Additional information for a holiday in Andalusia
Even though travelling in the EU countries, to which also Spain belongs, got significantly easier, there are some things to pay attention to. This concerns practical things as for example the bookings or also the differences in the mentalities and in things regarding customs. It simply makes sense and is also of common decency to consider this for the travel and to respect these particularities as far as it is possible.
General tips about Andalusia
For German people, a trip to Spain is easily possible as both countries do belong to the EU. An identity card or the passport taken to the trip is fully enough. But the children under 16 years have to be registered in their parent's passport, as otherwise they will need a child ID. Also the German driving license is valid without any limitations and is sufficient to get a car rented. In case of driving with the own car, one should take the motor vehicle registration certificate.
One is medically insured with the German medical insurance card. But as one partly has to pay in advance, one should keep well the bills in order to render the accounts later with one's insurance. But one should not shy away from the still low costs for an additional private travel medical insurance, as not all costs are paid by the German insurances and an eventually necessary return transport can be very expensive. The chemistries are recognizable by a green cross on a white background and the inscription "farmacia".
What is absolutely unproblematic is the matter of the money. As Spain is in the eurozone, there is no need for any actions of changing and converting the money. Most of the hotels and banks as also numerous shops and restaurants do accept credit cards, at least the common ones. There are also enough cash dispensers. The instructions given in several languages make the removing of cash money easier for those who do not speak Spanish.
Also the electricity net is usable with German devices without any major restrictions, as in Spain, the net conducts as in Germany 230 volts alternating current and the plugs are compatible, at least in the hotels. In Andalusia, german vacationers can confidently use their watch, as there is middle European summer time, as in Germany. Thus, it is not needed to adjust the watch.
In Andalusia, there are some pecularities related to the etiquette rules concerning the entrances of the restaurants one has to pay attention to and that is interesting for the tourists in the restaurants. It is not nice to straightly approach a free table. One better waits at the entrance area of the restaurant until the head waiter asks for the number of people and suggests a table choice; What is absolute taboo is to sit at some stranger's table or the common question in Germany "Is this free?". Also the customs that everyone pays for himself is completely unusual in Andalusia. Normally one pays for all.
One discretely asks for the bill and and the waiter brings is easily beside on a small plate that he will also pick up again with the credit card or cash money on it and returns it with the credit card or the money change. Only when the gests already left the location, the waiter will take the plate on which (hopefully)the tip is. The common amount for a tip is 5 - 10 % of the total bill.
But in the hotels, these golden rules are not necessarily still valid. We have experienced several times that we were simply asked to choose a table by oneselves. But anyway, first, one should try to make it in the typical Spanish method, this is simply more kind.
For the central European, Spain is the country of the bullfighting and specially applies for Andalusia. There are certainly bullfights taking place in other parts of the country and also in different countries, but Andalusia is the classical area of this polemic event. By this way, one finds in very much cities and bigger places bullrings and the oldest of all in the Andalusian place Ronda.
Practical tips for a holiday in Andalusia
We already heard several times about it and it was also advised several times in the documentation of the travel agency that the visit to the Alhambra in Granada would not be that easily possible.
The responsibles have only a certain limited number of visitors to be let in per day. This mainly refers to the Nazarite Palace that is the absolute highlight of the Alhambra but can only take a certain amount of people; A rule that is senseful according to our opinion, as if one experienced the rush and the chaos in the other touristical highlights, one will appreciate such a regulation. Those who have already been to the Assuan Temple of Egypt will know what we are talking about. Moreover, it serves as a protection of the historical buildings if the strain of the tourist masses is limited. On the other hand, it is of course less pleasant if one is in Granada and misses to visit the Alhambra.
The urgently recommended booking was not easy to fulfill. The website mentioned by the travel agent was certainly accessible but despite of an intensive search, there was no possibility to order some tickets. On another page we certainly could type in our data for the reservation, but then nothing else happened. Also the travel agency that we asked to support us, was simply not able to accomplish this and gave up. We finally tried to get the tickets over our Hotel Guadalupe in Granada. There, they took care about the matter and the day we arrived they confirmed the booking for visiting the Alhambra the next day. We only needed to pick up our tickets, a thing that was easy as the hotel was only at a few metres distance from the entrance to the Alhambra. In the late afternoon, there was also no rush at the counter so that after a few minutes we finally got out tickets.
Afterwards we can say that this procedure is not really necessary. We have been talking to some people about it and read about it at different sources. It was confirmed everywhere that the urgent recommendations to book in advance should not be considered in such a dramatic way and that most of the times, one also has some good chances without a previous booking. Those people who queued for a ticket the day we went into could all get into the Alhambra.
Nevertheless, we would book previously again and do recommend this also to the future visitors. This is due to many reasons: Even through it goes well most of the times, there is no guarantee that one does not catch a day in which the rush is extremely high and one finally goes off without any ticketout any precious booking one has to be there very in time and be very patient. The visit of the Alhambra is also timely regulated. There are tickets for the morning and tickets for the evening. In the respective time period one can move within the complex of the Alhambra and Generalife. But for the highlight that is the Nazirite Palace, there are some concrete times prescribed that one has to respect accurately, otherwise one will not get in. By making a reservation, one can communicate one's timely preferences but if purchasing the tickets straight away, one does depend on the times that are left. In the worst case one queues early in the morning but does only get some tickets for the afternoon. It was anyway pleasant to pass the queues with the tickets in hands and get right to the entrance.
In resume we can say that the Alhambra is a touristical highlight that cannot be missed. But the organization, specially also in relation to the bookings, has a lot of need to improve.
The best way to get ahead in Andalusia is, of course, by speaking at least a little Spanish. But it is not a condition. During our tour, we almost could get ahead by speaking English that we do not speak perfectly. We sometimes also met people who spoke German, but this was clearly a minority.
What is surely recommendable is to practice the most important Spanisch expressions. In most of the travel guides there is a compilation of the most common vocabularies and sentences. It does make a much better impression and also demonstrates some respect if one can say thank you, hello and good-bye in the country's language. If one ask for a way to somewhere, it is an advantage to understand at least the directions and the words for the streets, plazas or buildings.
We somehow could always communicate with the people, if needed with a mix of some Spanish words, a little English and some German words in conjunction with some gesticulations.
Some famous personalities of Andalusia
Andalusia does not only have some impressive sightseeings in the field of the arquitecture and the arts but also numerous famous personalities of the former or more contemporary history are native Andalusians or have obtained their famosity in this region. To these personalities some people belong who were never expected to be from this region.
Boabdil, the last King of Granada
The history of Andalusia and of the famous personalities of this piece of country is very strongly influenced by the Moorish, the Arabians of north Africa. The apparently most known amongst them is up to date Boabdil, the last and relativly luckyless King of Granada. With him, also the hirtort of the Moorish in Andalusia ended. His life equals a novel that could not be better invented by an imaginative author.
Boabdil, who was called like that by the Christians and whose actual name was Abu abd-Allah, was the son of Muley Hassan, the King of Granada. His exact date of birth is not knowm, his date of death is the year 1527. He was killed in a battle to which he went for the King of Fez in Morocco who offered him exile after the expulsion of Andalusia. There between there is a life full of successes and failures, in which some bitter defeats dominated within the last years.
His youth was overshadowed by disputes. On one hand, there was his father and his mistress, on the other hand his mother who belonged to the family of the Abencerrajes. They were very powerful and wanted to have Boabdil to be on the throne. But the opposite side found out this conspiracy and jailed Boabdil and his mother in the Alhambra in the Comares-Tower. After a succeeded escape and a revolution, Boabdil became King of granada in the year 1482.
But this phase of governance did not last a long time. Already in the year 1483, he was jailed by the christians and were taken to Córdoba. Now, an up and down followed, where Boabdil was forced by the catholic Kings to submission, but his uncle brought him to his side. The christians considered this as a betrayal and in the following fights, Boabdil was recaptured. This meant another submission to the catholic Kings and a forced fight against his uncle who was finally defeated.
But in the year 1490, Boabdil rejected the required capitulation of Granada to the christians. By this way, a long siege of the royal city and the last bastion of the Moorish in Andalusia began. On January 2nd, 1492 the victorious Christian armies moved to Granada. This was the definite end of the Moorish in the Spanish Andalusia. After some time, Boabdil found a refuge in Morocco, where he lived until death for 30 years. After his expulsion he supposedely could not be happy anymore.
Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America
Christopher Columbus is supposed to be the man who discovered the continent of America for the Europeans. Today it is certain that this is not true. It has been prooved that the Vikings were there before; Nevertheless, he is famous for having prooved with his voyages that it is possible to sail to the west without getting to the end of the world. Actually, Columbo wanted to find out the western seaway to India but he found the seaway to America or, better said, he refound it. After the short intermezzo of the Vikings at the American coast, the continent was practically not existing for Europe and had to be rediscovered.
Christopher Columbus, or, depending on the way to write it also Christoph Kolumbus or Christopher Colon, is not a real Andalusian. He was born in the year 1451 in the italian place Genua and came then in the year 1476 to Lissabon, the capital of Portugal. His ideas to find a seaway to India in the west did not succeed in the Portugesian crown. By this way, he tried it in Spain, where people were more interested. But here, he was almost also unsuccessful, as the fights against the last Moorish bastion in Andalusia were the priority for Ferdinand and Isabel, the Spanish royal couple. But the victory in Granada and therewith the definite expulsion of the Moorish from Spain made him succeed in the last minute. On August 3rd, 1492 was the memorable day on which the three caravels left the Andalusian port Palos de la Frontera. Then, on October 12th, the long awaited call "land in sight" came.
Columbo also began his three further journeys in some Andalusian ports, whereby the oftenly mentioned Cádiz is not correct. The second and fourth journey began in El Puerto de Santa Maria that is located close to Cádiz.
But Columbo did not get the respective famosity during his lifetime. The disappointment about the fact that he did not get to those sought areas where the spices were outweighed with gold was too big. Also the continent rediscovered by him did not get, as known, his name but was named America after the Italian Amerigo Vespucci; Even after his death in the year 1506 there are some uncertainties about Columbo. The dispute about where his tomb is located is not cleared up to date. Either the Andalusian city Sevilla as also Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic require to be this place.
The world famous Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso is a genuine Andalusian who influenced the contemporary painting and sculpture as no other and which image of a pigeon became to a world wide symbol for peace. Born in the year 1881 in the Andalusian city Málaga, he already started to paint with 7 years. This is certainly done by many children, but the small Pablo already demonstrated a high talent at such an early stage. When he was ten years old, he was admitted to the School of Fine Arts and studied later Arts at the Academies of Barcelona and Madrid. He had periods of different ways of representation that were named after three dominant techniques of Picasso as the "Blue Period" and the "Pink Period". Then, in the year 1907, the period of the cubism followed of which the first painting of this art movement was painted by Picasso. Then in the year 1917, the neoclassic and surreal influences dominated.
Picasso created his apparently most impressive work in Paris. The painting "Guernica", in which the artist made the bombardment of the Bask city Guernica by the German legion Condor a subject of discussion and that shows the horror of the war as no other painting, put him on the same level with those artists who engaged themselves for peace. After the second world war, Picassos style changed again and he mainly focused on the technique and the lithography.
But his work was not only limited to the painting but he also created some impressive works in the fields of the graphic design, the sculpture, the ceramics, photography and literature. Picasso was the first artist who was already honoured during his lifetime with a retrospective in the Louvre of Paris.
Pablo Picasso died in the 1973 in the age of 92. His complete works has strongly influenced and marked the art scene of the 20th century. In his home town Málaga, the house of his birth and a museum remind on this great artist.
Federico Garcia Lorca
One of the most significant authors of the 20th century is the Andalusian poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Everybody has heard of his most famous dramas "Blood Weddings" and "The house of Bernarda Alba". He was born in the year 1898 in Fuente Vaqueros by Granada. He studied law, philosophy and literature for 14 years. In his short life, Lorca only became 38 years, he wrote world literature that is still relevant today and not forgotten. On August 19th, 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish civil war, he was killed by some Spanish nationalists.
Other famous personalities of Andalusia are numerous scholars, priests, Princes and Kings and, how could it be different, also toreros.
Back to the index Andalusia
Author: Michael Nitzschke; Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz