Staff Review

Highlights of Andalucia

by The Kirker Team

We arrived into Malaga Airport early in the morning and collected our hire car for our journey through the white villages of Andalucia. Driving through the mountains we witnessed first-hand why Andalucia is the agricultural capital of Spain. We meandered past the olive groves and citrus trees, often seeing the modest farmhouses and beautiful white hilltop towns. I loved catching glimpses of pink and yellow flowers wherever there was a stream of fresh-flowing water from the winter's snowfall on a mountain not so far away. We then turned off the main road and passed farmers selling their fresh fruit and vegetables on the side of the road, before reaching our hotel for the night.'Just 10 minutes' drive from historical Ronda, La Fuente de la Higuera is a charming countryside property nestled between olive groves and vineyards. Indeed there are many bodegas nearby that can be visited for tastings and lunch with local fresh produce. The hotel was the perfect tranquil place to unwind after an early wake-up call. We made use of the glittering swimming pool between sunbathing and enjoyed the countryside views and smell of the beautiful roses in bloom.'Ronda, just a 10 minute drive away from our hotel, is Andalucia's most well-known white hilltop village. It is home to Spain's oldest bullring which now houses amateur bull fights and has an interesting museum. Ronda is also home to a Roman aqueduct and several other relics such as a large stone bridge with amazing views of the valley below. I would highly recommend a light lunch on the terrace of the Parador de Ronda which boasts amazing views.'When it was time to leave the mountainous villages of the West, we descended down to the glittering coast and noticed the cloud cover completely subside revealing a bright blue sky and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Our next stop was the Kempinski Hotel Bahia Estepona located right on the sea front close by to the lovely town of Estepona. The hotel has fantastic facilities, we highly enjoyed relaxing by one of the three pools relishing the cool sea breeze. Their new restaurant 'Baltazar Bar & Grill' is advertised as a steak house but in fact also has some amazing seafood. We were lucky enough to try Almadraba tuna, which is fresh blue-fin tuna found in this part of the Mediterranean. This delicacy is caught only once a year at the end of May as the blue-fin tuna pass by to migrate to warmer waters. The buffet breakfast at the Kempinski Hotel Bahia Estepona was one of the best I have ever had and included everything from smoked salmon and cold Spanish cuts, to champagne and fresh smoothies. The breakfast terrace overlooking the Mediterranean was a fantastic way to start the day.'Our next stay was in the city of Granada, famous for its mediaeval Alhambra complex and the Nasrid Palace. We were fortunate to visit the Nasrid Palace at sunset when there were very few visitors. The atmosphere in the evening could be described in one word as peaceful, everyone whispered as they passed through the impressive rooms and we enjoyed the astonishingly detailed architecture almost to ourselves. The sound of the gurgling fountains was poignant through the hushed silence of the palace.'I particularly enjoyed visiting the Albayzín district with its small atmospheric streets, tiny restaurants and fantastic views of the Nasrid Palace above. Granada is a feast for the senses, the beautiful buildings, fantastic food and warm atmosphere make for a lovely break at any time of the year. In June you could still see snow atop the Sierra Nevada mountains and enjoy a drink al fresco in your hotel's secluded patio.

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