Madrid, Andalucia and N. Africa-Part 2

Beach in Marbella

 Hello, again. Last time I left you in Madrid.  Today, I’d like to pick up at the airport, where we’ll hop a flight to Málaga, which is in the Andalucia area of Spain.  Our flight will take us into Aeropuerto de Málaga, after which we will head off for our (or my) ten day stay.  You can settle in to your hotel along the shoreline.  There are a few beaches to pick from; Nerja, Torremolinos or Marbella, to name a few – you have to decide.  But personally, I would choose someplace west of Malaga, as it will cut down on a lot of travel time.  I then, like to take the first few days to relax from the bustle of Madrid and soak up the completely different looking European sunshine.  Did you ever notice that in certain parts of the world the sun takes on its own distinct glow?  Well, here on Costa del Sol it certainly does.

Why did I choose Málaga when there are so many other locations in Spain?  This is the best jumping off point for your day trip to Northern Africa, Rondo and the breathtaking sights of the Alhambra, which is tucked away in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  And, as I have mentioned, if you’re not comfortable driving in a foreign country, take a guided tour.  You should also note there is a train that goes to the town of Granada where the Alhambra is located.  But, don’t strike it from the list, that’s one of the reasons we’re here.  Also, in case you didn’t know, Málaga is the place of Picasso’s birth, and although he moved from there as a child, there is the Museo Picasso (Picasso Museum) featuring some of his works. I would say, however, this is really more of an art gallery than a museum.

Málaga is a bustling city as well, and remember we want to catch the bullfight here.  There is public transportation, which will take you to the Plaza de Toros de la Malagueta, the bullfighting ring.  Taking the bus will put you in touch with the local scene.  Then, when you arrive, take the time to purchase cushions that you will use for sitting.  Also, pick up some flowers.  This way you’ll be able to join in with the crowd and toss them into the ring, when the matador does his lap of honor.  This happens when he receives a prolonged round of applause.  However, at the end of each event, regardless of who won – the bull or the matador – the cushions get hurled in the ring.  It’s a pretty neat thing to witness.

Now Granada is a world all its own.  You will definitely want an early start to the day for this trip.  Also, I would check with the desk at the hotel, but if you’re driving I suggest taking the old roads to get you there or at least drive as far north on the old route as possible.  The Alhambra is a Moorish Castle in this town, which is quite unique, but the ride up through the mountains is just as phenomenal as the castle itself.  Granted it does take longer, but it is definitely worth the time.  And why?  Because it is a constant climb that hits several plateaus.  The scenery is unbelievable – I would have to liken it to a patchwork quilt.  Once inside the castle, find the area where you can gaze out onto the Caves of the Sacromonte carved into the sides of the hills, which are inhabited by gypsies even today.  They are believed to have come into the country through the Straits of Gibraltar.  But, this Moorish castle is one of Spain’s major tourist attractions.

Now, as for the ride into the mountains, I remember stopping at someone’s home, I don’t recall why.  But, the woman of the house invited us in and allowed us to have the run of her kitchen where we helped ourselves to breakfast.  Like I said before though, it helps if someone in the group speaks the language. Now, as if allowing a group of people in her kitchen were not hospitable enough, we were invited back for dinner.  Word to the wise though, if you do take the old route, make certain to return before dark as there are treacherous curves that you will never be able to navigate at night.  Or you can simply come back via the highway.

This region took my breath away, especially the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the country’s history.  Yes, history galore, exceptional food, drink and you’ll wish you could stay forever.  But, today I’ll leave you here in this region of Andalucia.  Next time, I’ll meet you back here for a bit more of Costa del Sol and our final destination of Northern Africa.  Until then – Adiós amigo.

Images courtesy of Google Earth

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