04 March 2006
Taking advantage of the Semana Blanca holiday here in Spain, we took the kids for a three-day trip to Granada, a get-away that turned out to be one of the most enjoyable in quite some time.
After the scenic 2.5 hour road trip from Marbella to Granada, we dropped our stuff off at the Cortijo Balzain enclave of rural houses, on the single-track road up between La Zubia and Cumbres Verdes. This is the second time we’ve stayed in the super-cozy rural houses for rent at Balzain, and it’s truly one of my favorite place to stay. The 300 year old little houses are fully refurbished, retaining their original rustic look and feel, while providing for all of the modern necessities (electricity, heating, water, fully equipped kitchen, heated floors, TV, etc.)
On Thursday afternoon, we drove down past La Zubia, and into Granada proper for an afternoon trip to the Parque de las Ciencias. Our children (and my wife and I) just love this place. It’s a huge science-themed parked, offering interesting attractions for kids and adults alike. We saw a dinosaur exhibition, a giant pendulum, rooms full of hands-on experiments demonstrating the principles of physics, math and science, an outdoor area full of “thinking puzzles” (remove the ring from the ropes. It’s impossible. Ok, it’s not impossible.), an outdoor labyrinth, and a greenhouse room full of exotic butterflies. And that’s just a small sample of what this place offers!
Before heading to the Parque de las Ciencias, we had one of the best meals of the trip, at the Fuente del Hervidero, a really old restaurant sitting just off the dirt road above Cumbres Verdes, heading into the Sierra Nevada national park. We sat on the sunny and warm terrace, and enjoyed some of the best cooked chicken and potatoes I’ve had in a long time. And what would be a country side lunch without wrapping things up with a home-made Crema Catalana, and Cafe con Leche!
Friday morning, after a pretty good breakfast in La Zubia, we headed up the 30 km drive to the Sierra Nevada ski station. We expected relatively few people, being Friday and not quite the weekend, but were we ever wrong. The place was packed. Unfortunately, and quite unbelievably, they don’t have anywhere at the lower levels for kids to play around in the snow. We ended up having to hire skis and boots for the little ones, and enroll them in a 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm ski orientation class for children.
All in all, we didn’t really enjoy the trip to the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort. There were just too many people, the place was kind of dirty, and as a family with small kids, we sorta felt unwanted.
Friday night we took a trip to the local Mercadona grocery store, and picked up some hot-dogs, buns, tiramisu, and wine, for a nice little cozy (and too easy-to-prepare) dinner at home.
Saturday turned out to be the best day of all. After a nice breakfast at the rural house, we took the car up the dirt road past Cumbres Verdes. At around the 1.5 km point or so, we parked the car, geared up, and started the hike up the trail towards the famous Trevenque mountain. The trail, which is wide and perfectly suitable for kids (at least as far as we got), circles the Trevenque, and forms a nice looping 11 km route. With the kids, we couldn’t do the whole thing, so we hiked up about 2 to 2.5 km, to a point where we could get a good look at Trevenque, had a picnic lunch, and headed back down.
During the hike, we were pleasantly surprised by a pack of wild mountain goats (or some kind of largish mountain animal) rushing down the mountain, and across the road.
On the way back home, we stopped just outside Granada, in Santa Fe, to pick up some those famous and incredibly scrumptious “Piononos”, from the source itself, the Pasteleria La Isla. (Thanks for the recommendation, Diego!)