Rural Andalucia is famous for its little white villages that cling precipitously to dramatic hillsides and a way of life that is still quaintly of a different era in spite of the region's popularity with tourists. The views are often breathtaking and none more so than in the Alpujarras (Las Alpujarras), a range of hills which form the southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The area was first brought to notice in Gerald Brenan's book, South of Grenada but it was Chris Stewart's 'Driving over Lemons' that captured the magic of life in the Alpujarras.
The Alpujarras is the most wonderful year round spot for get-aways. Like anywhere in Spain there is a great chance of rain between September and April, but in reality there is often far too little rain. In winter, the air is usually crystal clear with snow-capped mountains glistening in the warm sun - a perfect time for walking, riding and skiing on the nearby Sierra Nevada slopes. In spring, the hills come alive with pink almond blossom and it is wonderful time for exploring the towns and villages of Andalucia. Summers start early and end late merging with autumn - the beaches of the Costa Tropical with great selection of excellent beach bars are less than 30 minutes drive away at Salobrena and Motril . For culture vultures, there is something going on all year round. Granada provides a heady mix of history, architecture, theatre, concerts, flamenco, art galleries, museums and the wondrous Alhambra Palace.
Orgiva is a market town just 15-20 minutes walk away with supermarkets, banks, bars, cafes and a selection of restaurants among which a couple are notably good. Its pretty church with twin towers is a landmark in the region and its bustling street market on Thursdays brings together the produce of the region - a heady mix of herbs and spices pervade the air while the fruit and vegetable stalls heave with locally grown produce in season - avocados, mangoes, pineapples, plums, apricots, peaches, nectarines, grapes, figs and much more. There are two well-stocked health food stores and a vegetarian Moroccan restaurant for those on special diets.
The popular activities are walking (with plenty of guided walks), horse riding and bird watching but you can also go mountain biking and paragliding. There is also golf near Motril and, in winter you can reach the ski slopes of the Sierra Nevada within 90 minutes.
The Alhambra Palace in Granada is recognised as one of the great wonders of the world, and the fascinating city of Granada is one of the prettiest and most interesting towns in Europe. There is so much to see and do, you won't tire from going back time and time again.
The most important thing is to leave room in your suitcase to take home the flavours of Andalucia - delicious teas, exceptional honey, an incredible selection of fresh herbs and spices, jams, chorizo, local hams and cheese.