All our previous Explore trips have been spent at several locations but this was a so-called centre-based trip at a single hotel for the duration. Here it is, on the left side of this square. On the right of the square is an associated restaurant run by the hotel owner, Gustavo. Prior to arriving at Canillas de Albaida, we had asked Explore if there’d be somewhere to park. “We can arrange for parking”, was roughly their reply. However, if you look to the other end of the square, behind that camera position, as it were, you’ll see the only potential entry point to the square with a vehicle. In essence, you cannot get to the hotel except on foot. So, we had to find somewhere to park first. Fortunately we did and we were slightly less impressed than usual with Explore’s information. Of course, this really only becomes an issue for those booking “land only” to get there under their own steam. At some of the corners, the classic white walls of an Andalucian village become adorned with automotive paints of various colours from slightly less cautious tourists.
Gustavo was a colourful character. he seemed to have a different pair of glasses to match each of his outfits, all seemingly consisting of a Desigual designer top. Or maybe it was just one for each day of the week? Despite his Spanish designer attire, he’s the worst paella cook I’ve ever come across. One evening supposedly featured a paella lesson in the square. In fact, the sofrito for the paella had been pre-prepared indoors and all that happened outside was to have the rice, stock and a few bits of seafood added, all without commentary. It didn’t even reach the dizzy heights of a demonstration, far less a lesson. My taste buds swiftly detected that this paella had also been given its classic yellow colour using turmeric rather than saffron [turmeric cheap, saffron expensive] and the rice remained undercooked and chalky – not al dente but chalky. I wouldn’t have served it to friends, far less paying guests. Fortunately, Gustavo isn’t actually the chef and the remaining food we had there was OK.
As cute as a hillside Andalucian village is, we were left thinking it wasn’t a place for the infirm. I’m sure we’d have become more used to it but walking anywhere very soon requires ascending a 30° slope. Here’s a couple of shots with an obvious horizontal to give you an idea. These slopes set our hearts pumping and our lungs straining. One morning we were exiting the village downhill when an elderly lady with bow legs and a walking stick went passed us in the opposite direction, uphill. Well, maybe it isn’t so bad after all; maybe it just keeps them going.
The locals were not quite so nervous of these narrow streets that are so unforgiving to car bodywork; some of the streets actually were passable by car. Mind you, the Spanish in general seem to adopt a laissez-faire attitude to their vehicles whereas we tend to blanch at any first minor scratch, even when a car is approaching 10 years old. The parking in such a village is necessarily rather free form.
As with many places, the cover of darkness with the added atmosphere of electric light illumination can show places to best effect. [Notable exception: Luton, which can’t look good in anything other than total darkness.] So, here’s a few more shots from Francine’s night time wander around Canillas.
Given the fact the we’d driven to this adventure and needed to pick our car up again afterwards, staying in one place was useful. However, I think for any future trips we’ll prefer the move on as you go approach and adopt a more traditional approach.