A more genuine place from which to explore La Taha and the surrounding valleys and ancient tracks would be hard to find. This small group of villages form part of what was the last outpost of the Moors in Spain and this is evident in the architecture of Casa Barbara and the other houses in Ferreirola. Barbara herself lives next door. Barbara is English but is as much part of this place as the sparkling mineral water spouting from the nearby springs having lived here for over 20yrs. She is a font (sorry I'll stop the water thing now) of local information but will equally leave you to make your own discoveries if you wish. Nearby Pitres offers all the provisions you need but there are visiting vans for fish and bread etc as well as a few good bars and restaurants nearby. A fairly moderate drive will take you to Orgiva, Bubion or up to the Sierra Nevada at Trevelez but there's a lot to be said for strolls along the valley followed by lunch on the roof terrace taking in views of this beautiful corner of the Alpujarras. Go.
I'm just eating a big bowl of Ferreirola soup made with English ingredients-- pepper, sweet potato, tomato and garlic simmered gently until the peppers turn soft and the added hot paprika permeates the whole -- and it's good, but it doesn't taste the same as the soup I make when we stay at Casa Barbara. The little four ring gas cooker always takes a hammering when we're there, but for those who don't want to cook on holiday there's a multitude of places nearby to eat out. Our favourite is the little bar in Mecinilla when a few glasses of red wine with accompanying tapas makes cooking at home redundant. How to describe Casa Barbara? Let me put it this way: staying in the magical valley of La Taha is going to be a great experience wherever you book, but to wake under a ceiling of cleft chestnut and olive, to sit on the balcony and watch the sun rise over La Corona with the valley beneath still shrouded in shadow, to feel five hundred years of history all around you, adds a depth to the holiday that nowhere fancier or less authentic could possibly match. If I had to sum it up in a phrase I'd call it 'not too fancy, just right', like the valley and the people and the bars themselves. Is it six or seven times we've been back? Eight? Each time we lug our bags up the stairs it's as if we've never been away and the outside world fades into insignificance. Then when you get back home you can close your eyes and remember the light from the setting sun laying along the hillside over the valley, remember frantically cooking tapas for our perfect landlady, remember the smiles and the welcoming 'Hola' from each person you pass in the village, remember the white villages shining among the olives and holm oaks, and the clonk of goat bells sounding through the intense silence. Eight, it's eight times we've been back. Next year, God willing, we'll make it nine.
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This was our second visit to Barbara's house in the Alpujarra region of Andalucia, and once again we were transported into a totally unique and gloriously relaxing experience. This traditional Arabic house set in the tiny "pueblos blancos" of Ferreirola could not be more inviting; with its pretty balcony surrounded by honeysuckle and vines, a breathtaking view of the nearby mountains, well equipped kitchen and roof top terrace (watch out for the low beam as you come down the steps), there is nothing that I don't like. The peace and tranquility have given me some of the best nights' sleep I've ever had, there are plenty of opportunities to walk locally, or if you have hired a car, explore the other villages a little further afield. Ferreirola is a simple place with no bars, shops or restaurants, but a short walk down to Mecina provides a very friendly and colourful local bar that serves unpretentious and reasonably priced food. Each time we visit I find it increasingly hard leaving this idyllic place, we'll definitely be going back for more.
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|A romantic getaway||Rugged travelers|
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