Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Gibraltar, Palaces, Mountains and getting stuck in the sand...


Yesterday alone, we travelled from around 1500m up the Sierra Nevada, to the Tabernas dessert, from there; we headed to the Andalucian coast. So you could say we pretty much covered most climates and conditions! Oh, and it was all going so well, until we got stuck on a beach for over an hour… But more of that later!

Gibraltar was an odd place, not a bad kind of odd, just odd. Being around 1500 miles away from home, and then seeing Royal Mail postboxes, walking down the high street past Marks & Spencers and paying in pounds sterling was rather strange. Im not writing this in a negative sense though, far from it, I found Gibraltar very interesting, and I wouldn’t be adverse to going back again. I only got the chance to spend a few hours in the town, and would like too of spent at least a few hours more. The town itself is fascinating upon how its constructed, consisting within old fort buildings, shops and restaurants squeezed in where they can. The high street is narrow, but wouldn’t feel out of place in London, with all major brands present, yet when you reach the end of the street, the giant rock of Gibraltar itself looms into view. It’s a strange attraction in itself, for around the 10 miles or so before reaching Gibraltar, the area is completely flat, and as you draw nearer the ‘rock’ itself looms into view, looking almost unnatural in the vicinity of coastal towns and flatlands.




Weirdly it was almost like being at home!

 But cheaper, much cheaper!



After filling Tim’s tanks with Gibraltese petrol, and at 82p a litre I would have filled them twice if I could! We headed back across the frontier and into Spain, strangely, this seemed much more normal and familiar! We headed north towards Granada, and stopped at a campsite about 30 miles from the city.
 Off road again? 


Nope, just Spanish road works!

The next day, we made our move onto the fabled Alhambra palace, I’d heard many stories, and read many things, but little could prepare me for what I would see with my own eyes. If you have not been then you need to go. It is a place of outstanding beauty, and cultural differentiation that somehow blurs all into one. And it does so with Elegance, from the Moorish palaces to the later Roman and even more recent areas, each of which never feel out of place from one another. Different, most definitely, and distinguishably so, but it all just works… I find it remarkable, considering that each reigning empire rarely saw eye to eye, that each palace and section of the Alhambra still remains! I got talking to several people whilst walking around the grounds, nearly all of them tourists/travellers. It was interesting to compare differences in how we accomplished doing what we love so, travel. Anyway, for this I will let the pictures do the talking, apologies in advance for some, parts of the Alhambra were very dark, and slow shutter speeds and shooting handheld rarely mix! Excuse all the photos, i could of spent days there just taking pics!

















































After the Alhambra, and after being stung for nearly 10 euros worth of parking! We left Granada, and followed signs for the Sierra Nevada. It had a natural allure for me, after always being drawn to things tall and mountainous. The Sierra Nevada is not famed for being a particularly challenging climb or route, with its highest peak being the Mulhacen, most people considering it a walk or a hike. I even met two Brits who had flown into Malaga and were doing just that, camping at sites and wild where they could. However for me it had one thing that I did want to accomplish, the Sierra Nevada holds claim to the highest publically accessible road in all of Europe… Guess where we headed!

The road as it leaves Granada climbs steeply, and covers something like 2000m in 15 miles… So it’s a constant serious incline from the beginning to the top. All was going well until about 1500m, I had noticed the air getting thinner, and Tim had been affected also! Fourth gear became almost unusable as he became starved of oxygen, third was most popular with second getting a fair workout also! After 2000m it became quite hard work. Pulling away required planning, lots of throttle and a considerable amount of planning, my AFR gauge telling me just how rich the mixture was! By the time we got to the top, around 2700m, his idle was barely ticking over. Alas he had made it, and did so without much fuss, me probably making more of a deal of it than necessary! The view from the top, would have been incredible, except, as seems to be a theme on this trip, there was a considerable haze…  We could still see a few hundred feet, so it could have been worse!

 2700m and some...



After spending an hour or so at the top, experiencing the lack of Oxygen and watching the test vehicle climb to the top and fly back down again. There was lots of these, I noticed several Transits, some loaded, some towing trailers with weight, and then lots of Lorries, working hard pulling up the incline. Several vehicles that I couldn’t recognise due to their stripey and baggy clothing also! Anyway, we headed back down, Tim ran better as the air got thicker, and I too felt the difference, after descending a thousand feet the air felt like soup in comparison! We headed to a campsite that we’d seen signposted on the way up, and spent the night.

Before leaving I’d been intrigued by the Tabernas dessert, and with it only a few hours away and in the right direction, that was our first heading of the day. However, before even leaving the Sierra Nevada, there were a few off road trails that just proved far too tempting…! Some were rougher than others, continued down one for about 20 miles before it ended at a road. After well over an hour spent playing and taking photos, we got back on our heading.

 Wheres this go...?

 One way to find out...


Amazing views on the way back down!

The Tabernas dessert is famed for being the location of many ‘Spaghetti Western’ films, and when arriving here you can quickly see why! It is one of only a few true semi-desserts in Europe, with annual rain fall below 200mm a year. We stayed a while, before moving on, as unless you wanted to go and see the sets of the films, there’s not a great deal to see. And it was rather warm also, try 42 degrees in the shade!
Dry enough...?

We headed back out to the coast, my grandparents have a place in San Juan De Los Terreros, unfortunately they weren’t out here at the time. Alas we found a beach and parked up for a while, took some photos...


Moving off the beach is where it all went wrong, I managed to find some soft sand, unintentionally whilst turning round! Tims front wheels quickly sunk in and were pulling us nowhere. He was beached down to his sumpguard. Bummer. Sand ladders came off the rood, and I dug him out, he pulled himself onto the ladders, made it about 6 feet, and then sunk again… Double bummer. Long story short, this happened 5 times! After 2 hours of digging, sinking, digging, sinking… You get the idea, we were out! Wahooo! Note to self, watch out for soft sand next time!

 Once...

 Twice...

 Thrice... (I got bored of taking photos after this!)

Wahooo, we made it out!

After clearing the sand out of most crevices, we headed into the nearby town of Aguilas for some shopping, exciting stuff I know. Found a campsite 20 mins away, and set up camp.

Last nights meal...

Today has been less exciting (thankfully?). Forever wary of time and money constraints, decided to cover some miles heading north, aware missing out on some of the East coast, but I needed to head North as in a few days I wish to be in the Pyrenees before heading back over into France. So I’m currently sat here writing this, near Valencia, from a fast food restaurant popular with travellers for their free wi-fi… Hey, this is my first one this trip!



Peace, Joe.

P.s. All photos are downscaled so it doesnt take several days to upload them onto here, if anyone wants full resolution versions, just give me a shout!

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