Andalucia Diary – Seasonal Travel Notes

Penises to Pine Trees

The city centre of Andalucia’s capital, retains so much that defines Andalucia’s amazing past – a mix of
Jewish, Islamic and architecture woven together by a web of living
streets full of bars, restaurants and shops.After breakfast in a street side
café we explored the centre (undergoing some major renovations, including new
pedestrianised zones, and the installation of a tram system which will
integrate with the city’s new metro network)
. Penis_sculpture_in_seville 
Andalucia has more than its fair share of Roman
antiquities and close to
Seville, in the rather
village of Santiponce
lies the Roman Ruins of Italica – with a large amphitheatre and a generous
helping of mosaics. But eat before you make the trip – the bars in the village
all looked seriously uninviting!
Taking the motorway west, we headed towards Portugal,
(about an hour away from Seville.)
Crossing into Huelva province, the
landscape changes. Hectares of flat farmland seem a blur as we speed towards
the tranquil coastal reserves close to the border with Portugal.We took a
diversion to visit El
, the site of one of the biggest Romerias in
Andalucia. This is one of the most surprising and remarkable places I have ever
seen in Andalucia. The sleepy town has grown up around the enormous BasilicaImg_3753
the Santuario of Nuestra Señora de el Rocio. Every year a million, yes a
million, pilgrims come here and the town awakes with singing, dancing and
rejoicing. Traveling in horse drawn caravans & wagons through the sandy
paths amongst pine trees the pilgrims arrive for some serious partying! Even
where we were there, weeks before the festival was due to kick off (Pentecost),
there were plenty or people preparing with dress rehearsals. As I stood in the
basilica beneath a sign requesting “silencio”, the walls echoed with the sound
of an impromptu rendition of  “Ole, Ole” by a group of dusty, energetic guys
recently arrived from their rehearsal.The small town that has built up to
support this Romeria, reminded me of a Wild West settlement. Built on a strict
grid system, all its streets are just of sand and Andalucians on horse back
wearing cowboy boots and hats compete with dusty 4 x 4 pulling horseboxes.We left the dusty heat of El Rocio and got back on the road, feeling the fresh
Atlantic air This is area is also home to one of Europe’s largest wetlands, the
huge protected reserve of the Doñana National Park
– a deservedly World Heritage Site.
We arrived at our hotel, with views across the magical coast – pines trees,
sand dunes and wetlands combine to give a glimpse of what so much of Andalucia
must have been like 50 years ago. But here one can’t escape the manicured golf courses
that define almost every coastal area in Andalucia.


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Andrew ForbesTravel & Lifestyle Marketing Communications Consultant | Travel Editor Web: Twitter : @andrewaforbes Instagram @andrewaforbes and @luxurynavigatorView all posts by Andrew Forbes »