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Thursday 19 August 2010

A Spanish Holiday - Part 1

As i mentioned yesterday, i have decided to try and write a few blogs whilst on holiday.
As it happens, yesterdays post started off being about the holiday. But, it somehow morphed into something completely different. This often happens and my blogs rarely turn exactly as expected. But, i think that's a topic for another day?

For those who aren't already aware, i am currently on holiday with my wife, daughter and her friend in Spain. I think the title of this blog may well have been a bit of a giveaway?
This is our fourth trip to Spain and our third to this particular area. It is an area that we have grown to really like. Hence the return visits.
We are staying in the town of Orgiva, which is nestled in the Alpujarras hills, in the province of Andalucia. The Alpujarras are essentially the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, which can be seen rising above the town. Orgiva itself has been called the capitol of the Alpujarras as, although a fairly small town, it is still the largest in the local area.
As a location it is perfect, being a similar distance from both the Mediterranean coast and the city of Granada.

As i mentioned, this is our fourth visit to Spain and to Andalucia itself. Spain was one of those places and Andalucia especially, that i had always wanted to visit and a place that i, somehow, knew i would instantly like. I was not wrong. Hence the return visits.

There have been a number of places that have fallen into this category for me and none of them have disappointed me so far, when i have been lucky enough to eventually visit them. I'll name three: India, Egypt and California.
I don't think i could put my finger on exactly why i knew i'd instantly like these particular places. Intuition perhaps? Or maybe it's because they are all places that i had an interest in, for whatever reason and therefore, i knew quite a lot about them before i visited. That way, i had some idea of what to expect and that may well have been what drew me there in the first place?

Our first visit to Andalucia was to the classic white hill village of Frigiliana, which is in a slightly different area to Orgiva, although not that many miles away along the coast.
We straight away loved the local scenery, the people, the lifestyle and most certainly the weather and knew that we would have to return to the area at sometime in the future.
Frigiliana itself is a stunning village and is well worth a visit, if you ever get the chance. As i said, it is one of the classic white hill villages that you see in all of the tourist literature. It gets a little busy with all of the tourist traffic, especially the coach parties. But, is still pretty much unspoilt.

Our next visit was partly determined by a book.
Whilst doing a bit of research for our next potential Spanish holiday. A task that i love doing by the way. I came across a book called "Driving Over Lemons" by an English author, Chris Stewart. Chris Stewart had settled in the Alpujarras hills, very close to the town of Orgiva, some years ago and this was the first part of his story. I was instantly hooked, as was my wife.
I narrowed down my search for our next family holiday down to the Orgiva area and found a suitable property, just outside the town.
Although it sounds a little extravagant, we decided that this time we would need to have a private pool, wherever we stayed. What surprised me and has surprised others when i have told them. Is that it is no more expensive to stay in a property, with a private pool, in this area, than it is to stay in a run of the mill holiday home in Britain. In fact it is probably cheaper, especially when you take the cost of living into the equation and also when you take the time and trouble to book it all yourself. Isn't the Internet wonderful?

                                (A pool with a view)

We first stayed in Orgiva in 2003 and this is our third visit to the town. We love it here and can see why it has inspired the likes of Chris Stewart and many other Europeans, especially Brits, to settle here.
"Driving Over Lemons" and its two sequels have become best sellers in the UK and have really opened up this area to tourism. This has not always been to the liking of some, as Orgivas success has inflated property prices in the area. In fact the British owner of the property we are staying in this time around, mentioned this very fact to us the other day.

But, this is one of those double edged swords. Yes, property prices may have been inflated. Well, some of them anyway. But, there is no doubting that the success and interest in Chris Stewarts books has brought a lot of new and much needed money to the town. Thankfully, on the surface at least, this doesn't appear to have had a detrimental effect.
Orgiva still retains it's "real " Spanish feel and although there are many tourists around, they are still well outnumbered by the locals. You will see and sit with as many locals, in the town centre bars, as you will tourists.
And that is one of the things that has made us return to Orgiva and the Alpujarras several times now and is what already has us talking about "next time".

(Well, this blog post is a case in point. It has, once again, morphed into something that it was never intended to be. Oh well, there's always next time!)

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