I committed the biggest travel fail yesterday. It’s almost too frustrating and embarrassing to say, but I’m so mad at myself I have to share: I visited 3 beautiful cities outside of Granada and forgot my…..wait for it…..my camera!! I know, I was kicking myself the entire time! And of course these cities had the most beautiful views and buildings, (one even had a castle!) and I only have my memory to account for it! Ugh I’m sooo mad! I’ll try and make up for it by describing them in finite detail so by then end of this post you’ll be able to say you were there with me! I should start by saying that I met 2 Belgian guys who are visiting for a week (one of them studied here last year so there was Spanish involved!) and they rented a car for the day and invited me along! Super nice, I know you don’t have to tell me twice. So I jumped on that bandwagon faster than Kelyn takes to eat any meal and met up with them the next day for our day journey!

The first stop was a city that I can’t remember (and could never pronounce in the first place), but it was a very quaint and had a carnival in town! The word that I would use to describe it is dry, it was very warm, at the edge of the mountain terrain, and everything just seemed dry. It was really cool though because a lot of their buildings were built mostly underground or in the rocks. It was very cool and had a speakeasy air to it! After walking downtown and seeing the church (which was huge and looked like it might have some ghosts inside) we wandered toward a mirador (it’s a lookout spot overlooking the city and beyond) and that was my first of many moments where I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera! The view was awesome! We could see the entire city below us, including an entire castle…that’s right, you read correctly…CASTLE!…and the valley/mountains behind it as well. Add in the comfortable silence and it was just perfect. I could have sat there and just read, wrote, or even play my guitar in total peace and with inspiration. We were on a bit of a tight schedule since we had to fit in 3 cities in one day so we didn’t linger for very long. The best part of this city, besides the view, was el barrio de las cuevas (neighborhood of the caves). This city had houses built literally into the rocks of the mountain! It was sooo cool! You could see the front part of the house when you look straight at it, then as you drive by the rest of the house is inside or under the rocks! So creative right?! They’re practical too, the houses stay warm in the winter and stay cool in the summer, which is perfect for them! Seeing all the little chimneys sticking out of the rocks was so funny and reminded me of the Flintstones!

Our next stop was Huéscar, which was a much smaller and quieter town. Although there wasn’t any large tourist attractions or views of the entire landscape, it was very quaint and its buildings were very beautiful. In fact, I discovered my favorite building so far in all of Europe! Of course, I didn’t bring my camera so I’ll have to try and explain its greatness, so here it goes: when I first saw it, I automatically thought of Beauty and the Beast. It was only a three story building, and tucked between two others, but this one was just snuck out and grabbed me! It had short terraces for each window that rounded out and had iron bars caging them that protruded out as if impregnated, and swooped in and up to cover the windows. That was my favorite feature by far. The rest of the building was no less amazing, with ornately carved stone along the edges of the building and all the windows and doors, and a deep grey color giving it a stark contrast to its surrounding buildings. There’s no way my description does it any justice, but every time we walked by it (all of twice) I had to stop and just soak it all in as much as I could! It even surpassed all the buildings in Paris, which is a pretty tough feat due to the fact that I loved Every building in the city of love! Haha We also found a church that had its side door slightly cracked (which is the first time any church I’ve seen has done that) so, naturally, my curiosity took over and I had to peek inside. Now, this wasn’t a normal door, it was very old, very thick, and literally made out of wood (I know most doors are, but think back to castles and those kinds of doors…that was this one), it was very cool! However, given its age, when I pushed it open, it gave the creepiest creak I’ve only ever heard in horror films right before the stupid blonde girl goes down to the basement alone! It scared the crap outta me, but I continued to push it in and peek inside. What I saw was a tiny room with a door at each of its ends (super creepy right?!). That’s not the creepiest part though, the very moment I took my first step in, this old, marching music came on! I jumped so high an booked it right back outside so fast you could call me lightening! Haha Turns out it was nothing and the music was on the whole time, but I didn’t hear it till I stepped into the mysterious room, because two seconds after my freak out a man stepped around me and went straight into the church without any reservations…so we followed him in and the church was pretty cool. The best part was that old, creepy door though. After exploring the church and the rest of the city, we stopped for drinks in the courtyard where I was introduced to the equivalent of a mimosa with red wine. It’s red wine, with soda, and some lemon…I was skeptical at first but it’s actually pretty good! I forget what it’s called exactly, but it was vino tinto or something like that.

We definitely saved the best stop for last though! It started off great because I got to drive all 28 km through the valley on windy roads! It was super fun! (you all know how much I love to drive, plus the car was a stick! Bonus!!) The town is called Castril and it is the cutest, quaint little town I’ve ever seen! The people were a lot older, extremely nice, and lived up to every definition I have of a small town. The entire city sits about halfway down the mountain overlooking the valley, and has the mountains resting behind it as well. Needless to say the views were gorgeous! Looming above the city, sitting atop a high peak, is el monument del pena (there’s a tilde over the n but I can’t do it on this thanga thang). It has a statue of what looks like the virgin Mary, but it was closed so we couldn’t actually go up and see, which was a shame because the view from up there would’ve been spectacular! However, we weren’t shortchanged out of any views because there was also a river just below the city! The river itself is pretty small, but there were falls running down where we were at, and farther down the river as well. The locals told us to follow the river past the viewpoint and it would make up for the monument, so we did! And we definitely were not disappointed! We had to cross a couple very iffy bridges to get there (one of which was a loosely suspended metal bridge that swayed and bounced like the ones you see on kids’ playgrounds. Needless to say it was fun for me, but the guys didn’t like that I was jumping and swaying the whole thing with them still on it! lol) The best part though, was the small walkway that was installed protruding from halfway up the rocks! It was a windy, wooden, clearly manmade walkway that looked like it was going to fall apart at any second, but it was so cool being able to walk along the river while touching the mountain and look down between your feet to see the river rushing past you! So exhilarating! Then, once we crossed the fun, metal bridge, the path continued through a cave that seemed to just absorb any light. I wasn’t too happy about that, but I refused to show any fear around the guys. I must admit though, about halfway through the cave where we were completely engulfed in darkness, my mind started racing and I began to think, ‘my God, this is where they’re going to kill me!’ lol and started to look for ways I could escape! Haha never could be too prepared right? The cave did eventually open up to a small terrace, just big enough to fit us three, where there was a large waterfall. It was absolutely gorgeous and serene. We all just simply stood there and listened to the water crash at the bottom for a few minutes. Beyond the cave there was a bar with an outdoor area with foosball (all the characters were painted as Real Madrid and Barca players!) but it was closed 😦 so we continued on past it towards some agriculture fields and ate grapes straight from the vine! They were so good and the perfect snack! I don’t know why, but for some reason the guys thought that if we kept following the path, that we would end up back at the town, which never made sense to me because the town was above us the whole time and the path continued out parallel to the city, not towards it. So when I look up and recognize one of the houses at the end of the town above us I decide to start climbing up the mountainside through a bunch of different agricultural fields (it was pretty cook to see all the different types of food they were growing, but the entire time I felt as though we were walking through everybody’s backyards!) We eventually made it to the top and into the city, thanks to women’s intuition, and stopped to rest and eat at the restaurant in the middle of the square. It was the perfect end to a long and eventful day as we sat with our beers, great food (it was some sort of meat with a really good sauce…I hope that helps paint a picture for ya ;)), and watched the sun go down behind the mountains beyond the valley. Once again, I was kicking myself for not being able to show proof.

It was the most exciting day I’ve had yet, and even though I didn’t have my camera, I won’t ever forget any of my experiences or views. It was truly amazing and fun to be able to share it with people. Although there were times when I wanted to slam the two guy’s heads together, I was glad to have been given the opportunity to join them.