As we began to climb the winding road, it was rather like being in the north of Spain - Asturias - where the weather is often damp, the countryside very green, the hills very steep and the roads exceedingly bendy.
And as often happens in Asturias, we drove into a cloud. A thick, wet, dense cloud. This wasn't what we'd ordered for the day but Juan Carlos kept us in a cheery mood by telling us what we couldn't see to our left...and here is a photo I found on the web to share with you.
El Tornillo de Torcal
This is one of the more extreme examples of the rocks in the area. Originally under the sea, the landscape is now visible as layer upon layer of rock - some of which have worn away over the millenia into these strange shapes. The meaning of this rock's name is the 'Screw' of El Torcal - and you can see why it has this name. However, we couldn't see it.
We drove up to the Visitor Centre and the car park and were quite amazed to see it busy despite the weather. It's a very exposed place and I can imagine that not many people will visit in the height of the summer when the sun is very fierce but there was a bigger turnout than expected for such a foul day!
The good news was that there was a bar at the Visitor Centre so we were assured of a coffee after the walk...I hadn't had time to have one before we set off and was a bit worried about where I might get my fix. I am, I confess, addicted to coffee. Especially that first one in the morning.
A few not so brave souls decided to give the walk a miss...the stones were unbelievably slippery and the mud in between was both slippy and sticky. (FR gave it a miss and settled down with an Edward Bond script and a coffee in the bar area.) Another young couple had decided to buy themselves matching rain jackets in the visitor's shop and this delayed them for so long (can't understand why - there was only one type and it was blue....that's what they bought in the end) that they missed our party's departure. FR witness the argument that ensued between them afterwards but I'm glad to say they were friends again by the time we returned.
SO, the brave and the good from Alcala la Real set off on the 'Easy Route' around El Torcal.
|Big broody rocks..|
|One of the brave and the good|
|Muddy paths and grey skies|
|Love this matching couple, not the two who were left behind, but a retired couple|
who were definitely very brave and who stuck together and avoided any accidents on the
treacherous stones, literally sticking to the mud - and with mud sticking to them!
|Brave AND good - and you can't see the amount of mud that covered the back of|
her legs and trainers...
|These were just the rocks we could see...I have no idea how far this landscape extended!|
|Our noble guide, sense of humour intact, informing us of what lay behind the screen of fog...|
|Mateo named these 'The Cliffs of Insanity' ..if you know|
'The Princess Bride', you'll get the reference.
|I love this picture because it adds a brightness to the landscape. My camera was definitely pleased to be able to pick out some cheer - it seems to have really emphasised what colour there was!|
|The brave, huddling beneath more looming rocks.|
But we all made it back safely and without incident or accident and there was quite a sense of elation to it all.
And then I had my well-deserved cup of coffee. I'd been brave and it was good.
There's more to follow! Part Three sees us setting off again, in search of flamingoes and paella...