Andalusia is a region in the south of Spain. There’s a number of places to visit in the area, which is not conducive to a 36-hour weekend trip. This is why I proposed it to my mom as an option between Christmas & New Years. Taking 5-6 days to explore the area seemed like a more enjoyable pace. A trip to the airport also meant that she could ride the train again, which she LOVED!
Literally everyone I spoke with prior to this trip told me something about how beautiful it was or how it was their favorite part of Spain. I am often nervous to go into a trip where people are speaking so highly about the place, because it can set expectations too high. But, in this case, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I was still surprised by all of the ornate architecture!
Similar to our Christmas Market Roadtrip Extravaganza, we weren’t staying in one place. We planned to visit Granada, the white hilltop towns, Seville, and Cordoba. We flew into Malaga (thank you, easyJet, for the direct flight) and then drove nearly two hours to Granada. It was late (and dark) when we arrived to the city, and the instructions from our hotel were really confusing when we got to a roundabout with about a dozen entry/exit points! We lost our way more than once in the midst of some pretty crazy traffic, but I managed not to lose my Christmas joy! Once we arrived, we found Hotel Casa 1800 Granada to be really charming.
One of the benefits of early mornings (even after late nights) are views like this:
We had a 9:00am time slot to visit Alhambra. I’ve heard about this site from a number of friends who previously visited over the past decade or so, but I still didn’t really know what to expect. A couple of points before I show you some pictures (none of which do it justice):
- Alhambra is HUGE!! There is a an old fortress, an ancient palace, exquisite gardens & summer palace, and a monstrosity called Charles V Palace that was later built in the midst of all of this. I think we spent close to four hours exploring all of it!
- Alhambra began as a fortress in 889 A.D. SUCH a long time ago!! It was renovated in the mid-13th century, and then made into a royal palace in 1333. The work was completed by the Moors, who were ruling at that time. They were Muslim, and Alhambra is full of some beautiful Islamic art – the carvings and stucco work are truly magnificent.
- The Moors were driven out in 1492 by King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella. (For Americans, 1492 might sound like a familiar year to you, and it should. It’s the year this same Queen Isabella granted the funding to Christopher Columbus to set sail for the voyage where he would discover the new world. And guess where that transaction took place…in Granada!)
Okay, okay…I’ll stop talking and let the photos speak for themselves…
We also visited the gardens, which are called, Generalife. If you’re an American, you may also pronounce that word like general-life (which I did all morning). But in Spanish, it’s actually pronounced xe.ne.ra.li.fe. I wasn’t even close.
After a tapas lunch, we explored Granada…an enormous cathedral (the second largest in Spain), some monuments, and the Royal Chapel where King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella are buried…
Our hotel had complimentary afternoon tea in the courtyard, which was a good excuse to take a siesta before meeting friends for dinner. It just so happened that two of my expat friends were also on holiday in the south of Spain. We met up with them for dinner at Restaurante Estrellas de San Nicolas for a nighttime view of the Alhambra.
For the record, the south of Spain is not particularly warm in the winter. I packed so poorly for this trip. An average high in the mid-60’s/low-70’s (*F) on The Weather Channel App does not mean “don’t pack a coat because you might be sweating in the afternoon.” (Which was exactly my rationale for leaving a perfectly good coat at home.) I completely ignored the low, which was 48*F. My packing fail resulted in me breaking down and buying yet another winter coat, which I promptly went without on one of our day trips to Cordoba (a day that turned out to be FREEZING)…when will I learn?!