Sailing to the glories of Spain and Portugal with its unique history and culture.
Malaga is the major coastal city of Andalucia and is a genuine and typical Andaluz city with a gritty individualism untouched by tourism and, to a large extent, the passage of time. The Moors occupied the city until the mid-15th century, after which it grew to become one of the foremost merchant centers in the entire Iberian Peninsula. This illustrious past has left its imprint on the historic center, particularly around La Alcazaba, a fortress which dates back to 1065 and is now a fascinating archaeological museum. Also worth a visit is the nearby castle which was rebuilt by the Moors and is today a traditional parador (state hotel) with superb panoramic views.
During the nineteenth century, Malaga was a popular winter resort for the wealthy famed for its elegance and sophistication. The impressive park on Calle Alameda dates back to this era and is recognized as being one of the most celebrated botanical collections in Europe. Pablo Picasso is the city’s famous son, and there are several galleries showing his work, including the 16th century Museum of Fine Arts, adjacent to the Cathedral. His birthplace in Plaza Merced is today an archive of his life and works and open to the public - free of charge. Málaga's main theater is the Theatro Cervantes, where Antonio Banderas still visits.
As well as being a cultural center, Malaga is also a great place to eat out. The Malagueños love their food and the bars and restaurants here are where the real social life takes place. The choice is unlimited and, on the whole, reasonable, with some bars offering a menu of the day with bread and wine for as little as 700 pesetas. Tapas, small portions of many different dishes is an Andalusian tradition and a wonderfully inexpensive way to try a variety of local food. The best known local fare in Malaga is pescaito frito, an assortment of fried fish, including small sardines and red mullet, best washed down with a glass of ice cold fino at one of the many old fashioned bodegas in town. But it is El Palo, to the east of the city which is a typical fisherman’s village and the place to go if you want that veritable ‘catch of the day’ freshness. Try a tapas and a glass of Malaga wine at Malaga's oldest tapas bar called 'Antigua Casa de la Guardia'. Keep to the north side of the Alameda and find no. 16. Malaga is always closed for the siesta period, so this is a perfect time for a long relaxing lunch.
These days, Malaga prides itself on being a modern city with the heart of commerce dominated by Calle Larios which is the local Bond Street equivalent. This is the recommended place to start exploring the city as it is surrounded by attractive small streets and plazas, as well as the magnificent Renaissance cathedral which offers daily guided tours. Garden lovers won't be disappointed in Malaga either. In the center of the city is the beautiful Alameda Gardens, and just outside on the way to Antequera one finds the extensive Jardines de la Concepcion. Málaga airport is one of the major airports in Spain due to the number of tourist arrivals on charter flights from Northern Europe using Malaga airport as a gateway to the Costa del Sol.
Motril (for Grenada), Spain
The town of Motril is located in Andalucia on the Costa Tropical. Nestling at the foothills of the Sierra Lujar mountains, Motril lies at the heart of one of the most lush and productive agricultural areas of Spain. The town's coastal strip includes two main beaches - the busier being Playa Poniente, which is well served with tourist facilities, and the quieter Playa Granada. There are also many sheltered coves, rocky inlets and impressive cliff faces along this stretch of coastline, making it popular with divers, snorkelers and sailors.
Grenada comprises a main island with 6 smaller surrounding islands. The hilly main island is home to numerous nutmeg plantations. It is also the site of the capital, St. George's, whose colorful homes, Georgian buildings and early 18th century Fort George overlook the main harbor. Glorious beaches and bars flourish.
Puerto Jose Banus (for Ronda), Spain
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. It has an area of 2.6 sq miles and a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region. At its foot is the densely populated city area, home to almost 30,000 Gibraltarians and other nationalities.
Looming like some great ship off southern Spain, Gibraltar is a fascinating compound of curiosities. Despite bobbies on the beat, red post boxes and other reminders of 1960s England, Gibraltar is actually a cultural cocktail with Genoese, Spanish, North African and other elements which have made it fantastically prosperous. Naturally, the main sight is the awesome Rock; a vast limestone ridge that rises to 1,400 feet, with sheer cliffs on its northern and eastern sides. For the ancient Greeks and Romans the two great rocks marked the edge of the ancient world. Gibraltar’s location and highly defensible nature have attracted the covetous gaze of military strategists ever since.
Cadiz (for Seville), Spain
Cadiz (Jerez de la Frontera), Spain
Jerez de la Frontera, well known for its wines, its horses and its flamenco, preserves a historic center that has been declared a historic artistic site. One of the noblest towns in Cádiz brings together the splendor of aristocratic palaces with the popular flavor of typically Andalusian houses. Features that are shown off every year at the celebration of the Horse Fair, declared of International Tourist Interest. This enormous offer of culture is enriched with the aromas of a regional cuisine in which the Denomination of Origin of Jerez-Xérès-Sherry Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda is outstanding. A visit to one of the city's wine cellars will help travelers to get a deeper understanding of its wine making tradition.
The city of Portimao, the beach resort Praia da Rocha, and the nature reserve Ria de Alvor are the most well known places of an Algarve region quite unique in its diversity. Summertime is clearly the busiest time of the year, reaching a climax with the popular annual sardine festival in August, but the mild climate of the Algarve, and many sunny winter days attract a multinational crowd in all seasons. Explore the countless shopping opportunities, visit historical sites, strolling along the river boulevard or just sipping a drink in a garden bar. Warm sea waters and gorgeous rock formations make the beaches particularly alluring.
The capital of Portugal since its conquest from the Moors in 1147, Lisbon is a legendary city with over 20 centuries of history. Spreading out along the right bank of the Taugus, its downtown, the Baixa, is located in the 18th century area around Rossio. The Alfama, one of the oldest quarters in Lisbon, still retains much of its original layout since it largely survived the earthquake of 1755.