Monday, June 28, 2010

Cazorla and its National Park

June 25 - Cazorla

It was a short drive to Cazorla, a small but very quaint town situated on the side of a mountain. We found the hotel where we were staying, Hotel Gradalquivir, and soon after set off to tour the national park. It turned out to be a longer drive than we had anticipated just to get to the tourist office in the park. And once we got there we were disappointed to find only one lady working the desk who spoke no English, made no attempt to speak a little slower to us in Spanish. We did find out that the waterfall we wanted to hike to was a 10km hike. More than we wanted to do that day.

Instead, we drove through the park and took short walks when we saw the opportunity. We drove the length of what appeared to be a reservoir, looking to find a spot where we could get closer to the water. But the closest we got was a restaurant/bar where we had a San Miguel with a nice view of the lake.

The following day, Diane wasn’t feeling her usual perky self, so we decided to stay in town (Cazorla). I took hikes around Cazorla while Diane rested. After each field trip, I showed her the photos I took. To me, Cazorla ended up being one of those hidden gems you run into once in a while. It has a picture-perfect square (Plaza de la Colledera) that was just around the corner from our hotel with restaurants, bars, fountains and great views of the mountains.

I hiked up towards the ruins of the Iglesia de Santa Maria. It‘s majestic history was still evident. Sadly, the Napoleonic forces felt compelled to destroy the beautiful building. Further along the path, there was a nature walk along a creek. I started on it , but after about fifteen minutes decided that making it up to the castle was more important. 

I was surprised to find the Castillo de la Yedra open at 2:30 pm. Built in the 12th century, the views from the castle of Cazorla, were dramatic. As far as castles go, Yedra was small, simple and modest. It was not built to be a palace or the home of a feudal lord. It was mainly designed as a strategic military structure, dungeon and all!   

In the evening, Diane was feeling a little better and we had a chance to visit the oldest of the squares in town, Plaza de la Constitucion. The brooding Castillo overlooks the plaza and it is filled with restaurants. We picked a restaurant and had a light dinner. 

I think I may be repeating myself, but to a wino this is important information. Each time we go to the mercado and buy wine, I’m astounded by the low cost. I have bought very nice bottles of Rioja, barrel-aged for one year, for just over $2!!! Of course you can find bottles for over $100 too. But then, I haven't tasted those. It's little wonder, though, that Trader Joe’s can sell an imported Spanish wine for a very low price! 

Tomorrow we head off to Toledo, about a three hour drive north, on our way to Madrid. Ciao.