Above our beautiful little flat in Granada is a vacation rental that was recently rented out to a young female foreign student. Now you just might wonder how much trouble can one student get in to. Well that question has been, at least partially, answered.
We are writing this blog after a hurried retreat to the cutest little chalet-like apartment in the old town of Monachil. How we got here is an interesting story that began when a new neighbor moved into the apartment above us in Granada.
There was enough noise regularly coming from the one young person above (or was it more than one?) who apparently had never lived in an old building before. Then early one morning, starting at about 5am, we woke to the sounds of banging. Construction perhaps? This continued on and off until 9am when we thought we should investigate. We went upstairs to question what she was doing and were stunned to learn that she had locked herself in the bathroom. In Spain, doors, even inside doors, have a habit of locking when they close. That episode kicked off a flurry of activity until she was finally freed – to mixed enthusiasm.
But that was an isolated event and truthfully the noise was still less than the strolling Spanish troubadours who like to serenade the street at 3am on their way home from the bar.
No, to get us to move from Granada to Monachil took a genius effort. One that started with our kitchen sinks filling with water that eventually started flowing out from beneath the sink. Fortunately the kitchen drains are separate from “other” drains but the water was still full of some sort of debris that had to have come from only one place – the apartment above. It was the sort of stuff that should not be washed down the sink of a 200 year old building. Now with the kitchen sinks filling with water in the wrong direction and the bathroom drains draining very slowly we knew we were desperately in need of a plumber. But this is Spain – and this was a Saturday – in July – all of which added up to no plumbers to be found until late Monday.
Fortunately we rented the Granada flat from a wonderful host, Nuria, who is also an Airbnb Superhost. Luckily she had another rental unit that was available 30 minutes outside of Granada in the small village of Monachil.
And so here we are in an apartment that is literally attached to, and was once part of, the Encarnación church, a cultural treasure that dates back to 1501 and continues to hold services today.
The Village of Monachil
Monachil is a beautiful little village nestled inside the Sierra Nevada National Park and situated 8 kilometers from the center of Granada. A mix of old and new housing with the odd cave house thrown in. The Río Monachil runs through the center of the village providing a cooling breeze and the blissful sounds of running water accompanied by plenty of chirping birds.
In the Sierra Nevada National Park there are several peaks over 3000m (9000 ft) and the village of Monachil is only 40 minutes from Europe’s most southerly ski station – Pradollano, Sierra Nevada.
The archaeological remains found in the municipality of Monachil date back to Prehistoric times. It was inhabited in the Arab period but, after the taking of the kingdom of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs and the expulsion of the Moors, these lands were left temporarily uninhabited. It wasn’t until 1572 that the area was repopulated.
All along the Río Monachil river banks, through the center of town, you will find family gardens growing a host of fruits and vegetables so it is not surprising that Monachil is home to a Michelin Star restaurant, “Restaurante la Cantina de Diego”, which we had to try. We also found a colorful little restaurant called “La barbería”. The name “La barbería” being an obvious choice since the place had been the town barbershop for many years. We frequented La barbería a few times as they have great hot and iced coffee, salads and crepes.
At the local tourist office we learned about Monachil’s Ecotourism that, in the summer months, includes river rafting, horse riding, paragliding, hiking, rock climbing and more. We flirted with the idea of rock climbing but instead decided to keep our feet on the ground and headed off to find a trail.
Hiking in any national park in the world is a great experience and we were told about one route in particular that was exceptionally beautiful – and suitable for families. A walk alongside and over the Río Monachil – the Monachil river.
The Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros
The impressive Los Cahorros gorge is just 2 kilometres from the village centre and the trail through the gorge has multiple hanging bridges that we were excited to see. We headed out early to beat the heat and decided to start our adventure with the trail by the river. It was a beautiful shaded walk with many small waterfalls and spectacular countryside.
We tried a few small treks off the designated route. One in particular involved scrambling over some rocks and through a very small passageway under a rock to reach a small pool.
After an hour of wandering about, we found our first hanging bridge which is apparently the longest at 55m. There are four in total and in the printed materials it states that “Some have sections missing and look fairly decrepit … but not to worry, they are regularly checked and maintained.” Good to know.
Across the bridge we started to climb and were richly rewarded with beautiful vistas of the valley. Staying on the path you would reach the summit at 1052 meters (3451 ft), something we might one day do, but it was getting hot so we chose to follow a small roadway back to Monachil.
It was our good fortune that we were introduced to this little village. There is much more to explore here and we are leaving with a sense of longing. Like José who introduced us to the magic of the Mascletà and now Nuria sharing the Village of Monachil how can you not love Spain and its wonderful people.
— Ted & Julia
(click on any picture to go to slideshow view)