Lake Iznajar

July 20, 2018 - Priego de Córdoba, Spain

The little town of Iznajar sits on top of a steep hill overlooking the Genil River valley. In the 1960s 200 hectares of land and 150,000 olive trees were submerged to create a reservoir, officially 'opened' by Franco in 1969, to supply drinking water and irrigation to local villages. So Iznajar became an inland town with extensive water views, no doubt greatly increasing its tourist potential. Lake Iznajar, as the reservoir is called, is about 30 km long, and almost immediately beneath the town is the wide sandy stretch of Valdearenas Beach.

I was intrigued by the name of the village, and my research revealed that it was named after the Hins Ashar castle built there by the moors in the 8th century. Between Cordoba and Granada, it is near the  southwest border of the province of Cordoba, and, following hundreds of years of various skirmishes, it was retaken by the Christians in 1431, some 60 years before the fall of Granada.

Today's expedition was to Valdearenas Beach, about half an hour's drive from the villa. We all went, in our various hired cars, and drove right onto the sand, beside the inevitable umbrellas shading two sunlounges each. We paid up and settled ourselves down to sunbake, swim or have a turn in one of the kayaks or boats which were sitting on the edge of the water, ready for hire. I had a swim, nodded over my kindle and took some pretty ordinary photos. Most of the others eventually went up to the restaurant on the edge of the beach for lunch, but I didn't feel like it, so sat and minded our gear. Not that there was much need for that, as there were very few other people on the beach even though the day was sunny - totally cloudless in fact - and warm (about mid-30s). I was surprised that there weren't more people as I had seen pictures of the beach when it was quite crowded, and the lake dotted with various craft such as pedal boats, kayaks and wind surfers- no powered craft allowed.

We stayed for a few hours, enjoying being there together in the lovely scenery. When we were getting ready to leave, about mid-afternoon, the Canadians decided they would like to try out one of the pedal boats. These are quite ingenious as they have a tall slide down which you can hurtle into the water.

David, Sarah and I called into Iznajar on the way home. It is a pretty little town with the usual white houses and colourful flowers growing or hanging in the narrow streets. We made our way up to the 'mirador', an open area with a kind of promenade from which there is an extensive view of the lake. There is a castle and a fort in the town, but we contented ourselves with just taking in the views.

As we were driving into the villa carpark, Sam came out to meet us. Will, Emily and Caroline and families were home by this time, but the place had been deserted when Sam arrived, having hired a car and driven up from Malaga airport. We were very disappointed that Lucy, Alfie and Mabel hadn't been able to make it. Sam was about to go into Las Lagunillas for a few supplies so I said I would accompany him. It was his second visit for the day as the emptiness of the villa had driven him into town for a quiet pint earlier.I don't think he is as fluent in Spanish as Caroline, but he certainly knows enough of the language to make a shoppping expedition with him less hilariously full of misunderstandings than our last few have been.

We got back in time for the usual melee in the courtyard, during which the Canadians returned, having thoroughly enjoyed their boat ride. Finally, the routine of a barbecue under the vine-covered pergola. What a life!

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