Scroll down for the gallery
It was 15 November 2013 when 51 fairly frozen souls boarded the bus for Benalúa.
Benalúa? Never heard of it! Well now you will! It is just off the A92 from Baza, in the Guadix Basin – that’s the valley in which the town of Guadix is situated, not a bathroom feature – and is famous for its cave houses.
Firstly, in the bright sunlight, but with a chill wind blowing off the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada, we visited Cuevas La Granja, a cave house complex. Originally these belonged to the owner of the local, now defunct, sugar factory, but now have been enlarged and brought up to date with great artistic flair and all mod cons: bathrooms, kitchens, and most essentially, televisions!
Our lovely guide, Sylvia, gave us a talk about the history of the caves, from their first usage as Neolithic man’s dwellings to fodder storage, from there to places of refuge from enemies, and coming full circle as modern ecologically friendly houses.
Next high spot on the agenda was a visit to the oldest cave in the area. Originally a Moorish stronghold, it now belongs to the fit and youthful looking Pepe, a picador extraordinaire, whose own home cave is an eclectic mix of tastes and eras. He is picking (hence the name picador) enlargements to several houses from the existing caves, and explained with enthusiasm the craft of safe cave creation; caves are more than simply a hole in a hill!
Having taken advantage of the offers to purchase we left the Bodega, and the unused bucket, to head for lunch, back at La Granja. This was a succession of typical tapas of the area; by now it was 3.30, and our stomachs were ready to do justice to the 7 different savoury tapas. By the time the 7th had been consumed we were full up and ready for a snooze, when an 8th tapa appeared – turron ice cream! Somehow we managed to find room for it, before climbing, full of knowledge, sights and tapas, back on to the coach!
A fantastic day out, but cold in the wind. Except in the cave houses, which stay at a constant 20 -22 degrees all year round!