Pampaneira and TrevélezMarch 8 in Spain
Andi and Chiara had recommended several Alpujarran Pueblo Blancos (whitewashed villages) and a high mountain road with far reaching views. Driving slowly, we had time to appreciate incredible vistas of steep slopes covered in grey shale, pale green shrub or pink and white almond blossom. Passing through the villages our hosts had talked about over the past fortnight, we felt more linked to this area than others, where place names just flash up on road signs as we enter and exit, being forgotten as a soon as they are out of sight.
Stopping for lunch in a layby with stunning views over a bowl shaped valley, we noticed the quiet and stillness. We'd enjoyed having jobs to get done and the buzz of family life at the cortijo and it would take us a little while to adjust.
Our next stop was at Trevélez, one of the Pueblo Blanco towns recommended. It was after midday so many of the shops were shut, but a few coaches were parked up so a handfull of tourist outlets were open. Our attention was drawn to the distinctive tall white chimneys with arched holes underneath a conical roof (more from photographs and models displayed around the town than evidence of the actual chimneys themselves). It was clear these where an Alpujarran attraction, alongside the bright woven rugs hanging on pavement sale racks and the jamón legs hanging in shop windows.
As one of the highest villages in Spain, Trevélez's altitude and clean air are supposed to produce some of the best air cured ham. We bought some jamón negra from a shop that offered tastings. Several shop counters in this area double up as bars where customers can have a tipple.
As Poppy approaches the big 15 she is becoming more unsteady on her legs, especially on the van's laminate flooring. We'd considered getting a rug to make it easier for her and found the perfect one in another of the shops. It was made a little difficult to purchase, by the small group of rude Spanish tourists pushing past us and haggling with the shopkeeper about the price of a €2 ceramic fridge magnet. We waited patiently and eventually got our no frills stripy green rug and a bar of locally made chocolate.
Carrying on along the winding mountain roads we eventually arrived at the spectacular Poqueira Gorge and Pampaneira, our stop for the night. Missing the narrow entrance to the free public car park on the first drive through, we turned around and squeezed in between two buildings to find a spacious and level area overlooking the valley below and with views of Pamapaneira and the two other towns higher up the mountian; Bubión and Capileira. The three are reputedly the most beautiful Alpujarran Pueblos and as the sun bounced off the whitewashed walls like it did off the snow adjacent to the highest town, it was difficult for us to disagree.
Like in Telrevelez the streets of Pampaneira hosted dispays of colourful woven rugs and ponchos. We were encouraged to go upstairs in one shop and found a woman working a huge wooden loom, weaving another rug to add to those forming the floor to ceiling dispays around her. As the shops revealed their treasures we soon discovered the area was also famous for leather crafts and tile work. Delicately embossed bags and strikingly designed ceramics oozed warm colours underneath arabic influenced hanging lanterns and chimes.
In the church square we came accross more than a dozen children and adults playing a circle game. The person in the centre had to throw the ball outside the ring of people defending the boundary.
Walking in the opposite direction to the water that flowed down wide channels inset into the middle of the grey slate pavements, we found bars and businesses selling locally made honeys, nut and olive oils, legs of jamón and cakes made of compressed figs. We were charmed by the place!
That evening we had a small glass of Vino Costa, Roija and tapas of bread and cheese before finding the Europa Café that Chiara had recommended to have a Spanish omlette and the house bocadillo (a toasted baguette with ham, cheese and peeled tomato).
It was a peaceful night and on a brief morning scout of the shops we were thrilled to find bottles Chiara's sweet chilli sauce for sale in two of them! We came away with locally grown avocados chosen from a traditional woven basket, fig cake for Vicky, almond biscuits from the bakery for Will along with a baguette, dried lentils, a litre of wine filled from a wooden barrel and 6 oranges the baker decided to gift us with our purchase!
We were grateful for the recommendation to visit this gem and happy to be back on the road again.Read more