August 16th, 2012
In Spain the autumn leaves fall earlier than they do in northern Europe. It is every bit as lovely in Spain at that time of the year.
The hot summer suns have gone, but the sky is still a beautiful shade of blue. There is a breeze in the air and – best of all – the beaches are much quieter than they were in August.
The months of September and October offer visitors a taste of some of the nicest weeks in Spain.
The same stretch of coastline along the Costa Tropical which, at the height of summer in Spain, would be packed, is all but empty once August ends and September begins. That is when i make my annual excursion to the coast.
I am not a big fan of other people sitting on my lap on the beach (though i could have put the full stop after the word people!)
Cramped conditions down by the sea are not ideal. Yes, i love to people watch as much as the next curious person. And the sights you can see on a Spanish beach in summer can be both entertaining and jaw dropping. And not always in a pleasant on the eye way.
In September and October, at locations such as Motril, Salobrena and Almuñécar, life has returned to normal. The children are back at school, all the shops are open and the majority of the restaurants and chrinquitos located on the beach are still open.
It is an ideal time to go to the beaches in the province of Granada. But, please, keep that to yourself.
In the city of Granada, a forty five minute drive from Motril, life has also returned to the norm. It is no longer as quiet as it was in August, but it is still a very pleasant place to wander. Hot, but not too hot.
The museums are all open. It is cool enough to start a daytime walk of the distinctive Albaicin area. I suggest you find your way to the summit of this barrio by going to the lesser known of the two miradors that are located high above the city. Bill Clinton once visited El Mirdaor de San Cristobal where he enjoyed the amazing views of a sunset over Granada.
Nearby is the street Calle Pages. Begin your walk through the Albaicin here, being sure to stop off at the quaint market in one of the squares there. Wind your way through the narrow streets, all the time descending back into the main part of the city.
But don’t rush it. Take your time and, please, look up! Some of the best sights in Granada are those on the buildings. Ancient architecture and some quirky facades to many a building.
Outside of the city, in the wider province of Granada, there is so very much to see within an easy drive of the centre.
The colours of the autumn trees on the road that leads you from Origva to La Alpujarra villages such as Pampaneira, Capileira and Bubion are fabuolous. Time it right and you will vibrant red or yellow leaves, before they fall to ground.
Why not go to one of the many lakes around Granada? There is Lake Bermejales near the smashing town of Alhama de Granada, where warm restorative waters will regenerate you in time for tapas at the excellent El Tigre bar in Plaza de la Constitución.
Like so many lakes in Spain, the water is turqoise and people enjoy a swim before having a picnic at one of the tables provided. Lake Cubillas is even closer to the city, just a short drive north off the motorway that links Granada to Jaen, capital of the olive tree.
If park life is your thing then take a drive on the motorway that links Granada to Almeria and Murcia. Within 20 minutes of the city you can be in the Sierra de Huétor.
There are lovely walks to be had through the countryside. Cycling has always been popular in Spain and here there is lots of space for the would be Bradley Wiggins among you to let rip and use pedal power as a way of sampling this beautiful area.
There are a couple of rustic bars almost hidden away in the park. They are definitely worth finding. It is a refreshing part of the province and one of those so often driven past by people on their way to the even drier province of Almeria, or en route to magnificent Murcia.
You will see the Sierra de Huétor signposted soon after the turn off for the charming Viznar and Alfacar – the latter is famous for producing a special bread of the same name. By whichever entrance you use to arrive in the natural park, there are lovely routes to stroll, using the pine trees for shade at the warmer times of the day.
I love walking in the natural parks and the mountains of Spain in autumn. There is one walk from my front door in the Lecrin Valley to the town of Lanjaron, so called gateway to the La Alpujarra mountain villages, that is a particular joy. Up through the Sierra de Mondujar, you are high in the mountains but no climbing as such is required.
From up here you have excellent views of the village of Pinos del Valle and, later, of the Los Guajares. A collection of villages that benefit from being rural, but also from being not far from those beaches at Motril.
A car is a rare sight on the mountainous roads, so you can walk freely without fear of having to jump into the kerbside every two minutes.
As is the way with the beaches of Spain, the weekends are the times you will see most people when out in the countryside. But it is all relative. You must always keep in mind that, despite the sheer size of Spain, the population is nothing like as big as the land mass.
You can walk for many miles in Spain without seeing another sole.
And there is no better time of the year to take advantage of that than in autumn. There is so much to do the province of Granada. You have water to go at, down on the coast and via several inland lakes. You have mountains all around you.
And you have the cherry on the top of the cake. Or, as it is the symbol of Granada, maybe that should be the pomegranate.
The sun is shining. The autumns leaves are starting to fall. The rain that will fall as snow on the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains has yet to arrive. That comes next.
When winter turns the province of Granada into the most unique of areas in southern Spain.
One dressed in crisp, winter sunshine and with snow on top.
Of which i shall write about next.