Albarracín Aragón Spain : September 2017
We drove along the back roads to Albarracín, through beautiful red mountains and scrubby vegetation, with olive trees scattered here and there. Every couple of kilometers you see a village sitting astride a hilltop, always a church and often ruins of a castle or fort. The road looked like it was taking us nowhere and in fact a few times we almost turned the wrong way as Annabelle directed us around narrow village roads which looked almost impossible to navigate. At one stage we saw policemen standing on the roadside looking serious. Of course being South African we slowed down assuming a road block, but no they looked at us as if we were mad and waved us on.
We arrived at Albarracín,and found our campsite called Ciudad de Albarracín which was on the hill on the newer side of town but had a magnificent view across the valley.
They say, whoever ‘they’ are?, that Albarracin is one of Spain’s most beautiful villages . The townis set on a cliff above the Rio (river)Guadalaviar and its medieval houses have remained virtually unchanged for centuries. It has been listed as a National Monument since 1961 and has a fascinating history. Apart from the regular Spanish story of being ruled and conquered by the Moors and the Christians, it’s unusual in that from 1012 to 1104 it was a tiny independant Islamic state ruled by the Berber Banu Razin dynasty.(with links to Córdoba)
Albarracin is in the Teruel Province, part of the greater Aragón Comunidad. Interesting for me is that my abuelo ( grandfather) was from the Teruel region, and although we were not close enough to visit his birthplace of Llédo, it might explain my attraction to this wild landscape. Chris is not so enamoured as it’s dry and dusty and the village is a tad ‘put on’ for tourists. We don’t see too many people living there, it’s more a beautiful set for taking pics.
But still we spent two days here and I think there is a lot of history and charm to explore.
Chris is still not feeling 100% so the first evening we walked around the village which is up on a helluva hill and took some climbing. Unfortunately for us the weekend before had been the town fiesta and it was Monday after. Most of the bars and shops were closed. (hangovers?) It was a bit dead and we were not the only tourists wandering around looking for a spot to get a drink and a bite.
Eventually we went back to an unlikely spot I had seen earlier which looked like nothing special, but desperate times call for …. you know. Actually it was lovely. The bar was full of locals, well not so full when we arrived at 8pm as this is early for Spain but after the first 30min it was packed and we were glad to have a table. I think most people realized this was the only party in town. We started with cerveza and vermouth, but feeling ravenous and after we saw some nice looking food go out to the tables we decided to join in. Next to us was the seniors club on an outing (ok I made that up) and they were having a jolly time. The moment we ordered ( did I tell you my Spanish is getting even better) the table got laid with a white paper tablecloth and we had a lovely dinner spot. I can’t remember the exact menu but it involved one new dish we had seen on a few menus. This is called Migas and essentially it’s fried breadcrumbs. But it’s a traditional dish which was originally served at breakfast time. Breadcrumbs are fried in olive oil with leftovers from the previous day; chorizo, bits of pork or other meats, spinach or even grapes are fashionable now. It’s become more of a starter or lunch dish in modern times and quite delicious. Chris had ‘secret pork’ ( no idea?) and I had hamburguesa (deer apparently), also good. All of this washed down with more cerveza and vino crianza made for a happy time.
The next day was a self guided tour day. We started with a walk all along the river which snakes around the town like a moat. It was cool and shady and quite an easy walk. Then we climbed up to the wall that dominates the hill around the village, it was a spectacular view from up top. We could see the entire village and surrounds and I could not stop taking pics.
When we got into town all the restaurants and bars were open but we chose a small bar and ordered some drinks and a plate of jámon, olives and cheese. So good. He just carved off some slices of jámon and hacked the cheese and onto a plate with the olives.
Instead of boring you further I will just post the pics of our day. Chris was still not feeling that great ( more like I was tired of walking up and up and down and up and photo after photo in stifling conditions) so we went off to the camp for a siesta, but just to mention if you ever visit they have tours of the castle, the cathedral( which apparently has an amazing altarpiece and artworks)and a museum with beautiful tapestries. [C: really devastated to have missed each of these wonders 😉 ]
The good news was that we found a small local supermarket [supermarket? corner cafe more like it ] and at last we can buy a few fresh provisions. We decide to make something nice for dinner and stay in, this will be the first time we are actually cooking, so you can tell Chris is feeling a wee bit better…
The campsites are quite different so far in that the pitches are on dusty dry soil ;whereas in the previous trip we had lovely grassy spots. The ablutions are also not as modern as say Germany or Austria (Chris nodding head furiously), but they are clean and nothing wrong with them. In fact this camp site was spotless. Our neighbors, a Dutch couple, (of course) had spent 3 days there already hiking and walking in the mountains.
We stayed 2 nights and then we decided to go to Morello…. But first we need to find a decent supermarket !