Back in 2010, the Christmas-period trip was driving around the southern coast of Spain known as Andalucia. The region is divided into 8 territories (Almeria, Granada, Jaen, Malaga, Seville, Cadiz, Cordoba, and Huelva) and in less than 2 weeks I had managed to visit the last 3 while staying in Seville as a base. While the latter is known for presenting a blend between interesting landmarks and a range of shopping choices, the other 3 areas I had the chance to spend time in allow the traveler to discover true gems of culture steeped in history, particularly the Moorish influences (epitomized perfectly by way of the Mezquita, a Mosque-Cathedral located in Cordoba). Another must is for nature lovers, and this comes in the shape of the Parque Nacional de Doñana (a natural reserve); even if it is not at its best for bird watching during the winter, the crisp air makes for an invigorating walk.
On to Cadiz, which is worth visiting for being one of the oldest cities in western Europe. In addition, it is a port city and as one can imagine, it is worth having a seafood-based/tapas lunch (the prawns are a delicacy here). After lunch in Cadiz, one can drive to one of its municipalities for a glass of porto wine or sherry in Jerez de la Frontera, or better yet, book a visit to the Sandeman factory, which produces some of the best porto wines/sherries in the world. Speaking of food and drink, Cordoba and Huelva both offer very appetizing and flavorful tapas. Back to Seville, which as I said was my base for the stay; this is because it was convenient for the flight connection as well as the train and car rental services on offer. Apart from that, it was the ideal spot to gather around the clock tower, grab something to cheer with (not forgeting the 12 grapes, a tradition in Spain!) and usher in the New Year! So what are your plans this Christmas season and, if you want this kind of experience, why not visit this magical place that takes you back in time while looking to the future?