If you live in Andalusia, you must have already visited major cities such as Córdoba, Seville, Málaga, Cádiz and Granada, but did you know that in just 1.5 hours you can immerse yourself into the completely different world of Marrakech, the former capital of the Moroccan empire, the land of fairy tale storytellers, snake charmers and belly dancers!
I had been dreaming of visiting Marrakech for some time, but because I am blonde and everyone warned me that the men there are very pushy, so I persuaded a friend to come with me, safety in numbers! I should point out that we were never bothered, no one was intrusive, we always felt safe, even late at night, so in my experience this "story" can go to the land of fables!
This spring I fell under the spell of a new hobby; diving. A friend told me that in Andalusia, and in particular the Costa del Sol and the Costa Tropical, it is surprisingly beautiful under water. Diving has always fascinated me and I never had time for it in the Netherlands, so I started to look into it here.
After a few phone calls and inquiries, I discovered that from the beginning of 2019 a Dutch diving center has existed on "our coast", consisting of an SSI diving school and a shop with all the necessary diving equipment. Dutch Scuba Divers is located in Caleta de Velez, between Torre del Mar and Nerja and on a daily basis they take people diving or snorkeling to the most beautiful dive sites in southern Spain.
After the first meeting I noticed that they operate in a different way to the other diving centres that I had visited before. Peter and his instructors work very closely with all the divers and snorkelers, they are very competent at what they do and are always ready for some fun!
Walking through Calle Larios, the main shopping street in the lively centre of Málaga, I witnessed the construction of the Christmas lights for the approaching holidays. Every year the city attracts visitors and tourists from far and wide with its beautiful atmospheric lighting on Calle Larios as the highlight.
With the impressive light show of 2018 still in mind, we are looking forward to the new concept with the promising, fairytale-like name El Bosque de Navidad, ‘The Christmas forest’ which will bring Christmas to the main street. The huge arches that spanned the shopping street in 2018 and the three previous years, were inspired by the beautiful cathedral of Málaga. When you were under these arches in the heart of the city, you actually imagined to be inside ‘La Manquita’ the beautiful cathedral, with only one tower. Many colourful stained glass scenes and other Gothic and Renaissance elements gave this light artwork a devout appearance that even non-believers were speechless.
Early this spring we decided to take a road trip to Jaen province to visit two of the most historic cities in Andalusia, Ubeda and Baeza, both declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 2003. The drive from Sedella took us just over three hours; there are a couple of other routes but the quickest is on the motorway A-44 via Granada. It's a great drive through the mountains and lakes and you will even have a glimpse of the Sierra Nevada!
We stayed right next door to the cathedral at the 4 star Hotel Puerta de la Luna in Baeza, formally an old palace which was beautiful and very central to the city. We were even upgraded to a suite, as it was off-season! There was an open fire in the hotel lounge for cosy winter evenings, which we found extremely welcome, as the change in temperature was noticeable compared to the sunny warm days we enjoy during the winter living in the South! There is a pretty outdoor area with a pool and alfresco dining for the summer months with a great view of the cathedral bell tower.