Among the things that stick in my head about Spain are the graciousness of its people and the seemingly endless spaces of its land once you get anywhere outside of a city. And nowhere else is this more evident than in Andalucía, the land of olive trees and oranges, paella, Moorish architecture and flamenco.
I have traveled to Spain many times. I first visited this wonderful country for most of a summer when I was a graduate student. In Barcelona I stayed in a hostel in a building with a flamenco bar on the ground floor. Evenings I would munch on tapas and sip red Spanish wine, later eat dinner served in the hostel, and then enjoy the flamenco show.
On this trip to Spain my wife and I savored a unique travel experience to the Pueblos Blancos, a cluster of towns and villages in the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga about an hour’s drive from Seville. Nestled along the side of low mountains, the houses in these towns are characteristically white-washed and decorated with brightly colored potted plants that create a splendid contrast in the golden sun and royal-blue Spanish skies.
If you do not plan to stay overnight in a village—there are hotels or hostels in many of them—the best way to tour the Pueblos Blancos is by car. I had originally contemplated training from Seville to Cádiz and then hopping a bus to the villages but realized it was a ridiculous proposition. The train to Cádiz alone takes 1½ hours and the times were not convenient for my purpose.
In a full day (12 hours) we visited Villaluenga del Rosario, Ubrique*, Ronda*, Grazalema*, Setenil de las Bodega, Zahara de la Sierra*, and Olvera*, on a drive of about 350 kilometers. Each of the villages has its uniqueness and special flavor but the pueblos that made the greatest impression on us were Setenil, Zahara and Olvera. They will leave you awestruck.
*hotel accommodation available
Setenil has houses cut from the hillside with their rooftops made from the rock itself.
Zahara is cuddled high atop a mountain below a castle ruin.
Olvera gives the appearance of a sugary Disneyland and is landmarked by a church focal to each of the Pueblos Blancos.
¡Viva La España!
All the best,
Warren J. Devalier
©2011 Warren J. Devalier