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Day 5: El Chorro to El Puerto de Santa Maria

It was another bright sunny day when we woke up in El Chorro this morning.spain_05_02.jpg

After breakfast in the hotel we went out for a final stroll around the village to enjoy the views.


We stopped for a quick coffee at a nearby cafe before walking back to our hotel (the big tall building in the photo below) and checking out.


There were some beautiful views as we drove along the road out of El Chorro.


In particular, we could see the bridge and part of the pathway of the Caminito del Rey which we had been walking on yesterday :) 


Looking at the pathway from here made it seem quite scary, although this bit hadn't felt scary at all when we were on it yesterday!


Our first destination for today was the village of Setenil de las Bodegas, around 35 miles from El Chorro.  We arrived and found a parking space by the side of the road on our second attempt. The first attempt involved us parking on what looked like a normal street, then having a man approach us and tell us we owed him €2! It seemed like some sort of racket so we didn't want to pay it, but we also didn't want to not pay it and leave the car there in case something happened to it. Luckily the second space we found didn't come with any strings attached :) 

First impressions of Setenil were that it looked really pretty.


Setenil is one of Andalusia's so-called "pueblos blancos" (white towns) so we were expecting to see lots of little whitewashed houses. What makes Setenil unique among the white towns, however, is the fact that there are several streets here where the houses are literally built into the rock.


The town is located along a narrow river gorge and in places the rock even overhangs the street :o 


Looking down from up on high where we'd parked, the village almost didn't look real!


It must be very strange living in a house like this.


Setenil is quite a well-known village and so even on a weekday in November, the main street was pretty busy.


I can imagine it's even busier in the summer, with lots of people making day trips to visit it.


This street isn't pedestrianised either, so it was a bit chaotic at times with cars and vans coming in different directions.


Once we branched off onto some side streets, everything got a lot quieter though.


Even away from the attraction of the main street, the village was really attractive with its bright white houses.


We found that there were other, quieter residential streets with houses built into the rock too.


There weren't many other tourists who made it as far as this one :) 


The town is built on a hill so we had to walk up some pretty steep slopes before we came to the main square.


It was really pretty here though - well worth the climb :)


We found yet more houses built into the side of the rock.


Before we knew it we had reached the outskirts of the town, so we needed to turn around and head back towards the centre.


Soon we were nearly back at the main street, which seemed a little quieter than it had when we first arrived.


After one last look at the view, we got back in the car to head towards our second stop of the day - Olvera.


Olvera was only 10 miles down the road from Setenil, so not the longest of drives. We managed to find a parking space on the outskirts of town and were soon walking towards the centre.


Like all the towns in this part of the world Olvera is built on a hill so we had a bit of climbing to do. The views were amazing though :) 


We were walking towards the main church, which is set at the top of the town near the castle.


There's a large terrace in front of the church with great views down to the lower town.


We also had a good view of the castle, which dates from the 13th century.


It was certainly in a good strategic position on this big rock!


The countryside around Olvera looked really beautiful too. There's more greenery in this part of Spain than I expected.


We still had a lot of miles to cover today, so soon it was time to climb back down towards the car.


Our next stop, around 20 miles away, was the small village of Zahara de la Sierra.


Zahara is in a really lovely location, overlooking a small reservoir.


This town has fortifications too - we saw a small castle overlooking the reservoir...


...and a larger tower right on top of the hill.


Zahara was the easiest village to park in, but we found a space right at the bottom of the hill the town is built on, so we had a bit of a walk upwards towards the centre.


Before long we came to this little white tower.


From here we could see up towards the castle...


...and down towards the rest of the town.


Zahara's main square was just around the corner from here.


There was a terrace in front of the square, from where we could look down on the reservoir.


As you can probably tell from the photo, the sun was a bit bright today :D 


The square itself was lovely too.


All the restaurants and cafes seemed to be centred around here, so it seemed like a good place to get lunch.


Nowhere seemed to have menus out which always makes life more difficult, but we found a restaurant where we could get the menu by scanning a QR code on the table. The food took quite a long time to come, but when it did it was delicious :)  Tim had chicken with roquefort and I had garlic chicken, which was absolutely beautiful. We may not have eaten the free olives we were given though :D 


It was a really lovely place to sit and eat and the weather is just about still warm enough to sit outside (though we did see multiple Spanish people wearing coats!)


From Zahara, our route led us through the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.


Some of the scenery here was really spectacular and we stopped at multiple viewpoints to enjoy it.


Again, I've found that this part of Spain doesn't look as barren as I had expected.


There are a lot of olive trees everywhere, which I guess explains why we keep getting free olives with our drinks :D 


From this particular viewpoint we could see down to the reservoir by Zahara, as well as the winding mountain road that we'd just travelled on.


The route continued to wind through the mountains...


...until eventually we ended up in the village of Grazalema itself.


We didn't get out of the car to properly explore this village, although we did manage to find somewhere to stock up on petrol nearby.


The road continued to be really scenic as we drove from Grazalema towards Arcos de la Frontera.


In some places it was really green...


...while in others it was quite rocky.


We didn't have time to properly explore Arcos de la Frontera, because we wanted to try and get to our accommodation before dark. It looks like a fascinating town though, perched on the top of an enormous ridge.


Another place where you wouldn't be able to live if you had vertigo I think!


From Arcos de la Frontera we had another 35 miles or so to our ultimate destination for the evening, El Puerto de Santa Maria.  I had initially been hoping to stay in the nearby town of Cadiz, but it seemed absolutely impossible to find decent accommodation there which included parking. El Puerto de Santa Maria is more of a beach resort, but close enough to Cadiz that we'll be able to visit for a day trip without too much difficulty :) 

The place we're staying in seems pretty spacious, with a large living/dining area...




...and choice between two different bedrooms.



There's definitely plenty of space, which is good because we're staying here for three nights :) 

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