Andalusia - Spanish gold

Andalusia – gateway to the Last Arabian Frontier. As you gaze across the rolling vistas, bygone memories of conquistadors and marauding Moorish caliphs flood the senses. The scent of jasmine is heavy in the air and the mystery behind the lost Spanish gold is an intriguing adventure.

I was fortunate to discover some of this region on a self-guided cycle trip but it also lends itself easily to a self-drive itinerary for those of you who would like to cover more ground in a shorter period of time.

My adventure began in Granada. The capital city of the region and a delightful bustling metropolis which seamlessly blurs the lines between ancient ruins and architecture with cosmopolitan shopping paradise and an endless choice in tapas and entertainment. Home to the world renowned Alhambra, Granada is also home to the “endless tapas” hospitality. As long as you drink …… you eat for free. Beautiful, flavorful assortments of “tapas” (appetizers) accompany each round of drinks. A wonderful way to pass an afternoon and chat with the locals. Granada has a number of universities and therefore has a definite youthful edge to its nightlife culture. Truly this was the best place to shop both in variety and pricing.

Just 50kms from Granada you leave the modern world behind and immerse yourself in a land where time has slowed. Alhama de Grenada – the first of the White Villages that I visited. Located high atop a natural stone bluff, Alhama de Grenada’s origins date back well before 1492. Amazing Spanish scenery awaits you with uninterrupted views of the Sierra Nevada range and mountain lakes. Unique pensions and small boutique hotels are the general options as far as accommodations go. Breakfast is always included as well as warm hospitality. The cobblestone avenues simply shimmer with the echoes of time gone by.

Another picturesque White Village was Ardales. Her steep inclines and charming village square again invoked a feeling of time standing still. The tinkling of the goat bells as the herds were shepherded in and out of town marked both the dinner and breakfast hour. Known for its rigorous walking and hiking trails, Ardales is a favorite getaway for locals escaping their urban workplaces.

The unforgiving and harsh topography of the Sierra de Las Nieves National Park is daunting to the average cyclist. The mystical lunar landscape of El Torcal was another highpoint of the Andalusian adventure. The sheer magnitude of the El Chorro Gorge simply takes your breath away.

My journey ended in the birthplace of bull-fighting – Ronda. Truly one of the most spectacular cities I have ever visited. Simply impossible to describe adequately with words as the true experience is in standing before her dramatic escarpments and getting lost in the winding alleys of the Old Ciudad. Personally I could have easily spent three or four days here hiking the surrounding valleys, sampling a never-ending variety of local cuisine and enjoying the full-bodied red wines of the region!

Andalusia is easily traversed by either bus, train (to the larger centers), car or motorcycle. Driving is not to be feared as the roads between the White Villages are well marked and are secondary highways. The best time to visit this area is likely April through mid-June and again September through November. July and August temperatures soar into the mid 40s! If you enjoy immersing yourself into a region historically, culturally and through true interaction with the local population then I can wholeheartedly recommend the White Villages as your destination of choice.

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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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