A week in Spain: Beautiful Andalucia

Spain is beautiful and has completely changed my previous list of favorite countries and cities with it’s spectacular Granada.

If I were to choose a couple of things I do not like about Spain I’d choose the impossible siesta ( everything closed from 14:00 to 17:00) and their perfect roads, so complicated that you continuously fail at choosing the right road even with a GPS. The fact that Spanish people that work in museums, hotels, shops almost speak no English at all is also a minus but the pluses compensate for all these faults by so much.

Until my next visit to Spain, at least, every time I’ll think about Spain I’ll remember Granada and it’s streets, cathedral and incredibly beautiful Alhambra complex in which I have spent half a day and would have spent more it time would have not been so short. I’ll also remember the beautiful road by the Costa del Sol, the tiny villages and towns with lovely Moorish houses painted in pure white, the color of the sea and sky at sunset.

Granada seen from Alhambra

Granada seen from Alhambra

Besides the world renowned seaside resorts of Costa del Sol, Andalucía means 4 major cities: Malaga, Granada, Seville and Cordoba.

Out of the four, I’ve managed to see two, the beautiful Granada and the sunny Malaga.

My 8 days trip to the South of Spain took me from Malaga to the tiny country of Gibraltar, back to Malaga, to Velez Rubio (up in the mountains) and to Granada where I have fallen in love with Alhambra.

Malaga  is quite a big city, by the sea, with lovely beaches, a port full of luxurious yachts, narrow streets and quite beautiful buildings. It is most famous for the fact that this is where Picasso was born and lived until the age of 19 when he left and never came back.

His symbolic return took place the day when a museum dedicated to his work was open. The museum, quite interesting, has a permanent exhibition of works showing his development as an artist through time, but also his sources of inspiration, works of art by Rodin or Ingres.

I would have loved the museum better if the works would have been exhibited chronologically, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and had quite a lot of fun trying to decipher the paintings. Picasso was a very talented and quite crazy(in a good way) man.

Another important attraction of Malaga is the impressive cathedral that I would have found amazing had I not been under the impact of the huge cathedral of Granada(Spain’s second largest), seen only a couple of days ago. Malaga cathedral looks like this:

Malaga Cathedral

Another attraction I missed because I became too lazy on the last day is the Alcazaba, the fortress perched on a hill in the middle of the city. Now, Alcazaba is one of the reasons I want to revisit Malaga someday.

If you go to Malaga take a walk next to the sea to the lighthouse and if you’re traveling with children take them to see the Arborean Sea Museum, a tiny but quite interesting natural museum for the kids, by the sea, in the city center.

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Granada is my favorite Spanish city so far, but I have yet to see a few so the position is not final. I love it for its streets, shops and restaurants and the general bohemian atmosphere. Granada is a city where you have to enjoy life.

When choosing from the extensive list of things to do and see in Granada I chose to dedicate our time to Alhambra (half a day), the Cathedral of Granada (Spain’s second largest) and the Royal Chapel, a flamenco show and a long walk through the Albayzin neighborhood. Shopping filled all the gaps in between the visits and shows because when in Spain one has to shop.

It took us exactly a day and a half to achieve all our goals and that time was full of breathtaking moments: from the size of the enormous cathedral, to the touching story told in the Royal Chapel to the absolutely amazing Alhambra, a true treasure of the humanity, to the deeply saddening story of the Reconquista told on the walls of Alhambra.

In between, small souvenir shops constantly increased the weight of our luggage as we kept buying lovely souvenirs. My favorite shop is called Medina and has the widest and pretties variety of souvenirs I have ever seen. They are a chain with many stores around the city center so you’ll surely find one during your wonderings. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

Because Alhambra made such an impression on me, I’ll write a separate article on it, so this is all I can say about Granada in just a few words. To conclude, I recommend Granada with all my heart to everyone interested in history, culture, architecture, music and dancing.

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Talking about dancing. Before seeing a live flamenco show all I could think of when hearing the word was a woman in a red dress, with matching shoes and I was always imagining a catchy rhythm and singing.

Imagine my surprise when I got to see the real show at Casa del Arte Flamenco, a small room in an obscure building, filled with chairs for the spectators, a small stage with two chairs and a not so clean wall.

Now imagine my surprise when two gentlemen appeared and started playing the guitar and singing not quite the catchiest tune, but sad lamentation whose words I did not manage to understand although I have a good comprehension of spoken Spanish.

By the middle of the song I started looking at my travel companions trying not to laugh because the singer looked like a Romanian interpreter of really bad music called “manele”.

When the female dancer appeared and started dancing under the gaze of her partner and with the voice of the guy from the lights occasionally saying olé ( somewhere behind us) I was finding it really hard not to laugh because the flamenco dancer looked like the queen on the damned ( the movie) and the dance looked like a scene from “The Exorcist”.

The four performers were quite good, and the show on the whole was impressive although a bit overwhelming since it expressed a lot of pain and suffering that was not put into a context.

In the end we got used to the style and quite enjoyed the performance because the dancers were really good. Nevertheless, we had a good laugh once the show was over and we got back to our hotel and we still do whenever someone says olé.

Olé

Olé

Other places that caught my eye and somehow my heart are Nerja, the beautiful town by the sea, and the Moorish village of Maro, where we enjoyed a very nice sunset.

In Nerja you can find the Nerja Cave, a very big cave most famous for having the world’s largest stalagmite:

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Considering that the cave is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Spain I think it should be better preserved, but I guess that the profit is more important than the historical and archaeological value. I say this because the cave is not very well kept since there is too much mold in it and obviously, tourists have the stupid habit of touching the stalagmites and stalagmites forever stopping them from growing.

I have seen quite a lot of caves in Romania and abroad and I can say that the Romanian caves are the best keps, even compared to those very famous like Postojna in Slovenia and Nerja in Spain. A natural treasure of this importance and value should be visited only by a limited number of people and with a guide, not by visitors left alone to touch everything, take souvenirs! and look around without really knowing what they’re looking at.

Romanian caves are cared for a lot more, and they are just as spectacular, even though they are smaller, so if you happen to reach Romania head for the Bears’ cave, Meziad and Scarisoara in the Apuseni mountains.

Another attraction in Nerja is Europe’s balcony, a very nice place to enjoy a sunset, and then go to a small bar and grab a bite.

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You should try paella with seafood, it’s delicious. This is the best I’ve had, a 25 kilos paella with seafood I shared with a lot of friends at a party up in the mountains.

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As I said, Spain is lovely even in November whet it can get cold and windy but still the weather will be better than in my part of Europe. The advantage of traveling outside the season is the tranquility you can enjoy, that is definitely unachievable during mid-season.

Oh, I have just forgot to tell you that besides being not so good at English, the Spanish people I met are the worst planners ever, but maybe that’s only because they have a lot of siestas and it’s hard to focus in between all those naps. 🙂

All in all, our Spanish adventure was a great one, Spain just got high in my preference list and it’s a country I would gladly come back to anytime. Oh, in fact I will, in a couple of weeks or so, just that this time I’ll head south and look for even more sunshine.

For more photos from Granada you should check this album.

For a glimpse of Gibraltar and Costa del Sol this is the album you’re looking for.

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9 Responses

  1. Siesta, fiesta. Siesta e ok atâta timp cât nu durează mai mult de 30 min, dar la ei e cald aşa că 30 min se fac trei ore.

    Pe mine mă enervează limba. Adică spaniola e ok dacă eşti în Mexic, Guatemala sau America de Sud, dar în Spania vorbesc Castiliano, care pe lângă că sună ca dracu, nici nu înţeleg absolut nimic. Asta, plus că spaniolii nu prea vorbesc nicio altă limbă înafară de păsăreasca lor şşş-ită şi enervantă.

    Pe unde ai zburat în Andalusia?

    Manele is not “bad” music, it’s gipsy pop, not entirely dissimilar from balkan folk music. It sort of went of fashion în Romania after it was bashed and banished by the mainstream media that initially embraced it: manele was everywhere on TV ten years ago. Now you have to switch to special manele channels to get manele, although virtually all Romanian TV is equates to bad taste manele.

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    • 🙂 Oricum intelegi mai bine spaniola decat engleza vorbita de ei, indiferent din ce zona ar fi. Am uitat sa mentionez ca profii lor de engleza stiu engleza pe care o stie un copil de clasa a treia la noi. Am zburat la Malaga, cu avionul jegului si al rusinii. Nu am vazut in viata mea un avion mai jegos si mai plin de specimene dubioase de romani si romi cu ocupatii exotice dupa fetele si apucaturile expuse pe larg in aeroport.
      Nu cred ca mi-a fost in viata mea mai rusine decat pe aeroportul din Malaga unde am recunoscut coada pentru imbarcare dupa fustele colorate si interlopii care isi duceau “produsele” cu doua picioare in vizita acasa. 😐

      In my book manele is stupid, bad music because it has no true message and is completely ignoring the grammar rules of the language it is sang in. If manele were banished it is because they are spreading stupidity among the listeners and we do not need another factor for spreading inculture, bad taste and completely ridiculous means of expressing feelings. Our culture has nothing to gain from this exchange of “music” with the gipsy culture because the message this music is sending is not only vain, but inadequate and sometimes completely stupid.

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      • Noa las că tre să emigreze şi toţi ăia undeva, doar nu-ţi închipuiai că or emigra în Norvegia să-i puşte Breivik. Puţină toleranţă, doar pleacă din ţară. Aş înţelege dacă ar veni încoace. Tot aud faza asta cu “ne fac de ruşine” (ţara, neamul, strămoşii, istoria, etc.). Ne fac de ruşine doar dacă te identifici cu ei. Eu nu mă identific, aşa că mi se rupe. Singurii pe care îi fac deruşine îs ei înşişi.

        Eh, nu înţelegi tu mesaju’ universal al manelelor mânca-ţi-aş cultura. Bad taste, poate, dar sunt o groază de chestii româneşti(TM) care întrec manelele în bad taste care nu sunt nici pe departe atât de ostracizate.

        Manele fun facts: http://www.last.fm/music/Florin+Salam/+tags

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        • Tocmai, atat pestii si marfa lor cat si pirandele se intorceau in tara. Rusinea mare a fost in aeroport in Malaga unde la coada erau coloratii si pitorestii mentionati mai sus si noi.. Oamenii normali de la celelalte cozi priveau cu oroare cum pirandele in papuci si sosete cu dungi incercau sa bage un bagaj prea mare in suportul de masurat bagaje in timp ce pestii si fetele, usor turmentate faceau un show de zile mari.
          Ce crezi ca au inteles privitorii vazand grupul descris mai sus, ca Romania e reprezentata de oameni ca mine sau de specimenele care le-au ramas pe retina? Nu ma identific cu ei, nu o voi face niciodata, insa nu pot sa nu ma enervez cand stiu ca aparitia oamenilor normali, ca noi, este cea care se pierde pe fundalul circului facut de coloratii in haine si limbaj.

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        • Aia nu-i bine daca se intorceau, duca-se si ramana acolo pe veci.

          Tot e bine ca n-au incercat sa bage suportul de masurat bagaje in bagajul de mana ca sa-l duca la fier vechi. Nu stiu ce-au inteles privitorii, probabil ca nimic sau probabil ca “uite niste tigani/romani, hai sa plecam repede de aici pana nu ne ciordesc portmoneele”. De ce sa te enervezi, lumea ar fi mult mai plictisitoare fara ei. Sunt doar niste oameni liberi care se simt bine 🙂

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        • Ca sa fiu sincera, cel mai tare ma stresa ideea ca o sa nimeresc in avion langa o piranda sau un proxenet. Cred ca nu m-am rugat niciodata in viata mea mai tare decat atunci, asteptand sa treaca pe langa mine fara sa se aseze pe scaunul liber vreo ciudatenie a naturii umane. Faptul ca am nimerit langa niste oameni normali mi-a intarit convingerea ca exista Dumnezeu si mai asculta si rugaciunile amaratilor, cateodata. 🙂

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      • Hihi, am patit-o si eu acu vreo cativa ani. Coada imensa desi biroul de check-in nu era deschis, fuste colorate si tipete, copii plangand. La imbarcare am ochit un cuplu de japonezi si m-am tinut dupa ei. Poate i-am speriat nitel cu insistenta mea de a sta langa ei, dar pareau cei mai de incredere din tot avionul. Am vorbit despre ce se poate vizita prin Bucuresti si alte maruntisuri din astea. 🙂

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  2. Embrace the siesta!

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