Southern Spain, A Place I Once Called Home
I lived in Rota for 3 years and just loved it.
Flamenco, ferias, bullfights, jerez sherry, olives, beautiful beaches, castles, Seville orange trees, siestas and paella. Paella and jamon…I cannot say enough about these two delicious foods. I fell in love with jamon and paella. I would eat it slices of jamon alone, as an appetizer, in a sandwich and with or without a glass of Spanish wine. I ate so much paella that I learned that there is no such thing as too much paella!
So many things come to mind when I think of southern Spain but mostly, it’s beauty. I fell in love with Its people, it’s culture, it’s food, it’s language, it’s drink…with Spain.
Andalucia offers a special charm and magical presence that envelops you and nestles close in her beautiful arms. From its beautiful landscapes to its lovely people to the best cafe’ con leche in the world.
These are some of my favorite cities in southern Spain.
- Granada – Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it’s home of the Alhambra Palace. The Sierra Nevada mountains are gorgeous and the Alhambra Palace is such a beautiful walk in history. I actually drove my 1992 Nissan Stanza with my two kids to the Alhambra Palace and we drove up the Sierra Nevada Mountains. What was I thinking at the time driving a 1992 Nissan Stanza up a mountain? Not sure but my kids have amazing memories.
- Seville – Also called Sevilla, known for its charming nature and moorish influence. They have a wonderful Alcazar, Cathederal and have the best Semana Santa (easter week) and La Feria (spring fair) in the country. One must attend Feria–Food, Families, Fun and Festivities.
- Malaga – A key beach going town on Costa Del Sol, east of Gibralter, it’s the birthplace to Antonio Bandera and Pablo Picasso. They have a subtropical mediterranean climate. The town has remains of a roman theatre and ancient phoencian wall.
- Cadiz – Gorgeous beaches, this shore town boasts the title of Europe’s oldest city.
- Jerez de la Frontera – Sherry country, outstanding Bodegas are here, and home to “Tio Pepe” and the Gonzalez Byass winery. Visited my first bodega in Spain and had my first Sherry.
Cordoba – Located on the Guadalquivar river this must see town boasts roman history, moorish sytle patios and a magnificant mosque, the Mezquita.
- Ronda – A gorgeous and charming white hill town with an amazing gorge. Home of the oldest bullring in the country.
Mouth-Watering Spanish Food
I could go on and on about the food in southern Spain….absolutely amazing! The best small dishes you could ever want as well as the best large family style dinner in the south–south of Spain, that is. My favorite tapas are grilled queso, clams in garlic and tomatoes,tortilla de patatas and gazpacho, Jamon Serrano and chorizo with anything with a nice cold glass of sangria. I gained so much weight while in Spain.
Some typical tapas:
Gambas al Ajillo: fresh prawns in sizzling olive oil with garlic and chili peppers
Cazón en Adobo: fried marinated dogfish
Bacalao: salt cod, breaded and fried or stewed in tomato sauce
Calamares: fried squid rings
Chipirones: small squid, usually cooked “a la plancha” (on the griddle)
Chocos: cuttlefish, usually breaded and deep fried
Espinacas con garbanzos: spinach and chick peas with olive oil and garlic
Patatas bravas: fried potato wedges served with a spicy alioli sauce
Ensaladilla: potato salad with mayonnaise and either tuna or prawns
Calamares del Campo: breaded and fried onions and peppers
Gazpacho: cold tomato soup with cucumber and garlic
Salmorejo: a thicker version of gazpacho, often used as a sauce
Tortilla: potato omelette
Revuelto: scrambled eggs with various fillings
Montaditos: small filled buns, often served toasted
Arroz del Día: rice of the day, with meat and/or seafood, served at lunchtime
Jamón Iberico: thinly sliced salt cured ham from free range pata negra pigs
Solomillo al Whisky: pork tenderloin in whisky and garlic sauce
Albóndigas: meatballs – most often pork, but also of beef or seafood.
The fresh seafood…I ate it everyday. Grilled tuna steaks, salmon, lobster, clams, mussels and shrimp, oh my!!! I shopped at the open markets where you could purchase fresh everything– vegetables, meats, olives. Southern Spain, a foodie’s dream.
If you visit, visit while there’s a feria. Ferias in Spain are just fabulous!!! Food, fun and flamenco for the entire family. A feria is an annual local festival in Spain and southern France, characterized by bullfights, bull running in the streets, bodegas (outdoor bars or cellars with festive music) and bandas.
I would advise anyone to visit Spain before they leave this beautiful, beautiful earth and make certain you visit the Andalusia area. It is one of the most beautiful places that God created. The areas offers so much in culture, food, scenery, architecture and the people are so very interesting.
Spain, on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, is really 17 autonomous regions, each with its own geography and culture. The capital, Madrid, is home to the Royal Palace and singular Prado museum, housing works by European masters, and Segovia to the north has a fairy-tale medieval castle and Roman aqueduct. Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, is defined by Antoni Gaudí’s quirky modernist architecture, including the Sagrada Família basilica.
Contrenia L. Fluker, Travel Professional
Dream Vacations, Why Wait Travels