After a large buffet breakfast at Hotel Salinas and Spa (Cortijo Salinas), and a visit to the old church located on the hotel property, we started cycling to what would be my favorite hotel/destination of our entire cycle trip.
We enjoyed a long, slow, beautiful 11.5 km uphill through the scenic, Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema.
We arrived hungry and thirsty to Grazalema, a town of Roman origin, and currently surviving as a tourist destination at the top of a mountain.
On our approach to town, cycling along the rough cobblestones possibly remnant of Roman times, a leather “outlet” caught our attention. I’d read this town used to house leather makers and weavers. Although most of those artisans are long gone, the outlet shop had a perfect-for-Eric new leather wallet calling his name. I would consider this purchase a “need” rather than an “impulse” as Eric’s last wallet is easily over 10 years old. Slim, lightweight and easy to carry made this a perfect cyclist’s purchase/souvenir.
The wallet decision-making made us even hungrier than the hill climb and we were more than ready for tapas and sangria in the town square. The sun was shining and people watching was at it finest.
After our long, leisurely lunch we altered our route and rode a little farther uphill to see the views above the town.
After seeing a map of the area, I think it would have been really fun to have kept riding along the high ridge back to Zahara. I miss the flexibility of having our own bicycles and being in charge of our own route versus being on a set schedule.
After snapping pictures and catching our breath, we backtracked downhill to where we’d entered Grazalema and then took highway A372 through the Parque Natural Sierra De Grazalema towards Ronda. This road skirted the edge of the park giving us a beautiful view of the valley below and across to the road we’d climbed in the morning.
Another 14 kilometers (mostly downhill) brought us to my favorite hotel of our entire cycle trip, Hotel Cortijo Piletas, a converted farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Not only are the rooms comfortable, the gardens welcoming, and the pool inviting, but the owners are fantastic!
When we arrived the owner/wife was helping another guest but took a moment to hand us the keys, settle in, relax, and do the “check-in” paperwork later. I like this kind of thoughtful, trusting, understanding hotelier.
For over two hours I sat by the pool, enveloped in the scent the crepe myrtle in full bloom, watching the chirping birds swooping down to grab fliers near the surface of the swimming pool, and pretended to read my book.
The gourmet, romantic dinner was cooked by the owner/husband. The menu changes daily depending upon what is fresh and available at the market. The bread is bought daily from a Grazalema baker who has been delivering bread for over 70 years.
If I were to come again to Andalusia for a cycle trip, I would book a week at the Cortijo Piletas and use it as my home base. It would be easy to plan a different ride from there each day.