Travel notes: what is Andalusia and what it is eaten with
I was very lucky when I was a student – I went to study in Spain for a while. Since I studied Spanish studies at my native university, I wanted to do an internship in a less touristy region. The choice fell on Andalusia, and so I began my studies at the University of Malaga.
Today I will tell you why this region and city is worth visiting for everyone (after the pandemic), and most importantly – why Andalusia is considered real Spain.
What is Andalusia famous for and good for
Andalusia – the southernmost region of Spain, Africa is already waiting for you across the strait. I did not take this nuance into account when I went for an internship in the warm season. For example, in July and early August, a hot terral wind blows in these places, which carries not only the burning air of the deserts (the temperature easily rises to 45 ° C), but also giant cockroaches from another continent…
Therefore, if you if you decide to go to explore Andalusia, then it is better to do it in the middle of autumn or spring, when the temperature drops a little, and the ocean and sea are still warm. True, you can swim only in autumn (until mid-October) and in summer, in May the water is still cool.
As you understand, when choosing a place to study, I was not guided by the weather at all. Andalusia is full of history and culture. Star Wars was filmed here and Game of Thrones, Pablo Picasso and flamenco dance were born here, and it is here that you can feel the spirit of the famous Spanish reconquista.
How to get there
There are several airports in Andalusia, but the largest one is in Malaga. In happy pre-Soviet times, tickets to Malaga could be cheaper than to Madrid and even Barcelona! For example, a direct flight from Moscow could cost from 80-90 euros one way.
It is very easy to get to the center from the airport, for example, by train or bus. In the first case, you will spend about 15 minutes on the road, in the second – about 30. You can spend 2-3 days in Malaga itself, and then go to see other cities in the region, which can be reached by comfortable buses.
What to see
Malaga lovers will like it:
- < li>beaches
There is a Pablo Picasso museum in the city: the artist was born here, but I would advise you to go to a very beautiful church where Picasso was baptized. The museum will be of interest to ardent fans of the master, but there are no known paintings there. Even in Malaga, pay attention to the incredible beauty of the Alcazaba (Arab fortification), the golden beach, as well as many bars and clubs. If during the day tourists walk through the narrow streets, exploring the Arab heritage, then in the evening the historical center turns into a real festival!
When buying an entrance ticket to the club (no more than 2-3 euros), you always get a free drink, and in tapateria almost everywhere there is a system of free beer snacks (for example, in Casa Lola or El pimpi). In Malaga, in principle, it is customary to go to several bars per night and get to know people. We often started a party in one company, and returned home in a completely different one (by the way, almost all buses around the city have night flights).
In the city, I lived in an apartment for four students near the university. These places are not suitable for tourists: the area was far from the center, and there are no sights there. But on it it was possible to judge the level of danger! Even returning late at night from the club, I have never encountered aggressive or annoying people. Therefore, I advise this city to everyone who wanted to go with a cheerful company of friends and have a good time! Hot Spaniards, of course, can show excessive attention, but the classic “basta” enough to make them go away.
As for the beaches, almost the entire line of the Costa del Sol – sandy. There are pebbles in some regions, where there are many rocks. Personally, I'm not a fan of a beach holiday, so the large Malagueta beach in the center was enough for me. But if you want fabulous views and white sands – go to the neighboring cities of Marbella, Nerja or Benalmadena (for a couple of euros by bus, you can get there in just half an hour or an hour). The only downside – Jellyfish sometimes wash ashore, it happens on especially hot days, and if the situation is critical, almost no one enters the water, but this does not happen often.
If we talk about cuisine, then the main gastronomic attraction of Malaga is the espeto dish. These are sardines that are skewered on long sticks and grilled. If you are a wine lover, be sure to try the sweet and thick Malagian wine (Vino Dulce).
A little life hack: Buy a wine tour and visit your local bodega (liquor store with a cellar) for your siesta. We often stopped by when the city became less crowded, the owners, out of boredom, treated us to generous portions of wine “to try.” True, after such tastings, it was difficult to leave pleasant establishments in the heat, be careful.
One of the main attractions of Andalusia and all of Spain is the city of Granada, which houses the main monument of the Moorish period – architectural ensemble of the Alhambra. You can get to Granada by bus from Malaga in an hour and a half. The city itself is very small, but incredibly beautiful! In addition to Arabic architecture, there is also Gothic and Renaissance.
If you have a short vacation, then it is worth laying a day in Granada, namely to visit the Alhambra (a huge complex with gardens and palaces) and have a nice dinner on a cozy street of the city. By the way, when we went to Granada, in the morning upon arrival we dropped into a cafe for churros. Almost everyone who has ever been to Spain knows about this sweet and very high-calorie dessert, but it is in small towns that you have a chance to appreciate real churros. It is usually served in all cafeterias until 12:00. They make it right in front of you, so these “sweet sausages” are very hot and eat them in the afternoon – crime!
Seville – capital of Andalusia. You can get to it from Malaga by train or bus. On a high-speed train, you will spend a little less than two hours on the road, on a regular – less than three, and on the bus – all four. However, for the fastest option you will have to pay about 40 euros, for a regular train a little more than 20, and for a bus – approximately 17 euros. We chose the bus and regretted it a little, in the heat such transport (even with air conditioning) is not very comfortable.
It is impossible to talk about Seville in one paragraph. This is the city of kings, the city of futuristic architecture, the city of flamenco. What to see during a sightseeing tour in this part of Spain? Definitely the Alcazar, which filmed scenes in Dorne, the southernmost part of Westeros from Game of Thrones. When I was studying in Malaga, the shooting took place in Seville, but due to the intense heat, we arrived there later. It is also worth visiting the Cathedral and, of course, Plaza de España, where the incredibly beautiful scenes of Star Wars were filmed, namely the city of Theed from the planet Naboo.
Alas, because of the studies and the remoteness of the city from Malaga I couldn't stay there for long. Seville is a very large city, so it is better to spend at least 3 days on it.
What to try
Since Andalusia is washed by both the sea and the ocean, there is a lot of seafood here. Specialty:
- salmorejo (cold mashed bread, tomato and jamon soup);
- Andalusian fried squid rings;
- Polvoron biscuits .
Also in the region they like to eat sandwiches (bocadijos) baked in foil. Insanely delicious with tuna and tomatoes, and if you try, you can find them for just a euro! For example, there was a sports bar near our university, where we bought ourselves such a snack almost every day. And the main drink is sherry. This is the famous fortified wine, which is made in the city of Jerez with the same name.
Very popular establishments in the region that offer “flamenco evenings”. Do not shy away from them, for a reasonable fee (usually around 20-25 euros) you can admire the traditional dance of the region and try several dishes at once. We went with friends from different countries several times! Flamenco is danced here with all the passion, dedication and grace, in principle, in Andalusia it is difficult to find a place where this dance would be presented under the “tourist sauce”.
Despite the fact that Andalusia has many attractions, there are fewer tourists in this region than in Catalonia or the capital. Here you can feel the ancient history of the country and the hardships that it went through on the way to unification. This region is very different from the rest of the areas, so if you want to rediscover Spain, – book author's tours and come to Andalusia as soon as the country opens its borders*!
*Recall that at the moment Spain issues visas for citizens who previously had tourist visas to this country. However, tourists from Russia are still prohibited from entering.