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Menorca Britannia.

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And what an adventure it was.

Saturday March 11th. Day 1 and we were all there at the airport to check in for our first flight to Palma. Boarding cards issued for both flight and suitcases booked through to Granada. That's the benefit of both flights with the same airline!! Air Europa. Both flights were spot on time, taking off on the minute as scheduled.

We arrived at the small airport of Granada (like Menorca 20 plus years ago) at 12.00 to be met by our transfer coach driver Paco. It seems just about everyone in Granada is called Paco. A 30 minute journey to the centre of the city we arrived at the Hotel Navas. Situated half way along a pedestrian street with tapas bars stretching as far as the eyes could see. Granada is purported to have about 3000 tapas bars and a fair number were within easy walking distance. There were also numerous very good restaurants nearby. The Hotel could not have been better situated and the rooms were spacious and the en suite facilities pristine. As we always book on a B&B basis the breakfast buffet was good and energised us for the day ahead.

Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday morning were free to explore at leisure.

Sunday afternoon March 12th. Day 2 A beautiful sunny day. We were met at the hotel by Paco Muñoz who gave us a 3 hours guided walk around the old part of Granada. Fascinating!! As were the tapas and wine at the bars to where we dispersed in different directions for our suppers.

Monday March 13th. Day 3 A much colder day. An early morning rendezvous with our coach for the short journey to the magnificent Alhambra Palace. This included a timed visit into the Nasrid Palaces at 9.30 and therefore we had to meet the official Alhambra guide Curro Muñoz at 8.30am in order to first enjoy the beauty of the Generalife Gardens. Curro by coincidence is the son of yesterdayʹs Paco with a similar sense of humour as his father and an extensive knowledge of the Palace and gardens.

Although one could spend all day here, after a fairly intensive visit we returned to our coach once more where Paco senior had come to meet us to escort us on to the second half of the day. Climbing higher into the Alpujarra mountains and away from the Grenadine plain we were on our way to Guadix for our lunch stop at the restaurant Cuevas Tio Tobas. Here we had arranged typical local food. However little did we expect to arrive in a snowstorm. We should have expected it as we had passed several snow ploughs waiting in lay bys with flashing lights along the road. However we soon got stuck into the very enjoyable food and wine which prepared us for the afternoon later.

The dash outside for the coach after lunch was made with big blobs of wet snow falling and then we were off to Guadix itself to meet the tourist train (like the one in Mahón) which had been specially booked for our group. Luckily it had plastic windows at the sides. What a pity that the weather spoilt our views of the famous cave houses. Although the journey had to be for-shortened we did manage to stop and explore the Church built into a large cave and view the artefacts therein. A little cold and wet it was good to return to a warm coach and our 90 minute journey back to Granada

Granada visit
The group outside the entrance to The Nasrid Palaces at the Alhambra

Tuesday 14th. March, Day 4 This was a free day to for everyone to do their own thing and explore and visit local places at leisure

Wednesday 15th March, Day 5 Today we are off to visit the mountain villages of the Alpujarras and the weather is much better, especially for a panoramic drive through this beautiful countryside. It is a little late for the hills to be shimmering pink and white with almond blossom but still the views are spectacular.

After about 90 minutes we arrive in the Poquiera River area with panoramic views over the whitewashed villages and pass through Capileira, Pitres and Portugos. We pass through the small town of Lanzaron and the bottling plant of the spring water of the same name that we all know so well.

We stop at one of the curing wharehouses of the famous Serrano ham. Secadero de Jamon Casa Juan. A family run business but with some 3000 hams being cured. We were shown around by Amalia who explained the process and answered many questions. Then we had an opportunity to try slices of the hame and local cheese washed down with a wine from Malaga.

A good aperative, as next we made our way to the village of Pampaneira and the famous restaurant Ruta del Mulhacen for a typical menu Alpujarreño. Although the weather was very pleasant you can easily see why these hardy mountain people would need this type of high calorie food.

Starter course was a typical soup with ground almond and pieces of ham. Main course was the obligatory Plato Apujarreño. This consists of fried potatoes with fried eggs mixed together with olive oil and topped with a selection chorizo, morcilla, pork loin and jamon Serrano. Very warming and extremely filling.

Dessert was Gachas Reales a la miel de caña. Very traditional sweet made with milk, flour and cane honey. Similar to a cream caramel but very different, if that makes sense.

We re-boarded the coach and worked our way down the southern slopes of the mountains to Motril and the Tropical Coast. We wanted to see Salobreña again. This wonderful Moorish village next to the sea with its hilltop fortress is one of the gems along the Mediterranean coast. Our coach driver Jose Luis tried his best to get us up to the fortress but on the very narrow winding, one way, street and many badly parked cars even this small 25 seater coach got stuck on a bend. Eventually with a struggle we managed to get the coach turned around and we had to stop the cars to exit against the traffic flow. A pity but he tried his best.

However we stopped for an hour along the promenade to enjoy a drink (or two) before setting off for our return to Granada only an hour away via the direct route. A last night in Granada and some of us elected to go to the theatre to see Tangos. A very enjoyable evening of music and dance of South American origin.

Thursday 16th March. Day 6 After breakfast it was time to say goodbye after our, all too short, sojourn in this beautiful city and our return home. An uneventful journey and all on time again. But with some 4 hours to kill at Palma for our connection to Mahón there was plenty of time to reflect on the sights and sounds and experiences of the last 6 days and ask the question, where are we going next year?

With huge thanks to Gundy at Viajes Sant Lluis for putting together this unique bespoke trip. Bryce and Sheila laid down the requirements and the basic itinerary and this she interpreted perfectly as always. And yes where are we going to go to next year?

Bryce--- Asociación Menorca Britannia.


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