Booted Eagles nest, we all walked quietly down to the nest and were able to just see the chick above the top of the nest. A few of us decided to continue walking back to Mairena down the track and were rewarded with far reaching views to the snow covered peaks and the sea. We had a particularly good view of the church at Jubar which we had visited earlier in the week.
We enjoyed another of Sole and Conchi’s cookery demonstrations where we learnt how to make both tortilla and paella. Both were delicious and we enjoyed them for our last supper at Las Chimeneas.
We were not departing for the airport until after lunch so had a short walk and met with everyone for a farewell tapas lunch at the local bar. From our terrace we spotted David and Emma busy tending their vegetable patch.
We had all enjoyed a super week in Mairena with walking, varied visits and cookery demonstrations. A big thank you to all the staff involved