Andalusian glory

Andalusia is the gateway to the Last Arabian frontier. 

As you gaze across the rolling vistas, 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.

The region is easily accessible on a day trip from coastal towns such as Marbella or equally lends itself to a self-drive itinerary.

My adventure began in Granada. The capital city of the region is 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. 

Granada, home to the world renowned Alhambra, is also home to the “endless tapas” hospitality. As long as you drink, you eat for free. 

Beautiful, flavourful assortments of “tapas” (appetizers) accompany each round of drinks. It's 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, and is the best place to shop both in variety and pricing.

Just 50 kilometres from Granada, you leave the modern world behind and immerse yourself in a land where time as 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 favourite 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 high point of the Andalusian adventure. The sheer magnitude of the El Chorro Gorge simply takes your breath away.

My journey ended in Ronda, the birthplace of bull-fighting, and one of the most spectacular cities I have ever visited. Ronda is 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. 

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 centres), 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, 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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