First Snow in the Sierra Nevada

There’s no denying it, winter is approaching. The weather is still sunny, but temperatures have gone down to 15-20 degrees Celsius, which is about half of what we enjoyed during summer. Lars and I both miss summer, but seeing the first snow in the magnificent Sierra Nevada is special. Since we both come from flat countries, a drive in the Sierra Nevada -or any other Sierra for that matter – is always a delight.

These are the pictures we took:

Pradollano from a distance
Patatas a la pobre with fried eggs and a cold beer

Green Mountains, White Mountains, … and a Lot of Goats

Since the end of October, we have not been able to make any excursions, because of new COVID-19 regulations. One of the new rules said that we were not allowed to leave our municipality. The second wave hit very hard here in Iznalloz; but instead of a complete lockdown, we now had a partial one. I could at least go grocery shopping with Lars, something that was impossible during the first lockdown.

After a month, we realized that a part of the Sierra Arana was located in Iznalloz. In theory, this could mean that we could do some exploring and photographing there. We checked with the local authorities and received the confirmation that we were right.

Green Mountains

First, here is some information about the Sierra Arana.

Wednesday 2 December. Sunny weather, very mild temperatures. We first drove on the Calle Ganivet (one of the main streets here) and then on the GR-4103. In a very sharp curve, we stopped, so I could walk down a path and take some pictures.

This is what I saw, green mountains.

Those last 2 pictures are my favorites of that day, I felt as if I was walking at the bottom of a small canyon!

Last week, bars, restaurants, and non-essential shops reopened again. You know what that means: a nice cold drink and tapas!

White Mountains

On Friday, the weather changed considerably. Temperatures went down a lot, and rain came, followed by snow. In our hometown, you could see no snow at all, but in the mountains… yes!

Bear in mind, dear readers, that in Belgium and Denmark, there are no mountains at all. And in Brussels, where we used to live, you hardly see any snow. So, the combination of the two is a magnificent sight for us!

When we left our apartment, we saw this…

First we drove back to the place I had photographed on Wednesday.

It would be nice if we could come a bit closer. We turned around, to the center of Iznalloz and then to the Carretera la sierra.

When you see a sign that says “Barranco de los Diablos”, go right.

The first thing we noticed, was a group of dogs. Not so friendly dogs…

I got back into the car and in the background, we could see the reason for the vigilant behavior of the dogs. A lot of goats…

We continued until we saw the ruins of a small house.

This time a big, fluffy pooch approached us. He seemed nice. At least, he didn’t growl at me.

And after some time, he lost interest in us and went back home. Bye pooch!

We turned around and went back to the carretera.

When we passed the goats’ farm again, we noticed that all the animals were gone.

The carretera is actually a dead-end road… with magnificent views.

That’s it for today!

Two remarks:

  • Most of the snow is now gone.
  • From tomorrow on, we can explore the province of Granada again. Sunday, we are on the road again!

What about you? Do you live in a country with or without mountains? Do you like mountains? With or without snow?

Driving in Paradise – Crossing the Stelvio Pass

This summer, Lars and I have crossed mountains. Explored badlands. Climbed to the top of canyons. Traversed deserts. In other words, it has been a very adventurous time, and, luckily, we have had no accidents whatsoever. Honestly, given the fact that we have pulled off some stunts, that’s actually a bit of a miracle…

But… Last Wednesday night… For the first time in weeks, there was some rain falling. I was on the terrace, watching drops of rain coming down in the swimming pool. The grass around it was giving off an intoxicating smell… After a couple of moments of bliss, I turned around to go back inside and get some sleep. And then I slipped…

I landed on the hard tiled floor of the living room and immediately, a very sharp pain soared through my right knee, and to a lesser extent, my right foot and back. I could not get up anymore, and Lars, who was afraid to inflict even more pain, had to call an ambulance. I spent the night in the hospital (in Granada); luckily, I haven’t broken my knee. It’s only sprained and I need to take it a bit easy. Right now, I can sit and walk again, so I guess the worst has passed.

Anyway, all this explains why it has been very quiet on this website. But as you can see, I am writing again! And probably later this week, the Viking and I will be on the road again as well. Without further ado, let’s take you to Italy, to the Stelvio Pass.

Some facts and numbers:

  • One of the highest mountain passes in Europe: 2.758m high.
  • Located in the Italian Alps, not far from the border with Switzerland.
  • Built between 1820-1825.
  • Open from May through November.
  • 47 km long.
  • 75 hairpin turns!
  • Very popular amongst cyclists and motorists.

Before I met Lars, I hardly cared about mountains at all… In my youth, I spent my family holidays mainly at the Spanish and Portuguese coast and never visited any part of Europe at all. This has changed a lot in the meantime and I can assure you that driving on the Stelvio Pass is indeed very thrilling! Have a look at this video:

See that smile on my face? By the way, the team of Top Gear had a lot of fun here as well! According to them, there is only one road (in Europe) that is more adventurous to drive on: the Transfăgărășan in Romania. Lars and I agree with them… And the latter is also more photogenic than the Stelvio Pass.

Have a look at how the team of Top Gear experienced the Stelvio Pass:

During our ascent, I couldn’t take any pictures, mainly because we couldn’t stop at the side of the road. At the top of the pass, I was finally able to take some snaps.

As you can see, the weather conditions were a bit gloomy. By the way, I was surprised by the number of people on top of the pass; I actually had not been aware that this is a very popular destination.

During the descent, I also took some pictures.

If I ever had the chance to drive on one of the two passes again, I think I would have a slight preference for the Transfăgărășan. As I said before, the route is more photogenic. And I have never made a video there!

What about you? Do you like to drive around in the mountains? Have you ever been to the Stelvio Pass? And/or the Transfăgărășan?

Discover Prompt, Day 8: Curve

When I saw the prompt of today, I had to think about the many curvy roads all over Europe on which Lars and I have driven. By the way, if you are new to this site, welcome! I am Ingrid and together with my Danish travel buddy (Lars), I like to explore and photograph off the beaten path destinations in Europe.

Mountain roads can have lots of curves and the one that I chose for today belongs to the Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Almara Natural Park. This mountainous region spreads over part of the province of Malaga and of Granada and is a paradise for hikers and climbers. It’s also home to some exquisite white villages, some dating from Moorish times. And finally, the area attracts people like us, who like to drive on mountain roads. It has actually become one of our favorite routes here in Andalucia.

I will publish more information, pictures, and a video in the near future. For those of you who are familiar with some of the famous roads in Europe: the area feels like a combination of the Dolomites (Italy) and the Transfăgărășan (Romania).

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