For the last nine month I lived my dream, everyday on the beach, no deadlines, just playing and looking at my child growing happy on an island, surrounded by people with beautiful souls and genuine smiles. Until one day, a rainy day, when my mind decided that it’s time to do some math and sent me to dream something less expensive.
Now, fully awaken, I started googling for the best place to grow a child, under the shinny Spanish sun, ’cause we all need our vitamins, and of course with a lower cost of living.
Surprisingly, I didn’t have to look very far to find my new mix of happiness: sun, nature, art, good food, adventures, an expat community, and cheaper apartment rents (half the price that I used to pay). Just across the Mediterranean sea, in the province of Andalucia.
Now I have to decide where exactly I want to live my next dream because I have to choose from eight different, full of history and traditions, or just simply beautiful provinces. Also good to know is that the temperature may vary a lot from a region to another, ones may be subject to occasional torrential rains and other to extremely high temperatures. As you go from west to east, there is less rain, as few as 50days per year in Europe’s only true desert, Tavernas Desert in Almería.
I want more than 300 days of sun so Málaga region is on top of my list, located between Granada and Cadiz and south from Seville and Cordoba with over 160km of coastline.
The capital is Málaga, a very cosmopolitan city full of history and culture, nominated as a candidate for the 2016 European Capital of Culture. Málaga is also the main economic and financial centre of southern Spain, easy to travel in and out of it. Hmm, maybe we have a winner here!
But Andalucia is so much more than just Málaga and it’s worth the effort to try to discover all its treasures.
A nature fan will be amazed by the diversity and contrasts, varied flora and fauna, home to many rare birds and the endangered Iberian Lynx. I was. You may explore the protected natures area like Doñana National Park, Sierra Nevada mountain, Cabo de Gata Nature Reserve and the small bays with crystal-clear azure water, golden sand, miles of empty sand and dunes. Andalucia is famous for its 800km of coastline and the hundreds beaches to choose from. Whether you want to wear your bathing suit or not, do some water sports or just spend some family time, eat fresh fish at a chiringuito, you’ll definitely find something for your taste.
And, for those days when you just need some change of scene take your car and drive around La reserva park to see a zebra, an emu and feed some goats.
Take a boat and enjoy seeing the dolphins and whales swimming free or go to Selwo Marina in Benaldamena and swim with sea lions and meet penguins.
One night go to BioPark in Fuengirola, see some meerkats and lemurs and so many other species in a very original setting.
You, the adrenaline lover, check the amusement park Isla Magica in Seville, it might make you happy.
If you are in the mood for a fun history lesson, climb up and down the three life-size replicas ships of Columbus, take a look inside the cabins, explore the ships, visit the museum, and the port from where he set sail to America.
Hungry for culture? Only Málaga has over 30 museums covering the usual but also some unexpected areas. The most well known is The Picasso Museum but you may fancy also or more the wine, cars, fashion, glass, archaeology or contemporary art museums.
With a rich history behind it’s normal that Andalucia is home for several must see, breathtaking UNESCO monuments. The Moorish Palace Alhambra it’s incredible. The walls details are a work of art, a lesson of medieval architecture.
The corridors, the fountains, the gardens are all taking you into the 14th century. Along with the other 6000 daily visitors in the high season. Choose wisely when you want to go.
In Seville is the world’s largest cathedral and in Cordoba a cathedral-within-a-mosque, the oldest, most impressive mosque in Europe.
Or maybe just hungry? Try some tasty prawns with garlic and chilli oil, The paella, a fresh and smooth tomato soup called Salmorejo, a classic Tortilla, and my favourite, squid a la plancha with parsley and garlic sauce.
Or thirsty, then take a bodega and sherry tasting tour in Jerez de la Frontera, along with a tapas, of course.
To be honest, I was hooked on Andalucia from the first moment that I found that you can ski and swim in the same day, really, you can do that from November to April. Until I read about it I didn’t even realised that I was kind of missing getting a nice tan while snowboarding. But if skiing isn’t tickling you at all you can try some climbing, canyoning, horse riding, caving, kitesurfing, sailing, whatever you dream about it.
So, anyone wants to join me?