Andalucia!! Ole!

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….  The Costa del Sol – what springs to mind? sunshine, beach, pools and sangria - however the southern most part of Spain offers so much more – breathtaking scenery, stunning cities, culture and ancient monuments, sumptuous food and wine, sherry and brandy ... and of course olives – there are 80 million trees growing there.

With lots of flights from the UK covering all the Southern Spain gateways - Malaga, Seville, Huelva, Gibraltar ... all good access points for a tour. I flew into the fabulous new airport in Malaga and in 30 minutes we were in the mountains of Mijas behind Fuengirola. A whitewashed village built on a mountain side greeted us with lots of lovely squares, arty shops, bars and restaurants with a constant breeze to keep us cool. Half board in our hotel was ok but it is so much nicer to go out and sip a drink or try the local cuisine al fresco.

The next day, I was off to explore Granada;  its biggest attraction being the Alhambra Palace. Best is to book tickets months ahead of time to see everything. There are 8000 visitors every day and not everybody can get into the inner sanctuary.

The town itself is built on a hill . The gardens are exquisite and our guide kept us spellbound for 3 hours with its fascinating history. The innermost Nasrid Palaces with their intricate, moorish designs are so beautiful. This cannot be missed . If you visit in July and August – although the hottest time – open air concerts are being held in its grounds, the setting is incredible.
The town has lovely squares, a great cathedral and old town, all well worth a walk about . Tapas and drinks were reasonable and it's heaven to sit in the shade in one of the squares.

Seville is another gem in this region. Another guide walked with us through this truly magnificent town, the birth place of tapas...also called  ‘The frying pan’  as it's the hottest town in Europe! We experienced 42 degrees but in July / August it goes to 48 which is eased through lots of shaded streets, parks, water fountains and a slow pace.
From the impressive Plaza de Espana along the river we saw beautiful buildings, many built for the 1929 World Expo but the cathedral, the Alcazar and the Archivo de Indias were incredible, all UNESCO world heritage sites. After walking through the old Jewish quarter, we had lunch and a sherry fino in a cool and dark, typical Spanish restaurant followed by the obligatory ice cream. We made the trip back all vowing to return to experience it in cooler times and at night.

What do you think of Malaga?
Most people use it as an airport for the towns along the coast but recently the city has developed into a chic place full of beautiful walkways, pedestrianised areas, museums, shops and restaurants. We visited the Moorish citadel high above the town with amazing views over the Mediterranean and harbour area and then lost ourselves in the old town with its beautiful squares and markets whilst some others walked along the classy seafront.  It's very good for biking too. After some wonderfully authentic tapas in the shade of a square, we carried on inland onto Antequera ... our stop for the next few days.  This town is popular for golfers, but all the major cities in the area can be reached by day trips if you want to tour. It is a typical, lovely town with reasonable prices, good shops, 28 churches, a bullring and a fortress high above the town with lovely views.

The next day I discovered that this is a historic UNESCO protected area with remnants of the Neolithic ages in the El Torcal mountains, and it's a fascinating area for hikers. I looked at awesome rock formations, learned how dolmens (single chamber megalithic tombs) were built and entered a couple of them. Then I explored the town in search of two famous dishes of the area: ‘Porra’ and ‘Bienmesabe’, which I found in a tiny side street tapas bar. They were heavenly delicious!

Another sunny morning and a drive through rolling agricultural countryside full of sunflowers , olive groves and grain fields to Córdoba which was expecting 10000 visitors that day. It certainly was busy around its Mosque-Cathedral and the Jewish quarter with the oldest synagogue and full of narrow winding alleyways opening up into little squares. We had a 2 hour tour of this incredible complex spanning many centuries but remaining authentic. A church inside a mosque ... quite amazing.
Despite the heat being over 40 degrees we roamed the town and were surprised by its beauty round every corner... it certainly would make a great weekend break.

Suddenly it was the last day of my trip and I visited the cliff top town of Ronda, surrounded by gorges and breath taking views. We had a fascinating tour of the old town, the Jewish quarter, the cathedral and the bull ring before being taken to a traditional Spanish restaurant where we sat outside in the shade and sampled some local delicacies. That night they had a flamenco show in the hotel – this passionate dance is so underrated!

My tour was over but there was so much more to see! Cadiz - the oldest town in Andalucia;  Jerez - the sherry centre,  the whitewashed hilltop villages,  Gibraltar … so another time!

.... and of course, the sun shines more than 200 days a year, so it's very much a year round destination.

Do you fancy a trip to the Real Spain
Contact me now – or meet me in the gallery.

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No, I'm not a Travel Guru, but I have loved travelling since I was five years old, and more than love travel... I love to share my experiences... and show you our Wonderful World through my eyes!

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