Lecrin Valley  

  Back when we were first planning our Christmas trip to Spain, Tony and I had differing ideas about what the best sort of vacation would be. I advocated taking the entire three weeks the children would be off school (plus weekends on either end) and planning a grand extravaganza road trip through the entire Iberian Peninsula. Tony's ideal vacation is more soaking up the sun on the beach for a week. So we compromised. Rather than booking a new hotel in a new city every day or two and spending the entire trip on the road, we found a darling little house in the Lecrin valley, between Granada (home of the Alhambra, my top must-see in Spain) and the coast. This was to be our home base for the next nine days.

We found AirBnB a bit expensive for the area. A friend of mine who works at Booking (which has a large office in Amsterdam) informed me that the company had recently started its own version of AirBnB, so we checked there, and found cute little house called Casa Guapa in the village of Beznar, on the edge of the Sierra Nevada national park about a half hour south of Granada (take your fill of adorable photos of the house and the lovely view of the valley below here on Booking. Yes, that is the actual view from the house. I think it cost us about EU250 to spend nine days there). As previously agreed with the owner, I called her about a half hour before we arrived. We were going to be there some 45 minutes later than the normal 16:00-20:00 check-in time. I opened my mouth to apologise, when she remarked how punctual we were. I guess punctuality is relative. She was out of town, but her deputy, Urbano, was more than punctual. When we arrived at the house he was waiting for us, and had built a cosy fire in the fireplace.

Urbano showed us around the house, gave us his cellular number in case of emergencies, and then departed, leaving us to fall into blissful sleep in our new abode. In the morning we were able to explore the place more fully, and fell in love with the house, as well as its environs. For midwinter in a desert, the Lecrin Valley was amazingly fertile. The olive and orange groves were in full fruit, and dotted with random pomegranate trees, wild figs, rosemary, and wildflowers.

Casa Guapa was a delightfully typical Mediterranean house-all red floors and white walls and rustic wooden doors. I loved opening the shutters in the morning to sunrise over the surrounding hills. Back in Amsterdam the children share a room, so they were quite happy to have their own rooms at Casa Guapa, although I often found them playing together in the same room anyway.

Raj bedroomMost evenings (and some mornings) I built a fire, since the house was liberally stocked with firewood. It even had a cute little garden in the back, complete with ornamental miniature pomegranates and a giant rosemary bush. And that gorgeous view of the lake below! I don't know if the valley was more beautiful in the evenings or in the morning. Here's my favourite photo from the morning I got up early to enjoy the sunrise.

After we'd spent the morning relaxing and enjoying our new surroundings, we set off exploring, following the lead of the children. We may possibly have trespassed in multiple orange groves, but we didn't actually climb any fences.

Orange GroveEventually we made our way down to the reservoir at the bottom of the valley, where Tony impressed us all with his stone skipping skills. Afterwards, we sent the children home while we took a walk down the one sun-drenched street in little Beznar.

In fact, all we could think about during those first few days in Spain was the sun; marveling at how bright it was, how constant, how long it stayed in the sky. The town's one tiny plaza had a statue of a musketeer, and when he asked me to dance, I couldn't refuse.


Our AirBnB: Casa Guapa in the village of Beznar

Raj's room

early morning sunrise in Southern Spain

Spanish oranges

sun-drenched street in little Beznar

statue of a musketeer
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