Amazing Andalucia

Amazing Andalucia

A heady mix of delightful tradition, jaw-dropping scenery and adventure - Andalucía in southern Spain is a world in its own right. White-washed houses with quaint accessories, narrow cobbled pathways peppered with artsy props and kissing lanes with streets the size of a handkerchief remind you of being in a picture perfect doll house. And then there are the majestic plazas, glorious olive fields and famous tapas bars.

Between Seville’s orange-laden trees lining its streets, Córdoba’s patios, Málaga’s cobalt blue beaches and Granada’s imposing La Alhambra, you are spoilt for choice and would not even have scratched the surface of Andalucía. And I haven’t even mentioned small towns like Carmona, which are equally picturesque but miss the guide book mentions.

You can see Seville Cathedral and the Giralda Bell Tower from anywhere in Seville and it was our beacon whenever we lost our way in the pathways. It is not surprising that it is the largest Gothic cathedral, the third largest church in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Adding to the glory is the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The horses outside, with grand carriages, transport you back to a world that was probably so rich with grandeur, it might seem like a piece of history in itself. Then there is flamenco - the beats, the passion, the music and the grace! It is hard to see a soul-stirring performance end but to see it in a place where it originated is humbling.

Close to Seville is the beautiful Carmona, one of the most ancient towns in Andalucía. The castle of King Don Pedro, which was converted into a Parador by the Spanish government, is a luxury hotel on top of a hill overlooking vast swathes of fields with a view of beautiful sunrises and sunsets. With the place steeped in history and tourists but a rarity, it is anybody's delight to walk around and soak in Carmona's culture.

Córdoba is not only synonymous with its grand mosque-cathedral Mezquita, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but hidden wonders like the surreal alley of flowers,
the archaeological square and antique bookshops that add jewels to the crown that
is Córdoba.

A traditional Al-Ándalus breakfast in a typical Cordovan patio next to the Mezquita is something that is etched in our heads and hearts. The vivid colours in the courtyards of Cordovans with a small fountain make you to want to recreate it in your own house!
Málaga is more in pace with the rest of the world in comparison to the rest of Andalucía when it comes to modernisation. With Málaga being a port city, it enjoys glorious sunshine for the most part of the year. While Málaga's beaches get the most mentions, there are also treks along the Gibralfaro castle and the Alcazaba fortress with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.

There cannot be a description of Málaga without its famous son, Pablo Picasso. With the Museo Picasso and the Casa Natal de Picasso, you get to see the origins of the versatile artist. Torremolinos, a small city close to Málaga, lets you scuba dive in the company of aquatic life forms in the blue waters of the unspoilt Marina del Este Marine Reserve.

Granada’s Moorish legacy makes you gasp in wonderment. The La Alhambra with its Palacios Nazaríes and its Alcazaba fortress, along with the gardens of Generalife, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, overwhelm you. The snow covered Sierra Nevada in the background along with the La Alhambra is a sight to behold. Staying in one of the Sacromonte cave houses in the Albayzín area of Granada gives you a sneak peek into the medieval past of this area. Pedalling across Rio Guadalquivir with ducks for company and not another soul in sight on the river and a hot, thick xocolatl in hand reminds you of the gift of travelling that keeps on giving.

Rashmi Bhat

(A wildlife researcher and a compulsive traveller )

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