around the world: A weekend in Andalusia
By Alice Férot
Andalusia is one of these places that stays with you long after you have left. May it be the timeless landscapes, the charm of its cities, or the good living, it is hard to leave without promising yourself you will return.
A rejuvenating Friday evening in Sevilla
Sevilla lays South of the Iberian Peninsula, in the heart of Andalusia, about 330 miles away from Madrid. Whether you are arriving from Madrid or from the United States, after the long trip you may want to relax in an authentic Sevillian way.
Check in at the luxury boutique Mercer Hotel located in 19th Century Andalusian palace in the heart of the historic center with a gorgeous rooftop pool. Enjoy a cocktail at the hotel and then step into the Sevillian streets.
Find your way to the Ancient baths of Sevilla Aire situated in a stunning five century old Mudejar-style palace, in Calle Aire. There, you will enjoy a unique thermal bath experience at candlelight consisting of a caldarium (hot bath), a frigidarium (cold and ice baths), a balneum (bath with jets), a laconium (steam room with aromatherapy) and flotarium (salt water bath). Or you may choose to sip tea on the hot marble stones. On certain nights, live flamenco music accompanies this five-sense experience.
Then wander through the winding streets of the historical center. Have a tapas dinner at the Taberna Coloniales, in Plaza Cristo de Burgos, a very popular bar, where locals, tourists, and European students alike mingle. Do not miss the Salmorejo de Jamon (bruschetta with salmorejo and Spanish ham) and the croquetas de setas (mushroom croquetas). Then, before calling it a day, immerse yourself in Sevilla’s cultural diversity by passing by its world-renowned landmarks: the Royal Alcazar palace, the Archives of the Indies, and the majestic gothic cathedral, with the Giralda, a bell tower, that once was a minaret.
A Saturday in Los Pueblos Blancos and Cadiz
On Saturday, rent a car and explore Andalusia’s pueblos blancos. Drive among the cotton fields for 1 hour 40 minutes until you reach Vejer de la Frontera, a white village sitting on top of a hill and overlooking the straits of Gibraltar and the ocean. Get lost in its narrow streets and navigate among the ancient churches and convents until you reach the main square where you can stop for a drink before going back on the road.
Continue driving south and stop at a landmark of Andalusian cuisine; la Taberna del Campero, at 6 Zahara de los Atunes, in the Cadiz Province. The restaurant specializes in wild tuna from almadraba.
Turn around and drive North to the port of Cadiz. You access the city by a narrow piece of land surrounded by the sea. There, a sun-kissed city stands against a strikingly blue sky. The light is like no other place and you may walk within the walls of the old city to admire the baroque-style Cathedral de “Santa Cruz sobre el mar,” the plaza de San Juan de Dios and the Old Town Hall. Return to Sevilla which is 1 hour and 20 minutes away.
Tapas and Bar Hopping in Triana
End the night by walking in the Triana neighborhood, which is filled with tapas bars and Sevillians of all ages going out late at night. Enjoy glasses of wine and the small dishes Spain is famous for, including gazpacho, croquetas, papas bravas, and for the more adventurous whole fried quails, snails or bull testicles.
Lazy Sunday strolling by the jewels of Sevilla
First, have a brunch at the Maria Luisa gastronomy restaurant of the Mercer hotel, where you will enjoy a fine-dining breakfast with Andalusian accents, haute patisserie, and cava.
Then return to the Royal Alcazar of Seville to visit the splendor of this Mudéjar palace and its sumptuous garden. The Alcazar, with its Moorish opulence will simply take your breath away and should be on your bucket list, even if you have never watched Game of Thrones.
Proceed to Plaza de España, a monument built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, which features Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival, and Moorish revival architecture.
Finish the day by passing by the Maria Luisa Park, a beautiful public park along the Guadalquivir River.
Sevillians definitely know how to live. Upon my return, I suggested to Jeff that we implement the Sevillian daily work schedule, including the mandatory siesta. See below. We are still negotiating...