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Article posted on: January 12, 2017

Hola, I’m Simone, one of Halsbury Music’s experienced itinerary managers. I’ve just returned from one of the most beautiful destinations in Spain – the enchanting Andalusia. Let me tell you all about it…

 

Day 1 – Seville

It was an early (and rather chilly!) start at East Midlands Airport! However, with no hold luggage to check in and warmed by a delicious cappuccino, I had a quick browse of the airport shops before boarding my direct flight to Malaga.

Before I knew it, the captain was informing us we were just 15 minutes from landing. We arrived in Spain just after midday. The glorious sunshine and much warmer temperatures (18°c – positively tropical!), quickly reminded me just why I love Spain so much. 

The first stop of the day would be Seville, just a couple of hours’ drive from Malaga. The drive is really pleasant, through the beautiful landscape, dotted with olive trees, and past the ancient town of Estepa. It reminded me of some of the scenes described in Don Quixote!

On arrival in Seville, I checked in to the 3* Hotel Bellavista, where many of our groups stay. This hotel is well located in the more modern area of the city, just 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre. The hotel director welcomed me and gave me a tour of the hotel, with its spacious dining hall, outdoor swimming pool and games room – which our music groups can use to rehearse in before concerts. 

I later headed into the city itself, to visit the majestic Plaza España, the cathedral and the Alcázar, which is still a residence of the Spanish royal family. The palace is a really stunning example of Mudejar architecture. 

After that, I went to inspect some of the city’s concert venues, where our choirs, orchestras and bands are able to perform. 

My first visit was to the Iglesia de la Caridad, just a stone’s throw from the cathedral, with its beautiful outdoor patio and neoclassical chapel. 

Next up was the Real Parroquia de Santa Maria Magdalena church, in the north of the city. To get here, I had to pass through the pedestrianised shopping area which, as a side note, I thought would make a great visit for groups to indulge in some post-concert retail therapy! Getting back to the church, it’s a truly stunning venue, whose interior is filled with frescoes! And the octagonal dome, with its bright, colourful tiles really is wonderful. 

My final visit of the day was to the Iglesia de la Anunciacion. The church was built in 1565 and is well known to the locals as a great place to catch a concert! It’s location is ideal, opposite the very modern attraction Metropol Parasol, which was designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer. 

Cities in Spain are just as vibrant after dark, with shops staying open much later than in the UK. So, before driving back to the hotel, I decided to stop a while in the city centre, to enjoy some delicious tapas in the old town. And I’m so glad I did – it was a fantastic experience of the local traditional cuisine!

Day 2 – Cordoba and Granada

After a good night’s sleep, the best way to start the day is to enjoy a good breakfast! Luckily, the hotel provided just that, with local cakes, fresh cappuccino, orange juice and a Nutella filled muffin just some of the treats on offer! 

My day would start in Cordoba – once the capital of the Islamic Emirate and then Caliphate of Cordoba. I started off with a visit to the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, which is opposite the Roman bridge across the Guadalquivir river. The mosque itself is breathtaking, boasting 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite. 

After a quick lunch stop in the city’s main square, Plaza de las Tendillas, I continued my visit of the old town, with its narrow streets packed full of local artisans’ shops. 

My next stop was one of our concert venues in Cordoba – the Parroquia San Hipólito. I loved its warm, intimate atmosphere and am sure ensembles will love performing here!

 

I ended my enchanting stay in Cordoba with a visit to the Palacio de Viana and its beautiful jasmine, bougainvillea and orange trees. This palace is famous for hosting theatrical performances and concerts for the local community. 

The drive from Cordoba to Granada was truly sensational, especially when passing by the Sierra Nevada partially covered by snow. My first stop in Granada was the majestic Alhambra (‘the red one’), originally built as a small fortress in 889 AD on the site of Roman fortifications. 

This visit could easily eat up three hours without you realising it – the splendour of the Nasrid palaces and the Generalife gardens are certain to impress students, who will love the opportunity to experience the rich history and spectacular architecture.

 

Later, I checked in to the Hotel Macià Monasterio de los Basilios. This beautiful, impressive hotel is housed in a 17th century monastery on the Genil river, close to the city centre and just 10 minutes’ walk from the cathedral. You actually enter the hotel through the cloister of the former monastery!

As late afternoon became early evening, I made a quick visit to the city centre and the central market, which was built in the typical Arabic medina style with beautiful handicraft local shops. I also visited the Albayzín – the medieval Moorish district of Granada, with its narrow, atmospheric streets, and even caught a live Flamenco show!

 

Day 3 - Heading home 

After a rich breakfast in my lovely, historic hotel, it was time to say goodbye to Granada and head back to Malaga Airport. 

Final thoughts...

I was left in no doubt that, whatever your tour requirements, this is one destination that really can cater to everyone!

Now, you may have noticed that Andalusia does not currently feature on our website. But this is simply because if we featured all the destinations we could take you to, you’d be swamped by the options! 

So if you would like to visit Andalusia, or any other destination that isn’t featured on our website, please just contact us and we’ll be pleased to talk you through the options!

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