Where to start? I have had the most fantastic trip! I’ve seen so many gorgeous places, cities, buildings and plazas, and I have several hundred photos to prove it.
Lets just dip into the background a little bit. Al-Andaluz was the name of the region of southern Spain (and Portugal) that was under Muslim govern from 711 to 1492, also known as Moorish Iberia, and covers most of the region that is now called Andalucía in the south of Spain.
I find it truly fascinating to see the Arab influence in the architecture and culture, so different from Barcelona. The beautiful arcs with carvings and inscriptions, the special lamps and furniture. The colours, the spices and all the teterías serving delicious tea in typical Arab teapots.
First of all, what and where is Andalucía you might wonder? Well, it's this orange zone here in southern Spain:
And for those who thought Spain is Spain, I'll tell you it's not. There are huge differences depending on where in this country you are, and I find that so interesting. I know this is not unique for Spain, but I believe many people think there's just one Spain, and that's the one with the palmtrees and the sandy beaches. Now that I've been in Barcelona for a while I am getting to know it pretty well, it's interesting to go to the south and get a completely different Spain served. I love getting to know this country and am excited to learn and see more. I must say that I appreciate these differences more now than just after I got here. Yes, I did spend my first month in Málaga (in Andalucía) but I had no previous knowledge of the country and it's not until I have started seeing more places I can really start to compare.
Andalucía has the south coast of Spain, called Costa del Sol, the sun coast. And yeah, lots of beaches and palmtrees there. But go a little inland and you find the authentic Spain. Flamenco, tapas, bull-fights. It's all very present. I am not going to get into the discussion of the bull fights, I am a visitor to this country and not one to judge. I am just observing and taking in impressions.
The bull itself has become a symbol of Spain. Many places along the roads in Spain there are big 14 meter high black silhouettes of a bull. Initially an advertisement campaign from 1956 for Osborne, makers of sherry, is now a popular national symbol of Spain, typical on souvenirs such as key rings, flags, magnets etc. I saw 3 different ones along the roads and I think they look cool. It symbolizes strength and pride.