Traveller stories: Nikki in Andalusia

Traveller stories: Nikki in Andalusia

In May I was lucky enough to head to Andalusia for an entire week. I had been the year before, but for a work trip, and so was looking forward to repeating some of my favourite things — and checking out some new sites and tastes that I hadn’t gotten a chance to experience before.

Nikki in Andalusia

Things I loved about Andalusia:

1. The Alhambra

This palace and fortress complex was originally constructed in 889 (!!) and then rebuilt in the mid-11th century by the Moors and used as a royal palace in 1333 by the “Sultan of Granada” (which is an amazing title, by the way).

I’m generally interested by history but by no means am I a history buff. But this place blew. my. mind. It was my second time visiting and it was still so fascinating to me — the history and the incredible (and ingenious) architecture.

If I could only see one thing in Andalusia, this would be it.

Nikki in Andalusia

2. The Olive Oil

I’m a little olive oil obsessed, so for me, coming to the country that has the largest production of olive oil in the world was reason enough to get excited.

Many restaurants have different olive oils set out, so I (annoyingly) would collect them all on my table so I could try different varietals (extra virgin olive oil is similar to wine in that different olives can have completely different flavours — you have to find what works for you). In Spain, you’ll see a lot of Arbequina, Hojoblanca, and Picual. At one restaurant in Malaga, I picked up an olive oil soaked ice-cream. Amazing.

I was even able to visit and tour an ecological olive oil farm outside of Seville that produces Manzanilla extra virgin olive oil. The farmer was extremely passionate about ecological and sustainable farming and even led us through a guided tasting of different olive oils.

Nikki in Andalusia

3. The Food

The food is pretty spectacular in the South of Spain. It’s particularly well suited for hot weather, so even though they had an abnormal heat wave while we were there (hitting 40°C in Seville!), we never lost our appetites for fresh white fish, salmorejo (cold soup similar to gazpacho), eggplant with honey, and meat and cheese plates (oooh that Iberian ham). Tapas is just the best way to eat everywhere you can — try a variety of things and only eat as much as you want to, sharing with the whole table.

4. The Drinks

Believe it or not, I didn’t drink sangria the entire time I was there! Due to the heat, I always opted for the amazing soda/alcohol combos that the Spaniards are into, like white sherry with lemon soda (rebiujito), red wine with lemon soda (tinto de verano), and beer with lemon Fanta (clara con limón). (That last one is technically a drink for the very young, but I found it so refreshing and there was never any judgement when I ordered.) Craft Beer is also having a moment (as it is world-wide), and beer there is always served ice-cold.

Nikki in Andalusia

5. The People

The people in Andalusia are some of the friendliest people I have ever come across while travelling. Culture and preserving tradition is incredibly important there, so you’ll see people of all ages out every night, socialising over tapas and drinks. We even came upon a local dance at a bar (the Sevillana, a Flamenco-like dance performed in pairs, similar to folk-dancing) and everyone was excited to teach us and have us join in.

A few times, I found myself out very late (for me!) by myself and whenever I asked directions, people always went WAY out of their way to get me to where I was trying to go.

Nikki in Andalusia

Lastly, a big traveller tip for visiting Spain, about that late-night thing they do: Spaniards eat late — really late by many cultural standards. No one heads to dinner any earlier than 10pm and nightlife starts no earlier than 1pm. A lot of people I know have a hard time adjusting to this but my advice is to make that adjustment. You’ll never get an authentic experience eating out at 8pm and you’ll never see any nightlife before midnight. Shift your schedule, sleep in super late (even if that means missing breakfast at the hotel) and stay up late. It’s worth it.

About author

Nikki Padilla

Tour Guide & Social Media guru @ NYC Urban Adventures. Foodie, cultural explorer, red wine lover, and 4th generation New Yorker.

  • Getting out of Malaga#1

    April 24, 2018

    When I moved to Malaga in 2014, I was homesick for the first 12 months and although being incredibly busy with my new work role in the transport sector it did not help. I missed the food and environment even the sounds and smells from my home country.
    However, just after that first year, I started to become more adventurous in trying the local dishes. I read about how different countries crave after the Virgin olive oil from the province of Malaga and the local Spanish dishes that were all around me!
    I soon after began to settle more quickly! I’m still not as adventurous as Nikki, the writer above and have never found olive oil soaked ice cream! However, I too now feel that the insatiable desire for pure olive oil and Iberian ham is growing inside of me. I never want to get out of Malaga. What a Lovely inspiring post. Thanks to all involved.

    • Nikki#2

      July 18, 2018

      It’s funny how what starts out as being undesirably foreign becomes what we crave from a new place! Love that you’re now an EVOO & Iberian ham addict 🙂

      And I highly recommend that olive oil soaked ice cream if you can find it, although, I’ve never found it again 🙁 (olive oil cakes, yes, and olive oil flavored ice cream but not quite the same).

  • Staying in / move to Malaga#3

    August 2, 2018

    It is very true that. I once went on holiday to a little town called Nerja, still Andalucia I believe. (which is about 60 minutes from Malaga airport) In Nerja I saw English couples that had retired here & that appeared to be very settled. I thought to myself, I like this little ‘holiday resort’ & Malaga’s climate (very much!!) However I wondered, how could folks leave behind their own culture, their familiar surroundings and yet feel so at home with such a laid back lifestyle where we were told that waiting times for basic things to get resolved (like installing fast internet for work) were not expected to happen that month. We visited the same holiday town, year in and year out. Each time we went back home to England, we began to miss the people here & the culture, where older gentlemen and women gather on an evening, enjoying playing games together & sit in groups simply watching the world go buy. Exactly what you say had happened. ‘What appeared to be very foreign to me’, I now began to crave! Instead of just staying in Malaga, I now want to move to Malaga!


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