Trip to Andalucia

This summer 2017 one of my dreams came true – I visited Andalucia, The South of Spain. For one month I was discovering Alicante, Murcia, Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla. Many hours of passionate Flamenco music making and dancing saw, hundreds of small streets walked, many kilos of the most juicy and sweet fruits ate, lot of sun bathing and swimming in the salty sea.

I landed in Alicante. When went out of a plane, hot and humid air struck my face. Like few days ago I when I entered a sauna at friend’s place in Finland. It’s because the city is situated near the Mediterranean sea and with a temperature of 40 C evaporation is intensive. Alicante has a 6 km long beach which during the summer is full of tourists. From there 30 min walking up the mountain you can see nice Santa Barbara castle on the top with couple of museums. I lived in a hostel as well as airbnb and most of the time spent talking to local people (here people yet speak English), as well as travelers from all over the world: Arabic countries, Europe, Asia, USA etc. In the city center are cafeterias where you can sit outside and enjoy a coffee and heavenly ice cream. On the second day I joined a free walking tour organized by the hostel. Standing and listening to the guide I felt like my head started going round and feet becoming soft, at first I couldn’t understand why and got a bit scared, thought that going to fall. I poured some water on my head as well as on my t-shirt from the bottle that I had with me and went more into shade. Felt a bit better. Couple of other guys from the group also said it’s hard for them outside during the midday, so I concluded it’s all because of the climate (took off from Estonia with temperature 20 C and humidity 40% same day landed in Alicante with temperature of 40 C and humidity 75%! ). The tour I expected to be a bit more interesting, but I guess, the reason is that mostly because there is not really that much to see in the city: the castle, couple of museums and churches, sea food market and a few legends. But a week there was good!

The city.


Airbnb host was a very nice person, we were cooking-eating together. This time she prepared a homemade pasta.


Walking on the beach. Water temperature 26 C.


The gypsy quarter. During the evening here are people outside playing, singing, dancing and eating.


Looong street made of marble. Old people like to take their chairs and sit outside to see the life spinning.


A church.


Part of the castle. You can see the face profile on the left side in the middle part of the mountain. Can you?




Around 11pm. Me go sleep. People start going out.


Sometimes waves are bigger and you can surf.


The city.


And… the city


The Castle. The pomegranate (“Granada” in Spanish) reminded me of the place where I had to be in one and a half week.


Typical backyard.


Next stop was Murcia, where I had to meet my good Spanish friend from Switzerland. Already after half an hour in a bus I felt small relief – further from the sea and the humidity decreased. One hour trip and I was at Murcia bus station. Friend picked me up with a car and we went to his place. The apartment is situated in the first line by the sea. We had a plan to visit one of the best flamenco festivals/competitions in Spain the famous “Cante de las minas”: 4 – 5 hour flamenco concerts and competitions; shops and restaurants. Every night starting from 22 and ending at 3am. In Estonia concerts usually end at that time, but here in the South, life starts at that time. It was an interesting experience: first couple of hours I was listening, rest couple of hours – falling asleep reclining on people sitting to the left and to the right of me. The festival was great and I learned better to understand the emotions of the performers. Especially sad songs, called “mineras” about the people, who die in mines… The landscape of Murcia is mostly desert, mountains and sea. For eating outside we went to La Manga, where you can find good restaurants near the sea with a fresh sea food and decent prices (~10 eur is an average price per person). Close there is the light house, which is one of the “must see”. One day we went couple of kilometers away from the apartment to make a video for one of my solo guitar pieces (soon will be published on my website). Many Germans buy houses there and invest in real estate. A week in Murcia came to an end. It was unforgettable! Several museums (few of them in Cartagena – small city in Murcia), flamenco festival, sea, beach and many nice people (who don’t speak English. With one exceptions: my friend’s family). It is the best – when you travel and can stay at your good friend’s place, who take you to all the best places and make you feel like at home. On the last evening before my departure to the next city I witnessed raging wind – Levante (strong wind of the western Mediterranean Sea and the southern coasts of France and Spain). Time to go…

In the bus.


In the car.


Almost home.

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Good night…


Driving to have a lunch.


“The Sin” 🙂 alcohol free, in fact… (PS: “sin” means “without”)


At a restaurant.


At the light house.


The light house.


Still there…


Breakfast: boqueranos en vinagre, smashed tomato, toasted white bread.


Standing on a mountain close to apartment.


“Cante de las minas”.




Outside the Festival’s hall, there is a concert in a more authentic environment:


Every Spanish house has azulejo (painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework).


The mountain close to apartment (the one climbed before).


The beach and the sea.


The sea. La Manga on the horizon.


Good morning! Two small islands.


The mountain near apartment. Going to climb it again tomorrow!




… night!


Archeology museum in Cartagena (very interesting! Description how different ships were built, how the trading in Mediterranean was going through centuries etc).


Cartagena, Colosseum. Can’t imagine how at the time people were sitting there, because it is extremely hot inside these walls, sweat just running nonstop.


Making of the video.


Making of the video (climbed the mountain for second time).


Making of the video (on the top of the mountain).


Granada. Getting to the this magnificent city took some patience. On the way they, in Lorca, our bus got stuck between a house and wrongly parked car. Neither could go back anymore. 40mins searching for the owner, calling police, police trying to move the car, no idea what will happen… Sun was setting… Finally our skillful driver with a help of police could pass the car just in couple of millimeters from it. Passengers rejoiced! When we finally arrived to Granada, I looked at googlemaps and thought it would be nice to walk through the night city. So, went by foot from the bus station to the apartment. It had to be a 40min walk. Walking farther from the bus station I noticed that my suitcase rattles more and more – the road was becoming worse. And then I came to the boarder of the old town. Directions showed uphill. I started wondering whether I can keep going up the hill on the road made of poorly treated middle age stone. About 1km walk left until the house. No bus stops near, so… we go up! The sweat was literally running from all over my body: in the 35 C heat I was carrying two heavy bags in hands (my suitcase was simply not able to roll on that road!). Trudging up, regretting that didn’t listen to the host, when he advised me (repeatedly!) to take the bus to his flat. People walking downwards were looking at me with a feeling of sympathy. In half an hour I reached the apartment in the heart of the old town. Airbnb host was so kind, that, when made a dinner, invited me to join. What can you dream more about after a few hour travel with some delays, tired, you arrive at new home? Eat and sleep! At that point I started to think that airbnb is so much better than a hotel (or a hostel). First few days I couldn’t understand how the shops are open. The were plenty in neighborhood, but most of them private and owners open and close them when they feel it is time for siesta. But since we all are so different – we feel so differently…  For me it was not so obvious when does the siesta start. In couple of days I noticed it is somewhere between 1pm – 3pm, then they open again around 5pm – 7pm. So, when I found a shop I was usually buying a food for a couple of days with a margin. To Granada I came with a very certain purpose. When I started to play the guitar and reached the necessary level to play Francisco Tarrega’s “Raquerdos de la Alhambra” I started dreaming about going to see the place: fountains, gardens, complex Arabic ornaments on the windows… The castle of Alhambra. I booked the tickets online two weeks in advance (which is strongly recommended), if you don’t want to sleep a night near the ticket office and wake up there early to get one, because the cue is huge! I still had two days to walk around the city, before the tour. Got some tips from my host and went to discover the Moroccan quarter with shops and cafeterias, buy some souvenirs and say “hi” to the hippies and gypsies. My flat was situated in Albaicin, close to the famous hippy caves and the gypsy quarter – Sacremonte. I climbed the mountain. Found couple of hippies, chatted with them – all were friendly. They live in caves, some have furniture and even electricity. Interesting thing for me to know was that when some new people come to live here, they just search for and empty cave and settle down. No bills. You don’t have to pay any rent. Live in a harmony with nature, have nice view to Alhambra. On the other side of the same mountain there is Sacremonte, with beautiful houses where the gypsies live. Unfortunately I didn’t find any. Maybe they were hiding from the tourists from whom they are already tired of? Only few tourists wondering there… Finally came the day. I woke up at 6.00 am to be at 8.00 at Alhambra tour. Some time for preparation and a 40min walk to the place from my house. The old town was asleep. It was magical: walking through in twilight, hearing steps echoing in narrow streets and seeing the silent castle far on the top of the mountain. When finally arrived there I saw hundreds of people: single travelers, groups. Found the meeting point and waited for the guide. Here I realized that I forgot my hat at home. But since it was a bit chill I then thought that nothing will happen with me in few hours. How wrong I was… Soon our group got together and we went in. We were met by plenty of cats and it was obvious who is the most photographed part of the castle. The place is very beautiful and with a guide it’s much more interesting than with just walking with a paper guide or just a map. When you have a person in the front of you telling stories with a passion about all the battles and events that took place there, it’s exciting! So the guide is recommended! When I came after a four hour trip I felt pretty bad: head was going round, a feeling of sickness with an inclination to vomit. At first I thought that maybe it is “typical” Spanish-Moroccan kebab that I ate for lunch, but then I googled and realized that I had a light sun stoke. Five hours in a bed with a towel filled with ice and I was like new! After four great days in Granada I decided to move to the next destination and booked next airbnb apartment.

Spain. Rules are only on the paper.


Journey to be continued!


Nice scenery.


The old town.




The gypsy quarter.


The gypsy quarter.


The gypsy quarter.


Wondering in the old town.


The old town.


The old town.


The old town.


The old town.


Alhambra castle.


In the old town.


The old town.


Approaching the caves.


The old town.


After meeting hippies went to the top of the mountain to meet the gypsies.


The caves, Alhambra behind.


On the top of the mountain.


The caves, behind Alhambra.


The gypsy quarter. For the second time tried to meet some – no luck.


The old town.


Alhambra walls. And the horrendous guard.


Alhambra inside.


Who is the king here?








From the Alhambra.


From the Alhambra.
















When you will be approaching Corboba you will see kilometers of olive tree field.  The city has also another unofficial name – “The Frying Pan” of Spain. Locked between two mountains during the day temperature in the summer can reach +47 C. The air is pretty dry, even though there is a huge river going through the city. I arrived slightly after the lunch time and entered empty streets. Fortunately the apartment was close to the bus station and 10min sweating with bags felt nice. All around was obviously closed. Even kebab places. So, I took that days easy, in the evening went to buy some food for next couple of days. The hosts helped me to do a list for things to see. Next days I went to see the old town: the Mesquita, gardens and some of the museums. Others days were spent to Medina Azahara – the ancient city, situated close to Cordoba (just 30min with a special bus), where was also a museum with a movie theater. There people can see a short movie about the history of the place and how it grew and then the power collapsed. The place in the old town to see are Arabic baths with a floor heating system (yeps, it existed already centuries ago).During the day new city streets are empty, only crazy tourists hang out  in the old town. Nice restaurant with traditional food (Salmarejo! The best in Spain – in Cordoba). Four days felt just right to stay in that town and I moved to the last destination – Sevilla.

Approaching the “Frying pan”.


Nice and warm…


Spain is one of the biggest exporters of olive oil in Europe.


Even kebab run away from the 47 C heat…


How to prepare the right salmarejo.


This time I trust this task to professional chefs.


Walls of Mesquita.


The old town.


Me like warm weather.


My airbnb host (the one who helped to make a sightseeing list).


“Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos”.


“Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos”.


“Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos”.


“Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos”.


“Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos”. Good fish soup will be ready in 5min! (Can’t imagine how that fish can live in hot water…)


“Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos”.


The old town. Garden museum.


The old town. Garden museum.


Oranges grow on the streets.




Mesquita. Garden.


Medina Azahara.


View from Medina Azahara.


Medina Azahara. For restorers there is still some work left to do…


Medina Azahara.


Medina Azahara.


At the museum of three cultures. Exhibitions showing the life of Muslims, Christian and Jewish people at the time. Each lived in their own part of the town, but often went to the same markets and baths etc. Small conflicts took place, but nothing big.


Some patio. The tradition to put flower pots on the wall is taking it roots from the time when people were too poor to renovate the wall. So, they just cover the holes and cracks with the flowers.


The world’s most beautiful square is situated in Sevilla. The huge scale of the city was noticed when the bus enter it in the evening. Large streets, modern buildings and constructions of steel and glass. The air is more chill. Here for for the first time during the trip I felt wind moving in a city. When I went out of the bus station to the streets of the town it was hard not to notice the dirt: in many places plastic packets were strewn. Very fast I found my airbnb apartment which was close to the station. Prepared myself and left to see the city. Thousands of tourists, noise and bustling, people rushing… One of the main streets with a tramway and horses added a new flavor – smell coming from the excrement of the animals (I haven’t seen anything of that on the ground, so, I guess, since a lot of horses with a carriage were passing by, the smell was coming from the bags that are tied up to the horseback). Many homeless cats on the streets with their kittens. It felt like I arrived to another country, because the contrast with the previous cities was so huge. Next few days prepared another surprises: one of which was cockroaches living in my room (one was very noisy and flying. I put a name to him – “Jose” <3 ). The host assured me that it is totally common here to live with cockroaches. In one of the days I went to Triana – the local gypsy’s quarter. Twenty years ago in this area one could hear shots, but then government decided to move the people farther from the city center and that’s how the “LAS TRES MIL VIVIENDAS” was created close to the city. There live mostly criminals and shots are can be heard every day. Police does not enter the area. Anyway, in Triana are still preserved the beautiful colorful gypsy houses, the seaman’s church and couple of other things. In Triana was born one sailor man, who was on of the team members of the Christopher Columbus expedition and who was the first to see the land of Americas (Columbus tried to steal the sailor’s fame, but failed). Once I woke up in the middle of the night because my eye itched. I scratched it a bit and felt asleep again. Shortly after I again woke up and scratched more, then looked into the mirror to see what’s there… When I turned on the light I realized, that I can see only with one eye. When approached the mirror I saw that my left eyelid grew twice in size and I cannot even open my eye. Soon I understood that it can be only a mosquito that bite me. Four hours of ice on my eyelid and it became smaller. Four hours more and I could go out sightseeing. The lesson learned: it is better to keep some other naked parts of your body out of the blanket, so the mosquito would go rather there, than on you eyelid (if you don’t want to attract attention on a street). In the city there is an arena for fighting bulls, but since I am not a fan of such a thing, I dismissed it. Other nice things to see: Barrio Santa Cruz, which is Seville’s charming neighborhood with beautiful buildings and legends; Real Alcázar, the castle with gorgeous rooms and interesting museums; Archeology Museum.

Plaza de España.


Metropol Parasol. A beautiful place for skateboarders to break their necks. Many youngsters hang out there.


Center of the old town.


Archeology museum. Even statues in Spain do siesta.


The cathedral.


My roommate – Jose, – probably liked the view out of my room’s window too. That’s why he didn’t want to leave when I moved in.


Jose. The neighbor. Awww…


The old town.


Real Alcazar. Sealing inside one of the rooms.


Real Alcazar. Garden inside.


Real Alcazar. Garden house (?).


Triana. Flamenco singers often in their songs mention Triana.


Triana. Profession of the person living in the house.


Triana. The sailor men’s church.


Triana. The sailor men’s church. The St. Maria was… a gypsy.


Patio in the old town.


Near the Archeology museum.


The Archeology museum.


The Archeology museum.


Plaza de España. Again. All the pictures in the niches are different and never repeat.


Plaza de España.


Plaza de España.


Free walking tour in the old town at night.


Free walking tour in the old town at night. The Kisses’ street. The houses are so close to each other, that you can kiss your nice neighbors every night.


One of the touches of modernism.


The End.

That was the story in short.

To travel in Andalucia bus is a good option. Ordering tickets online is simple. And they are cheaper than trains. Nice thing is WiFi in the buses. A small surprise was that only few people speak English in that region. I was too naive to carry a thought that my French will save me (my Spanish is limited to one love song text, which I sing and play on a guitar, not really understanding the text). How did I manage my everyday life then? Somehow with the google translate, smiles and gestures I managed to get things I needed at shops and elsewhere. Positive thing is that government tries to imply new programs at schools so that students would learn English. Many tourists come from Italy, France, Germany, but also lots from the Spain itself – from the other parts of the country. In search of souvenirs I discovered that 99% is made in China (simple mass-production scarfs with Arabic ornaments, castanets, mugs etc). A bit disappointing. After desperate attempts to find something original I I decided to buy some high quality olive oil, more or less good quality mugs, and stands for mugs with hot drink, as well as some jewelry made in Spain. Speaking about the culture, I understood much more about the emotion of flamenco. It was nice to hear flamenco inside and outside of a concert hall – there is a slight difference. In every city that I visited, there was a gypsy district. Presence of the cultures is perceptible. You can see Arabic, Christian and Jewish culture in buildings, dresses, food and traditions in general. Water has a certain place in Andalucia’s life through the centuries, so many fountains and different water reservoirs can be seen around the cities. I think I also got closer to the understanding better reasons of the southern mentality: people speak loud, because often they talk to each other not going of a house. Why should you? Your neighbor lives just on the opposite side of a narrow street, so basically you can even watch a TV in your room and just shout – s/he will hear you from his/her apartment. I witnessed such conversations many times: around 6 am you wake up because someone is fighting and screaming. You put thoughts together, rub your eyes, go out on a terrasse trying to understand what is going on and then you realize that people are just talking to each other each one from his own apartment. The small and narrow streets carry sounds pretty well, so you can also see the people shouting from one street end to another. Siesta is an escape from the heat. Bullfighting (fortunately becoming less popular these days) is an old tradition when warriors used to train for battles with enemy. Airbnb was a wonderful experience, cause you get a chance to live in usual apartments with local people, who can tell you many interesting things about the city. Free tours is a good way to see a city: tour guides are locals and show the best and the most interesting of their city, delivering it with passion, sincerity and interest, because the amount of the tips you can give them at the end of the tour is dependent on how well they do their job. Spain is currently having economical difficulties and my eye caught many abandoned buildings and factories, when I went from one city to another, desperate young people trying to find job and finally many of them start smoking weed and consuming alcohol.

The period I have chosen for the trip (entire August) for me turned out to be perfect. Some of my friend were warning me about the extreme heat in the South, but I felt myself very good. Plenty of sun, no rain (light rain fell during one night in Granada). It started raining on 29th of August, when I was already in a bus to the airport back in Alicante, so it all was well calculated 🙂

When after longer trips you return home you are not the same person anymore. You start seeing things differently. Problems that you had now seem a mere nothing compared to how people manage their lives in some other places. Go travel and see how other people live. Share things, be generous and kind, polite and flexible – these are the best friends of a traveler and every any other person.