Chapter Seven: Sierras

Alhambra, a gigantic Muslim hill fort complex, was atop the list of things to see in Grenada, so when Sofie and I had spent enough time rambling around drinking Sangria (as if there’s a max out point for drinking sangria…) we decided to get tickets.

As it happens Alhambra is pretty much top of the sightseeing list for half the population of Europe, so tickets were sold out for the next three weeks and getting a ticket on the day involves an early start, something I’d forgot how to do after about day 3 in Spain. Shit.

6:30am comes around too soon after the night of respectably heavy drinking. We bundle into a taxi and screech through polystyrene inner city roads up to the Alhambra ticket office. The queue is already pretty intense; we join it and spend the next three hours amazed by how many more people are showing up and how many decided on ‘stereotypical tourist’ when they went through their wardrobe. Jandles.
We get to the front and find out the morning slot has sold out already, so we chip 3 tickets off the 100 remaining for the evening visit (laughing at the 400 or so morons behind us) and go for a siesta in the hostel. Not before getting accosted  in the street to have my walking shoes, mostly textile based footwear, polished. He wasn’t happy when I gave him €4.70 less than his asking price, but fuck him, I didn’t want my shoes shined in the first place.

Alhambra is pretty nice, but drained from this morning the thought that it might not have been worth enduring the queue of the century for another building was forming in my mind. We had fun, but if you go book your tickets in advance and take good company like I did.

After another night of rooftop drinking I embarked with getting to Valencia in a couple of days my only ambition. On the doorstep, Sierra Nevada and later discovered Sierras de Cazorla. Even the motorway was surrounded by stunning “holy shit!” vistas, dark red and yellow soil and rock fields – I seriously contemplated pulling into the hard shoulder just for a photo, but seemingly for the first time common sense got in the way and I committed the scenes to my more than fallible memory.

While beautiful to see, Sierra Nevada wasn’t well represented in the way of motorbiking on my road map, so I pulled a small northythrough the mountains at Gérgal to Serón then East to Albox for petrol.

Riding further north through miles of gently undulating rural countryside I met motorbike nirvana head on and Candy Indy and I got as close to god as you can on two wheels…

Taking 40kmh corners at 80 and hanging off the bike like a wild thing, the back slipping and the front speed wobbling with every burst of acceleration. Shooting out through blind corners. Pine cones littered sections of the road and parts of the tarmac had collapsed into the steep valley below. Death or glory, right?

As I followed Google maps into a campsite on the lake shore my helmet was still heady with mayhem and the nerves tingled from my fingers up my forearm. My little finger, crushed against the throttle was throbbing with fresh blood and renewed life.

Spain can keep its monumental buildings… Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla was all the cathedral we needed.

P.s. As promised – Map Uploaded Below!

Insane route through the Spanish back-country
Insane route through the Spanish back-country

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