Andalusian dreams / by Amr Tahtawi

After spending 7 fabulous days in Barcelona, Zaragoza & Madrid ( read Part I here ) We took a train, relatively expensive for a budget travel (64 Euros) toward our first encounter with Andalusia (Al-Andalus) region. 

Cordoba was our first stop and as soon as we walked it's cobalt streets we felt like flying back in time to witness the magic and wonders that kept the muslim empire igniting Europe for centuries with art and science. We threw our bags in, and rushed to scout the city exploring it's historical gems and important cultural sights and Oh Boy! what we found was more than a handful of dreams. From absolutely artistic greenery stuffed home entrances to the warm enchanting narrow alleyway leading us to the majestic Mezquita. Passing by surprise after surprise on those ancient small streets kept our minds buzzing with a photo-euphoric state as our fingers kept clicking the shutter with silly smiles of wonder and happiness.

Roman bridge view for Guadalquivir river during my blue hour shoot - Córdoba, Spain.

Roman bridge view for Guadalquivir river during my blue hour shoot - Córdoba, Spain.

We were lucky to catch a very special season this year at Cordoba. Every year in May, the city celebrates its traditional Cordoba Patio Festival where patio owners decorate their ornate iron grills and balconies with plants and flowers, geraniums and carnations. The Festival is a true Andalusian folklore that manifests itself in its entire splendour of early spring. Patios are privately owned and unavailable for public viewing, but during the festival their doors open up for all to see by their proud owners. The best conserved and most beautiful patio is voted on and the winner is recognised not only with a grand prize but also with the prestige and admiration of having the best patio in the city. So we made sure we visited as many patios as we could and shoot houses, restaurants and souvenir shops covered in creative green.

Click on the thumbnails below to see some of the best Patios displays - Córdoba, Spain.

The vast entrance of Mezquita with the famous fountain - Córdoba, Spain.

The vast entrance of Mezquita with the famous fountain Córdoba, Spain.

Then came Mezquita, the great Córdoba’s mosque shining like a star withstanding the centuries with pride that at any given time this place will feel good and look great in your eyes.  It’s impossible to overemphasise the beauty of Córdoba’s great mosque. Mezquita reflects, with all its lustrous decoration, at a lavish and refined age when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived gracefully side by side and enriched their city and surroundings with a heady interaction of diverse and vibrant cultures.

Mezquita fountain with fun water wheel kinetic sculpture in the courtyard of the famous mosque - Córdoba, Spain.

Mezquita fountain with fun water wheel kinetic sculpture in the courtyard of the famous mosque - Córdoba, Spain.

Mezquita by the blue hour while having a relaxed walk - Córdoba, Spain.

Mezquita by the blue hour while having a relaxed walk Córdoba, Spain.

Shooting the first top photo "Andalusian dreams" i was met with perfect conditions for photographing the Mezquita. Vibrant skies started tingling in front of my eyes as i waited an hour for the element to come together and i'm so grateful to capture such grand scene. Would have been a great loss to miss a timeless sky over Andalusian legacy.

After 3 awesome days in Cordoba, we headed right into the core of Andalusian legacy, Granada with a spanish local gentleman who offered the ride through www.blablacar.com in exchange of networking with us and a humble 7. The ride was smooth, fast, comfy and although the owner didn't speak any english he was very polite and friendly and i would definitely do it again and recommend it for all travellers on a budget.

Now let me try and explain the feelings you get when in Granada. It resides on fairy tales that you wouldn't allow yourself to believe it exists yet shiver at the fact it does, mingled with the modern development of the city, you have a universe to wander in and That's exactly what we did. We took the uphills through El Albayzín district's narrow winding streets of Medieval Moorish to have a clear vision of Alhambra Palace with Sierra Nevada in the background.

The view from uphill is breathtaking yet shared with many tourists and photographers, and if you want to capture the grand Alhambra at the blue hour, be there early ahead by 1-2hrs. A wide angle lens is definitely a must here yet a zoom one will reveal some hidden Nevada wonders as well. so make sure you capture the whole story.

As much as we loved the Alhambra look on the distant hill, we found it more valuable and timeless experience from inside. Check below for yourself!

On our way down we stumbled upon a lot of street art ( soon will have a blog post on it's own ) and many beautiful icecream shops that we devoured and souvenirs we bought along. just before we arrived to the hostel we got to chat a bit with a very happy man, smoking his pipe calmly and i got to capture his happiness over looking the streets in Granada.

After we drank our fill of Granada's beauty which we later learned we're still absolutely thirsty for more, we headed for Malaga with a bunch of new friends to chill out and wrap up our spanish tour. We had a lot of fun with Segway city tour, running on wheels around the city. visited every church, every touristic alleway and some exclusive places, best of all we visited Picasso statue park which was so close to his house he lived in for 10 years before relocating to Barcelona.

Now, book that ticket, stop making excuses... Travel will improve your life!.
For me, goodbyes are sad and I'd much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure, a new pin on the map :)