On a recent trip we travelled to the South of Spain, Andalusia, meeting up in Seville, then driving on to Carmona, Cordoba, Iznajar, Granada, Antequera, Ronda, Arcos de La Frontera, Cadiz and Jerez, world’s headquarters of Sherry wines.
We drove just over 700 km, in a small Citroen, manual transmission, and concluded our Andalusia expedition back in Seville, before returning home to Aruba.
That area of the world is super easy to navigate, thanks to my good friend WAZE, and his helpful cousin, albeit sometime tardy, Google maps.
The voices trapped in the Apps have the power to transform every ordinary tourist into a fearless explorer.
Andalusia showcases 500-600 years of Muslim control, between the 8th and the 13th century, and the insanely ornamental architecture left behind is incredible.
Every day we stood astounded in front of another Alcazar, palace, fort, bell tower, city wall, aqua duct, bridge or Arab bath, soaking in the super photogenic genius, of the ancient construction.
Jodi diligently documented everything and will post gorgeous images on Facebook.
The Spaniards have it good. They sit in cafes, they linger over coffee and bocadillos – little Jamon Iberico on just-baked white bread sandwiches. They don’t seem to be bothered by the mega high salt-content of their diet or by the political acrobatics of President Trump.
We noticed quite a few businesses sporting hand-written signs: Closed for Vacation, Cerrado por Descanso, never mentioning the day they will be back. It was the off-season, and when I asked in Ronda, the owner of La Pilastra Del Torero, at the Puente Nuevo said he will be coming back in April. Next year.
Imagine, restaurants CLOSE around 3-4pm then reopen from 8-8:30pm until 11:30pm.
And because of the way our internal clocks are set, we always got hungry at 4pm, and then there was nothing available, except coffee. No, we did not lose weight, we made up for losses at other occasions.
The Spanish middle class is nicely dressed about town, no snickers, no shorts, and on Sunday, they are turned out extra nice, with capes, and hats, taking the family out for a stroll.
I rediscovered the power of my money when 2 Euro bought me a delicious glass of wine – café con leche, just 1.5 Euro, and once we had dinner at the edgiest, most famous tapas bar in Ronda, La Lechuguita, for 16 Euro, for two; dinner by a visiting French celebrity chef, 60 Euro for two.
Site after site after site, no kiosks, no creature comforts for visitors, just overall minimum intervention, and little visible management. Water? You should have brought it in with you. Nature is undisturbed, and the architecture respected.
They restore, according to the exact ancient plan, then leave it alone.
No one’s cousin runs a souvenir store, nor a refreshment stand.
All that catering and commerce lies away from historical attractions.
They inconvenience the tourist, before God forbid, compromising the site.
And we appreciated.