Wednesday, 14 November 2012

It’s snow time in Spain......

It is that time of the year. I look out of my window and what do I see. Snow.

There are still people who believe snow never finds it way to Spain, but it does and, in some locations,  for many months of the year.
Snow brings with it the chance to see places in Spain in a whole new light, a bright, white light.

And the light of the snow certainly offers a whole different backdrop to some locations in Spain.
Take Granada for example. Can there be a finer contrast than sunshine, blue skies and snow covered mountains? When you walk around this city between November and April you will be doing so against a backdrop of the snow covered Sierra Nevada mountains.

Up at the ski resort, the most southerly such resort in all of Europe, people are being sporty and active but, down below in the city centre, it is likely warm enough to sit outside a bar for a coffee, some tasty churros con chocolate or a nice glass of locally produced wine.
Sit back, chill out and look up and admire the stunning view. On many days you will be able to get a sun tan while sat looking at the snow.

 Don’t try to see the city and all it has to offer in a day. You cannot hope to do that. Spend a few days there and do so in the winter months when daytime temperatures are pleasant and the scenery is at its most spectacular.

 And when it cools down a little, see some of the sights on offer. Such as the atmospheric souk like shopping streets of the Alcaiceria, just off Plaza Bib Rambla. The original silk market was destroyed by fire in 1843. But the modern day version is somewhere you must see and experience.

A day spent wandering the back streets of the city is an education. Go to some of the classy individual shops and, when you have shopped until you have dropped, it will be time to go to a traditional tapas bar in Granada. If you want to sit down, be early or stand at the bar and enjoy the throng. Be both part of the action and a spectator.

You are in a very authentic Andalusian city, so make the most of it. Visit its history via the numerous museums on offer, but also get a feel for what it is like today.

If you want to get even closer to the snow, then you could hop on a bus to towns such as Güéjar Sierra, nestled below the Sierra Nevada mountains or, if you want to hear the sound of crunching snow underfoot, drive to the villages of La Alpujarra, and take a break there.
Again, don’t rush it, spend some time in this land that time forgot.

A magnificent backdrop in Granada

Make sure you are wearing enough clothing. It will be a few degrees cooler in villages such as Pampaneira, Capileira and Bubion. But the setting is a delight and you can go for long walks in the snow. Children can even go sledging up here with the sun shining on them and the feel and taste of snow they love so much all around them.
They can build a snowman above Capilleira. Now that is something for them to tell their friends when they get back to school. Without a word of a lie, they can tell teacher that they built a snowman in sunny Spain. After all, any holidaying child can say they built a sand castle on the beach. That is only to be expected.

Which reminds me… if you want to be by the sea while looking at snow, then go no further south to the city of Motril.
For many months of the year you can sunbathe on the beach of Playa Granada and have the sea in front of you and the snow covered mountains behind you. Turn your chair around so that you follow the sun and are able to take in that amazing view of snow, set against a blue sky and yet with the sound of the waves in your ears.
The best of both worlds.

A view from the beaches of the Costa Tropical

 At different times of the year there are other locations in Spain where you can do the same. The mountains behind Malaga will have snow on them for some weeks of the year. It is warmer in winter there than in Granada and there is plenty to do and see in marvellous Malaga.
And if you find yourself in the north of Spain seeking out snow, then go take a look at the magnificent Picos de Europa mountains. You can access them from León, Castile, Cantabria or Asturias. You may have only seen this mountain range when looking down on them during a flight over Spain and on a clear day. But they deserve a much closer exploration. Stunning doesn’t do them justice.

Lunchtime at Sierra Nevada ski resort

 So, yes, most of Spain is sunny most of the year but there is a time and a place for snow. Unlike some countries, Spain does not come to a standstill when the white stuff falls from the sky.
It’s business as usual in the country and, as we all know, there’s no business like snow business!

Article by vernon
Vernon is a London born, former Fleet Street journalist and, for 25 years, a television producer for ITV, BBC, SKY & C4. In 2002 he began travelling the length and breadth of Spain. In 2005 he settled south of Granada, and is co-author of a guidebook to the 100 best tapas bars in the city and province of Granada.
Edited by Cortijo Azahar