My favorite ISA excursion has definitely been the weekend we spent in the Alpajurras mountains. It was exhilarating, refreshing, the scenery was incredible, and I had an unforgettable time with my friends – so forgive me if I brag about it!
Every morning in Granada, I open my curtains and am amazed by the view of the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevadas that surround the city. I’m from the Midwest, so needless to say, I’m not so used to seeing hills of any sort out my bedroom window. But no matter who you are, I guarantee you would be just as infatuated by the Granadino landscape!
The Alpajurras mountain range, however, takes the cake when it comes to pretty scenery. The Alpajurras are situated south of Granada, bordering the southern coastline of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Mediterranean. We took a bus into the mountains in early November, just as the leaves on the deciduous trees were turning orange and yellow. The air up there is noticeably fresh, and we were insanely lucky with the weather, so the trip really started off on a REALLY good foot!
We went on a hike Saturday afternoon, and climbed to a lookout point, literally up in the clouds. It was hard to see past the edge of the mountain at times, because of all the fog. The hike wasn’t too difficult, but it felt good to finally make it to the top. There we watched as a herd of goats wandered by, and had our lunch break overlooking the mountain valley.
As any journey goes, there was still the return trip. Walking down the mountain was significantly easier. We descended the first mountain and rounded the next one, back up into the mountains to get to Capeilera, the mountain town where we stayed the night.
This is where the trip really took a turn for the better, when we reached the trail’s summit of 1660 meters (about 5,450 ft). On our right, the mountainside. On our left, the vast green Alpujarras, nestling a tiny whitewashed mountain village, with the sparkling Mediterranean peeking through two hills in the distance. The beginnings of the Alpajurran sunset were incredible from up there, casting shadows and dramatic silhouettes I tried to capture with my camera:
Staying the night in Capileira was the perfect way to end the day. It’s a tiny, peaceful mountain village in the northeast region of the Alpujarras. And as in many Alpajurran mountain towns, Capileira is famous for its locally made ham and wine. We were lucky enough to visit on a day the town gathered for an afternoon chestnut roasting, of sorts, in one of the main plazas. We watched the chestnuts cook over hot coals, ate them out of newspaper cones, and sipped anise tea with the locals. Standing around those warm fires and watching the sunset through the mountains was the perfect way to end the afternoon.
I coincidentally met a woman the night we got back to Granada, at a café, who told me she had her wedding this time last year in Capileira. I think I have a pretty good idea now of how beautiful that must have been, with the contrast of that little white village against the green of the mountainside and the red and yellow hues of the trees. I’m already itching to go back and see it during the spring… but for now, it was a spectacular and revitalizing weekend away from the city. The Alpajurras was my favorite ISA excursion thus far, but I’ll definitely keep an update on any change of heart!!