|KATE & GRAHAM AT CORTECONCEPCION
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|Q. Where is Corteconcepcion?
A. In Huelva Province, Spain, about an hour's drive or 85 km north west of Seville. If you know the area, the village is on the eastern edge of the Sierra de Aracena, 6km east of Aracena.
Q. What facilities are there in the Corteconcepcion?
A. Fran leaves you with a detailed printout of shops, bars and restaurants.
Right outside your front door is the local tabac that sells basic foodstuffs. Struggle another 50 metres to the next minimart, Tienda Maru. In the centre of the village is the Jamon and butcher's shop and the chemist. Venture even further to another minimart, Tienda Matu at the other end of the village. The minimarts sell a good selection of food and veg etc, but don't expect a Tesco style choice! Aracena has slightly larger supermarkets where you may find T bags, but even these are relatively small. However, various Mr Honks visit the village selling fish, bread etc - you'll hear them.
Bar and restaurant wise, there seven of them dotted around Corteconcepcion. Bar Jesus is to your right from your front door and the rest are dotted along the street towards the church at the far end of the village. Bear in mind that not all bars are open at all times, and if they are open they may not serve food except perhaps tapas - especially in winter months. Make sure you have a bit of standby pasta to cook in case you get caught short and don't want to travel into Aracena.
Vodaphone mobiles work here - I didn't try any other networks so can't comment.
The odd bus also stops here.
There is a bank with hole in the wall machine.
Q. What is Corteconcepcion and its people really like?
A. Let's be honest here - if you're used to holidaying on the costas, taking in visits to local 'whitewashed villages' you're really seeing a tarted up version of Spain. Much as if you visit places like Bakewell, Tissington, St. Ives etc. in the UK. Corteconcepcion is a typical, charmingly scruffy, Spanish village. People live and work here. As for the local people, they are absolutely welcoming, friendly, and really helpful.
Corteconcepcion is quiet but not too remote. The two roads into and around Corteconcepcion don't really go anywhere else except down to the lake 'Embalse de Aracena'. Aracena, a reasonable sized town, is a short drive or an hour's walk away as are a number of other villages.
Q. What can we do here?
A. Depends on you. This is a good area for walking and wandering the the tracks and villages of the area - not high mountain stuff, but more Derbyshire Dales. Mountain biking. horse riding, Jamon factory visits can be arranged. Visit Aracena's caves. History is abundant all around if that's your thing. Picnic in some beautiful spots. You could always help Mike and Fran on their land. If you're really stuck, count pigs - that'll keep you going for weeks. Probably fishing. Chill out.
Q. What's the accommodation like?
You're staying in a nice clean, modernised village house - whitewashed wall and exposed wood. Large, open plan downstairs. Lounge at one end with two comfy sofas, dining in the centre, fitted kitchen at the other. TV, DVD (plays mp3's), small ghetto blaster. Upstairs, accessed via a spiral staircase, is a mezanine level with one double bed and one single bed and bathroom (Good shower). Wardrobe, tables etc.. Plenty of stuff like toilet rolls and washing up liquid, dish cloths. In summer the high roof and tiled floor should make no 12 cool. In winter there is a calor heater and log burner.
Q. Car hire - do I need a car, if so where from?
A. All the normal hire companies hire from Seville airport. We got ours through Carjet, a company we have used loads of times in Europe. We have also used EconomyCarHire a few times as well as others. Carjet just happened to be the cheapest at the time with no excess payment in the event of damage. Carjet are agents, so the actual hire company was 'Crown Auriga'. Their office is in the arrival's terminal.
Whether you need a car is up to you. If you want to get around, visit other areas, yes. If you're happy to stay around Corteconcepcion, do a walk or two locally, ride horses, use the local twice a day bus, negotiate with Mike some lifts, use taxis, then perhaps not.
Q What's the walking like?
A. See here
Q. Can we get walking maps of the area?
Your best starting point is probably the Discovery Walking Guide and Map of the Aracena region. Written in English, with 25 odd suggested walks that have been verified by the authors, it gives a good week's walking without the stress of finding your own routes in an unfamiliar area. Unfortunately there are no Alpina maps for this area.
To compliment the Discovery guide, Stanfords and MapsWorldwide do the 1:50000 military maps and 1:25000 IGN maps at about 5 gbp each. Most maps of Spain are way out of date, so just use them as a guide. Also a lot of the tracks shown either don't exist, are somewhere else or can be tracks within agricultural land which may be fenced and gated.
Local tourist offices carry pamphlets showing local walks and the GR routes, varying in detail. Some are free, one is about 4.5 euros.
MAPS TO START YOU OFF:
Discovery Walking Guide and Map - About a tenner from Amazon or direct from Discovery Walking Guides.
Instituto Geografico Nacional (IGN) 1:25000, 4 sheets to an area map - Area 918, Sheets I and III. Area 917, Sheets I,II,III,IV.
Cartografia Militar de Espana 1:50000 - Aracena, map 10-37, 11-36, 11-37.
Mapa Guia from Aracena tourist office, 4.50 euros - shows the GR and PR routes and some local walks but not in detail. Spanish.
Footpaths of the Sierra De Aracena and Pico De Aroche from the Aracena tourist office. English Outline of GR and PR paths only.
There are a couple of other pamphlets available from the tourist office - Fran has copies but weren't available from Aracena March 2007.
Q. Do I need to speak Spanish?
A. No - but it really does help if you have the basics. To answer the question another way, very, very few people in this area speak any English. A phrase book is a big help, but also bring a small dictionary to translate menus, notices and the like. A complication is the local dialect - Andalucian. The letter 's' is missed out a lot and words are shortened.
Like most places, if you pre-learn and attempt at least a few words of please, thanks, hello, can i have a ..., please etc your effort is warmly received and rewarded in bucket loads.
Both Porri and Manuel are taking English lessons - do a deal with them - you speak in Spanish to them, and they reply in English to you:-)
Q. Any downsides?
A. You'll need to cook your own egg and chips or find the nearest Costa:-) There isn't a pool at the time of writing - if that's your thing.
Q. Would we go back to Corteconcepcion?
A. Yes - looking forward to it :-))
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