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Andalucia

    Europe Travel

    Touring Andalucia

    Sevilla, Malaga, Granada, Gibraltar & Cadiz

    Location: Andalucia, Spain

    Spain is a big country.  Over the past two years we have had the wonderful opportunity to see many of her charms.  From the Pyrenees to Barcelona, from Galicia to Madrid.   We haven’t seen it all, but we have loved the beauty, hospitality and pace of life in Spain.

    I recommend visiting the famous cities such as Barcelona and Madrid – but I also recommend taking the slow tour and indulging in the beautiful smaller and towns, such as in the alluring Andalucia (And-a-loo-THEE-a) region.  The rich history, bewitchingl music and dance, sublime scenery and delicious food

    Touring Andalucia

    Roughly our route

    make Andalucia one of my favorite regions in Spain.  Touring Andalucia is easy and fun.

    With a fascinating story that includes Phoenicians, Moors, Romans and Christians – Andalucia is a treasure chest of ancient history, architecture and lore.

    We had two weeks for touring Andalucia.  We wanted to take our time and languish in the towns.  So we didn’t see it all, but here are our recommendations for enjoying and touring Andalucia on your holiday.

    Sevilla

    Sah- VEE – ya

    How to get there – Most people would arrive in Sevilla by plane from one of the major Spanish airports such as Barcelona or Madrid.  We recommend starting your tour in Sevilla so arriving by plane is the best

    Touring Andalucia

    Real Alcazar, Sevilla

    option.  We flew from Madrid.

    What to do – Sevilla is an absolutely splendid city.  If you are short on time, take a Free Walking Tour which will give you a great feel for the city.  Don’t miss the Cathedral, Plaza de Espana and our favorite site, the gorgeous, ancient Real Alcazar de Sevilla palace.  Book Alcazar tickets online ahead of time.  You may still stand in line by doing so, but it will be a MUCH shorter line.

    What to eat – Well, tapas are the name of the game in Sevilla, and the Triana neighborhood is the place to go.  Here you will enjoy a wide variety of tapas, elbow to elbow with locals.  We spent hours eating, drinking and enjoying Triana.  Read our tapas blog here.

    Hidden Secret – Sevilla is the undisputed Flamenco capital.  There are

    Touring Andalucia

    Flamenco, Sevilla

    many options to see live Flamenco shows.  We recommend the Flamenco Dance Museum  for an authentic and intimate experience.

    Malaga

    MAL- a-ga

    How to get there – We took the train to Malaga from Sevilla and it was super easy, fast, inexpensive and comfortable.  About two hours.

    What to do – Malaga is a resplendent mediterranean city.  Although

    Ceiling in the Cathedral, Malaga

    we were here in the winter, it was still beautiful and I can only imagine how lovely it is in other seasons.  We did a Free Walking Tour (as usual) and learned about this amazing historic city.  The Malaga Cathedral was beautiful.  We also enjoyed the Mercado Central de Atarazanas, and highly recommend walking all the way up to Castillo Gibralfaro for the views.  It’s a tough hike, but well worth it.

    What to eat – Tapas!  Yes you will start to see a theme here about tapas.  But here in Malaga it’s all about seafood tapas, locally sourced and so fresh and delicious.  Our favorite tapas we had were the boquerones (anchovies) at the Mercado Central.

    Hidden SecretThe Picasso Museum (Picasso was born in Malaga) is well worth a visit.  Even though we have enjoyed Picasso museums in many other European cities, this one was very well done and focused

    Touring Andalucia

    View of Malaga from the Castillo

    on smaller works, including sculpture and ceramics, that most people have never seen.  Bonus secret is to go down into the basement of the museum to see the 7th century ruins of the ancient Phoenicians that this building is built on top of.  Really amazing.

    Hidden Secret #2 – if your Free Walking Tour doesn’t take you to Cofradia de los Estudiants, take the time to go there yourself to view two of the cities incredible parade floats.  These floats are owned and maintained by one of 47 Brotherhoods in the city.  They only come out during the Easter week celebration.  They are a marvel.

    Granada

    Grah – NAH – thah

    Touring Andalucia

    Easter float covered all in real silver, Malaga

    How to get there – we did not go to Granada, and I’m sorry we didn’t.  I hadn’t realized how close it is to

    Malaga.  You can go on a guided bus tour (the best way for a day trip) and it’s a two-hour bus ride.  If you want to go on your own, the train takes about three hours.

    What to doa guided tour will take you to the highlights of this ancient Moorish city including Alcazaba, Nasrid Palace, and the Generalife Gardens.  With a tour you will have a “skip the line” guarantee.

    Hidden Secret – if your day tour gives you some free time, don’t use it to shop because the shops are all the same as in Malaga.  Instead wander up the Camino del Sacromonte for spectacular views back to the city and the surrounding beauty.

    Gibraltar

    Technically not in Andalucia.

    How to get there – you can take the train to Gibraltar and you can also do a Gibraltar day trip from Malaga.  However, we chose to rent a car, and just make a couple of hour stop in Gibraltar on our way to Cadiz.

    What to do – I wasn’t frankly very impressed with Gibraltar.  And honestly, unless you are hell-bent on

    Touring Andalucia

    The Rock of Gibraltar.

    adding it to your “been” list, I would skip it.  It felt tired and in need of some serious TLC.  As a British territory you need to pass through passport control.  We had no problems but in the summer it can get very busy.  We walked the 3.5 km to the cable car.  The touristy streets are overrun with tourist “crap”.  We took the cable car up (30 English pounds – expensive), and it was cloudy so we did not see anything.  I imagine on a clear day it would be beautiful – but not sure it’s worth the crowds.

    What to eat – since we have been in Spain so long we decided to eat something truly British, and went to a pub and enjoyed a really good fish and chips meal with a pint on the side.

    Hidden Secret – had we enjoyed better weather, we would have taken several hours to hike around on top of the rock.  The trails looked excellent and I am sure, in the sunshine, the views are grand.

    Cadiz

    KAH-deeth

    How to get there – We drove from Gibraltar and easily returned our rental car at the Cadiz train station, which was very close to our Airbnb.  There are many trains throughout the day to Cadiz from Sevilla,

    Touring Andalucia

    On top of the Cathedral Bell Tower, Cadiz

    Malaga and others.

    What to do – considered the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe (although some will argue differently, including Sofia Bulgaria), Cadiz is packed with historic sites.  Start your visit with a Free Walking Tour. The old town, situated on a point that was once an island, is larger than I expected.  It has beautiful architecture and is a living, breathing city, not just a tourist destination.  Our favorite sites were the Roman theater, the Cathedral and Bell Tower (definitely worth the climb), the Camera Obscura and the La Caleta beach area bounded by the Castillo des San Sebastian and Castillo de Santa Catalina where we did our morning run each day. Cadiz is not on the Mediterranean sea.  Once you pass through the Strait of Gibraltar you are now on the

    Touring Andalucia

    Ancient Roman theater, Cadiz

    Atlantic Ocean.

    What to eat – Seafood is the name of the game here in Cadiz.  Find your way to Barrio de la Vina where the locals go for tapas and meals.  It’s not on most tourist radars, so you’ll find yourself enjoying a very authentic Cadiz experience at any of the wonderful restaurants there.

    Hidden Secret – The neighboring village of Jerez (he-RETH) is the sherry capital of Spain (the name sherry is  an anglicization of ‘Jerez’). It is an easy day trip from Cadiz on the train, but if  you can’t go to Jerez, we recommend Taberna de Manzanilla in Cadiz.

    Farewell Andalucia

    We returned to Sevilla via train from Cadiz for our flight.  We really enjoyed this part of Spain and I can imagine how great it is in the

    Touring Andalucia

    Fortress Wall on the Atlantic, Cadiz

    summer too – having spent a month in the Algarve of Portugal which is very close.  I hope to return again, and enjoy this fascinating country.  It is so full of prodigious history, diverse scenery, spectacular food and friendly and hospital people.

    Gracias Andalucia.  Gracias Espana.  Espero verte de nuevo.

    Fabuloso!

     

     

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    Europe Travel  --  Food & Drink

    My Favorite Tapas of Spain

    Eating My Way Through Spain

    Location: Sevilla Spain

    It’s no secret I love to eat.  Our grand adventure involves a lot of food.  Travel is a conduit to cuisines of the world.  And I couldn’t love that more.

    I’ve been asked often what my favorite cuisine is.  It’s a tough question.  I love the comfort noodles of Asia, the rich stews and meats of the Balkans, the fresh seafood of the Mediterranean.  I adore any

    Anchovies

    cuisine made with the freshest local produce.  And I am also endlessly fascinated with the culture and history behind regional cuisine; pierogi of Poland; khao soi of northern Thailand; peka of Croatia, shopska salad of Bulgaria, tagine of Morocco.  These foods are both storyteller and palate dancer.

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Shrimp

    What could be more fabulous?

    Spanish Cuisine

    We’ve been in Spain now for more than a month.  Last year we spent more than two months in Spain.  I have learned to enjoy what is really a simple cuisine here in this country – locally sourced, simply prepared and not overly seasoned.  Although the many regions of Spain have their individual specialties, the focus of the overall cuisine of Spain is fresh and seasonal.

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Fried sardines

    My only complaint about Spain is how late they eat their meals.  Breakfast is barely a meal – just coffee and a croissant, maybe a tortilla (here in Spain ‘tortilla’ is an egg and potato dish, aka Spanish omelet) around 10am.  Lunch isn’t until 2:00pm and dinner rarely gets started before 9pm.  For this American, that is well past my bedtime.

    One of the reasons Spain eats so late is because they are in a crazy backwards timezone.  Ever since Franco wanted Spain in the same timezone as Germany, Spaniards have lived with a VERY late sunrise and a VERY late sunset.  So, they have adjusted their eating habits to accommodate.  Unfortunately my internal clock is not so easily adjusted.

    So the answer for me, when in Spain, is to live on tapas – the luscious

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Stuffed olives

    little dishes served all day long.  I have become a fan of tapas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    The Tapa Life

    We have enjoyed my favorite tapas of Spain in Madrid, Santiago,Leon and Barcelona.  But Sevilla loves its tapas bars (there are no tapas restaurants only bars – tapas are always served with alcohol) and the abundance of options is both fun and a bit overwhelming.  In fact many will argue Sevilla is the birthplace of the tapa. We studied up a bit on where to go, what to eat and some history, then we set out on our own little “tapear”, the Spanish word for tapas hopping. Time to find my favorite tapas of Spain.

    As we set out on our excursion we were happy to know there really wasn’t anywhere better we could be eating tapas than in Sevilla, and specifically in the historic Triana neighborhood.  Myths and legends abound about tapas. One of the most

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Cold tomato soup

    popular is King Alfonso the 10th, The Wise King of Spain, had once been stricken with a serious illness which only allowed him to take in small portions of food with small amounts of wine. After recovering from his illness, the king issued a decree that no wine should be served at inns unless it was served with food. (credit A Brief History of Tapas, Pita Jungle).

    My Favorite Spanish Tapas

    We did not have the opportunity to try every kind of tapa Sevilla is famous for, but we indulged in many and here is a list of some of our favorites both from our tour of Triana and our time throughout Spain (see photos and captions of

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Pork in whiskey with potata

    several throughout this blog); croqueta (very popular bite size fried cheesy nuggets often with jamon but we enjoyed it with duck as well as mint), montadito (tiny bite size jamon and pork sandwich), solomillo al whiskey (pork in whisky sauce), los pajaritos (tiny fried quail), patata (fresh potato chip), tortilla bites (egg and potato omelette), tortillita de camarones (fried shrimp pancake), espinacas con garbanzos (spinach and garbanzo beans), salmorejo (cold tomato soup), stuffed olives, thin sliced jamon iberico de bellota (acorn fed Iberian ham), pancetta frita (fried pork belly), grilled shrimp, boiled shrimp, sardinas ala parilla  (grilled sardines), mussels, pulpo (octopus), razor clams, fried calamari, boquerones (anchovies) on toast, sausages and rabo de toros (bull’s tail).  And those are just the ones I can remember.

    Simple, Cheap & Delicious

    It’s a wonderful way to eat.  But the great thing is, even if you are only stopping for a glass of wine with a friend, the bar will always set something to nibble in front of you (because the King said so).  It will

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Grilled sardines and grilled shrimp

    probably be a plate of olives, perhaps nuts or sometimes bread with ham and cheese or tortilla.   It’s said that the original tapas were probably bread with jamon, which was used to cover your drink (the word tapa means ‘cover’).

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Croqueta

    Despite the origin of the word, it now describes a cuisine unto its own.  Though southern Spain and particularly Andalusia claim it, the popularity of tapas has spread, particularly to South and Central America, Mexico and the United States.

     

    The day of our tapear we ate and drank (both beer and wine) for several hours at six locations.  And our total spending for the afternoon? Less

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Tiny fried quail

    than $50.

    We leave Sevilla and head next to Malaga – about 205 km south, on the Mediterranean.  We expect to continue our tapas exploration and enjoy

    a bounty of fresh goodness from the sea. Fabuloso and delicioso!

    Malaga here we come!

     

    Read my blog about food in Barcelona.

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