Since most museums and churches in Andalucía are closed on Mondays, Gareth and I donned our ski jackets and headed for the mountains on our second day in the Costa del Sol. At first the mild weather made us feel ridiculous wearing bulky coats, but when we stopped at a little pueblo half way to Granada to have brunch, the air was chilly enough to make me wish I’d brought my gloves along too.
Once past the beautiful city of Granada, we took a winding road going up the mountains. The Sierra Nevada (translated as “Snowy Mountains”) is Europe’s second largest mountain range (after the Alps, of course) and contains continental Spain’s highest peak, Mulhacén at 3478m. We didn’t go quite that high, but ended our very scenic (not to mention hair-raising!) drive through the Sierra Nevada National Park at Solynieve, a popular ski destination. Since we visited out of season, the town was eerily quiet and all the shops were closed. We didn’t mind too much – we were too busy gaping at the view!
The ski jackets came in very handy at the top of the mountain as well – the car’s thermometer registered 5C degrees. South Africans are not used to that kind of cold (unless you happen to live in Sutherland). We wandered through the town’s streets, our noses Rudolph-red and our fingers tingling disconcertingly, admiring the scenery and watching the snow machines spewing snow out (we’re still not sure if they actually make the snow, or just loosen the slopes, perhaps someone could explain it in the comments below…?). I wanted to take the cable car up to the top of the peak, but to Gareth’s immense relief it wasn’t running that day.
The trip down the mountain was lots of fun. After stopping at a petrol station that must have the world’s best view to fortify ourselves with chocolate and hot beverages, we fell in behind a driver more timid than me, who absolutely refused to drive faster than a leisurely stroll. It took a bit longer to reach the bottom, but we had time to appreciate our surroundings: olive-green fir trees, grey rock cliffs and clear blue skies, the sun reflecting off white villages in the distance.
For more posts in the Spain 2010 series, click here.
Have you visited the Sierra Nevada region in Spain? What did you think of it?