Last year, June 2014, was my first time travelling overseas. The excitement outweighed the nerves as I was headed off to the home of flamenco, tapas and Andalusian culture with my husband, brother and sisters-in-law.
Our plane landed safely at Malaga Airport, but we immediately made our way to Marbella as that’s where we would be staying for the first few days. Marbella felt like the cosmopolitan side of Andalusia, with gorgeous beaches, luxury shopping brands and some of the best golf courses in Europe. When we were done window shopping and people watching in Puerto Banus, a marina in Marbella, we headed off to my favourite town in Andalusia: Granada.
We felt right at home with the buzzing lifestyle and friendly locals. Granada is renowned for its amazing Moorish architecture. Our first stop was at The Alhambra, the monument that outshone every other site in Andalusia. Part palace, part fort, the beautiful and intricate architecture made us feel like we were transported back to the 14th century. The elaborate structures, the trickling fountain and even the mosaic tiles on the wall took my breath away. Later that day we went for a late lunch in the city centre and were happy to find quite a number of Halaal restaurants.
The next day we made our way to Sevilla, the capital of Spain’s Andalusia region. I remember Sevilla being warm, sunny and welcoming. There was a sense of vitality in the air, with the sweet sound of flamenco guitar being played while we made our way through the bustling town. We wanted to see everything this beautiful town had to offer, so we decided to take a Hop On Hop Off bus tour like proper tourists.
After Sevilla we headed off to Ronda, one of Spain’s oldest and most charming towns. Our first site on the list was the Puento Nuevo, a bridge that offered unforgettable views over the El Tajo gorge. We stood up there for hours, taking pictures and admiring the breathtakingly beautiful view. We then went to Ronda’s famous Arab baths. I remember the sun filtering through the star-shaped vents in the roof, imagining what it was like in the 13th century.
Malaga was our last stop before heading back to Cape Town. It had a good mix of modern and historic qualities. I remember walking down the narrow pedestrian streets looking for a place to eat, not realising that most shops and restaurants are closed on a Sunday. It was quite disappointing but we made the most of it and eventually found a small café, where we had toasted cheese and freshly squeezed orange juice. The next day when the city came alive again, we shopped up a storm and got to see a different, busier side of Malaga before our flight.
I left a piece of my heart in Spain, and if I don’t return, I’ll be comforted by the amazing memories I made.