Andalusian Activities?
December 15, 2013 5:42 AM   Subscribe

My family and I will soon be embarking on a trip to Spain. We'll be in Seville the 19th-27th, Cordoba for a couple of days after that, and Granada until January 2nd. What's cool stuff to do in these places (we've already got Alhambra tickets), or very nearby? Is there anything associated with the current winter festivities to do? Any good restaurant recommendations?
posted by Maecenas to Travel & Transportation around Spain (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you're going to have a car, I recommend stopping at Forteleza de la Mota in Alcala la Real, between Cordoba and Granada. The site was almost deserted when we were there and it's some really fascinating history with great views of the countryside and village below.

In Seville, the best tapas we ate were at Casa Paco in the Alameda de Hercules, which came recommended by the woman at our hotel. In general, we tried to follow the recommendations of either the people running our hotel or Rick Steves, and we didn't eat a single bad meal in Spain. Definitely get Rick Steves' book if you don't have it yet.

I would recommend getting to the main tourist sites in Seville (Cathedral & Alcazar) right when they open. We were there mid-day for both and it was miserably crowded. We felt like we couldn't even really enjoy the Alcazar because of the masses of people.
posted by something something at 7:02 AM on December 15, 2013

Best answer: You'll find out what to do in Seville when you're there, but if you want to chill out in the evening, try to go to La Carboneria. This is not a touristic place only.
posted by nicolin at 7:26 AM on December 15, 2013

Best answer: Wander up and down the streets around the Cathedral in Seville - there's a Nativity scene festival/craft show going on now which is pretty awesome both culturally and aesthetically.
posted by chainsofreedom at 8:16 AM on December 15, 2013

Best answer: In Granada, I bought a Viator hop-on-hop-off bus day pass, and really felt like I got a lot of bang for my buck. I was only there for a few days, and while I wasn't intimidated by taking public transit to see all the sights, I just didn't want to waste my time figuring out the bus schedules. This bus did a circuit every half hour and hit almost everything I might have wanted to see. So it is a really convenient way to do a lot of sightseeing if time is short. I recall there were quite a lot of interesting churches and historical sights to see--it was quite beautiful.

The Jewish Quarter in Cordoba is a really interesting place to poke around. The Medina Azahara outside the city is an impressive archeological site.
posted by elizeh at 9:02 AM on December 15, 2013

Best answer: How late in the day do you leave Granada on January 2? That's a very important day, locally. It's el Día de la Toma, the anniversary of the capture of the Muslim city by the forces of Ferdinand and Isabel, the king and queen of Aragón and Castile, respectively, in 1492. I haven't been for a long time, but if you look in the local newspaper, El Ideal, you'll find the schedule for the day's events. Basically, it begins with the population gathering outside city hall (the ayuntamiento). The youngest city councilor will come out on the balcony and call out the ritual formula: "¡Granada, Granada, Granada, por los ínclitos reyes de Castilla, Don Fernando y Doña Isabel!" (And, just for fun, every time the councilor says "Granada," the crowd answers with "¿Qúe?). There's a procession of the city council, and also a ceremony inside the Royal Chapel (just adjacent to the cathedral) that involves dipping the royal standard over the graves of Ferdinand and Isabel. As you can imagine, the whole thing is extremely politically charged—there are ultra-right and fascist demonstrators, their leftist opponents, Granada's growing native and immigrant Muslim community, and all the rest of it. This ceremony has been celebrated every year since the early sixteenth century. If you can stay to see it, you really should.

There's a lot to see in Granada aside from the Alhambra. I strongly recommend taking the walk along the Darro River and out of the city to the Abbey of the Sacromonte, to visit the caves (the site where were discovered a notorious set of saints' relics and forged documents in the late sixteenth century). And if you like over the top Baroque, you shouldn't miss the Carthusian church (la Cartuja) out near the university's letters and sciences campus. One art historian has described it as "an earthquake in stone.

Finally, no matter where you go, when you marvel at the nativity scenes, be sure to keep a lookout for El Cagador, the Pooper. I tend to think of this as a Catalan thing, but you find it everywhere. Basically, in every nativity scene, somewhere, you'll find a little image of someone taking a dump. Yay Christmas!
posted by pleasant_confusion at 9:50 AM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, the thing to be doing on New Year's Eve is to go to the main square of wherever you are and there, for each stroke of the clock at midnight, swallow one grape whole, for good luck. Every year numerous people choke to death doing this. Oh, and on the 22nd be sure to turn on the TV to watch the annual drawing of the Christmas lottery to see who gets to tocar el gordo. It's a Big Deal, lots of money at stake:
posted by pleasant_confusion at 9:56 AM on December 15, 2013

Best answer: About food, it's traditional to eat turrón all over the country, but Andalusia specializes in polvorones, mantecados, alfajores and many other kinds of pastry.

Googleing up, I see they've set up a Napolitan Nativity scene in Seville with 17th century figures (picture).

Wherever you are, there will be a big square from which you can greet the new year. It seems in Granada it's held in front of the town hall, here are some pics from 2009-2010.
posted by sukeban at 11:52 PM on December 15, 2013

Response by poster: Go hivemind! Thanks for y'all's answers!
posted by Maecenas at 6:30 AM on December 17, 2013

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