YOUR MISSION, SHALL YOU ACCEPT: To eat your way through this wild route across Southern Spain in the allotted time. Cities include Sevilla, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Tarifa and finally, your treasure awaits…in Granada.
Here’s the challenge. There’s just so much to see in the beautiful Andalucia region, and for most of us travelers, never enough time. This mapped out route will provide you with everything from how to spend your preciously short time, where to stay overnight, and most importantly, WHAT TO EAT. Of course, you can tailor this route to the time that suits your travel needs best. But first thing’s first. I can’t take credit for this killer route all on my own…
There was a very special visiting guest who helped me design it. And when I say design it, she was the one in the driver’s seat. (Cause god knows’ I wouldn’t trust myself driving through the curvy, mountainous roads of Spain in a rental car…)
THIS WOMAN.…Whoever said when the parents come to visit, it’s time to relax…They haven’t met Guacamommy. But then again, she gave birth to a real live Casiedilla. So what do you expect.Now, I’d like to add a disclaimer. Every nomad has their own way of wandering. Personally, I like to take my time to get to know each city on a more local level. If that means sacrificing my two weeks vacation time to see one city instead of four (or 6 in this case…) that’s A-O-Kay with me! I haven’t had my way with a city until I can toss my tourist map in the trash, walk down the streets with confidence, and say “yes, I have eaten on almost every street corner of this city.” However, Guacamommy is different. Where I like to taste everything in a city, she likes to “get a taste” for a city. That means spending just enough time in a new location to get the local “vibe,” check out some cool boutique clothing stores, eat a nice meal or two, and call it a wrap. When she’s calling it a wrap, I’m eating the wrap.
Without no further ado, let’s hit the road, shall we? But be sure to buckle up, ’cause Guacamommy’s driving…
DAY 1: SEVILLA
LOL. JK. Pick up your rental car from the Sevilla airport bright n’ early in the morn (I totally recommend Sixt, as they were incredibly wonderful to deal with, and the cheapest on the market!) Depending on how much time you have to spare, meander around the city center, check out La Catedral, Plaza de España and if it’s a beautiful day out, (which it probs will be because you’re in Sevilla), go to the Alcázar and see what the Moors did 7392730 years ago. Orrrrr, if you’re like me and prefer to eat your day away, choose one of the three Tapas Tour‘s in your barrio of choice.
WARNING: Sevilla is the city of orange trees. Don’t be fooled. These oranges are NOT to be eaten. They are super sour, and downright gross. Guacamommy made the classic tourist mistake and ate one. This is what she has to say…
…Yea, don’t do it. If you don’t choose the tapas tour route, do what Guacamom and I did, and head to the Lonja Del Barranco Food Market, where you can choose as many tapas as your little hungry heart desires. The tapas are traditional with a gourmet twist, and the quality is top notche. And one of the best parts? It’s right on the river. Plop down at a table next to the water, stuff your face with cheese stuffed olives and raw oysters, and call it an afternoon.
WHERE TO STAY: If you’re on a hostel budget and not with your mom, stay at the Garden Backpacker Hostel (18€ per night). Fabulous staff, free sangria every night, the cook is actually amazing (I couldn’t believe how good her paella was), it’s clean and social. If you’ve got a little more dough to throw around, stay at Hotel Las Casas De La Judería Sevilla. Super authentic feel, in the center of all the action, and there’s a rooftop pool. Need I say more?
DAY 2: EL PUERTO DE SANTA MARIA & CADIZ
Only 1 hour and 15 minutes later, you will arrive in El Puerto de Santa Maria. This unexpected gem took Guacamommy and I by surprise. We were originally just using El Puerto de Santa Maria as our sleeping base, as we wanted easy access across the water to Carnaval in Cadiz. (Yea, I didn’t mention carnaval is a part of this wild rendezvous as well. But I’ll get to that next.) What we totally didn’t expect is LOVING El Puerto de Santa Maria. It’s like the shy little sis’ of Cadiz; authentically Spanish, untouched by rowdy English-speaking tourists, and just downright charming. Specifically, we fell in love with one thing in particular. Carlos, and his home.
WHERE TO STAY: Yep, you guessed it. Carlos’s home. No, I’m not referring to couch surfing. Carlos has transformed his home into “Casa de Huéspedes Santa María ,” which translates to “the guest house of Santa Maria.” Complete with quirky and colorful wall art, an assortment of candies waiting for you on your bed upon arrival, homemade cakes for breakfast (made with love by Carlos, of course), and a wonderfully bubbly community atmosphere. And if you drop your piece of cake on the floor, NO FEAR! The place is so spic n’ span clean that I totally wouldn’t judge you if you ate it (It’s THAT clean). Big daddy Carlos knows everything there is to know about El Puerto de Santa Maria and the surrounding cities (including Cadiz, Jerez, etc.) so don’t stress if you forgot your guidebook at home! Oh, and if you justttt so happen to be there over Valentine’s Day like I was, expect chocolates and a handwritten V-Day card from Carlos himself. No need to search for a Valentine 😉
AND EAT HERE. Romerijo (C/ Jose Antonio Romero Zarazaga, 1). As one would expect being right on the coast, the Cadiz region is known for it’s mariscos, or seafood. Typically, locals like to eat their seafood fresh and fried; right out of the ocean, into the fryer. This food joint is not only a restaurant, but a high quality seafood distributor. With that being said, you know that fish is as fresh Snoop Dog’s brand new pair of kicks. Funny story how Guacamom and I were led there…
Friendly locals, at their finest. These Spaniards know how to get fishy. And party. My kinda peeps. Guacamommy and I ended up talking to them while waiting on line for our Carnaval tickets, and next thing we know they are ordering us large plates of fried fish! #ReasonstoloveSpanishlocals. My hungry advice? Order the infamous paper cone of Cazón en Adobo, Chocos, and Salpicón de Mariscos…and lots of lemon. And beer.and of course, try and meet some locals like these guys. It’ll make the fish taste that much better.
NEXT STOP: Cadiz
After you wrap up lunch at Romirejo, hop on the ferry and cross the port over to Cadiz. Now, my experience in Cadiz was a little different than yours will probably be. Why? I was there for carnaval…with my mom. The city is completely transformed from a historic Spanish port city, to a city wide festival venue. Did you know that Cadiz is home to the largest carnaval celebration in Spain?! So naturally, Guacamommy and I had to check it out.
Now, I imagine that Cadiz generally isn’t generally inhabited by selfie-taking (cats?), Mario Kart characters, and life size bumble bees. But, ya never know? With that said, Cadiz is a beaaaautiful city to visit, even when there’s not tall Spanish men dressed in superhero costumes roaming the streets. In a full afternoon, you can manage to see the Castillo San Sebastian (the city castle), the cathedral (as poorly displayed in the picture above), and Playa la Caleta (the cute lil’ beach). And when the hunger strikes again, no fear! Head to the local’s top pick restaurant: Restaurante El Faro (C/ San Félix 15), and be sure to eat in “La Barra.” La Barra is a separate entrance to the main restaurant, which offers a constantly changing tapas menu and THE BEST of the best fish. Finally, when your stuffed to the “gills” and can’t fathom walking anymore, hop back on the ferry and head back home to Carlos. He’ll be waiting with a smile 😀
*NOTE: Cadiz is a far bigger city than the “pueblo” of El Puerto de Santa Maria. Some might prefer to stay in Cadiz as their sleeping base, and visit El Puerto de Santa Maria. However, Guacamommy and I agreed that El Puerto de Santa Maria had a charming edge to it, more so than Cadiz. Maybe it was coming home to Carlos? Or maybe, it was the fact that we were in Cadiz for wildly rowdy carnaval. Something to think about when planning, but either place you can’t go wrong! PS- keep your eyes pealed for the notorious Cadiz clowns…Anddddd rest up! You’ve got to leave Carlos’s first thing in the morn for your next leg of adventure. Off to…
DAY 3: JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA & TARIFA
You’re here for one reason and one reason only: the Sherry wine. Given a tight schedule, you really don’t need much more than a full morning to see Jerez. The little city itself is quite pretty, decked out with orange trees and classic Spanish architecture. However, the Sherry is what puts this little city on our map. Jerez actually means Sherry. Thus, it’s only fitting that “Jerez de la Frontera,” is THE Sherry capital of Spain. Naturally, the thing to do in Jerez is to visit one (…or two, or three) of the Sherry bodegas, or “wineries”. Check out this long list of bodegas to visit.
TOURIST TRAP WARNING: Unless you really have your heart set on visiting the very famous Tio Pepe winery (called Bodega Gonzáles-Byass), avoid it! It’s very “factory-like” and not nearly as personal as others. Not to mention it’s more expensive, at 15€. Instead, check out Bodega Gutierrez Colosia at 9€! It’s a family owned bodega on the river. The reallll sherry deal. But make sure you have a designated driver, ’cause in the afternoon your headed to….
So underrated it’s insane. Tarifa is the southernmost tip of Europe, and the last city south before Africa. You can even SEE Africa from the coast line. The culture feels different than the rest of Southern Spain, with a heavy Arabic influence. If the Arabic “feel” is not enough, you can even turn your road trip intercontinental, and hop over the “pond” to Morocco! What’s even more fascinating about this little coastal city, is that it’s ocean is where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet. So, you can swim in two bodies of ocean, AND hit two continents in one afternoon. As if it doesn’t already sound impressive enough, it’s coast is one of the windiest in Europe…and THE WORLD. This would explain why it’s globally renowned for windsurfing. You will find out-of-their-mind windsurfers on the fierce waters in the coldest of winter months. When Guacamommy and I were there, it was 45°F (for everyone not from the USA, 7°C) with wind chills in the negatives. Did that stop those crazy windsurfers?
You guessed it. This place is downright crazy.
Pretty powerful stuff.
WHERE TO EAT: If you guessed that fish is the food of choice…you guessed right! But not just any fish. It’s known for it’s high quality tuna. And the best place for a beautiful slab of tuna? La Pescadaría (Paseo de la Alameda, s/n, 11380 Tarifa).
STAY THE NIGHT: Lovely, modern, and laid back Hotel Misiana if your traveling with some dough (or Mom) at 65-100€. If your hostelin’ it, centrally located and quirky The Melting Pot is your spot, at 11-17€ per night.
And like the Tarifa wind, your offfffff…
YOUR FINAL DESTINATION. If you ask me, there is never enough time for Granada. If I could live there, I would. (And maybe one day, I will!) However, when roadtrippin’ with Gyacamamma, I only had one full day and night to show her Granada’s best. Luckily, earlier this year I spent a week in Granada, so I was able to really pack in the highlights for her to get a solid “taste.” Here goes: ARRIVE. Check in to your crib….
WHERE TO STAY: If you’re hotelin’ it, stay at centrally located Gar Anat, at 55€-90€ a night. The place’s vibe reflects the Moorish culture, it’s clean, and location is everything! If you’re hostelin’ it, stay at Makuto Hostel averaging at 15€ a night. This hostel truly reflects everything “young” about Granada: Hippies playing guitar in the communal courtyard, hammocks to siesta on, and bean bags to kick back and relax after climbing up the steep, hilly streets of Granada’s old quarter, Albayzín. Warning: It’s not the cleanest or most luxurious hostel I’ve ever stared at, but it’s part of the Granada experience.
After you’ve checked in, grab a cerveza and some FREE tapas. Yes, that’s right. FREE. Arguably the best thing about Granada (after the Alhambra, I guess…)
Speaking of the Alhambra, I must forewarn you: You are really going to have to squeeze that big hunk of a fortress in to your tiny schedule, because the Alhambra is a full day affair. Guacamommy and I didn’t have time. However, it’s totally MISSION POSSIBLE! I have been in the past (as seen in the pic above) and here’s how it works. You must wake up before the sun rises (DAY 5, the following morning after your arrival), and get to the Alhambra BEFORE 5 AM. The earlier, the better, as the line to buy tickets piles up fast. Or, if you’re the unique backpacker that plans far ahead, you can do it the logical way and buy tickets in advance. LOL…
But if there’s no time, no fear. Guacamommy felt sufficient enough with her Alhambra fix, after heading up to the breathtaking views of El Mirador de San Nicolas, followed by a hike up to Mount Sacromonte. I had a pretty crazy experience on my initial hike up Sacromonte on my first visit to Granda, and you should totally try and do the same. Hint: Story involves cavemen. Read about it right here.
Continue to check out the old, windy streets of the Moroccan influenced Albayzín, maybe buy some groovy parachute pants, and finally…DINNER. If you had Spanish tapas for lunch, it’s only fitting that you eat Moroccan for dinner. After interviewing countless Moroccon AND Spanish locals, here’s the best: Restaurante Arrayanes (Cuesta Marañas, 4, Albayzín)
YUMYUMYUMYUM. YUM. And finally, finish off your night (or start your night…) at a tetería. A tetería is an Arabic tea and hookah lounge, with the chillest of chill vibe, and really amazing house-mixed teas. I found a gold mine with Guacamommy; Teteria Bagdad (Calle Elvira, 12). I went tetería hopping on my last visit to Granada, and this place was my fave. Great service, the perfect intimate yet spacious size, and some really sweet tapestries.
DAY 5: MISSION POSSIBLE.
RISE AND SHINE!!! 4 AM, IT’S ALHAMBRA TIME!! AND YOU’VE DONE IT!! You know what you deserve? A BANGIN’ meal before hitting the road. Complete your taste of Granada at Restaurante Carmela (Colcha, 13). It’s the perfect brunch place to fuel up your hungry gas tank, and get ready to hit the road again. You can even take one of these delicious goat cheese tapas tarts to-go…
ORRRRRR… stay. SURPRISE. There’s a reason why Granada is the last stop on our ragin’ roadtrip route. If you ask me, it’s the home for the wanderlust. A city with depths of culture and layers of character, no wonder so many backpackers and wanderlovers camp out there for extended days, weeks…or FOREVER. Muahahah. JK. But seriously…
…However for me, Granada will have to wait. Guacamommy and I had to buckle up our seat belts once more, and head back to my Spanish Village.
MISSION POSSIBLE. Until next week’s Barcelona mission, that is…
Do you think you can complete this mission? Have you road tripped through Andalucia before? What was your route like? Wandering minds want to know!