Spain's Andalucía Region: a photo diary

White-washed hilltop villages. Bull fighting. Flamenco. Paella. Sangria. Tapas. Siestas.

What's not to love about Andalucía? 

Anna and I were particularly excited to immerse ourselves into the Spanish culture. While we are not so much into the bull-fighting, we are fairly coo-coo for the rest of the items on that list. And besides all this, we speak a decent amount of Spanish and are quite keen to polish up on our skills. With all this in mind, we set off to enjoy an amazing 14 days in Andalucía.

And here's how we did it....


Tarifa, 4 days

Unless you are into wind or kite surfing, Tarifa may not be on your radar. And that's exactly why we booked 4 days here. Frazzled from our whirlwind Jordan-Israel-Paris-Morocco itinerary, we chose to spend 4 days in Tarifa precisely because there wasn't much to distract us from much-needed rest. Anna knows how to take care of us, and that includes calling a time-out and scheduling downtime. We used our time in Tarifa to sleep, watch movies and enjoy some incredibly delicious seafood. 

Tips & Recommendations: 

  • Eat at Bar El Frances for amazing atmosphere and tapas. Out-of-this world seared tuna steak and tuna tartare.  
Street scenes from Tarifa

Street scenes from Tarifa


GRANADA, 3 days

People come to Granada to visit The Alhambra— the elaborate hilltop fortress once home to Spanish kings and queens. Here is the first thing you need to know if you are planning a trip—check online well in advance for tickets.  There are a limited number of tickets and they sell out sometimes months in advance.  We planned to end rather than start our Andalucia visit with Granada but were forced to change our plans based on availability of Alhambra tickets.  And while Granada is a lovely town— easy to navigate with beautiful town center, you don’t want to come here without going to Alhambra.  Allow a minimum of 3 hours for the Alhambra. With more time, you can wander the grounds at your own leisure.  

Granada's Alhambra Fortress

Granada's Alhambra Fortress

view over Granada as seen from The Alhambra

view over Granada as seen from The Alhambra

view of The Alhambra

view of The Alhambra

Reflecting pool at The Alhambra

Reflecting pool at The Alhambra

 

While in Granada, be sure to take in a Flamenco show. We recommend Zambra Maria la Canastera. The shows take place in caves in the Sacromonte neighborhood below the Alhambra and they are a family affair. You may come across more accomplished flamenco dancers during your time in Spain, but in our opinion, the family aspect combined with the cave setting made this evening very special.  

cave flamenco at Zambra Maria la Canastera

cave flamenco at Zambra Maria la Canastera

 

Tips & Recommendations: 

  • Check online early in the planning process for your Alhambra tickets
  • Flamenco at Zambra Maria la Canastera
  • Eat tapas at Rosario Varela
  • When ordering a drink, don't order food right away.  You will get free tapas with each drink but not if you also advertise that you are willing to pay for food.  Order a small beer and you'll get tapas.  

RONDA & THe WHITE VILLAGES, 4 days

The Andalucía region of Spain is covered with white-washed hilltop villages and you would have to try pretty hard to go-wrong in this region.  We chose the centrally located town of Ronda as our base to explore the region but decided to stay at a wonderful B&B outside of Ronda-- Finca Naranja.  During our incredible 4 days, we sunk into life here-- relaxing by the pool, enjoying great food and wine, long walks and horseback rides.  

Tips & Recommendations: 

  • you need a car to explore this region as the trains are quite infrequent
  • Stay at Finca Naranja-- Anna found this B&B on her favorite booking site-- I-Escape.  The hostess Mary helped make our time in the region incredible, suggesting restaurants, hikes, and booking our horseback ride in the region.  Mary also made our 3rd wedding anniversary very special with wine, fresh flowers from her rose garden, and daily fresh-baked bread.  Apart from being a great hostess, Mary is a remarkably lovely person and we will always support lovely people!
  • Don't miss the view of the lake from Mirador des Tres Embalses.  Click here to find exact location:
  • Check out our favorite hilltop town-- Zahara. We didn't get to explore much as we arrived in a rainstorm but it has it all-- hilltop location, views of the surrounding lake and fortress at the top of it all.  
The hilltop town of Grazalema

The hilltop town of Grazalema

The hilltop town of Grazalema

The hilltop town of Grazalema

freshly baked bread and fresh flowers at Finca Naranja

freshly baked bread and fresh flowers at Finca Naranja

view of the lake from Mirador des Tres Embalses

view of the lake from Mirador des Tres Embalses

Our favorite hilltop town, Zahara

Our favorite hilltop town, Zahara


SEVILLA, 3 days

Sevilla is the capital of flamenco and bull-fighting.  While we elected to forego the bull-fighting, we did have the good fortune of being in Sevilla during Feria de Abril-- the world's largest flamenco festival.  Of course that also meant we spent a fair amount of time looking for a new flamenco dress for Anna.  In the end, we chose a nice lace shaw and a red flower-- over a bulky flamenco dress that would neither fit in her carry-on suitcase, nor our budget.  I for one think she nailed her first flamenco festival.  

Tips & Recommendations: 

  • The city comes alive for Feria de Abril.  Check online for actual dates as this year it was actually in early May.
  • must see the Plaza de Espana
  • must see Real Alcazar in Sevilla including the gardens and the Queen's Bath
the Plaza de Espana in Sevilla

the Plaza de Espana in Sevilla

Real Alcazar in Sevilla

Real Alcazar in Sevilla

The Queen's Bath at Sevilla's Real Alcazar

The Queen's Bath at Sevilla's Real Alcazar

Feria de Abril 2017

Feria de Abril 2017

ready for Feria de Abril

ready for Feria de Abril

street scenes at Feria de Abril 2017

street scenes at Feria de Abril 2017

Anna enjoying Feria de Abril 2017

Anna enjoying Feria de Abril 2017

 

A special bit of thanks to our friends Matthew and Sarah Peters, whom we met in Jordan, for all of your terrific Andalucía tips, many which have been included above.

 

And for everyone else, as always, thanks for following along on our trip around the world.  

 

Have a question or want to pick our brain for your own trip to Andalucía?  

Or maybe you just have something nice to say?

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Until next time, keep playing.

Derek & Anna