Andalucia – Pueblos Blancos – part 1

RO: Andalucia era pe lista inca de pe la inceputurile vremurilor noastre calatoare insa dintr-un motiv sau altul am lasat-o mereu pe data viitoare. Soare, vreme buna pe tot parcursul anului, dansuri de flamenco, palmieri si portocali cat vezi cu ochii, sate albe de-ti iau ochii, cocotate pe cine stie ce stanca cat sa te faca sa te intrebi cui i-o fi venit intai si-ntai fabuloasa idee sa-si construiasca o casa acolo, dealuri intregi de maslini (ori mai nou de mango, ca-s mai profitabili), coride in mai toate orasele mari, tapas care mai de care mai delicioase si mai apetisante si-apoi tot mixul acesta europeano-nord africano, cu toate influentele maure si toate ciudateniile pamantului cand vine vorba de arhitectura, cultura si obicei (pai cine-a mai vazut biserica crestina construita in ditamai moscheea?!). E clar, Andalucia pare a fi cliseul Spaniei, si-o spunem cu cea mai mare dragalasenie posibila. Sa-nceapa fiesta, sa curga sangria iar noi sa dansam pe ritmuri latine de-ale lui Bisbal. Daaaaaar parca nici chiar 😀

EN: Andalucia was on our list from the beginnings of our travelling times but for one reason or another we always left it for next time. Sun, good weather all year long, flamenco dances, palm trees and orange trees as far as the eyes can see, beautiful white villages, perched up on a who-knows what steep rock that makes you wonder who had the fabulous idea to built a house there, hills covered by olive trees (or nowadays mango trees as they seem to be more profitable), bullrings in all the big cities, delicious and tempting tapas and then all this European-North African mix, with all the Moorish influences and all the odd things when it comes to architecture, culture and habits (well who has seen a Christian church built in a huge mosque?!). It’s clear, Andalucia seems to be Spain’s cliche, and we say that in the most positive way possible! Let the fiesta start, let the sangria flow and let’s dance on David Bisbal’s Latin rhythms! Oh well, let’s not go so far 😀
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RO: Bun, si-avem patru zile de batut in lung si-n lat intreaga Andalucia, cu planuri mari sa vedem tot ce inseamna “pueblo blanco”, renumitele sate albe din sudul Spaniei. Si cum intreaga Andalucia ar avea nevoie de cel putin doua saptamani (hai totusi trei) pentru a fi vazuta cap-coada, cu toate cele opt provincii, incluzand si faimoasele orase mari, si locurile mai putin renumite care se indeparteaza un pic de Costa de Sol, si o zi-doua de relaxare pe vreo plaja grozava din Tarifa, si poate si-o vizita rapida in Gibraltar (teritoriu britanic unde tare am fi vrut sa vedem faimosul aeroport) – realizam ca pana si planul de a vedea zece sate albe e putin nerealist.

EN: Ok, so we have four entire days to go up and down Andalucia, with big plans in our minds about anything related to “pueblos blancos“, the famous white houses from southern Spain. Normally, visiting the entire region would take us at least two weeks (three to be more precise), to be able to see it from tip to toe, with all the eight provinces, including the famous big cities and the less renowned places that are a bit far away from Costa de Sol, and also one or two relaxation days on a beach somewhere in Tarifa and maybe a quick visit to Gibraltar as well (British territory where we would have wanted to see the famous airport) – but in the end we realize that seeing ten white villages is a bit unrealistic. 

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RO: Dar aplicam “reteta succesului” cu masina de inchiriat si condus de dimineata pana seara 🙂 Adevarul e ca sunt suficiente variante si de transport public (trenurile AVE sau autobuze care se plimba din oras in oras, ba chiar si prin satele albe), insa masinile de inchiriat sunt ieftine ca braga – cel putin inafara sezonului de vara. Octombrie am zice noi ca este luna perfectaaaaa pentru vizitat Andalucia, vremea inca permite un scaldat la cele aproape 30 de grade din timpul zilei, preturile la cazari sunt semnificativ mai mici si slava cerului, nu sunt deloc atat de multi turisti. Ce poate fi insa problematic e faptul ca multe restaurante (uneori si hoteluri) inchid din octombrie pana in primavara, insa hei, nimeni nu ramane nemancat vreodata in Espana. Sau ba da, daca nimeresti cumva la orele de siesta cand totuuuuu-i inchis si ferecat de parca sta sa se porneasca apocalipsa 😀 Revenind la masina de inchiriat, noi am rezervat un Ford Fiesta de la Autoclick pentru 20 euro pe zi, insa am fost upgradati la un dragut de Qashqai care ne-a mancat zilele pe stradutele minuscule din satele albe. Credeam ca Toscana are drumuri numai pentru Cinquecento? Ei bine nu, se poate si mai rau 🙂

EN: But we’ll apply the “key of success” with getting a rental car and driving from sunrise to dawn 🙂 Truth is that there are plenty of public transportation (AVE trains and buses that go through town to town, even in the white villages), but the rental cars are extremely cheap – at least during low season. We would say that October is the perfeeeeeeeect month to visit Andalucia, the weather is still good enough for a swim at almost 30 degrees during daytime, the hotel prices are significantly lower and thanks God, there aren’t so many tourists. What can be a problem though is the fact that lots of restaurants (and sometimes even hotels) are closed from October till spring, but hey, no one will ever starve in Espana. Or actually… if you happen to be hungry during siesta time when everything is closed and chained as if the Apocalypse will come 😀 But going back to the rental car, we booked a Ford Fiesta from Autoclick for 20 euros per day, but we’ve been upgraded to a nice Qashqai, not that easy to drive with on the tiny streets from the white villages. What have we thought, that Tuscany is the only one having roads only for Cinquecento? Oh well, nope, it can be even worse 🙂
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RO: Si-ncepem turul de forta cu o vizita in Marbella (am lasat intentionat Malaga pentru ultima zi, gandindu-ne la toate recenziile negative referitoare la aglomeratie si turism de masa – aveam sa vedem mai tarziu ca lucrurile nu-s chiar asa) si cu o prima impresie despre Costa de Sol in general. Daca francezii si-a lor Coasta de Azur e plina de case ca scoase din poveste, cu privelisti ametitoare catre mare, palmieri si alte de-ale luxului dus la extrem, ei bine, Costa de Sol pierde un pic de teren cu ale ei cartiere intregi de blocuri noi, constructii excesiv de multe, mari si pe alocuri deloc aratoase si lanturi intregi de hoteluri care mai de care mai internationalizate. Cu alte cuvinte, oricat de frumoase ar fi locurile din preajma Malagai, parca-si pierd un pic din farmecul traditional cu atata exploatare turistica. Bun, dar asta-i doar o prima impresie, vazand in stanga-dreapta ce se petrece pe drumul catre Marbella. Pentru ca Marbella in sine, cu centrul vechi (casco antiguo) si faleza fabuloasa, e incredibil de frumoasa (ce-i drept, si cea mai scumpa statiune din sud). Dar cand ai vara, plaja si palmieri aproape de noiembrie, iar centrul vechi e plin de case albe, cat sa te introduca in atmosfera de pueblo blanco, parca nu-ti mai trebuie nimic. Pana si faimoasa Piata a Portocalilor (Plaza de los Naranjos), cu terasele frumoase dar tupeist de scumpe te imbie sa ramai la un mix de tapas si-o sangria rece. Totusi, pentru o atmosfera mai intima si niste preturi mai umane, noi am recomanda Piata Altamirano, pe care am descoperit-o ulterior din intamplare. Cat despre Estepona, statiunea urmatoare, n-avem nici macar un singur cuvant de lauda. Concluzia? Catre satele albe in cea mai mare viteza!

EN: And we’re starting our “tour de force” with a visit in Marbella (we intentionally left Malaga for the last day, thinking about all the negative feedback related to crowds and mass tourism – which in the end proved to be wrong assumptions) and with a first glimpse of Costa de Sol. If French people have their Cote d’Azur, full of houses like taken out of a fairy tale, gorgeous views towards the sea, palm trees and anything related to extreme luxury, oh well, Costa de Sol looses some ground due to the entire block neighborhoods, too many constructions, too big and not very good looking and lots of international hotel chains. In other words, no matter how beautiful the surroundings of Malaga are, they loose some of their traditional charm with all this touristic exploitation. Ok, but this is just a first impression, seeing what the surroundings of Marbella look like. Because Marbella itself, with the old town city (casco antiguo) and the fabulous seafront, it’s incredibly beautiful (that’s probably why this is most expensive place in the south). But when you have summer, beach and palm trees close to November, and the old town city is full of white houses, just to introduce us to the pueblo blanco atmosphere, there’s nothing else that we could ask for. Even the famous Orange Square (Plaza de los Naranjos), with the beautiful terraces but bodacious prices tempt us to stay for a mix of tapas and a cold sangria. Anyway, for a more private atmosphere and more decent prices, we would recommend Plaza Altamirano, which we discovered by accident. As for Estepona, the next station, we have absolutely no good word about it. Conclusion? To the white villages!
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RO: Si incepem nebunia cu Casares, primul sat alb de pe traseu, plin de casute imaculate care din departare pe bune ca-ti par a fi cuburi de zahar pe care sa le pui repede in cafea 🙂 N-are niciun rost sa insiram ce trebuie vazut in Casares, pentru ca vorbim de un satuc mic, de nici 3000 de oameni, care desi e renumit turistic, este un simplu sat de localnici unde cel mai bun lucru pe care il poti face e sa te plimbi cat de tin picioarele de la un capat la altul 🙂 Nu ca ti-ar lua prea mult sa faci asta la cat este de mic 🙂 Si bineinteles, privelistea cu intregul sat, cum sta atarnat de marginea stancii intr-un mod atat de dramatic, merita pozata (si raspozata :D). O minunatie de cazare intr-o ferma traditionala andaluza (din pacate cu preturi pe masura) este Finca Cortesin, insa pentru buzunare mai putin domnesti e plin booking-ul de cazari frumoase in case albe, chiar in centrul satucului.

EN: And we’re starting all this madness with Casares, the first white village on our way, full of immaculate white houses that seem to be sugar canes at a distance, that you simply put in your coffee 🙂 It’s not worth mentioning what needs to be seen in Casares, because we’re talking about a small village, with less than 3000 inhabitants, that even though is extremely famous from a touristic point of view, it is just a simple local village where the best thing to do is to wander around as long as your feet are able to do it. Not that it will take you too much time to do that, as the village is very small 🙂 And of course, the view with the entire village, as it stays perched on the edge of a steep cliff in such a dramatic way worths a picture (and even more than one :D). A gorgeous place to stay here in a traditional Andalusian farm (unfortunately with matching prices) is Finca Cortesin, but for less manorial budgets, booking.com is full of beautiful places to stay in a white house, even in the center of the village.
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RO: Iar dupa Casares urmeaza unul dintre asii din maneca ai Andaluciei. Ne-o lasa el sudul Spaniei cu impresia ca totu-i plin de palmieri, plaje si vegetatie luxurianta, insa cu cat de indepartezi de coasta cu atat peisajul devine mai spectaculos si mai surprinzator. Cine ar fi zis ca drumul dintre Casares si Ronda e uscat si atat de muntos, iar ca pe deasupra capetelor or sa se plimbe fara nicio grija vulturi plesuvi. Si cine ar fi zis ca fix in cele mai neprimitoare locatii ai sa dai de sate albe, la fel de impecabile ca celebrul Casares, unde sa-ti fie mai mare dragul sa te opresti pentru o cafea. Ori o sangria rece 😀 Trecem rapid prin Gaucin, Algatocin ori Benadalid si ratam fara sa ne dam seama celebrul Juzcar, satul albastru de strumfi, care la origini a fost si el un pueblo blanco, transformat insa (chipurile temporar) pentru promovarea filmului Strumfii. Cum ideea le-a placut si localnicilor, dar mai ales turistilor, Juzcar si-a pastrat casele albastre si-acum e unul dintre cele mai renumite si vizitate sate andaluze. Pueblo Pitufo cum ii spun spaniolii, e mai ceva ca un sat alb 🙂

EN: And after Casares Andalucia shows us one of its ace up the sleeve. Maybe southern Spain might seem full of palm trees, beaches and lush vegetation, but the farther you go from the coast, the more spectacular and surprisingly the scenery becomes. Who would have said that the road between Casares and Ronda is so dry and mountainous, and that above our heads we’ll see bald eagles flying around. Who would have said that right in the most inhospitable locations we will find white villages, as immaculate as the famous Casares, where we can stop for a coffee and wander around. Or for a cold sangia 😀 We’re passing through Gaucin, Algatocin or Benadalid and without noticing we simply miss Juzcar, the blue smurf villages, that used to be a white village as well but it was transformed (temporary they said :D) for promoting The Smurfs movie. As the idea seem to be enjoyed by the locals but especially by the tourists, Juzcar kept its blue houses and now it’s one of the most famous and visited Andalusian villages. Pueblo Pitufo as the Spanish people call it, is even nicer than a white village 🙂
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RO: Ronda e probabil vedeta Andaluciei, unul dintre cele mai vechi orase andaluze, renumit pentru canionul spectaculos El Tajo deasupra caruia e construit orasul, si pentru frumusetea de pod Puente Nuevo (Podul Nou) – nu stim cat de “nou” mai este acum, avand in vedere ca a fost construit abia la 1793 🙂 Centrul vechi e senzational iar influentele maure se vad la tot pasul, baile arabe sunt extrem de apreciate, corida din Plaza de Toros ne reaministeste ca suntem totusi pe taram spaniol, iar mirosul de salmorejo (un soi de gazpacho reinterpretat) ne imbie la un adevarat festin andaluz. Dar mai lasam si pe articolul urmator cateva sate andaluze 🙂

EN: Ronda is probably Andalucia’s star, one of the oldest Andalusian cities, renowned for the El Tajo gorge, above which the city was built, and for the gorgeous Puente Nuevo (The New Bridge) – we don’t know how new is the bridge now, as it was built in 1793 but oh well 🙂 The old city center is spectacular and the Moorish influences are everywhere in the city, the Arab Baths are extremely appreciated, the bullring from Plaza de Toros reminds us though that we are on Spanish land, and the smell of salmorejo (a type of reinterpreted gazpacho) tempts us for a real Andalucian feast. But we’ll leave some more Andalusian villages for the next article 🙂
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