Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Sun, Sand and Snow

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Sun, Sand and Snow

Article excerpt

FROM salopettes to sarong, from balaclava to Bermuda shorts, snow boots to sandals - you have to be a master of packing when you take a ski holiday in Sierra Nevada.

Just 90 minutes' drive down from the ski slopes you can find yourself bronzing on a beach of the Costa Tropical.

That was our schedule for a spring trip to Sierra Nevada, which boasts the largest skiable domain in Spain until May with nearly 75km of runs.

We were to exchange the pistes for a palace and the whistling winds of the snowy mountains for the warm zephyrs of Granada where we could eat freshly picked tropical fruits warmed by April sunshine.

Our guide Federico assured us it was possible to be skiing in the morning and scuba diving by afternoon.

"But if that's too exhilarating a leisurely swim is fine," he suggested.

We opted for a walk along the promenade in the charming little town of Almunecar, 60 miles east of Malaga, immortalised by Laurie Lee in his books As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Rose for Winter.

As springtime swimmers splashed in the sparkling waves we paused to read the inscription on a monument to the author who walked from the Cotswolds all the way to Spain to fight with the International Brigade against the fascists.

Since then Almunecar has become a thriving tourist centre, attracting the likes of David Niven and generations of package holidaymakers and Spanish day-trippers lured by Andalucia's 100kms of Mediterranean beaches and international jazz festival.

Majestic mountains, shimmering white in the distance, protect the Tropical Coast from chilly north winds and provide a micro-climate with 320 days a year of sunshine, an annual average temperature of 20 [degrees]C and plains brimming with colourful tropical vegetation.

We sampled that bounty on a visit to a farm, San Ramon, where Rita Galiana and family run a thriving export business.

She is happy to welcome tourists to sample her crops so, with the air thick with the scent of jasmine, we tucked into succulent elevenses of mango, papaya, star fruit, guava, kumquat and avocado.

She also sells the most delicious honeys and natural skin products - you will smell delicious.

This region is rich in culture, conflict and history.

The Phoenicians and Romans colonised it; the Arabs fortified it with castles and watchtowers to defend it from the Christians; the Christians defended it from the Berbers and Turkish pirates.

The jewel in Granada's crown is the Alhambra Palace, a citadel, fortress and residence of the Nasrid sultans.

This architectural and garden paradise is arguably the most beautiful Arabic palace in the world and certainly the most visited Spanish landmark.

It is called the Red Palace, derived from the red earth from which it was built in the 13th century.

Narcissistic tourists with selfiesticks were having a field day when we visited. …

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