The Road Ahead : June July 2008
JUN/JLY 08 37 almost possible to picture the tall ships exchanging cannon ? re. Nearby is the magni? cent baroque-style cathedral and the old town walls. Cadiz is also home to wonder ful, tiny streets, which open up onto beautiful squares, such as the central Plaza de Mina. An hour and a half nor th of Cadiz is Seville, the capital of Andalucía, and the ? er y home of ? amenco. The maze-like central streets are not car-friendly, and we found it best to park and walk. We star ted with a stroll along the river Guadalquivir, stopping to tr y some ‘churros con chocolate’ (donuts dipped in hot chocolate) from a street vendor. We detoured through the charming Maria Luisa Park to the imposing Plaza de Espagna, both built in 1929 for the World Fair. Another ‘must see’ is the city’s colossal gothic cathedral, built in the 1400s after the Reconquista (when Christian Castilians retook the south from the Moors). Its bell tower, the stunning La Giralda, was originally a minaret. You cannot escape the magic of ? amenco in Seville, nor would you want to. The passionate guitar music – often accompanied by folk songs describing past wrongs and great loves – speaks directly to the hear t. The ? erce stomping of the dancers’ feet makes you want to star t lessons immediately, in the hope you too could harness that same frenetic energy, to enrapture an audience with a mere clap of the hands or ? ick of a skir t. Finding a ? amenco per formance is easy in Seville – simply wander around and you’ll see signs beckoning you into halls or theatres for per formances, star ting from 10 Euros (A$16.90). Leaving Seville, we follow the Guadalquivir through some rolling, green countr yside about two hours nor th- east to Cordoba. The town was founded by the Romans, and you can still see their legacy in the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), which was the city’s only river crossing until the 1950s, and is now being fully restored. But Cordoba’s main drawcard is the mosque-turned- cathedral, the Mezquita. You can easily spend a morning wandering through the forest of candy-striped arches, suppor ted by more than 1000 columns of marble, granite, onyx and jasper, before pausing in the shade in the Orange Tree Cour tyard. Our last stop in Andalucía was the city of Granada. It sprawls out from the base of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains, and initially we feared we’d get lost in the suburbs. But the highways saved us again, providing clear directions towards the most famous Moorish citadel of them all, the Alhambra. The last Moorish stronghold to fall to the Christians – taken by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492 – the Alhambra sits atop a hill surrounded by 57,000 ha of manicured gardens. Star t your day early, as there are more than 40 buildings to explore, with intricate plaster and lattice work. Many feature detailed exhibitions on historical residents. Islamic architecture places a primar y focus on water, and there are stunning fountains and water features, including the magni? cent Cour t of the Lions. Ornate buildings are re? ected per fectly in the clear pools, giving an over whelming sense of peace and order. The early December weather meant there were still autumn leaves in brilliant shades of gold and red hanging on the trees – at least until the crisp breeze sent them ? uttering to the ground. For the best view in town, don’t miss the Alcazba Tower, the former militar y quar ters, from where you can see the entire city, and gaze up at the Sierra Nevada behind you. A 10-minute trot downhill from Alhambra is Granada’s Puer to Real district, from which you can explore world- class shopping and a vibrant nightlife. But if your Andalucian adventures have left you happily tired, simply set yourself up in a little street cafe with some tapas and a San Miguel, and indulge in some people watching. Per fecto. SPANISH INFLUENCE RACQ Travel can book your holiday to Spain. Members can contact our experienced and friendly travel staff on 1300 888 449. RACQ also sells International Driving Permits. Call 13 1905. MAIN PHOTO (LEFT): The Alhambra and its Cour t of Lions (inset). BELOW, FROM LEFT: The Rock of Gibraltar. The Cathedral La Giralda, Seville.
April May 2008
August September 2008