The next morning we packed up and headed to the train station to pick up a hire car from Goldstar. Paperwork done, deposit paid, we were on our way through the busy streets of Sevilla, heading south east towards the Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema on our way to our intended destination, Arcos de la Frontera, initially along the A4 then the A376. We chose that route so we could avoid the busier expressway and so we could break the journey in the Parque Natural (National Park). Sadly the weather didn’t cooperate at first, pouring rain as we reached the outskirts of Sevilla and continuing for quite some time. Orientating oneself to a new vehicle, in a new country, on the wrong (opposite) side of the road is quite mentally draining. Not to mention turning on the indicators every time I really wanted the windscreen wipers! However after about an hour we reached Puerto Serrano and turned to the south west. Then at Villa Martin we picked up the A 373 and drove towards Prado del Rey before entering Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema. At first we reached a recreational area within the park, Los llanos del campo, (the plains of the countryside) where we were able to stop and have a drink whilst waiting for the rain to totally stop. There were several walks possible in the area. We chose one called El Tesorillo. After parking the car we entered via an open gate.The start of the trail wound through magnificent green moss covered rocksand moss covered trees.After a while the soft leafy trail became rockier as we ascended.Eventually we came to an open area with an excellent view up into the hills which were still a bit mist shrouded.Expecting to continue up we were a little surprised when the trail turned to the left and began to descend.We kept following it but it kept descending, so clearly this trail wasn’t going to take us higher up into the hills. So not knowing the area we just went with it.Upon returning to the car we headed further east into the park and towards Grazelema. We soon passed through the first of the white villages in the area, Benamahoma and continued on towards Grazelema, arriving on the outskirts about twenty minutes later. Misty clouds wafted across the rooftops as we made our way down into the town. We thought it would be nice to stop and look around but parking was very difficult so we just drove slowly through and back up the other side where we found a place to stop and at least take a photo.From there we continued west towards Arcos. It took us about an hour but we could clearly see Arcos from quite a distance away as it was truly perched up on a long narrow hill.After stopping for a few quick photos we took what appeared to be the only road into town.However we soon came to a point where there were only narrow one way roads and the one our navigator was telling us to take was one way in the opposite direction! So we backtracked to the main road and drove almost the whole way around Arcos before finding our way in and up to our hotel, Hostal Puerta de Arcos (which is now renamed Placette Puerta de Arcos). It was one of the few buildings that was not painted white.The guy on reception spoke no English and as our Spanish is quite limited he ended up using a translator on his mobile phone to sort out check in and showing us to our room and, very helpfully, arranging parking for us. As you can see it was a lovely room.After taking a shower we headed out for a quick orientation walk of the area before finding a number of restaurants up the hill along Calle Corredera. We ended up choosing Patio de Andalusia, a large patio garden restaurant. The menu offered a wide range of tapas, ½ and full rationes. The waitstaff were very attentive and the food we ordered was really nice food.
Dinner finished and bill paid, we continued walking around this part of the old town passing the minor basilica of Arcosas well as a very upmarket hotel, Parador de Arcos de la Frontera, nearby.We also noticed the Balcón de la Peña Nueva at the end of the plaza but at night there isn’t much to see below. It would be something to check out again the next day. From there we made our way downhill to our hotel ready for a good sleep.