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Between past and futureANDALUSIA


Between past and future

Article published in Motociclismo magazine in 2002.

Winter, especially this winter. Preparations and plans for the first motorbike outings have started. But if you have a fortnight left over, the south of Spain can certainly give you the opportunity to use your bike without waiting for the most favorable months.

Read the story published in the magazine.

Vandalusia, this is how the Vandals called this land that goes south to just a few kilometers. from Africa, also grasping its beneficial climatic influences, like no other part of the European continent.

After visiting Almagro, the only Flemish corner of Spain with its characteristic plaza, the mists disappear, and the temperature begins to take on southern European characteristics, despite the fact that it is January.

The itinerary includes Cordoba as a first stop, to which we dedicate a whole day.

In fact, we are following the course of the Guadalquivir, a river that was once navigable, which certainly made the fortunes of this part of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Arab urban structure, to which one must quickly get used to, even for the continuation of the journey, encourages, also thanks to a spring temperature, to walk through its alleys where it is easy to lose orientation.

But the real attraction of this provincial town is undoubtedly the mosque, which was transformed into a cathedral in 1523, an operation that provoked fierce criticism, even in the Catholic world itself, but which certainly left an extraordinarily unique work of its kind.

It seems that at the sight of the final result, Charles V himself exclaimed: “What have you done? You have destroyed something unique and inimitable, to build something absolutely common! "

The second stop is Seville. The atmosphere here is completely different: more frenetic rhythms, but we are faced with a metropolis of almost a million inhabitants, a university city, pretty girls, many girls and a very intense tourist influx despite the period.

Here too the cathedral, the largest Gothic church in the world, with its Giralda, a work of Moorish origin and above all the Alcazar, the oldest royal palace still in operation and current Sevillian residence of the Spanish kings, make you lose the whole day .

The next morning, it almost starts to get hot, we decide to skirt the great river, also the Guadalquivir, which has certainly lost much of its charm, reduced to large swampy spaces, up to its mouth, in San Lucar de Barramela, historic small port from where Christopher Columbus left in 1498 for his third voyage to the Americas, and which Magellan himself chose as a base for his first voyage around the world in 1519.

Today its fame is due to its fleet of fishing boats, to the excellent fish restaurants, and to the possibility of being able to taste the Manzanilla, a sweet wine, the right prelude and introduction to the sherry area par excellence, which is just a few kilometers away, and which has as its fulcrum and driving center, the town of Jerez de la Frontera.

There are many, almost all of them within the urban core, in the absence of time available, the advice is to pay attention to the largest: Gonzalez-Byass, Domeck, Williams and Humbert.

The first, the oldest, they have been making wine for 160 years, famous for the dry wine Tio Pepe, can represent a good compromise: the visits are different throughout the day, even in the low season.

Not only. The visit is carried out with a small train, accompanied by a guide, without the obligation to book.

But the road calls us, and after a morning tasting necessary for the last purchases, we go to the coastal part that is less developed from a tourist point of view, but for this reason probably more interesting. Cadiz, Cadiz, Julia Augusta Gadigana, many names for a single place, founded by the Phoenicians, inhabited since 1100 BC.

One of the oldest cities in the West.

The ancient nucleus, built on a promontory, is surrounded by a seventeenth-century pentagonal bastion.

4.5 kilometers. to travel by motorbike or on foot, to realize that the most interesting part is the one closed between the castle of Santa Catalina and the bridge that joins the walls with the castle of San Sebastiano, a walk of about one kilometer, but very suggestive.

But the day is not over yet, and we probably make the only mistake of the trip by not stopping for the night, even if Tarifa will soon make us forget the mistake, with a breathtaking sunset on the Pillars of Hercules, a spectacular view on the African coasts, and what not to be underestimated an evening, at the table, with the freshest pescado.

Dawn surprises us looking for images, but the weather is not the best, even if the lights are fantastic.

Patience, the Sierras area, with its pueblos blancos, awaits us with a dense network of scenic roads. Arcos de la Frontera and Ronda are gorgeous!

The first, set as an amphitheater, high on reddish rocks dominating the Guadalete river that surrounds it almost completely, and the second defined as the most beautiful city in Andalusia, and one of the most beautiful in Spain.

Here the modern foot fighting against bulls was invented. The plaza de toros, the oldest in all of Spain, was inaugurated in 1784.

A real sanctuary of its kind, it is perfectly preserved. The arena forms a perfect circle, with 2 superimposed orders of lowered arches, resting on 176 Tuscan columns, 5,000 seats, a diameter of 66 meters, completely covered and the only one that has a protective stone barrier.

The scenic roads also continue to the east of Ronda, the white villages continue to accompany us also in the transfer to Granada. The Bobastro area deserves a mention. The detour, which is also unclear on the map among other things, leads along the edges of an overhang, until it reaches a small lake of artificial origin, set on this spur which overlooks the valley below and the Garganta del Chorro, an area of free climbing enthusiasts.

We are only 400 meters high, but the view sweeps away in complete solitude.

Consider that this is undoubtedly the most direct and panoramic way to reach Antiquera, where it will be possible to visit 3 dolmens of the largest in Europe before getting onto the freeway to cover the last 90 kilometers that will separate us from Granada. Yes, Granada.

We are now at the epilogue, the classic icing on the cake.

A cross between Cordoba and Seville of which it takes the best features.

Red castle, as the Alhambra was defined by the Arabs, one of the greatest masterpieces of Muslim art, the only example of a medieval Moorish complex that has reached us practically intact.

An impressive tourist catalyst, despite the fact that we are at the end of January.

Suffice it to say that the visit to the Alcazar, probably the most interesting part of this royal city, which at the time of the Moors could host an army of 40,000 men, in the periods of greatest influx, must be booked the day before, and only to be able to carried out at the times established at the time of purchasing the ticket.

The day proceeds between visits and tapas bars, up to the church of San Nicola, where you can enjoy the most spectacular sunset in all of Granada. In the background "Qalat Alhambra" and the Sierra Nevada, which provides the city with a set of advantages that has no equal in the centers of the south: ever-fresh vegetation, a temperate climate, but with the ardor of a tropical sun and clear blue of a southern sky.

These are the last moments of a long, bright day.

But also of our trip. Going up north we will also find 24 ° degrees (75° Fahrenheit) in Sagunto, just to increase the regrets more.

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