Some very good friends of ours, Don and Olga, have been living in Spain for the last couple of years, and we finally got round to visiting them in May last year.
They chose the little town of Lanjaron, just south of Granada, to be close to their daughter, and none of them - amazingly - have yet visited the best attraction in town.
Water is not in short supply in Lanjaron, nestled as it is at the foot of the Sierra Nevada. Every few metres there is a fountain, with delicious, cool drinking water (‘agua potable’) gushing freely out, each fountain with its hand-painted verse from Lorca, or one of the other poets of the region.
But the place to go for water is the ‘balneario’, the spa that attracts visitors from all over Spain. There, three times a day, people queue up to fill their plastic bottles with one of five different types of water, scrupulously identified according to the balance of different minerals and the various bodily ailments which they are aimed at relieving. In fact a high proportion of the residents of Lanjaron (mostly ‘jubilados’, that lovely Spanish word for retired people) appear to use the place as a kind of social centre, getting gently treated, chatting away to their friends, relaxing in the sun and sharing the odd snack.
My wife and I, rather craftily, chose an option which, at a cost of 40 euros, gave us a full hour – just the two of us – in something called the Termas al Lanchar, a private sanctuary containing everything you could need: a plunge pool with water so cold that your pores clap tight shut, begging for surrender; a hot version next to it with a button producing a gush of water to baste your neck and shoulders; a long warm pool leading off the main room, for lolling about in or using the underwater jets to massage your feet and toes; a steam room and, finally, a pair of rooms where, for an extra 15 euros, you could choose to add on a quarter of an hour of massage. We so chose.
Oh yes, and don't forget the other attraction of this pleasant little town: the fact that it is in the centre of the region which produces 'jamon serrano'. Sadly, the only type of ham that Don likes is the stuff his mother gave him, when he was a child back in Belfast. Still, all the more for us.
(ps. Under 'Who did you go with?' you didn't give 'spouse or partner' as an option!)
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