I couldn’t sleep. I woke every two hours throughout the night. It’s because I’m giddy with excitement and feeling like a kid. Today we’re going to the sea. It’s a rest day and we’re driving down our beautiful river gorge to Salobrena… the 10th century castle capping the hilltop town, backed by the Sierra Nevada and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Andalucia.com tells me this is the jewel in the Costa Tropical crown.
The coach-ride is long, about an hour and a half, but it’s entertaining; with our guide Danny Mathias sharing with us the history of Spain’s more recent past; the Civil War, the birth of a royal family, and the political permeations that have led to the Spain we know today. We’re leaving the mountain mist behind and bright sun greets us as we reach our ‘meet and greet’ hotel at the outskirts of the town. We stop for coffees on the patio with our first stunning, panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea. Topping up sun block and water, we leave the manicured hotel grounds behind and start our coastal walk to the ancient village. The path is easy, no need for boots today as we saunter casually along the coast, chatting with other tourists and taking in the delightful scents of flowers from the patios and balconies of the seaside homes that hug the cliff.
It’s a pleasant, easy 5k stroll that takes us towards the now familiar white walls. The incline increases as we start moving up to the oldest parts of the town. Danny points out where the street names show successive generations moving the town beyond boundaries; new walls and new gates appearing as the population expanded. Finally we reach the castle and we’re not disappointed. The sea breeze rushing through shutterless doors and windows fans new life into reddened faces that had been feeling the heat of the sun. We pause for photos and more sweeping, panoramic views of the amazing coastline before heading back down for tapas, laughter and a little wine; followed by a swim in the warm, Mediterranean Sea.
Walking across warm stones, the first touch of the waves is only slightly cool. I’m more familiar with the cold waters of the Atlantic and this beautiful sea feels tepid and inviting as I lean forward and dive away from the heat of the sun. Quite a few of our gang of adventurers have taken to the water and are splashing and smiling, while the rest of the gang grin towards us, stroll the pebbled beach and hunt down ice cream and cold drinks.
Bundling into the bus for the return trip to our mountain, we’re all in agreement that today couldn’t have been any better, and as the bus departs for Capileira, the ‘rowdies’ in the back burst into song, with a half-decent rendition of “It’s just a perfect day…..” As we leave the warm sun of the coast behind, I find myself speculating that we may just have found our Travel Department anthem.
Teena is currently staying at the Hotel Finca Los Llanos in Capileira. Her walking holiday in the Sierra Nevada is booked with Travel Department www.traveldepartment.ie and includes hiking, culture and sightseeing to the beautiful coastal castle at Salobrena, and an excursion to the Alhambra in Granada (World Heritage Site).