Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

'They're pathetic aren't they?'

This weekend is a bit of a double whammy. Firstly, the old fella is sixty years young today, while tomorrow sees the celebration of twenty five whole years of married bliss for our Sandra and young Raymondo. We've come up into the mountains - to the Sierra Nevada - to celebrate.

When it comes to relatives and the scale of ages, our family is, how d'you say.. all over the shop. Sandra and I are actually cousins, yet her daughters are both older than me, one by five or six years. I haven't seen Sandra and Ray for donkeys, so it's great to be able to share a couple of days with them. The fact that we have two big celebrations thrown into the melting pot only makes things better and funnier, and as for the banter and hysterics there couldn't be a more mental mix of rellied individuals.

The first balls up came when we realised we were headed in the wrong direction, thus illustrating the size and scale of Spain's Sierra Nevada. We were half way up the ski fields when a wise voice from the back seat quietly suggested that we might first want to establish exactly which mountain village we are supposed to be looking for. Upon checking the map we learned that listening to the voice from the back seat isn't always such a stupid thing.

Two and a half hours later and we'd made it across the valley floor and up through the entwining climb into the giddy heights of two tiny little mountain villages located just short of the mountain summit, the other side of which provides all the excitement of snack bars, chair lifts and ski runs. Considering we were just 'over the way', the travelling distance between the two locations is ridiculous. But we were far from disappointed...

Capileira is the higher of the two villages, and sits just below the summit of one in a whole bowl of sprawling mountains. The village itself is nestled comfortably at 1500 metres above sea and provides superb views through the entire valley. You can see it all: the hairline roads snaking their way deceptively into much less visible corners and the tiny little buildings perched into stupidly steep and remote hillsides, making you wonder how the hell people actually get up there. Who lives in a place like this?

The air here is crisp and clean and having just come from a mountainous environment in a July winter, to be here now is quite surreal. Mountains again. There's something about mountains.

We checked in to the Finca Los Llanos, a small hotel/guesthouse with superb views over the valley and immaculate rooms, every bit of it brimming with character. By the time we'd re-acquainted with Ray and San and dumped our bags it was around 3pm, so we wrapped up and took a leisurely stroll through the village, stopping briefly at a little chalkboard advertising 'Vino y Tapas...' They'd got a warm fire going too so in we went...

...where we spent the next four hours supping vinos y cervezas y mas y mas y mas. Muntered. You need to picture it though. Four sixty-somethings and me. Totally out of control. The noise, the howls, the giggles and the squeals raised more than one eyebrow, and the visit to the supermarket afterwards (to top up on more Rioja) probably gave the local villagers more entertainment than they've seen in a long time. I haven't seen my old man as hysterical as he was in that supermarket. It was fantastic.

And to think that it didn't stop there. We continued on and on, supping more and dining well into the night. One hell of a re-union..
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