One of our stops during our road trip in Andalusia was La Perla Blanca. The morning began, as almost every morning while we were in Spain, with an overdose of sunshine trying to get through the curtains. This morning started even better with a picnic breakfast basket in front of our door.
Local bread, some croissants, and your typical Spanish cheeses and ham: Jamon Serrano, Manchego and some goat cheese from a farm down the road. Moreover, some fresh fruit and orange juice were added to this breakfast feast! We squeezed ourselves on the little French balcony and had a wonderful breakfast!
On the road again to the Pueblos Blancos
After all these calories we got into our car. Of course, breakfast wasn’t the reason we were here: we were in the heart of the Pueblos Blancos (white villages)! From La Perla Blanca we drove down the A-374 and A-372 towards Grazalema, a small mountain village located at an altitude of over 800 m. After we parked our car (tip: there is spacious parking located at the end of the village) and didn’t get stuck in a small one-way street we walked towards the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (main square). When I was about to take a photo of this idyllic street a local said that this was his house. Curious as we always are we started chatting with this man called Pepe. He invited us into his house to talk about the history of this house and his family.
The house was build in the 16th (!) century for the cattle owned by the farmers that were living upstairs. Pepe showed us around and told us that if you had to take a step down from the street level these houses were former stables. If you had to go up it meant that these houses were built for people.
After we thanked Pepe for this small tour we wandered around the village. It is definitely recommended to start this small ‘road trip’ to the Pueblos Blancos early. This way you’re just in time for a café solo (espresso) on the previously mentioned square amongst the locals. After that, we strolled a bit through Grazalema. If you’re interested in local food, or just hungry, you should visit one of the many local cheese, ham and olive oil shops.
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Through the mountains to Zahara de la Sierra
Although we were at an altitude of 800m we had to climb a bit more to get to our next destination. We followed the CA-9104 until we reached the top of the mountain. This amazing road with lovely views on the Andalusian landscape is one you really don’t want to miss. At the top of the mountain there’s a lookout which offers wonderful views on the deep blue lake of Zahara (Embalse de Zahara). However, there is something even more spectacular for true bird lovers: the Griffon vulture.
Griffon vulture: what a stop!
It is always a matter of luck to see these great creatures. While we were there we didn’t expect much but after about five minutes we saw something circling around the top. They were there! It turned out that these vultures have their nests nearby. Unfortunately, our zoom lens was collecting dust in the Netherlands so you just have to believe us. A Griffen vulture is 95-110 cm long and has got a wingspan of 2.5 (!) meter. It is one of the biggest flying bird species in the world. If you’re here, bring along your binoculars and/or a hell of a lens for your camera.
The reservoir lake of Zahara de La Sierra
What goes up must come down and so did we with our shiny rental Fiat 500XL. Since we did spend some time near the vultures it was almost time for lunch. How great was it that we were near restaurant Al Lago. This is where we ordered fried avocado with shrimps and a Tuna tataki. The food was great and so was the view. The bright lake of Zahara looked spectacular from the terrace. After this excellent lunch, we walked through Zahara and went down to the lake. You can rent canoes or go ‘subbing’ on the lake. For us, it was too hot at that time of the day. We just stood in the water for a bit and then followed the A-2300 back to Ronda and our B&B.