Tag Archives: Spain

(Source: FlickrCC Eleazar)

Granada’s Music Scene

Musicians from all over the world are drawn to Granada because of its unique and bubbling music scene. Spanish, African, Northern European, Asian, American, Latin American – all these backgrounds combine to create an eclectic musical culture in Granada.

Why this city and not the next? Well, the general message of this blog should answer that, but Granada’s status as a musical kingpin in Spain can more or less be attributed to two reasons.

Firstly, there is generally a simple and positive approach to life here that complements the uncluttered and laid-back environment a musician needs to be creative. People want to be happy and make other people happy; making music and performing it for all to hear is the perfect way of doing this.

Secondly, Granada has a long history of musical accomplishment, and has attracted huge talents over the years. The most notable of these would be the late and now legendary Joe Strummer, of The Clash. During the 70s Strummer would often just turn up in Granada, usually alone, and write music. There was a growing punk scene in Granada at the time and Strummer soon became something of a local hero. The hit ‘Spanish Bombs’, which referred to Granada as his corazon, basically immortalised him, and three years ago a square in el Realejo bario was re-named after him, to honour his influence on Granadino culture.

joe strummer square granada, spain,

Placeta ‘Joe Strummer’, Granada

Out on the streets; up in the hills; in musty, timeworn Flamenco bars; even in the darkest and dingiest of grunge bars – musical creativity thrives everywhere here, and is an asset to the city that ought to be celebrated.

Out on the Street

Granada’s city centre is awash with buskers and street performers, from acoustic guitarists and full-on brass bands to Flamenco dancers and spaced-out nomads lightly tapping on an instrument that resembles the lid of a large wok.

granada music, street music, spanish band

Musicians in Plaza Nueva (Source: FlickrCC Eleazar)

Anyone who wants to perform any kind of act publicly must get proper permission down at the Ayuntamiento building first (free, and just a stamped piece of paper, apparently), or else they risk facing a hefty fine if approached by police. Even if you play the guitar like Hendrix there’s no excuse for not having the proper permission unfortunately.

Carrera del Darro, the long, cobbled street that runs parallel to the river beyond Plaza Nueva, is the most popular (and scenic) place to go and busk to your heart’s content. Many musicians set up by the Cathedral too, where crowds of tourists are likely to build up.

Public Parties

As spring turns from wet to warm, the outdoor party season is set in motion. Word-of-mouth raves often take place up in the hills beyond San Miguel Alto, attracting a few hundred revellers throughout the day. The sound system that is dragged all the way up there is solar-powered and thus energy efficient (true Granadino hippy style). The police don’t get involved, since the location is out of the way and the music inaudible to the nearest residents in the higher part of the Albaícin.

hippie hippy granada andalucia san miguel alto tropical perdiz

Perdiz Tropical, San Miguel Alto

At the start of spring, Dragon Festival is held close to the nearby town of Santa Fe, but this is much bigger and lasts for a week. Although the land is privately owned there have been a few run-ins with the police recently (and more than a few when it was in its original home of Órgiva).

dragon festival granada, spain

24 hour rave at Dragon, Santa Fe

Gigs and Concerts

Although there aren’t too many big-name bands and musicians that come to showcase their talents in Granada (Bob Dylan, playing at Palacio de los Deportes in July is a notable exception), the city does have a good stock of its own, homegrown talents and venues that frequently host lesser-known, but highly talented Spanish bands and artists.

Plantabaja, one of my favourite clubs in town, has gigs going on every weekend. A regular act is Nirvana tribute band The Buzz Lovers, who have nailed it so perfectly that it’s basically impossible to tell the difference. Other great venues are Booga Club, where the regular Jam Sessions on Thursdays and Sundays (live reggae, dancehall and funk) never fail to please, and Sala El Tren, where bigger reggae, hip-hop and indie bands from Spain and international DJs come and rock the place through its impressive sound system.

booga club granada spain

Live Music at BoogaClub, Granada

Traditional

There are various venues in and around the city that host traditional Flamenco nights. Some are very well-known and get a lot of mentions in popular guidebooks like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides; others receive less attention but invariably offer the same high standards.

Personally, I am not a Flamenco aficionado but occasionally like to be reminded of its deep-seated role in cultura Granadina. The best and most authentic Flamenco bars can be found in the old and white-washed Sacromonte barrio. Here, generations of gitanos (gypsies) have kept up the tradition in its original and purest form. There are no gimmicks, no tourist traps, no obnoxious halfwits to spoil the show. There is a fee to pay on the door, but that goes directly back into the community, which pulls together to make such shows possible.

sacromonte, granada, gitanos

A Splash of Colour in Granada’s Sacromonte bario

Festivals

We’ve already heard about the springtime Dragon Festival, but that arguably falls into the ‘free rave’ category of live events. Considering there is no commerical aspect or sponsorship involved (which is a good thing), there is definitely an anarchic element in there which some people may not enjoy.

Alternatively, there is Granada Sound festival, formerly known as ‘Alhambra Sound’, which is held every September in Granada city centre. This is a small festival by comparison to other similar events but nonetheless features relatively big acts on the roster. This year’s event will see The KooksSupersubmarina and Dorian headline the main stage (there is only one other).

Elsewhere…

Music doesn’t have to be played in the street, in a bar, or at a festival for it to be considered representative of a place. There is, of course, a lot more to it than that. Music played from peoples’ homes – audible from the street or sometimes your bedroom as you’re waking up in the morning – is arguably the most definitive example of musical culture. At least here it is anyway.

In Granada, alternative rock, reggae, jungle and Latin alternative (think Manu Chao) get the most airtime, but anything goes really, so long as it’s got soul…

caminito del rey, malaga, andalucia hiking

5 Adrenaline Pumping Activities You Can Do in Spain

From vast mountain ranges, dense-green pine forests, shimmering lagoons and cascading waterfalls, Spain has an abundance of options for adrenaline junkies who are looking for their next fix.

Now that the cold, wet days of winter and early spring are finally behind us (though we can never rule out an abrupt and unwelcome return until May), the window of opportunity for getting stuck into some hair-raising activities has just flung itself open.

Whether you prefer to be on the ground firing colourful pellets of paint at your mates, hanging dangerously from a ledge or rock-face somewhere, or plunging headfirst from a dizzying cliff edge into a turquoise-blue lagoon, Spain definitely has the right sort of day out for you.

One: Hiking El Caminito del Rey, Málaga

caminito del rey, malaga, andalucia hiking

El Caminito del Rey (Source)

Just re-opened, the famous Caminito del Rey was once a deathtrap, with its beams-for-bridges and hole-ridden pathways seemingly hanging by a nail off the side of one of Andalucía’s steepest gorges. Only the most daring of adrenaline junkies would take the challenge on, and subsequently post photos and videos to make the rest of us clench our bum cheeks so tightly together that we’d need a pair of man-sized pliers to pry them apart again. Case in point.

For a long time, the Caminito was closed while reconstruction took place, but was finally re-opened last week, sporting a much safer and less perilous look, meaning anyone can go along and rest assured that they will be leaving in one piece at the end of the day. But one thing’s for sure: peering over the footbridge into the gorge below will have your stomach doing somersaults. Check out John Kramer’s pictures from last weekend’s grand opening day!

Two: Canyoning and Rock-jumping at Junta de los Rios, Otivar, Andalucía

rio verde, junta de los rios, andalucia, granada

Junta de los Ríos, Rio Verde (Source)

Río Verde flows through the most inaccessible areas of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, with breathtaking and unspoiled scenery providing a near-constant backdrop. It is absolutely worth visiting whether you’re after an adrenaline buzz or not.

Junta de los Ríos is where Rio Verde and Rio Negro meet to form waterfalls and an idyllic rock pool, allowing people to jump from the top and land safe in the knowledge that they will surface with all limbs still intact. Alternatively, you can go canyoning through some of the choppier sections of Rio Verde with tour companies (most are based in Granada).

To get there you must first get to Otivar, a tiny village on the cliff-hugging A-4050 and then take a 6km-long track route (2kms beyond Otivar on the left) to the ‘Junta’. Follow this until you reach the mouth of the gorge where you can park. From here it’s a 2-hour walk. Have a read of this very informative post for more details and tips.

Three: Paintball, Madrid

paintball, paintball in spain

Paintball (Source)

Sometimes you don’t need to tip-toe across death-defying rope-bridges or drive miles into the wilderness to get the adrenaline fix you’re looking for. You can just throw on a jumpsuit and a helmet, pick up an air-gun filled with paintballs and fire away at your mates at one of Madrid’s three, top-class paintball centres. There are various areas of play, each with their own unique theme, from forests to historic ruins.

Paintball is a great idea for large groups of friends who are planning a weekend away in Madrid, but would like to include something on the agenda that doesn’t involve drinking and pavement-pounding…

Four: Kitesurfing, Tarifa

kitesurfing, kite surfing

Kitesurfing Source

Now here’s an idea: take two existing extreme sports – surfing and snowboarding – and mix with a decidedly un-extreme land-based activity, like flying a kite. The result? Kite-surfing. This is one of southern Spain’s most popular pastimes among water-sports enthusiasts, and probably the most entertaining to watch.

The sport is most similar to surfing as you are on the water and use a surfboard, but unlike surfing, and more like snowboarding, the board is strapped to your feet, giving you more control. It requires a wilpower, determination and A LOT of upper body strength. Tarifa, Europe’s southernmost point, is the best spot in Spain to practise any sort of water-sport, as it is pummelled by strong winds all year round.

Five: Rock Climbing and Abseiling, Picos de Europa

Naranjo de Bulnes, picos de europa, speain, rock-climbing

El Naranjo de Bulnes, Picos de Europa (Source)

Within the rolling, green valleys between Santander and Gijon are the Picos de Europa, home to some of the longest Alpine routes of up to 700m long.  The Picos is a vast landscape of wild, limestone mountains, presenting rock climbers and mountaineers a cornucopia of routes which range in style, size and difficulty.

Naranjo de Bulnes, the most famed Picos peak, offers a number of sporty and traditional routes, with the shortest being around 250m and the longest approximately 700m. Further to the east, towards Santander, there are ideal spots for bouldering in Santa Gadea, Las Tuerces and Resconorio.

Are you an adrenaline junkie? What other activities and places in Spain would you recommend to get your heart racing?

las negras, la bodeguiya, spain, cabo de gata, josh taylor

5 Gorgeous Andalucían Beach Towns

Semana Santa, a week pertaining to family values, surging crowds and relentless religious ceremonies for most Spaniards in Andalucía, provides the rest of us with the perfect opportunity to hit the road and let the good times roll.

Moreover, this year’s holy week is shaping up to be one of the driest in recent years; temperatures are rising and the rain, at last, is beginning to retreat.

It’s the perfect time to travel, no doubt about it, and where better to go than a glorious, tranquil and sun-drenched beach town on the south coast?

So here, without any further ado, are five of my personal recommendations, spanning all four of Andalucía’s shorelines…

One: Los Caños de Meca, Costa de la Luz

caños de meca, andalucia,

Playa Trafalgar, Los Caños de Meca (Source)

Deep in the Parque Natural del Acantilado, Caños de Meca has several stunning beaches, backed by rocky overhangs and sweet-smelling pine trees. As recently as a decade ago this sleepy beach town was barely known, but nowadays it lures tourists and people from all over the country, and its fair share of scraggly-bearded surfer dudes too.

There are lots of great restaurants serving delicious and reasonably priced food, and a wide selection of busy bars which stay open until late at night. The beaches are all wonderful, white, sandy and frankly unforgettable.

The village is well off the beaten track and must be reached via one of the small side roads off the CN340 coast road or by taking the minor road through the forest from Barbate. There are a range of accommodation options, including camping, so that you can stay for as long as you want. But remember, Semana Santa is just a week…

Two: Maro, Costa del Sol

maro, nerja, spain, andalucia

Playa de Maro (Source)

Famous for its selection of white, sandy beaches, transparent water and the impressive views from the Balcón de Europa, Nerja is known to many a sun-worshipping beach bum. Lesser known among tourists though, is the neighbouring village of Maro, whose beaches and laid-back village vibes are often passed up. Tourists flock in droves daily to see the nearby caves, but after an hour or two of sightseeing it’s often just back onto the bus to Nerja.

Maro beach is worth staying for. Quieter, smaller and ever so slightly pebblier, it is set between two cliffs and overlooked by an old, crumbling Moorish watchtower. The water is teeming with tropical fish, making it an excellent spot for snorkelling.

It’s the perfect location if you’d like to escape the crowds by day but still be a short distance away each time you want to enjoy an evening out.

Three: Zahara de los Atunes, Costa de la Luz

zahara de los atunes, andalucia, beaches

Zahara de los Atunes (Source)

Like Caños de Meca, Zahara de los Atunes has experienced a lot of change over the last few years, but thankfully the place has retained all its natural beauty and laid-back feel. Crystal-clear waters, fine, white sand and an assortment of lively, freshly caught tuna flogging chiringuitos (beach bars) make it one of the most popular beach hangouts on the south coast.

Four: Salobreña, Costa Tropical

salobreña, cliff jumping, spain

Cliff jumping in Salobreña (Source)

The Granada province isn’t well-known for its breathtaking beaches, since most are too pebbly and crowded, but there are a few that deserve more credit. Salobreña is the perfect place to go just for the day, taking only 45 minutes to reach by car from Granada. There are other beach towns nearby on the Costa Tropical but in my experience none have  quite the same ambience often created at Salobreña.

There are some superb, grilled-seafood restaurants right on the beach (the octopus are freshly caught and barbecued in front of you) and others along the street that flanks it. Moreover, the rocky coastline provides daredevils with the chance to fling themselves off the cliff edges (the water is very deep) as the spectators look on in disbelief.

Five: Las Negras, Costa Almería

las negras, la bodeguiya, spain, cabo de gata, josh taylor

La Bodeguiya Bar, Las Negras

Cabo de Gata in the south-eastern corner of Andalucía is pretty much a beach-goer’s paradise; there are too many beaches to count, most are protected against land developers and they are often very difficult to reach too! As a result, there are no ugly high rises spoiling the view, no empty beer bottles rolling around on the floor and – best of all – hardly anyone about.

Las Negras is one of the area’s busier spots, and by ‘busy’, I mean a couple of hundred people, a few empty holiday homes, a campsite, a single supermarket, a handful of restaurants and the odd bar where you can relax into the night. Perfect for a quiet beach holiday, really.

The village gets its name from the dark, volcanic rock sediments in the sand. The campsite to the east (when facing the sea) of town is an ideal place to stay if you’re on a budget.

Interesting fact: Much of Cabo de Gata has been used in Hollywood blockbuster films in the past, such as Mónsul beach, a secluded seaside with a large, distinctive, half-submerged chunk of volcanic rock in its shallow waters. It was here that the plane chase in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade was filmed, during which Sean Connery manages to scare away a flock of seagulls by wafting air at them with his umbrella from at least 50ft away, causing a Nazi pilot in pursuit to nosedive into the cliff. Impressive or what.

fluent in spanish, learn spanish, granada

Tell-tale signs that you’re becoming fluent in another language

Becoming ‘fluent’ in another language is the nemesis of many an expat. It’s the challenge we are faced with on a daily basis; what we are constantly asked about when we return home; the ultimate achievement of living in another country.

Those who are none the wiser think it just happens in a year, a few months even. But the truth is that it’s bloody hard work, and takes a while to put one’s mind to.

I remember well the feeling I had when I first moved to Granada and began meeting native English speakers who– at least to my (relatively) untrained ear –spoke the language fluently. At first I felt impressed, then envious, then, when it came to my turn to speak, horribly embarrassed.

I would quietly curse my poor level in the aftermath of any such horribly embarrassing group exchanges, often repeating in my head the incoherent mumbo jumbo I had contributed, and going over what I had wanted to say until I got it right. Of course by that time the topic of conversation would have changed completely, meaning I would either butcher yet another interesting discussion into a thousand awkward pieces or just sit there in silence, too embarrassed to speak.

It was a difficult period, which took a lot of hard work and perseverance to overcome, but eventually I attained that level I’d been yearning for. It is impossible to say exactly when; at no point do you realise or decide that you have a fluent level, it just sort of happens. However, there are definitely some tell-tale signs that let you know you’re getting there…

One: Understanding and using slang/obscenities

No matter how long you have lived in Spain and/or learned Spanish, you will never learn all the crude and often nonsensical expressions used by natives on a daily basis. There are just too many. If, on the other hand, you can learn a few and understand how and when to use them, you’ll start turning heads for the right reasons.

Learning expressions is one thing, for example, ‘estar echo polvo’ (to be knackered) and ‘tocar las narices’ (wind somebody up), but using street slang gets you real brownie points, e.g. ‘la ostia’ (the dog’s bollocks), ‘chulisimo’ (REALLY cool), ‘¡Qué va!’ (don’t be ridiculous you silly sod).

Then there’s the vulgar stuff, like ‘hasta la polla/los huevos/el coño…’ (up to the dick/balls/c…) and, my personal favourite, ‘me cago en…’ (literally, ‘I shit in…’), which could be followed by a number of possibilities, such as ‘la leche’ (‘the milk’), ‘tu puta madre’ (‘your whore of a mother’) or ‘la puta madre que te parió’ (‘the whore of a mother that birthed you’). If you can get those right– at the right time –then you’re on to a winner!

Two: Understanding and using ‘usted’

usted, spain, spanish, learning spanish

On the flip-side, understanding and using the formal ‘usted’ style of Spanish, when appropriate, is another indication you’re nearing fluency.

It is rare to have to do, but when confronted with elderly people whom you wish to/must be polite to, or the arduous and thankless task of acquiring important documents from the social security office, you will need a decent grasp of ‘usted’, in order to understand that it is you they are talking to– not some other, mysterious person –and make them like you if you need a favour doing.

Here’s a post I wrote a while ago about how ‘usted’ differs from normal Spanish and my experience using it in a very heated situation.

Three: Arguing competently

If you can do this confidently, competently and actually WIN the argument, you are sailing to the fluency finish line. I still have problems complaining/trying to sound angry in Spanish; one silly slip of the tongue and your position in the argument is compromised.

I was recently dragged through an infuriating ordeal by Vodafone, who, no matter how much I clearly wanted to give them my money, wouldn’t give me internet at home. I called every few days to be told that something hadn’t been filled in or sent correctly; they never called or emailed to tell me. It all culminated with a carefully thought-out, angry phone call. I even made notes and prepared some scathing remarks to lambaste the poor operator on the other end of the line with. Afterwards I was pleased with how convincingly angry I’d been, even though it had been all for nothing and the operator couldn’t have cared less.

Arguments in person require much more tact, and will ultimately be lost if you over-think things. Sometimes it’s just great to let rip without really caring if you’re making mistakes, as Flora The Explorer knows only too well. That’s when you know you’re getting good at Spanish.

Four: Telling funny stories to groups of people

Similarly, if you can make people laugh in Spanish, you’re becoming pretty fluent. There’s nothing more upsetting than seeing your funniest anecdote; your ace in the hole; a guaranteed crowd pleaser, fall flat on its face because you’ve just butchered it to death in another language.

The key is to be relaxed, choose your words carefully and simplify where possible. Your audience should understand that you are trying your best. Once you’ve finally nailed this, and people genuinely laugh at one of your stories (not just a pity laugh), you’ll feel wonderful.

Five: Dreaming in Spanish

Seriously, it happens. A guiri friend of mine even sleep-talks in Spanish, according to his girlfriend, although his repertoire rarely stretches beyond ‘¡Qué pasa!’, ‘¡No me digas! and ‘jodeeeerrrr’, apparently.

Six: Not translating everything from English

This is a huge breakthrough stage, when everyday phrases and interactions start coming naturally to you, and you don’t even realise you’re speaking Spanish; you’re just speaking.

Of course when you become embroiled in an intense discussion you will often find yourself translating from English to Spanish in your head, but this is unavoidable. It may seem like a faraway stage at first but, as Molly tells us on her post about becoming fluent,we all get there in the end, as long as we persevere.

Seven: Still being able to speak Spanish when hungover/stoned

stoned dog

This is the best indication of all. You’ll generally find that you’re able to speak Spanish to a seemingly impeccable level when drunk, but the following day, when even English is difficult to formulate, your Spanish will be cowering in a dark, poisoned corner of your brain somewhere, refusing to come out until you have learned your lesson, meaning you stutter, stumble and ultimately fail if called upon. Eventually– since hangovers are very common among the guiri community in Spain –we all learn to deal with this. We just live with other guiris (…joking!!)

It’s even worse when stoned, at least for most of us. I’d advise against casually toking on a massive spliff if you get paranoid easily, as this will only be made worse if you are required to speak in Spanish among Spaniards, some of whom you don’t really know. I’ve been through this on several occasions, and subsequently felt like the world’s stupidest, brain-dead numbskull as a result. If you’re not at all paranoid when stoned and determined to speak Spanish like a cabbage then with enough practice you’ll be fine.

Eight: Never forgetting

The majority of guiris I know in Granada are English teachers, and at the end of the teaching year (mid June), we all bid farewell to Spain just as it is getting gloriously hot and go home to the UK to carry on working. We don’t come back until the end of September, and for the first couple of years, it’s as though we’ve forgotten all the Spanish we once knew for the first week. It just goes to highlight the significance and usefulness of full language immersion.

After a while, this problem goes away. You just don’t forget anymore; it’s all there, waiting to be reactivated, unless of course you leave your adopted country for a year or two– then you’ll get rusty, but if you’re at a fluent level then you won’t ever want to stop speaking the language, no matter where you are, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

hippie hippy granada andalucia san miguel alto tropical perdiz

Guiris on a hill!

Interestingly, the more of a language you learn, the more elusive ‘total fluency’ seems to be. I wouldn’t consider myself to be completely fluent, not by a long shot, but I am more than happy with my level of Spanish.

Anyone can learn a foreign language, no matter what their age or academic inclination; it’s just a question of commitment and desire.

granada, spain alhambra, carmen de la victoria

How I Fell For Granada

Let’s turn back the clock:

It’s puente weekend at the end of February, 2011. Less than a week ago I didn’t know the first thing about Granada, besides that it was a city somewhere else in Andalucía and it shared a name with a UK-based TV broadcaster (naïve, ignorant, blah blah yes I know). Then, as our cherished puente approached, a teacher I worked with in El Puerto de Santa María suggested I visited for a long weekend, and take advantage of the region’s very own ski resort. ‘A ski-resort in Spain?’, was my first thought. Surely not…

One Google search later and I was booking my bus tickets and accommodation for the weekend. This was potentially a dream come true for the year ahead: stay in Spain, continue learning Spanish and go snowboarding regularly. A lot was riding on this trip.

I begin the weekend by sauntering up to the Alhambra’s public viewing area to take in the fabulous views below. The bustling El Mirador de San Nicolas– Granada’s most popular lookout –sits atop the historic and maze-like barrio of El Albaícin across the valley. The flashing (of cameras) is relentless; the view must be even better where they are.

The Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain, winter, sierra nevada

El Mirador de San Nicolas

el albaycin, alhambra, granada, spain

El Albaícin seen from the window of the Mexuar in the Alhambra Palace

Inside the palace, entry to which isn’t free but an equitable €15, is the intense and fascinating history of Moorish Granada, embossed within intricately carved walls, ceilings, marble-glazed fountains and centuries-old, storytelling paintings.

Such architectural ingenuity, I later discover, extends to the rest of the city; the Cathedral, hidden within the maze of pedestrianised streets side-streets, is as large and impressive as any in Spain, and an arched doorway to a cluster of official-looking offices are cast in the archetypal Moorish style.

Blog2

Granada’s Cathedral

That night it becomes evident that the nightlife is a pretty big draw too. I meet a friend who is determined to show off the city’s gastronomic prowess. The bubbling and Moroccan-faced Calle Elvira off Plaza Nueva is the choice of locale, and we eventually settle on trendy looking tapas bar Babel (C/ Elvira 40), which promises ‘a world fusion of flavours’. “What do you recommend?” I attempt in my best Spanish. “The octopus or the chicken fajitas” the cheery waiter replies in English. “But why not try both? All tapas come free with each drink!” He has a point. In fact, any tapa in any tapas bar comes free with each drink. Thus, dinner, along with three swills, costs me about €6.

Tapas, Granada, Spain, Om Kalsoum, Food

Tapas: Shawarma de Pollo, Papa Yunnani y faláfeles

I soon discover that filling up on tapas is especially important if you plan on having a night out in Granada. Bars and clubs stay open until dawn and it’s generally considered bad form to call it a night before 4am. It’s tempting to plough through and see where the night takes us, but we think better of it; tomorrow, we are going skiing.

The Sierra Nevada mountain range provides the striking backdrop to Granada, and serves as the region’s year-round adventure playground. Summer attracts climbers, hikers and mountain bikers to the rolling hills of Las Alpujarras, whereas winter brings multitudes of skiers and snowboarders, who either make the 45-minute drive from the city or travel epic distances to spend the day carving their way through the 3,393m high and 118 piste boasting ski-resort.

piste 2 playa, sierra nevada beach in a day, beach, cantarrijan, roadtrip

Sierra Nevada Ski-resort

We are going in April, when conditions are slushy but almost warm enough to ski in just a t-shirt. We don’t, choosing instead to sweat profusely beneath our numerous layers before the day climaxes with a litre-sized jar of beer and a platter of €1 priced mini baguettes at 100 Montaditos (Plaza de Pradollano).

My second evening is almost a mirror image of the first, except this time I allow myself to carry on into the morning, at which point I have got very lost, my phone battery has died and I’ve lost everyone from the hostel.

After an hour or so of stumbling around in the dark, I  still haven’t found my hostel, but I do come across a signpost for El Mirador de San Nicolas, the viewpoint that has alluded me until now. So off I go to watch the sun rise over The Alhambra, and decide, there and then, as a local drunk man attempts to speak to me in entirely incomprehensible Andaluz between swigs of his flat and lukewarm-looking litro, that I would make no mistake about it: I am going to live in Granada.

malaga, andalucia, spain, malaga food

Málaga Just Keeps Getting Better

Some of the most popular points of interest for Málaga visitors include the year-round warm temperature and the beaches of Costa del Sol. While the climate and beautiful scenery are certainly a draw, these days more people are flocking to the area for an entirely different reason.

In the last few years, Málaga’s fine food scene has exploded, rivaling some of the most iconic food destinations and attracting self-proclaimed foodies from all over the world.

The Guardian featured an article last year describing Málaga’s budding reputation and just how quickly the area has gained notoriety for being the “food hub” of southern Spain when it comes to produce and dining.

el campo, malaga, andalucia, vineyard, viñedo

El Campo, Malaga (Source FlickrCC: Cayetano)

As Fernando Rueda, sociologist and food historian, explained to Guardian writer Chris Moss, “Málaga has fantastic sardine and boquerón [anchovy], amazing shellfish, tropical fruits like mango and avocado. It has the last cane honey [molasses] to be produced in Europe. It’s the second most mountainous area in Spain and has all the climates and conditions you need for every kind of produce.”

As explained by British Airways, farmers in Málaga are able to take advantage of tropical growing conditions in some areas, as well as more temperate climates in others. This allows them to raise a variety of vegetation and livestock. In fact, some of the most important goat-breeders in Europe even call the area home. Over 95 percent of their goats’ milk is used for cheeses across Europe. It’s also one of the biggest contributors to the worlds supply of olive oil, over half of which is produced in within Andalucía’s boarders.

boquerones, andalucia, spanish food

Boquerones (Source FlickrCC: Boca Dorada)

It wasn’t always the food hotspot is to today though. According to Rueda, it wasn’t until recently that Andalucíans started to talk about their cuisine and offer it to visitors with pride. He noted that in the past, restaurants were more eager to please tourists by offering only a few regional dishes, because they were “associated with the past, and with being poor.” That’s completely changed, however, thanks in part “the return to democracy,” and it’s led to the realisation that the “cuisine is part of Andalucía’s identity, its culture and the landscape its people see every day.”

Nowadays, Andalucía embraces its local cuisine, and visiting food lovers couldn’t be happier. Authentic dishes celebrate the area’s mix of Spanish and international gastronomy, such as Gazpacho (a cold tomato, garlic and onion based soup with varieties including Porra Antequerana, Salmorejo, and Ajoblanco among others), Boquerones (fried anchovies), and Gachas Malagueñas (a dessert of fried bread served with a sweet syrup mixture).

gazpacho, spanish food, andalucia

Gazpacho (Source FlickrCC: Chip Harlan)

If you’re lucky enough to visit one of Málaga’s beautiful beaches and treat yourself to a mouthwatering order of Gachas Malagueñas, do yourself a favour and savour every mouthful with a glass of sweet wine. Málaga’s sweet white wines are known the world over for being some of the most indulgent dessert varieties around.

malaga, white wine

Sweet Malagueño Vino (Source FlickrCC: MG Spain)

Málaga certainly shouldn’t be considered as just a quick stopover before your flight home. The food on offer is proof enough of that.