After a turbulent night in Cádiz, with uninvited guests, we continued our Andalucía tour the next morning, as planned.
The first part of my trip report ended in Cádiz, Europe’s oldest city.
What happened to us that night can be read in the next article, in which we will describe Lola –our VW T4 California Flamenco Campers van–, as well as giving detailed information about accommodation places.
Then we opted for the easiest solution: breakfast in the sun at McDonald’s before leaving towards Jerez de la Frontera.
As usual, we had been going round and round until we found a free parking space for Lola in a side street. We then began the city tour itself, which led us to Tourims Info at Plaza del Arenal where we got not only a map but also some advice in German! We wanted to take a stroll in the city, famous for its sherry production. So, a visit to a Bodega was a must.
We chose Bodega González Byass, the producer of the famous Tío Pepe sherry. As it was just a few minutes on foot, we decided to get to the bodega by 14:00, as our German guidebook recommended. Previously we had explored the main buildings and landmarks of the city and spent a good time at the bodega. There are different versions of the tour. We opted out for a tour with the tasting of 2 wines and 3 tapas for just € 16 per person.
Together with the very friendly staff of the bodega, we ran into the cellars and learned lots of interesting facts about the sherry and its production. We had no idea about how many different kinds there are and how they differ in terms of production.
And who would ever thought that the word sherry gets its name from the impossibily of English people to pronounce jerez correctly?
The tour was fairly informative: there were fascinating insights into the production and storage building that impressed even architecturally, especially in the area dedicated to tasting where we were given two kinds of sherry to taste. Luckily we had ordered the tapas to avoid a more than probable hangover!
As we had booked the return flight with Ryanair in terms of no possible changes, there was no undue danger concerning the baggage. So we bought only two T-shirts for children and a bottle of wine to drunk during the holidays and one small bottle of the original Tío Pepe. Before leaving Jerez de la Frontera, we stopped at a Carrefour supermarket to get some supplies.
In the late afternoon we reached the spectacular white village of Arcos de la Frontera.
Looking for a suitable, well-located parking for Lola, I strained my wife’s patience considerably, but it was worth it because we finally stood in the middle of the old town and were able to start our tour without having to deal with prominent slopes.
A visit to Arcos de la Frontera is not an option but a must . The old town is perched on a steep cliff above the river Guadalete and it counts with buildings as the Castillo de Arcos –a castle─, and the palace of Conde del Águila. The outlook from the central square of the old town is superb.
The inviting atmosphere of Andalucía had enchanted us once more, especially at the onset of darkness.
Night fell and we had still not decided where to stay. Luckily I found a good tip on a camper guide which turned out to be a hit. All details about it can be found in the next article.
After a pleasant night, we were for a cereal breakfast to be ready for the next adventure!
We started a little earlier than before with the intention to reach Córdoba in late afternoon. A wonderful ride with a charming landscape right and left was expecting us. Via Espera and Utrera, we headed for Carmona avoiding the motorway and driving along the river Guadalquivir.
Following this route, we arrived in Palma del Río around midday. This city on the river is not explicitly mentioned in the guide although we had been advised to have a stop there. That’s it! Palma del Río is a small town but it seems cosy, tidy, friendly and welcoming. Again, the tourist office was our first stop where we asked about a good place to comfort our empty stomachs.
So we ended up the tour of the city at Peña Flamenca La Solea, a restaurant with a long flamenco tradition. Its friendly waiters spoke only Spanish, so we trusted their recommendations about food: grilled cod for my wife and grilled squid for me, and a bowl of salad.
Actually, we just wanted a snack for lunch but the meal was really tasty and it price/quality ratio was very good. If you decide to stop there, the restaurant is placed at Calle Río Seco. Fully satisfied and very fond of Palma del Río we travelled to Córdoba and reached the campsite as planned. After the formalities and acceptance of the price (quite more than expected!), we decided to take a bus to get a first impression of Córdoba.
The bus stop is placed just opposite the entrance of the campsite. The ride takes only a few minutes and it costs € 1,20 per person. Map in hand, we set out searching for the old town and shops. We went in between in a Tapas Bar and ordered a cocktail. When we ran roughly towards the bus stop, we could hardly stayed on our feet. All restaurants were now open and the illuminated buildings and monuments made wander Córdoba a real pleasure.
Luckily we had not remained idly at the campsite, but I have to confess that we were worn out. This is a real tip for cities like Córdoba or Granada: you should definitely plan an evening visit as it is a completely different atmosphere than the one you find during daytime.
Since we were not able to make a late check-out , we left the campsite the next morning. We were driving along the riverside when we discovered a large and free car park on the opposite side of the old town, not far from the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) and the Mezquita (Mosque), where we really wanted to go.
The Mezquita is now a catholic cathedral built inside a pre-existing mosque. This exciting mix belongs not in vain to the world heritage, and it is really well worth a visit.
There are many misleading details to discover! Thus our time in Córdoba came to an end and we set out for Granada.
The N-432 highway was especially appealing as it was bordered by mountains, castles and thousands of olive trees. After our arrival in Baena, a really nice town, we got to find a supermarket Lidl where we could buy supplies to cook in the parking lot. Such a delightful van-life!
We decided to locate ourselves at a campsite in the mountains of Sierra Nevada where we met Pepa , a sort of Lola’s sister with the shape of a Ford Nugget. Then we got in contact with a nice Spanish-Danish crew, whom we met later in the restaurant again.
After a restful night, we got a ride for just € 1.70 per person to the centre of Granada, a wandering uphill way yesterday which turned downhill today. We were unable to visit the most famous attraction of Granada ─the Alhambra─, because all tickets were sold out. Next time perhaps! That let us some more time to visit the city itself: Granada was, in fact, the highlight of the trip concerning cities and villages.
I could write a whole article about the city but I will constrain to a few points. The fact is that you must definitely visit this monumental town.
To get a good overview of the city in our limited time, we bought a one-day ticket of the Granada City Tour Bus with which you can reach all the important points of the city after the Hop-on/Hop-off principle.
A double-decker bus, provided with wi-fi which allowed us to send a few holiday greetings. An 8 € fare which filled our highest expectations.
However, you should still explore the core area of the city on foot: beautiful houses, inviting squares and many shops and restaurants. We ate paella at La Cueva de 1900 restaurant situated at Calle Reyes Católicos, 13. Tasty, loud and typical of Andalucía!
Here are more tips for you:
- The Albaicín, Granada’s oldest quarter,
- The Mirador de San Nicolás: a place to get some of the best views of
Granada s landscapes,
- From the little train station at Plaza Nueva, take Calle Elvira into Calle Calderería Vieja. Then, go ahead to Calle Nueva Calderería. In this beautiful part of the old Moorish town you will find narrow streets, tea saloons,small shops, etc. Such a highlight!
- And if you have enough time, go and see the Sacromonte district, full of
cave houses digged in the mountains.
We took the 22:00 bus to the campsite, though Granada is well worth several days of visit.
We needed just one Saturday to see three wedding celebrations in the city, where the participants were all magnificently dressed.
Sea, dear sea, we want you!
The second day at Sierra Nevada was very relaxing and we were ready to go longing for time at the seaside.
One more time, a 30 km excursion irritated me due to the large number of bends here and there.
We visit the mountain village of Pampaneira, another white village with narrow, steep streets, beautiful places, crafts and many restaurants. The trip to the mountains was undoubtedly worth it, if only because of the spectacularly tasty Spanish omelette we ate in Pampaneira!
On the way back to the highway, you will still probably want to stop a few times to take pictures.
Before getting to Motril, we turned off onto the coastal highway to the west and made the next stop in Nerja. In the guidebooks we had read you should have a nice view from the so-called Balcón de Europa (Europe’s balcony). However, Nerja was overall a positive surprise.
Although this is obviously a quite tourist-oriented place, Nerja is a nice town with several rest stops, lively shops and the bustling atmosphere we were really looking for.
The Balcón de Europa actually offers a fantastic panoramic view which invites you to linger. Such a short time to visit quite many interesting corners!
For the last few kilometres of the day, the zoom brought us already pretty close to Málaga, but we preferred to choose the coastal road to take even some more pictures. It was already the last night with Lola and we headed for a campsite in Torre del Mar, on the sea. This provoked rather mixed feelings.
We had a walk through Torre del Mar, but the city, so full of apartment- bunkers looked rather dreary and uninviting. The beach and the promenade were very nice though.
The evening brought heavy rain, so we decided to organize a splendid dinner: a cup of good wine and pasta cooked inside Lola. The farewell is so near!
Gonzalo (Flamenco Campers owner) and I agreed to give Lola back in the afternoon.
Since we had to leave Andalucía right after our arrival in Málaga, we thought of taking the final impression of the city. For this reason, we parked Lola in a side street at the port and strolled through a modern complex where you will find plenty of shops and restaurants of all kinds and flavours, and next to the harbour where lots of cruise ships and local people watch and enjoy the hustle and bustle.
We walked a little further to the historic centre which begins just after crossing the large quayside. Again, we were quite delighted of Málaga s architecture and history.
Definitely, Málaga has a lot more to offer than just an airport as a gateway to Andalucía! Is that why the title of the booklet we took at the Tourist Info: 3 days in Málaga?
After a Mexican meal on the waterfront, we brought Lola back home , that is in the hall of Flamenco Campers, in Alhaurín de la Torre. It was hard to pack our things back into the suitcase.
How Lola accompanied us charmingly and reliably on our Andalucía tour, I ll describe it next week and why we were almost tempted to make Gonzalo an immoral proposal.
Gonzalo welcomed us not only in his friendly cordial nature, but he also wished us a nice sweet farewell before we took a beautiful green T2 Bus (named Josephine ) which drove us to our hotel.
With a mixture of sadness and joy, we experienced the historic journey.
Since our flight departed as 7 am the next morning, we spent our last night at the Holiday Inn Express Airport hotel. As we had booked in advance, we got a pleasant, modern room for € 59. But, of course, no comparison to our Lola!
The night was short, the way to the terminal along the road a little adventurous and the flight on time, so we were already back home in the late morning.
The grey sky, the low temperatures, the air moist … and a throbbing thought in mind: Wonderful Andalucía, we will see you again very soon!