A friend of mine was recently given the VW van pictured above, to use for some time. She met this French dude during Christmas break who after was leaving for the Canary Islands to hitchhike on boats across the Atlantic to the US, apparently people do this type of thing. I guess he figured it was better to have his van be used than to have it sit idly, so he gave it to my friend Franzi to use – a lot of trust put into somebody you hardly know.
She has so far been putting it to good use. On Sunday we took a day trip to Acros de la Frontera, a small town about a half hour from Jerez and one of the Pueblos Blancos (White Towns) of Andalausia. The White Towns are a series of towns in the northern part of Cadiz province and are characterized by their whitewashed walls and brown or red tiled roofs. Arcos is one of these and is probably the most dramatically positioned; perched atop a rocky limestone cliff surrounded by the Guadalete valley and the Guadalete river. The historic part of the city consists of incredibly narrow streets, barely large enough for people and cars to pass. By the church there is a place called vista del Coño, which provides a beautiful panoramic of the surrounding valley. At the vista there was a man with 8 or 9 different birds; owls, hawks and a raven. They were just chilling and he allowed you to hold them and take pictures. I only hope that they are treated well!
After Arcos we made our way to Grazalema. Grazalema is a small mountain village of only about 2,000 people located in the Sierra de Grazalema. The way there was on a small winding road that seemed barely wide enough for two cars; somehow the big van managed to fit; it also managed to somehow actually make it to Grazalema. Tacked on with an extra 500 kg-from the eight people inside-the van made it well known that it was having difficulty climbing the road; sometimes it seemed as if we were only a failed gear shift away from plummeting off the side. Luckily, we didn’t because Franzi did hell of a job commanding that thing. Before getting to the town there is a lookout point that provides an amazing view of the surrounding valley. We stopped at it before and after. Once in the town, we went to the park and did a two hour hike through the rugged limestone mountains. The hike was beautiful and provided amazing views of the surrounding countryside.
After the hike we walked around the town and had food. Grazalema like Arcos is one of the Pueblos Blancos; it is immaculately clean, lined with cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses. At the end of the day we stopped again at the lookout point to catch a beautiful sunset across the valley.