10 Nov Discovering Andalucía in London
Last weekend I attended an event in London to celebrate the spirit of Andalucia. If you haven’t heard of Andalucia before – it’s a beautiful region of southern Spain that encompasses places such as Seville, Granada and Malaga. The idea of the event was to allow the people of London to take part in the Andalusian culture: its flavours, its best spots and its traditions.
Taking place in Angel Central shopping centre, the event featured free tapas, flamenco dancers and Virtual Reality headsets that allowed visitors to experience Andalucia without even having to leave the UK.
At the event (which was completely free) I had the chance to catch up with Monica from The Travel Hack and we hopped in the photo booth to have our photo taken with Spanish hats, fans and accessories. Being a foodie the highlight for me was definitely the Andalucian tapas – I helped myself to plenty of cured meat, salami and tortilla espanola! In Andalucia a popular food is Huelva Ham, a cured ham which comes from purebred Iberian pigs or crossbreeds between Iberian and Duroc-Jersey pigs. I got to try plenty of this on the day! In general the Andalusian people follow a Mediterranean diet, with lots of fish in coastal provinces and meat dishes inland.
In between munching on tapas we watched flamenco dancers and musicians performing traditional music and dance on stage. In Andalucia, there are flamenco festivals you can visit in the summertime should you wish to experience an authentic expression of local folklore.
I also had the chance to try out the Virtual Reality headset and see a 360 degree view that transported me to Andalucia. I’ve noticed that VR headsets are becoming increasingly popular at events so that people can get a better idea of what a destination is like. It’s always a fun experience, although sometimes makes me a bit dizzy! The event ran all day from 11am till 8pm, inviting shoppers and Londoners to come in and learn more about Andalucia as well as getting them involved in the culture.
If you haven’t been to Andalucia, it’s a region that covers around 17.3% of Spain, which is, on its own, larger than countries like Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Austria or Switzerland.
The region includes beautiful places like Cadiz, Seville and Granada. I actually spent about a week exploring Andalucia several years ago by bus and train, and found it to be incredibly beautiful. My most memorable experience was visiting a town called Ronda, which is known for its dramatic gorges and bridges and famous bullfighting ring. The Puente Nuevo is by far the most famous landmark in Ronda, joining the old Moorish town with the newer, El Mercadillo parts of the city.
I also loved Granada and its beautiful Alhambra – a palace and fortress complex that attracts thousands of visitors per year. Granada itself is a very unique city, with Moorish architectural influences and a rich history. If you’re travelling on a budget then this will be your kind of place, because many of the bars serve free tapas with every drink!
The landscape of Andalucia is incredibly diverse and in barely forty kilometers you can go from Alpine mountain landscapes to tropical areas on the shores of the Mediterranean. You can see everything from the volcanic landscapes of the Tabernas desert, to snow-capped peaks of Sierra Nevada. In short, it’s a beautiful place.
All in all it was a fun day out discovering Andalucia – if you missed it, you can visit the region’s tourism website: http://www.andalucia.org/en/