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An Andalucian Vacation Feb 1 2007

Most holiday makers that arrive in Andalucia never venture far from the hustle and bustle of the Costa del Sol, the most popular tourist resort in Spain. They arrive at Malaga airport, laden with luggage and make their way by tour coach or hire car, straight to their hotel complex or Costa del Sol villas on the beach spending the next 2 weeks yards from the sea. Though the Costa del Sol has some beautiful beaches on which to chill out and enjoy the Mediterranean sunshine, the area is only a small and somewhat false view of the whole that is called Andalucia. Andalucia is the only area of Spain whose coastline has both an Ocean (the Atlantic) and a Sea (the Mediterranean). The area is a diverse taste of the Spanish modern and traditional and its influences from the Moorish invasions are still evident in the region. Composing of 8 sub regions, Huelva, Seville, Cordoba, Jaen, Almeria, Granada, Malaga and Cadiz, Andalucia’s geography ranges from the long sandy beaches of the Costa de la Luz (Spain’s southern Atlantic coast) to the rugged mountains of the inner regions and the arid desert of Almeria against the Mediterranean shoreline. Each region has its own diverse history and identity that offer visitors a real taste of southern Spain. Huelva in the west, borders Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. The long sweeping sandy beach runs from the north right into the neighbouring region of Cadiz to the south. This coastline, the Costa de la Luz, is still unspoilt and not that well known. Costa de la Luz holiday rentals tends to be in the form of privately owned villas many of which are just yards from the beach. Cadiz which also shares the same coastline is famous for its city which shares the same name. Legend has it the city was founded by Hercules and being set on a peninsula of land has often come under attack from various warring factions over the centuries. The city is a maze of tiny streets full of markets, cafes and street entertainment, perfect for getting lost in. Seville is mainly landlocked like the other regions of Cordoba and Jaen. These regions offer a wild taste of the Andalucian way of life with rugged mountains, tiny white villages and high plateaux. Seville and Cordoba cities are steeped in history and the Moorish influence is obvious within the architecture of the ancient buildings. Seville and Cordoba are well worth a trip for the beautiful gardens which offer an escape from the heat of the summer sun and the archaeological interest. To the south east we enter the arid region of Almeria. Though a coastal region its dryness was used to great effect with the filming of some spaghetti western movies here. The region is slowly developing as a tourist destination and offers a more relax holiday against its unspoilt coastline. As we travel back to the west, we enter the region of Granada. From its mountains, the Sierra Nevada, in the north which offer winter skiing, to the beaches in the south, Granada is as diverse as the areas come. The city of Granada set on a high plateau under the view of the Sierra Nevada, was a Moorish stronghold and is famous for the Alhambra Palace which has been restored to its former beauty. Granada’s coastline, the Costa Tropical is dotted with low rise holiday resorts which preserves much of the beauty that the Costa del Sol has lost. As we move back to the region of Malaga, our starting point, we notice that only a few miles inland from the bustling Costa del Sol holiday resorts we enter a totally different world. One that is tranquil and still holds onto its Spanish way of life. Tiny white villages in the hills and mountains have not changed for hundreds of years. Beautiful rolling countryside where farmers still tend to their herds. Historic towns like the Ronda with its bullring and amazing huge gorge. National parks which are popular with hikers and nature lovers. So even if you are not interested in travelling far, take a day out to journey into the heart of the Malaga region to experience a real Andalucia holiday. The next time you may want to explore it a little further.
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