Stamping her feet onto the stage amid the whirls of her frilly green dress she flicked back and forth, she glared at the audience with a defiant look. Raising her arms up to reveal her perfectly manicured hands, she started clapping in stilted rhythm whilst continuously stamping her feet in fashion. The Spanish guitar strums to follow the imposing dancer and the singer is not far behind, belting out anguished tones in Spanish, a language I was not truly versed in adding to the intense atmosphere. It didn’t need to matter; I was already enthralled by the dancer who commanded the cosy 300+ room who followed her in deep but electrified silence. This is the Flamenco Dance, a form of Spanish Folk Music and dance from the heart of the southern Andalusian region of Spain. This is where I was to be found after spending a delightful and truly fascinating Andalusian Adventure.
I had stumbled upon this free show at La Carboneria after wandering the backstreets of Seville following a delicious tapas and wine dinner. With bated breath as the ‘toque’ Spanish guitar stopped, the Flamenco dancer dipped her knees to the crowd before storming back to her seat to rest for her next display of excellence. Then the Spanish guitar continued with the singing, transporting me back over the last week the wondrous things I saw, I did and truly fantastically experienced in this old dusty corner of Spain.
Historical Cordoba was my first stop of my Andalusian trip after catching a fairly comfortable four-hour bus journey from the cosmopolitan capital, Madrid. As the bus wound through the narrow winding streets, I knew I was going to like this place, suddenly basked in bright sunshine with a taste of the Mediterranean Sea in the air though dry. Standing mightily in the middle of the ancient multicultural city, lays the Mezquita – a fusion of Christian cathedrals and Muslim Mosques that contains a tranquil vineyard inside. Further along the road, the Castle of the Christian Monarchs competes in the grandness scale and offers an enlightening look at the battle of religions in the Middle Ages. Briefly only staying there one night, it was an inspired introduction to the Spanish way of life in Andalusia filled with tapas, siestas and of course, wine!
The next stop, Granada, the last bastion of the Moors who were unwilling to let go their vice grip on the alluring Alhambra, a symbol of beauty known as ‘The Pearl set in Emeralds’ renowned across civilisations of Europe. The Alhambra is made up of three exquisite sections – the Palacio Nazaries where the Emirs of the Moors lived in; Alcatraz Fortress where you could get scarily lost in their mazes; Generalife (Garden of the Builder) where botanical gardens in other cities cannot compare to the grand scale of this garden of Eden. This historical beacon declared an UNESCO Heritage site has suffered being blown up by the French in the War of Independence and the 1821 Earthquake but restoration has saved from it crumbling further. It is absolutely recommended you visit the Alhambra at sunrise to see the city of Granada below you wake up with the sun in such peaceful settings.
Granada proved to be an epic highlight of my stay in Andalusia staying four nights at the luxury hostel – ‘The Granada Backpackers Inn.’ Visiting the panoramic Albayzin Old Town alongside the meandering river drinking sangria, leisurely shopping at the high street brands, smelling the rich spice products on display in the Spice Quarter, watching gypsies hilariously try to convey their unsuspecting victims their fortunes in front of the grand Granada cathedral in the Religious Quarter, touring the secretive Sacremento Cave Quarter are to name many of all the enlivening activities in this sleepy city. However, you must absolutely try all the tempting tapas on display. Did you know you always get free food with a drink? The nightlife starting at the late hour of 11pm brings a stimulating experience where the Spanish love to party hard into the morning way past the break of dawn.
With time ticking away, the grand city of Seville was my final stop on my week-long Andalusian journey. You will feel small walking around the wide and extravagant (some gilded with gold) avenues that has paid for by the conquest of South America. There’s none as splendid as the Plaza de Espana, a royal palace with its wings outstretched to face South America across the Atlantic as if to hug and embrace the other continent. It’s truly a special affair as you can view the history of Spain in murals on the walls of the Palace. You are constantly reminded of South America in this de-facto capital of Andalusia especially when you visit the stately Seville Cathedral that contains the imperial tomb of the world’s most famous explorer, Christopher Columbus. Climbing the belltower (it’s a mission!), you are afforded beautiful sights of Seville but I found the enormous bells, preserved over time, to be of huge interest.
I couldn’t help falling back into the chilled Spanish way of life by waking up late, eating tapas , drinking wine and sightseeing before taking a siesta to get ready for the evening ahead by taking in a dance show you will never forget in your lifetime.
Finally, the Flamenco dancer stood as the music reached a crescendo snapping me out of my dreaming reverie, and clapping her hands she inched forward with well-timed stamps of her feet, illogical to the naked eye. Sat on the front row, I could see her every expression, storming out the wild and untamed emotions stored inside her. Reaching closer, her dance reached a fevered pitch enthralling me into her web of her story interpreted through dance and suddenly before I knew it all the flamenco dance and music stopped in silence. Arms postured in the air, breathing heavily; the dancer gave me a cornered smile as I was first on my feet cheeringly roaring with praise with the crowd behind me loudly clapping. She quite possibly knew that I was cheering for the incredible time I had in the magical realm that is Andalusia.