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Frommer's Shortcut Andalucia

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In a small-format paperback, Shortcut Guides supply the single most essential facts about a popular destination, all at a remarkably-low price, and yet for a heavily-illustrated book with maps. And because they are written by top experts who know what the tourist needs, they can serve either as your sole guidebook or as a fast-consulted supplement to a lengthier one. The heavily-visited, pleasure-filled Andalucia is the southernmost region of Spain, on both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, covered with beaches and sunshine, with history and flamenco, resorts and fine dining. This Shortcut Guide will instantly transport the reader to the pleasures of Seville, Granada, Cordoba and more.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Patricia Harris and David Lyon have journeyed the world for American, British, Swiss, and Asian publishers to write about food, culture, art, and design. They have covered subjects as diverse as elk migrations in western Canada, the street markets of Shanghai, winter hiking on the Jungfrau, and the origins of Mesoamerican civilization in the Mexican tropics. In the name of research, they have eaten hot-pepper-toasted grasshoppers, tangles of baby eels, and roasted armadillo in banana sauce. Wherever they go, they are repeatedly drawn back to Spain for the flamenco nightlife, the Moorish architecture of Andalucía, the world-weary and lust-ridden saints of Zurbarán, and the phantasmagoric visions of El Greco. They can usually be found conversing with the locals in neighborhood bars while drinking the house wine and eating patatas bravas and grilled shrimp with garlic. They are the co-authors of Frommer’s Spain Day by Day and Frommer’s EasyGuide to Madrid and Barcelona.

 

1 INTRODUCTION

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Flamenco dancer in Sevilla.

M uch of what the world imagines as Spain is, in fact, Andalucía. It was the cradle of flamenco, the stomping grounds of the amorous Don Juan, and the tragic setting for Carmen. It’s the region where bulls are bred and matadors are more famous than rock stars. Nothing in Andalucía is done halfway. The flowers are brighter and the music is both more melancholy and more joyful. Although Andalucía is often a stand-in for Spain in the popular imagination, it was, in fact, the last stronghold of the Moors, who held al-Andalus for over 7 centuries. Consequently, Andalucía shines with all the medieval Muslim glories of Europe: the world-famous Mezquita (mosque) of Córdoba, the Alhambra Palace of Granada, and (in their own way as Christian-Muslim hybrids) Sevilla’s imposing Alcázar and looming Gothic cathedral. Its smaller towns can be haunting in their beauty: the whitewashed mountain villages, the Renaissance grace of Ubeda, the drama of gorge-split Ronda, the languor of sherry-besotted Jerez de la Frontera, and the brilliance of gleaming Cádiz. Spend a week or a month, and you’ll have only skimmed the surface.

 

2 SEVILLA

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Statuary in the Catedral de Sevilla.

Sevilla is Andalucía’s largest, most self-assured, and most sophisticated city—the hometown of the passionate Carmen and the lusty Don Juan. Style matters here. Almost every Sevillana owns at least one flamenco dress to wear during the city’s famous April fería—or to a friend or family member’s wedding. It may also be the most ornately decorated city in Spain. No country does baroque like the Spanish, and no city does Spanish baroque like Sevilla, where the style represents the hybrid offspring of Moorish decoration and the Catholic insistence on turning every abstract curlicue of Islam into a Christian angel’s wing. Sevilla has been Andalucía’s center of power and influence since Fernando III of Castilla tossed out the Almohad rulers in 1248. But Fernando wisely left Barrio Santa Cruz intact, and the tangled ancient streets of the Judería still make the medieval era palpable. As the first major city in the heart of Andalucía to return to Spanish hands, Sevilla has a markedly Christian countenance. The city is studded with churches and former convents funded by the riches that flowed into the city from its 16th to 18th century trade monopoly with the New World.

 

3 CÓRDOBA

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The Old Cathedral (Mezquita) of Cordoba at night

To visit Córdoba is to glimpse what might have been. A millennium ago, Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived and worked together to create western Europe’s greatest city—a cosmopolitan center of poetry, art, music, philosophy, cutting-edge science and medicine, and far-ranging scholarship. Until the late 11th century, Córdoba was the capital of western Islam. La Mezquita, the largest medieval mosque in Europe, remains its star attraction. The streets and whitewashed buildings of Andalucía’s most intact Moorish city still endure, and visiting Córdoba is ultimately less about monuments and more about getting lost in the maze of cobbled streets that bore witness to an ancient, harmonious world.

You can hit the highlights in a long day, but Córdoba deserves the attention that comes from staying overnight, if only to experience the timeless Judería just after dawn, when you can hear the echoing step of every foot in the narrow streets. There are other advantages to staying the night. Every morning from 8:30 to 9:20am (except Sun), you can visit La Mezquita in silence to get a sense of its truly meditative power (no admission is charged). Moreover, Artencordoba (www.artencordoba.com) offers 2-hour guided night tours of the city.

 

4 GRANADA

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Sunlight streams through a door of the Alhambra.

W hen Boabdil, the last king of Moorish Granada, was exiled to North Africa in 1492, he took the bones of his ancestors with him. But he left behind their fortress-palace, the Alhambra, and a legacy of nearly 8 centuries of Islamic culture. Fernando and Isabel may have won the war and completed the reconquest of al-Andalus, but in Granada they lost the history. Few people come to this beautiful city to see the solemn tombs of Los Reyes Católicos. They come for the joyous ornamentation of the Alhambra, the inextinguishably Arabic face of the Albaícin, and the haunting zambras echoing from the Sacromonte hills. As native son Federico García Lorca wrote, “Oh city of gypsies! Who could see you and not remember?”

Essentials

Getting There Iberia ( 800/772-4642 in the U.S., or 90-240-05-00 toll-free in Spain; www.iberia.com ) flies to Granada from Madrid four times daily. Vueling ( 80-720-01-00 from within Spain; www.vueling.com ) has three direct flights a day from Barcelona to Granada. Granada’s Federico García Lorca Airport ( aeropuerto nacional ) is 16km (10 miles) west of the center of town on Carretera Málaga; call   90-240-47-04 for information. A bus route links the airport with the center of Granada. The one-way fare is 3€. The bus runs daily 5:30am to 8pm. Trip time is 45 minutes.

 

5 RONDA

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Ronda's medieval Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) is the centerpiece of the town.

R onda is an incredible sight. The city is literally split in two by the 150m-deep (492-ft.) Río Guadalevin gorge known as El Tajo, and houses hang off both sides of the gorge. In 2,000 years, no one has been able to improve on Pliny the Elder’s epithet for the city: “the glorious.” But, if you are prone to vertigo, Ronda’s high eyrie might feel as if the city were built on a spinning plate on a circus clown’s pole. Located at the eastern edge of the mountain ridges that separate the Costa del Sol from the Cádiz plain, Ronda is the gateway to the Serranía de Ronda—the serrated ridges that harbored mountain bandits and political rebels from the age of Caesar through the days of Franco. The city is divided into an older part, which is the Moorish and aristocratic quarter, and the newer section on the south bank of the gorge, built principally after the Reconquest. The old quarter is by far the more fascinating; it contains narrow, rough streets and buildings with a marked Moorish influence. (Look for the minarets.) Walking in the park in the new section, however, provides some truly extraordinary panoramic views as the pathway follows the edge of the cliff.

 

6 JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA

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A horse-drawn carriage clip clops through the streets of Jerez de la Frontera.

Like Kentucky with its thoroughbreds and its bourbon, Jerez is defined by its Andalucían horses and its sherry. Just take a walk down pedestrian Calle Larga, and you’ll see what we mean. Fashionable young women wear knee-high black boots with tight pants as a nod to the city’s equestrian tradition. And the umbrellas on the cafe tables are emblazoned with the logos of Tío Pepe, Don Patricio, or El Gallo instead of the Cruzcampo beer. The soundtrack, naturally enough, is flamenco’s quick-paced bulería.

Essentials

Getting ThereSeveral airlines offer flights to Jerez from Barcelona, Madrid, Palma, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, and Munich. For details, call  90-240-47-04, or visit www.aena-aeropuertos.es. The airport at Carretera Jerez-Sevilla is about 11km (6¾ miles) northeast of the city center (follow the signs to Sevilla). A cercanía train runs from the airport to downtown Jerez.

Most visitors arrive by one of 15 trains per day from Sevilla, which take an hour and cost 11€ to 26€ one- way. Eleven trains from Madrid also arrive daily; a ticket costs 71€ to 79€, and the trip takes 4 hours. The beautifully tiled Mudéjar Revival train station is a city landmark on the Plaza de la Estación s/n ( 90-242-22-42; www.renfe.com ), at the eastern end of Calle Medina.

 

7 CÁDIZ

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A Cadiz streetscape.

R esidents of this seaport city on the Atlantic coast are a forward-thinking lot, yet they still call themselves Gaditanos, a reference to the Phoenician trad ing post founded here about 1100 b.c. As Western Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited city, Cádiz fell under the successive sway of Athens, Carthage, Rome, and finally the Visigoths and Moors. Most traces of that storied past were obliterated in the 1755 earthquake that also leveled Lisbon. The Cádiz of today was conceived as an Enlightenment city with long, straight boulevards and now-abandoned fortifications to protect the galleons of New World trade that Cádiz monopolized when ships became too big to sail upriver to Sevilla. Its stately pastel buildings seem to bleach in the sun along the seaside paseos. Reasons to visit include a thriving local culture, great beaches, vibrant music scene, and wonderful seafood restaurants.

Essentials

Getting There Fifteen daily trains arrive from Sevilla (trip time: 2 hr.; 16€–24€ one-way), 12 of them stopping at Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa María along the way. The train station is on Avenida del Puerto, Plaza de Sevilla 1 ( 90-242-22-42; www.renfe.com ), on the southeast border of the main port.

 

8 PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO SPAIN

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The baths of the Alcazar in Seville.

G etting to Spain is relatively easy, especially for those who live in Western Europe or on the East Coast of the United States. If all your documents are in order, you should clear Customs and Immigration smoothly. The staffs of entry ports into Spain usually speak English, and they tend to speed you on your way. In this chapter, you’ll find everything you need to plan your trip, from tips on hotels to health care and emergency information.

Getting There

By Plane

From North America Flights from the U.S. East Coast to Spain take 6 to 7 hours. Spain’s national carrier, Iberia Airlines ( 800-772-4642; www.iberia.com ), has more routes into and within Spain than any other airline. It offers daily nonstop service to Madrid from New York all year, and from Chicago, Boston, and Miami sea sonally. Iberia flights are often codeshares with American Airlines ( 800-433-7300; www.aa.com ), which offers daily nonstop service to Madrid from New York (JFK) and from Miami. Following completion of the U.S. Airways merger, it may offer nonstops from Philadelphia as well.

 

9 USEFUL TERMS & PHRASES

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9

Useful Terms & Phrases

Most Spaniards are very patient with foreigners who try to speak their language. That said, you might encounter several difficult regional languages and dialects in Spain: In Catalonia, they speak Catalan (the most widely spoken non-national language in Europe); in the Basque Country, they speak Euskera; in Galicia, you’ll hear Gallego. However, Castilian Spanish (Castellano, or simply Español) is understood everywhere; for that reason, we’ve included a list of simple words and phrases in Spanish to help you get by.

Basic Words & Phrases

English

Spanish

Pronunciation

Good day

Buenos días

bweh -nohs dee -ahs

How are you?

¿Cómo está?

koh -moh es- tah

Very well

Muy bien

mwee byehn

Thank you

Gracias

grah -syahs

You’re welcome

De nada

deh nah -dah

Goodbye

Adiós

ah- dyohs

 

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