a-simpler-life-el-pocito-header-almonaster

almonaster la real

recently voted one of the most beautiful villages in Spain,

and ideal location for a holiday or living off-grid

The ancient town of Almonaster la Real is not only unspoilt and beautiful, but comes with an unbeatable local atmosphere, like being part of one big family, as most of its residents were born here and chose to stay, making it especially calm and safe, with visitors and incomers automatically made welcome.  Containing everything you need for a day or a lifetime, without recourse to the need for a car.

Currently there are 800 people living here.  At weekends, and during the numerous public holidays, this increases as family members return.  Most days also there are tourists, drawn either by the authentic Moorish architecture (including allegedly the oldest mosque in Spain), or to set out on one of the numerous (guided if required) walking/ mountain bike/ horse riding routes in the seemingly limitless surrounding countryside, or to simply search for mushrooms and sweet chestnuts which are prolific here.

The facilities available are therefore developed to cater for such diverse needs.

Including:

● nursery/ primary school  ● alternative school (15kms away)  ● sports centre  ● health centre  ● outdoor swimming pool  ● library  ● grocery shops  ● bakery  ● restaurants  ● bars  ● banks and ATM  ● post office  ● social services office  ● chemist  ● wi-fi  ● builders merchants  ● car mechanic/ workshop  ● all the building trades  ● alternative medical practitioners  ● self-catering accommodation  ● three level campervan parking sites ● campsite (in nearby Cortegana)  ● a small weekly market (Tuesday morning)  ● computer repair  ● taxi  ● daily bus service to Sevilla and Portugal  ● town hall  ● bodega (under construction)

Within 30 minutes drive everything else, for resident and tourist alike.

The nearest petrol station (which also sells bottled gas) is in Cortegana (8kms).

Sevilla (airport/ AVE train) is 120kms (72 miles) away.  The beach 140kms (84 miles).  Border with Portugal 45kms (27 miles).

The best way to get a proper feel for this unique place is to spend a few minutes watching a recent national television programme about it (featuring yours truly).  Okay it’s all in spanish, but don’t worry very easy to follow:

… there is also a newly opened MICRO MUSEUM worth visiting, run by a good friend.

You can find this located along the path around the mosque (see map below)

 

· ANNUAL FESTIVALS

CRUCES DE MAYO 5-9 May

ROMERIA DE SANTA EULALIA 19-21 May

ALMONASTER LOCAL FIESTA 11-13 August

CULTURAL WEEK end of August ISLAMICAS  13-15 October

 

 

· OUTDOOR PURSUITS

The Sierra has a vast array of adventure options to offer, of which particular to Almonaster la Real are the opportunity to explore the hundreds of kilometres of forestry trails.  Perfect for hikers, mountain bikers (you can bring your own or hire a brand spanking new electric one from e-bikearacena, and horse riding.

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… the latter from the PICADERO LA SUERTE.

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and Finca el Moro

· OTHER ACTIVITIES

There are plenty of groups in town to get involved with, one I particularly enjoy is the Street Choir, here is a video of us singing recently at the annual August fiesta

· GETTING HERE

From FARO airport (in Portugal) there are very cheap flights from the UK and other EU countries (as low as 24 euros  return), however there is no direct public transport link here, so you really need to hire a car, and it is about a 3hr drive (220km).

From SEVILLA (120 km) there is a bus to Almonaster, but only ONE a day, at 4pm (except Friday when there is another later).  From the airport to the Plaza de Armas bus station it’s a 10 km (35 minutes) bus ride (4 euros), then you buy a ticket (at the DAMUS bus company window) for ALMONASTER LA REAL (about 12 euros), remembering to change buses at the ARACENA bus-station.

· WEATHER

can be checked by clicking here, though it is most reliable only for the next two days.

2018 Almonaster la Real street map A4 english version 300 dpi· TOWN MAP

can be downloaded by clicking here.

· EATING OUT

In a bar/ restaurant there are basically three options.  Tapas (small plates of one thing, at around 2-3 euros each), which are very cheap and usually of sufficient quantity for two to fill you up.  Cold and hot.  Montadito, which is like a tapa, but with bread and usually heated.  Courses (raciones/ platos), which can turn out very expensive indeed, typically three courses setting you back 30+ euros a head.  Bars serve tapas and montaditos all year round, but restaurants restrict them to the bar area and outside in good weather, from around 1pm until 2pm and 8.30pm onwards.

· WHAT TO SEE

Almonaster la Real is a very old settlement, people have lived here continuously since pagan times.  Thankfully much of the past has been retained and maintained, which means walking around the streets is just like going back in time.  Most of the houses inside are like this too.  The church/ mesquita at the top of the hill gives a really good idea of all the different historical periods.  The church in the town also has been lovingly restored.

There are two other chapels also.  Plus a communal fountain/ spring and washing area.

Outside the town and you are immediately into the countryside, with many circular routes and others heading off to towns nearby, mostly forestry tracks.  The Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park stretches for 184,000 hectares, most of it is forested hills and mountains.

This part of Spain, being one of the lowest populated and least unspoilt regions, is in many respects pretty much unchanged from the days not so long ago when there were no roads and the only way of life was a rural self-sufficient one.  Still there exists a vast array of diverse plant and wild life.  Including 189 types of bird (for example: eagles/ hawks/ vultures/ peregrine falcon/ osprey/ kite/ kestrel/ owls/ and griffin).  As well as the more usual other creatures: frog/ toad/ newt/ dragonfly/ butterfly/ salamander/ lizard/ otters/ snakes/ mongoose/ wild boar/ deer/ goats/ cattle/ pigs/ beech martens/ polecats/ genets/ weasels/ badgers/ bats/ wild sheep…..From the top of nearby peak San Cristobal you can see a 360 degree panorama that stretches as far as the coast (on a clear day) and Portugal.

a simpler life el pocito map miguel tenorio

· bar/ restaurant MIGUEL TENORIO

Personally, I think this is the best bar in town, however it is only open weekends (from 1pm – 10pm).  It is also the hardest to find, even though it is located right in the middle of town.  Their address: is Calle Los Naranjos, 3.  If you are in the small square and facing the Panaderia then it is the road down the right side of that.  At the bottom of the road is Tovar mini-supermarket.  The menu is in english and french, as well as spanish, and reasonably priced.  The staff are ultra friendly and helpful. https://www.facebook.com/mesonrestaurante.migueltenorio/

a simpler life el pocito map el rincon de curro

· bar/ restaurant EL RINCÓN DEL CURRO

Everyone says this is the best restaurant in the area.  I haven’t been yet, but intend to try their tapas soon.  There is a menu totally in english, and wi-fi.  https://www.facebook.com/El-Rincón-de-Curro-615935528454387/

 a simpler life el pocito map the mcinnes english library

· THE MCINNES ENGLISH LIBRARY & MAIN LOCAL LIBRARY

The former was bequeathed by a former resident and added to by english residents.  It has now been combined with the main library.  Open weekday evenings.

a simpler life el pocito map al-andalus

· Moroccan café AL ANDALUS

The owners Malika (who is Moroccan) & Pepe (Spanish) have a unique place in town for drinks/ snack, or meal.  Especially as they are open all day every day.  And in good weather the views can’t be beaten.  Their Moroccan mint tea is to be recommended.  Opens at 9am.  Earlier breakfasts (to suit any diet) can be arranged by phoning the day before (00 34 627 794 162), same goes for full meals.  Vegetarian friendly.  https://www.facebook.com/CafétériaTeteria-al-andalus-1764725580505352/

a simpler life el pocito map las palmeras
· holiday apartments LAS PALMERAS

Small modern apartment block with everything you need for self-catering from 2 adults +.  Wi-fi.  https://www.facebook.com/laspalmeras.alojamientorural

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· bar/ restaurant LAS PALMERAS

Opposite the holiday apartments.  Opening hours are variable, can be pricey, and service is often slow.  https://www.facebook.com/restaurante.laspalmeras.5

a simpler life el pocito map casa garcia

· bar/ restaurant/ hotel CASA GARCIA

The hotel is closed currently but hopefully will re-open soon.

a simpler life el pocito map casa la torre

· holiday house CASA LA TORRE

This is a lovely place to rent for a couple of days, except for one tiny thing, its proximity to the church and its clock/ bells, which chime every half-hour, deafening.

· butcher CASA LLANES

I don’t buy meat so can’t comment.

a simpler life el pocito map el sitio

· bar CAFÉ CON ARTE/ cafeteria EL SITIO

Both sadly have closed, but fingers crossed a new owner will be found soon.

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· bar ALMONASTER

Very popular with locals, especially the yummy mummy crowd between 9.15am-10.30am.  Their tapas are good and cheap, but the interior can be noisy when busy.  Answer: sit outside in the summer.  Wi-fi.  Closed on Wednesdays.  https://www.facebook.com/BarAlmonaster/  

a simpler life el pocito map manuela

· newsagents/ shop MANUELA

Owner Manuela speaks excellent English (though has a hearing problem, so please speak clearly and slowly).  Sells everything imaginable (just ask and she will have it somewhere) including daily newspapers and magazines, plus all sorts of household items/ stationery/ and clothes.

a simpler life el pocito map post office

· post office

Note: ONLY open for two hours a day (8.30am-10.30am), weekdays.  Try and take the correct amount of change, they don’t have a float!

a simpler life el pocito map panaderia

· bakery/ grocery PANADERÍA

For fresh fruit & vegetables this is the best place (there is a vegetable market nearby but opening hours are erratic).  However, with only two deliveries a week (Monday & Thursday) you have to be early (10.30am ish).  The bread is not the best, and cakes tend to be very expensive/ light on substance.

a simpler life el pocito map sociedad union amistosa

· bar SOCIEDAD UNIÓN AMISTOSA

Opens earliest in town,all day, every day.

a simpler life el pocito map farmacia

· chemist FARMACIA

Next-day or 48hr delivery of most things if not in stock, including homeopathic remedies.

a simpler life el pocito map tovar

· mini-supermarket TOVAR

This is an old photo, as the supermarket has been totally revamped since, but I like it.  You will always get excellent service here, from its owners Evaristo & Juani.  It is also deceptively well-stocked (don’t forget to look downstairs as well).  They also sell fresh bread.

a simpler life el pocito map plaza del llano

· events venue PLAZA DEL LLANES

Where most outdoor concerts and half of the annual CRUZ DE MAYO take place.

a simpler life el pocito map atm

· atm

If you have any problems using this during the bank’s opening hours, the manager Eduardo speaks perfect english.  If your card doesn’t work come back later, as it is totally dependent on the internet signal, reception (as with mobile phones too) is not good here.

a simpler life el pocito map estanco

· tobacconist/ shop ESTANCO

This has to be one of the tinniest shops ever.  And it is difficult to see what they have in stock, but Maria-Jose does a little bit of everything so well-worth asking.  https://www.facebook.com/El-Estanco-De-Mª-Jose-En-Almonaster-314139502030907/

a simpler life el pocito map town hall

· town hall AYUNTAMIENTO

Copies of the local free newspaper VIVA LA SIERRA and the monthly what’s on guide for Sevilla EL GIRALDILLO available here.  At least one of the staff speaks english.

a simpler life el pocito map sish

· computer repairs S.I.S.H.

Rafael (Rafa) is a whizz-kid and god-send for sorting out problems with new (and not so new) technology (including phones), so if you have any problems you can feel safe in his hands.  If the shop is closed ring the bell, he lives upstairs.

a simpler life el pocito map meson isobel ii

· bar/ restaurant MESÓN ISABEL II

Under new management.  The food in the past was always good (and some of the menu in english), but I always find the atmosphere too claustrophobic.  I have also been short-changed on several occasions.  Vegetarians catered for.  Wi-fi.  https://www.facebook.com/restaurantealmonaster/

· crafts/ gifts TALLER DE CERAMÍCA

An Aladdin’s cave of locally made things, if it is not open ask for Esperanza at MESÓN ISABEL II

·natural spring FUENTE DEL CONCEJO

If you don’t like the taste of the mains water, this is perfectly safe and more healthy.

· bar/ restaurant/ accommodation POSADA EL CAMINO

Not in town, but only a short walk away.  The bar has a very nice atmosphere, especially in winter, apparently the food is very good.  https://www.facebook.com/Restaurante-y-Posada-El-Camino-239041952911255/

· PARKING

There are three designated areas, two on the main road, one just out of town (near Posada El Camino) which has the best views, and all level enough for campervans.

· OPENING TIMES

Please be aware that opening hours of shops and bars here is very erratic (even the locals can’t work it out), so expect the unexpected, according to the season/ fiestas/ and local & national holidays.

· FINALLY

for a real taste of what it is really like to live here, these videos are a perfect way of sampling the creativity and energy.  Made by my friend Carlos, the first is a lighthearted look at the cooking of his grandparents.  In spanish but easy to understand.  The second is, well just have a look, it is beyond translation.  

a simpler life, el pocito, solar powered

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