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Off topic: Advice needed on a trip to Andalusia
Thread poster: Barbara Gadomska

Barbara Gadomska  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:18
English to Polish
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Jan 11, 2008

Please forgive me for writing in English, but I cannot speak Spanish, and I wish to ask you for advice.

Since there are cheap flights between Warsaw and Malaga, my friend and I have decided to go to Andalusia for one week at the end of April/beginning of May. We are interested in monuments, museums, history etc., and not in spending time on a beach, so we want to plan our trip accordingly. Neither of us has ever been in Spain. We are both on the wrong side of fifty, so we like to visit places unhurriedly but thoroughly, and to enjoy ourselves looking at people from sidewalk cafes, sipping jerez....
We are planning to visit Granada - this goes without saying, and spend three days there. The question is: what should we choose next? There is Sevilla, Cordoba, Cadiz... We do not like to rush from place to place, a day here, a day there... Having leafed through some guidebooks, I still hesitate between there three towns, My friend opts for Sevilla, but the other two look tempting as well.
What would you advise me?
Thanks in advance

Barbara


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Chiara Righele  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:18
English to Italian
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Sevilla & Cordoba Jan 11, 2008

I'm not Spanish, but I visited Andalusia in 2005.
I really liked Andalusia, especially after a series of "Western cities", which are surely beautiful, but after a while started to "taste the same". I appreciated the new (for me) atmosphere of those cities with that Arab touch.

I've only spent one day in Granada, visiting the alhambra (hope it is written correctly...) and attending to the traditional celebrations of the Holy Week, so I don't have particular suggestions about that city.

In my opinion, though, Sevilla and Cordoba certainly deserve a visit. I've stayed in Sevilla some days as I was visiting my sister there, who guided me through the city. There are many things to visit: besides the Alcázar and the cathedra, I liked what I call the "open air monuments": squares, small streets, the buildings created for the "Expo", the parks... And there are some interesting museums too. Maybe if you go in April you'll have the chance to be there while the traditional "Feria de Sevilla" is celebrated.... I liked it, so in any case it's a city I wouldn't miss!
As for Cordoba, its most important monument is the Mezquita, which is in any case worth it, and is a nice, tiny city as a whole.

I didn't visit Cadiz as I was travelling toward North later on, but from what I read it's more a beach-city, but if you're not interested in sunbathing...

As you see. I am very enthusiastic about that region: I loved that trip! But obviously mine were only subjective pieces of advice...

In any case I'm sure some people from there will give you other precious suggestions.

Hope it helped and... have a nice trip!

Chiara


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 14:18
French to Spanish
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No comment. Jan 11, 2008

Can't say anything about Andalusia... never been. I'm more on the side of Catalonia.

But I loved your "on the wrong side of fifty." I'm there too... is it bad, Doctor?

Anyway, enjoy Spain and it's muslim background.


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Catherine Laporte  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:18
Member (2012)
Spanish to French
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... Jan 11, 2008

Hello,
I'm French but I live in Andalusia since 1997, in Granada. You must visit Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla. In Granada (1h30 from Malaga), most important places are the Alhambra and the Albaicin (old arabic district, with a lot of "miradors" with beautiful views and little streets). You can visit the Cathedral, Royal Chapel (tombs of Catholics Kings), the district of Sacromonte.... 2 days would be perfect. For the Alhambra, it's necessary reserve tickets with various months beforehand because thre is a lot of people. (www.servicaixa.com).
Cordoba (2 hours from Granada): one day to see The Mezquita, Juderia (jewish zone), and if you want Medina Azahara at 10 km.
Sevilla (1h 30 from Cordoba I suppose): 2 days, to visit the Alcazar, the Cathedral and Giralda, Plaza de España and the district of Santa Cruz, a lot of little street, with small places, orange trees... Beautiful place...
Also you can see more typical villages of Andalusia, like Alpujarras, white villages of Sierra de Cadiz (Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos)...

And you hace to eat famous "tapas" (which are free in Granada) to taste Andalusian gastronomy.
You can contact me directly and I can tell you more information but my english is quite bad....

Kind regards,

Cathy

[Editado a las 2008-01-11 19:18]


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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
English to Spanish
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What a problem! Jan 11, 2008

First of all, I'd like to say that I wish all my problems were like this one, deciding where to go on vacation. Then, I'd like to add that trying to figure out three out of those four cities to visit is like asking someone which one of your children you love more. Yikes!
I'm from Southern Spain, and have lived in Andalusia many years before settling down in the US a long time ago.
I wanted to tell you that there is a lot more to Cadiz than the beach. It's a gorgeous city surrounded by water with a lot of charm and many things to do. And very close by you have Jerez de la Frontera, the birthplace of sherry, where the streets smell like wine and there are a lot of bodegas to visit.
Sevilla is spectacular, I would not miss it. And if you're lucky, you'll get to see the Feria. That alone is worth the trip. The people of Sevilla sure know how to have a good time. I suggest you look up a little more information on the internet so you can plan ahead (like getting your tickets for the Alhambra). Have a wonderful time, and let us know all about your adventures when you get back. Saludos,
teju


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Barbara Gadomska  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:18
English to Polish
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TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, all Jan 11, 2008

Thanks a lot for your input, Chiara, Juan, Florecilla, and Teju.

Yes, teju, I also wish choosing a city to visit were my greatest problem... And I will take your recommendation for Cadiz into consideration. I love the sound of the name... makes one think of riches and pirates.
Thank you, Florecilla, for your offer of more detailed information. I just might take you up on this when the time for our trip draws nearer. Do you actually mean they give away free food in Granada? How about free hotels?
Juan: welcome to the club. Being on the wrong side of fifty means being on the right side of sixty, however. One can live with that.
Chiara: your post made me wish I could go there right away, and not in three months. And you've convinced me that Sevilla is the right destination.

Thanks!
Barbara


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:18
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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Your real problem is one week Jan 11, 2008

Otherwise, it's 90 minutes from Malaga to Granada and a 3-hour bus crossing (Alsina-Graells line) from Granada to Cordoba, riding rather roughshod over a part of the so-called "Route of the Caliphate" (a World Heritage recommendation -- I won't suggest driving because getting lost is a lot of stress on limited time).

In Cordoba, connections to Sevilla are rather easier to come by (bus and train). Likewise, Sevilla connects back to Malaga. What I'm rather afraid of is, at what point you'll begin to run out of time. Make that 14 days and you could fit Cadiz in comfortably as well...


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:18
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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Postscriptum Jan 12, 2008

Barbara Gadomska wrote:

Do you actually mean they give away free food in Granada?


The official explanations for tapas are based on an old law, I don't know if the rest is an urban legend.

According to one of these, any alcoholic drink served was to come with a "cover", which could be a slice of ham, but the idea was to prevent people from getting drunk too fast while they waited for their food and hence, from getting into tavern brawls. Custom and region made variations on this (pickled olives, canapés, potato chips, a sardine, a couple of slices of octopus... the Basque Country elevated this food form into a fine art).

[The pilgrimage to Compostela also traditionally ended in a free meal, a custom which was recently revived when the bishop determined that a 180-kilometre route accomplished by non-motorized means (walking, bicycle, mule- or horseback) counted as the equivalent of the old Jacobean route. The official itineraries pass by points where a kind of "pilgrim's passport" is sealed, and the total mileage entitles the holder to a diploma, which in turn entitles them to claim their meal at the town hall. Local restauranteurs, taking their cue, sometimes post personnel at the entrance to the Obradoiro to distribute free food coupons to other types of tourists. It's a way of promoting their establishments for further patronage during one's stay].

Florecilla's recommendation regarding tickets to the Alhambra is also important. These may be purchased at any point in Spain or by telephone, but for visitors coming from abroad, the Servicaixa system is the most convenient. Just be sure to use the same credit card for withdrawing the tickets.

The Servicaixa interface will ask you for items of your personal data upon payment, including a cell phone number. Days before the ticket is to be used, you will receive notification to withdraw it by SMS. You can do so at any Servicaixa (La Caixa) office or ATM. Servicaixa ATMs are easy to spot because they are bright yellow and bear a logo designed by Joan Miró. Insert your credit card, choose the tickets option, and the machine will print the tickets.

Have fun


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Barbara Gadomska  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:18
English to Polish
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TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, Parrot Jan 12, 2008

I love urban legends, especially when they come with free food

I wish I could take more than one week vacations, but I can't

However, I feel I received some sound advice from y'all.
If you ever need any lowdown on Poland, just let me know!
Barbara


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xxxSaifa
Local time: 21:18
German to French
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You will have to come back Jan 12, 2008

Hello Barbara,

After this week, you will have to come back to see what tourists usually do never see (but before, I would advise you to learn a little bit of Spanish, otherwise it will be difficult): there are plenty of charming places in Andalusia: natural parcs, small villages which are similar but all different, landscapes...

For your next trip:

After having visited Granada, Córdoba and Sevilla, you should see Cádiz and Jerez as well. And Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Ronda, Jimena de la Frontera, Ojé, Setenil de las Bodegas... The Axarquia (region at the East of Málaga, where good wine comes from, a lot of little villages). The Sierra Blanca, el Torcal (rock formations near Antequera, and Anterquera: the Spanish town with the most churches!) and the Natural Park of the Alcornocales:

http://www.andalucia.com/environment/protect/alcornocales.htm

And a lot more. The cheapest way to see all this is to book a cheap hotel at the Costa del Sol which is rather awful, but with a rental car (not expensive), you can make all these excursions from here and coming back at night.

Just feel free to ask me if you have further questions, I live here.

N.B. The Cabo de gata near Almería is wonderful also, but a long way from here, it is worth to book a hotel in San José.

[Edited at 2008-01-13 10:22]


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moken  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
English to Spanish
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A mix of heritage and nature? Granada + Alpujarra and an important note. Jan 17, 2008

Hi Barbara,

Granada is an excellent choice. As others have pointed out, one week is not very much time at all, and driving distances can become a pain.

I really have a soft spot for Cádiz, which is where my wife hails from, and in May the countryside and mountains are absolutely at their best. It is actually my favourite time of year for visiting - but what others point out is true: you really don't have enough time and it's a very long drive to Cádiz (4-5 hrs minimum from Granada).

Have you considered mixing cultural heritage and nature? Since you're travelling in the best part of the Spring, it would be nice to discover some of the Andalusian countryside/mountains and get a glimpse of what life is really like in Spain away from the tourist traps.

About 1 hr's drive from Granada is a region called La Alpujarra /also called Las Alpujarras, resting on the back of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

It really is beautiful, well worth visiting for a few days of relaxation.
I can thoroughly recommend a place the called La Alquería de Morayma, which was in turn recommended to me by friends who know the area well. Its website fails to illustrate what the place is actually like, but you can check it out anyway for a description: http://www.alqueriamorayma.com/ingles/alqueria_ingles.htm

We stayed there for a few days last year and it's an ideal spot from which to explore the area.

An important note:

The end of April/beginning of May is a Bank Holiday week in Spain. Thursday 1st of May is a holiday in all of Spain, and so is Friday 2nd in Madrid. This means that throughout the week there will be a lot of people around, even more from Thursday to Sunday, so whatever you do, you need to decide before too long and make your bookings.

Enjoy Spain!

Álvaro )

P.S. For future visits I'd be happy to provide you with more information about Cádiz.
It might not be your cup of tea, but when you say you're not interested in beaches I presume you might have the tourist traps of the Costa del Sol in mind, but does it also mean you wouldn't enjoy a leisurely stroll 1-2hr stroll along miles of deserted virgin beaches with forests reaching down to the sand and magnificent views of Africa all along the way, capped it with a visit to the ruins of a Roman where they used to produce garum and a dish of atún encebollao (locally fished red tuna fresh out of the water)?
Cádiz has that too, plus beautiful mountains and forests, picturesque villages, superb food, warm people...if you know how to find your way round, a week in Cádiz can be like a year in Heaven! ))



[Edited at 2008-01-17 11:52]


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moken  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
English to Spanish
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a note on the weather Jan 17, 2008

Sorry Barbara, I forgot to mention:

The weather is very changeable that time of year and you won't know what to expect. Generally it can be sunny and very warm, and you'll feel extremely hot with anything more than a t-shirt and light trousers, but the nights will be cool and you'll need long sleeves.

You'll also need to provide for the cold, just in case you're unlucky: rain gear and thick woolly jumpers. Granada is more than 600m above sea level and if you get wind blowing off the nearby mountains you'll need warm clothing.

Checking the Internet for one or two week predictions before you leave will help you to travel more lightly if the weather forecast is good.

))


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Barbara Gadomska  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:18
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Saifa, Alvaro Jan 17, 2008

Thank you, you wonderful people, for all your advuice and information! I do wish I could afford to stay longer, but really, I cannot, both for personal and professional reasons. However, even one look is better than nothing, and if I return home with unsatisfied desire for more, I may go back some time soon.
Thanks again!
Barbara


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