The White Towns of Cadiz
After our incredible first season we took a short break and spent Christmas and New Year among family and friends. Karen braved the cold and set off to spend some time in her home country of Scotland. But even the minus temperatures didn´t stop the good times and long-awaited catchups. The time flew by and it was back on a plane to get back to Chipibeach to celebrate a traditional Spanish New Year with the grapes at the ready! We welcomed Diana´s family to finally relax and enjoy Chipibeach as our guests and not our workers this time!
As the festivities passed and we said our goodbyes, it was time to do some exploring of our own. Cadiz has so much to offer and finally we had time to appreciate it and be tourists ourselves! We decided to trade the beach for the mountains for a short time and set off to explore “la ruta de los pueblos blancos”. We discovered some beautiful little towns, authentic town´s food and a few fantastic hiking routes to keep Paco entertained too!
We started by exploring Arcos de la Frontera, in just a 50-minute drive from Chipibeach we had arrived and took in the beauty of the architecture as we reached the “mirador de Adabes” from this viewpoint you can easily find inspiration surrounded by countryside and with views of the Arcos reservoir.
Our next stop just 20 minutes further was El Bosque. Here you can find the Visitors’ centre for the natural park “Sierra de Grazalema”. They provided some handy tips and a perfect little map of the natural park. Before heading into the town, we took a walk along “Río del Bosque” which offered a nice balance of sun and shade to make for a pleasant wander and of course anywhere with water always gets Paco´s approval! The walk took us up to a beautiful botanic garden which boasts a display of plants from the sierras. We were ready for lunch and found a lovely little restaurant in the town.
The next day we spent some time in Ubrique, which is the largest of the towns. The architecture stunningly gives reminders of the area´s Arab past and you will find that the town´s most important industry is leather. Ubrique is considered world-famous in this industry supplying the likes of Loewe, Louis Vuitton and Gucci and you can learn more about the process in the town´s leather museum with is located in a restored 17th Century Baroque Monastery. It truly is a picturesque town situated in front of the crag of the Cruz de Tajo. We found that the “Mirador Ubrique Alto” made for some great photographs, and you can also access some marvellous hiking routes from this point.
It was then back onto the mountain roads as we made our way onto Grazalema. The drive itself really is quite a treat, taking in the rural farms, soft hills and craggy mountains. Just approaching this town, you already begin to appreciate its beauty. Grazalema is situated in the heart of the Sierra and this particular town really struck us with its charm. By heading to any one of the 6 viewpoints, you can prepare to be wowed by the scenery. The textile industry can be seen here using wool from local sheep to create delightful multi-coloured blankets and rugs. It is also possible to visit the Grazalema Textile Factory where you can enjoy a free tour and gain an understanding of the ancient process which they utilize. Another fun walk in Grazalema is the old Roman Highway that still runs into the town centre. Traditionally this was the only way in and out of the town and today it has been tastefully refurbished to maintain the same character that it did thousands of years ago.
The final town we chose to visit was Zahara de la Sierra and it did not disappoint. We really saved the best until last with this one. Entering the Plaza Mayor it is the perfect setting to sit in a bar and simply watch the world go by. It is a slightly steeper but worthwhile climb to the top where you will encounter an impressive Moorish castle set on a huge, rocky hill and offering the most breath-taking views of the Zahara el Gastor reservoir. As with the area in general, there are many incredible hiking routes to choose from but one of the best we came across was the Garganta Verde. It features a 400-metre-deep canyon which is cut by a picturesque river.
This trip confirmed for us that Cadiz really has it all! It is so much more than miles of endless golden sand beaches! And all of this beauty is within easy reach from Chipibeach! We truly are privileged to live in such a stunningly beautiful part of Spain! This made for the perfect end to our little break and our batteries are fully recharged ready for the excitement that season 2 will bring us! Our doors are open once again and we can´t wait to welcome you!