We left the Spanish desert and its fake Paella Western sets in Olé-wood behind us and headed for Almería on the south coast of Spain. We like deserts and driving through that was quite interesting. Then we hit the south coast autovia and soon discovered that Almería looked far less inviting. It has to be said that it wasn’t best presented. Most of the hillsides overlooking the road are smothered in light grey plastic netting. I think this is a sort of shading material for the acres of tomatoes being grown underneath.
This must have been a very expensive autovia to build. We drove through about a dozen tunnels and when we weren’t driving through a tunnel we seemed to be crossing yet another lengthy viaduct. What I was having trouble with was working out why some of the tunnels displayed an 80KPH speed limit whilst others allowed 100KPH. Curious. I’m sure there was some Spanish logic there somewhere. Nah, you’re right. 😉 Sally Satnav didn’t know the speed limits either because, despite having updated our maps prior to our trip, Sally Satnav knew nothing of one major section of this autovia; we were decidedly off-piste.
Eventually we re-joined Garmin’s mapped world in time to leave the autovia and head north for 30 minutes up one of the twistiest roads I’ve ever driven. The views of villas on the hillside were pleasant for the passenger, the only one who could take her eyes off the road to look, though.
We came to what appeared to be the col and lo, there was one parking space for us to take a breather. Sod the breather, there was also a bar with beer and tapas and locals sitting outside in the Andalucian sun. Well, it would be rude not to join them and there was a table still free. We sat with drinks and tapas and prepared to watch the world go by. When the world did go by, the world consisted of a herd of goats which swarmed past our table just a few centimetres away liberally scattering goat droppings as they went. What a colourful introduction to Andalucia.
Refreshment over, colourful soon became the order of the day, in that the air turned blue. The Garmin antichrist struck again. We were heading for Canillas de Albaida, a typically white Andalucian village dripping down the side of a mountain. Sally Satnav now took it upon herself to send us deep into the heart of the village just over the col, down twisting, steep roads just about wide enough for a car IF you folded in the wing mirrors. Wedged in such a gap, we ended up faced with a 135° left turn. Enter: blue air. After cursing profusely, I used a couple of other steep narrow roads opposite at the same “crossroad” to do an about face. Half way through my manoeuvre, I had to wait for a local to use the same roads to shuffle his way around the 135° turn – apparently this was normal behaviour. Eventually I was facing back the way I’d been directed and retraced my way back up the same narrow street, wing mirrors still folded in, praying that I didn’t meet another local heading for the same 135° turn.
I didn’t. I folded the wing mirrors back out again and made for the sensible 2-lane road around the outside of the village. We’d initially assumed that we were plunging into the heart of Canillas de Albaida, our destination, but no, this, we discovered, was Cómpeta, the larger town before our destination. Sally just thought she’d ignore the good road and take a short cut through the middle of it.
Satnavs really are barkingly stupid at times and, I’ve decided, are particularly useless in Spain. They’re fine on main roads but you don’t need them on main roads where a Francine, a map and a brain are more than sufficient. Some roads, it seems to me, should be flagged “avoid unless this is your ultimate destination”. How difficult would that be? There are many such roads in Spanish villages which should be studiously avoided unless you’re actually going there.
After a further few kilometres on the Garmin-disliked decent road, we did enter Canillas de Albaida. The hotel address proved useless – we were being plunged into another “maize of twisting turning passages, all the same” [remember the Adventure computer game?] but were wary now and decided to bail out. Mercifully we stumbled across a square with parking spaces, one of which was free. We took to our feet with Sally Satnav muttering “in 50 metres turn left”, much to the amusement of the locals. More by luck than technology, we finally found our hotel and downed yet more beers while we awaited the arrival from Malaga airport of our travelling companions.
And relax …