4-Xtremes – Part 42: Heading south through a spectacular gorge... and lots of mud!

Series: 4-Xtremes – The World Tour

Zig-zagging their way along.

Historical sites in the interior, a modern metropolis on the Mediterranean – and echoes of Persia in Andalusia: the latest stage of the Kammermanns' journey has brought more than its fair share of exciting experiences! They've even done a spot of off-road driving too!

Not for the faint-hearted: the casas colgadas in Cuenca.


We've covered a good distance over these past few weeks, even though we've been pretty much zig-zagging the whole way, even off-road sometimes. Once again, this just goes to show that Spain has so much to see and do that it's hard to plan a route.


We turn back the Axor's speedometer (literally!) and start in Cuenca. The capital of the province Cuenca, it's pretty much halfway between Madrid and Valencia. It's become a real attraction thanks to its old town, which sits majestically on top of a rocky plateau. You could spend hours strolling through Cuenca’s steep and narrow alleyways – and it’s definitely worth stopping to have a look at the “casas colgadas”: the hanging houses.

Some of them are so artfully built into the rock that you don't know where the rock ends and the house begins. And their balconies hang right out over the cliff face!


Leaving the tarmac behind! In Andalusia, the Kammermanns were finally able to give their Axor a challenge again.
Leaving the tarmac behind! In Andalusia, the Kammermanns were finally able to give their Axor a challenge again.
Leaving the tarmac behind! In Andalusia, the Kammermanns were finally able to give their Axor a challenge again.
Leaving the tarmac behind! In Andalusia, the Kammermanns were finally able to give their Axor a challenge again.
Leaving the tarmac behind! In Andalusia, the Kammermanns were finally able to give their Axor a challenge again.
Leaving the tarmac behind! In Andalusia, the Kammermanns were finally able to give their Axor a challenge again.
Leaving the tarmac behind! In Andalusia, the Kammermanns were finally able to give their Axor a challenge again.
Leaving the tarmac behind! In Andalusia, the Kammermanns were finally able to give their Axor a challenge again.

Just keep following the river.

After exploring Cuenca, we treat ourselves and the Axor to a break by a reservoir. At night, the temperatures drop below freezing, but during the day we enjoy the sun and go for walks along the shore with Aimée. A few days later, we're back on the road: this time, we're travelling through a picturesque gorge, following the Río Júcar the whole way. It's a good job there's next to no traffic as we have to keep veering off into the opposite lane because of overhanging rocks!

As we drive through the gorge, we come across the small town of Acalá del Júcar – although it has never exactly been a metropolis, it was much larger than it is today in the middle of the last century. People living in this town don't need to go to the gym to keep fit: the houses are built into the rocks and the streets are so narrow that you have to go everywhere on foot. What's more, if you need firewood, for example, you have to push it up the hill yourself in a wheelbarrow. We feel like we're immersed in a world long gone by: like the Middle Ages, for example, when the predecessors of today’s truck drivers would travel along trade routes here.


Where does the rock end and the streets and houses begin? In central Spain, it's often hard to tell!
Where does the rock end and the streets and houses begin? In central Spain, it's often hard to tell!
Where does the rock end and the streets and houses begin? In central Spain, it's often hard to tell!
Where does the rock end and the streets and houses begin? In central Spain, it's often hard to tell!
Where does the rock end and the streets and houses begin? In central Spain, it's often hard to tell!
Where does the rock end and the streets and houses begin? In central Spain, it's often hard to tell!
Where does the rock end and the streets and houses begin? In central Spain, it's often hard to tell!
Where does the rock end and the streets and houses begin? In central Spain, it's often hard to tell!

City of Arts and Sciences.

The contrast to the nearby metropolis of Valencia could hardly be greater. In Spain’s third-largest city after Madrid and Barcelona, we park our truck in a monitored truck parking area and set off on our bikes. We particularly enjoy Valencia's modern landmark: the City of Arts and Sciences. From here, you can reach the old town by passing through a dried up river bed – today transformed into a lush green park – without having to cycle through city traffic.

And then another contrast: because the coast south of Valencia is very densely populated, we choose a parallel route that takes us through mountains and villages – until we reach Andalusia and, for at least some of the way, we leave the tarmac behind us. It must be said, most of the roads here in the south leave nothing to be desired.  However, in the “badlands” of Gebas and then in the Tabernas desert, some offroad action is needed, which comes with its own fair share of mud around the wheel arches; although this is supposedly one of the driest regions in Europe, while we're driving through here, it rains non-stop for days on end!


A contemporary landmark in Valencia...
A contemporary landmark in Valencia...
... and a historical treasure in Granada.
... and a historical treasure in Granada.

Echoes of Persia in the Alhambra.

In the 1960s and '70s, several blockbusters were filmed here, including “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Once Upon a Time in the West”. The film sets have been converted into amusement parks, where you can stop for a tipple at the authentic saloons and even spend a night in the “Western Hotel”. However, we go for remote, largely forgotten backdrops next to a dried-up river bed, which brings back memories of our last trip. This was in Mongolia, where we spent many days driving through landscapes very similar to this, although admittedly, there weren't any palm trees!

The final destination of this stage also brought back memories of our first “4-Xtremes” tour: the Alhambra in Granada, at the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This expansive fortress complex is regarded as one of the most important examples of Moorish architecture – and as we strolled around, we were reminded of Iran, another country which we've toured extensively! This is especially the case with the magnificent Nasrid Palaces. We need almost two hours to see everything as there are so many intricate details and incredible carvings.


The big difference is that in Iran, there were hardly any other Western visitors to the historic sites, while the Alhambra and the Nasrid Palaces is one of Europe’s most visited tourist attractions. When buying our tickets, we had to give our passport numbers and book time slots. But it was definitely worth it. To end our visit, we climb to the very top of one of the towers, where we enjoy a wonderful view of Granada’s old town and the snow-covered Sierra Nevada. From up here, we can almost see to our next destination...


4-Xtremes – The World Tour.

An unparalleled journey.

Andrea and Mike Kammermann have been on tour in their Axor for three years. "4-Xtremes – The World Tour" is the motto of the journey that the two Swiss nationals embarked on in mid-2020 and which they share with the RoadStars community. Keep up to date and don't miss out on any of the stunning destinations visited by the adventurous pair.

You can find all the parts from the “4-Xtremes – The World Tour” series here.


Photos: 4-Xtremes

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