Andalucia, a Wonderful Holiday Destination.

By: Ruth Polak

The Costa del Sol has long been one of the most popular holiday destinationsin southern Europe, and quite rightly so as it has much to offer in the formof reliable sunshine, beautiful safe beaches, good restaurants and nightlife,good quality and affordable accommodation along with plentiful and cheap flightsfrom a vast choice of airports. However The Costa del Sol is only a very smallpart of the wonderful Autonomous Region of Andalucia.

Rural tourism has opened up this superb area of southern europe and it isnow possible to rent a villa in many outstanding and remote areas hithertoo unexplored by the vast majority of tourists. To a large extent the countryside has been unspoilt by the recent developments along the Costasand there are still many out of the way and remote areas to explore. In recognition of this several new air routes have now been opened up with very reasonable flights into both Jerez and Granada airports.

The white villages, or "Pueblos Blancos" are a good starting point as in the mainlife goes on in them much as it has done for centuries. Casares, Gaucin, Benaojen,Estacion de Cortes, Cortes de la Frontera, to name but a few, are all delightful places to spend a few hours ambling around, marvelling at the architecture, the slow unchanging pace of life and sampling the various tapas bars.

During the summer months every village holds a tradtionalferia with music and dancing in the streets all night long.

Andlaucia is of course the home of Flamenco dancing and bull fighting. The oldestbullring in Spain is to be found at Ronda, and whatever your feelings areon this rather emotive sport it is an interesting building to visit as is the adjacent museum. The old part of the town is also  a lovely place to visitwith its amazing Tajo ( gorge) and wealth of old buildings. A train ridefrom one of the white villages further down country such as Jimena or Gaucin,is a lovely way to arrive at Ronda as the train passes through some beautifulcountryside not visable from the road.It also continues on uptoGranada which is a must for any visitor to Andalucia with its stunningAlhambra Palace, old gypsey quarter and many other places of interest.

The wildlife in Andalucia is amongst the best now left in Europe with an astonishing array of birds, both resident and migrant, it is particuarlywell blessed with birds of prey such as Griffon and Eygptian Vultures,Bonnelli's and Booted Eagles,Peregrine falcons, Red and Black Kites, to namebut a few. These magnificent birds are a common site soaring majestically above the mountain ranges of Andalucia. It is also home to wild boar, mongeese and genetsmost of which are not particuarly well appreciated by the local populationas they do alot of damage to gardens and live stock, however they are all now protected by law. In the spring the countryside puts on a stunning display of wild flowers, some of which are now quite rare in other parts ofEurope.

There is much unspoilt countryside where one is quite at liberty to walkand camp, just being careful with fires in the dry summer months. Whilst official footpaths and signposting are rather limited there are few real restrictions as to where you can wander as long as you just use common sensewith regard to rubbish, fires etc. However always take water with youas you can easily find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no naturalsource of water nearby.

So take a holiday away from all the hustle and bustle, rent a private villa,hire a car and just enjoy exploring this delightful region of Spain.

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