A unexpected travel highlight

The town of Baeza turned out to be one of the more memorable experiences of our trip to Andalucía. We arrived during the siesta time on a Saturday afternoon, which meant that the two of us were almost the only people walking the streets of the sleepy town. We saw a couple of men at the local bar, but that seemed to be all the excitement the town had to offer. Suddenly, on our way back to the car, three girls dressed in traditional Spanish dresses came down the road. We stuck around a bit longer and through sheer luck happened upon a small local pilgrimage. It was in honour of Our Lady of the Rosel, the patron saint of La Yedra - a hamlet of Baeza. A long procession of carts, horses, tractors, all decorated for the occasion, and pilgrims walked with the Virgin to her shrine. Apparently the origin of the worship goes back to Arab times. All of a sudden we were in the middle of all the local festivities, being bombarded with colour and gaiety all around us. We also took to the streets, joined the procession and listened to the locals singing various festive songs.

I felt honoured to be there, because here was the ‘real’ Andalucía, hidden in plain sight from the tourists, but allowing us to witness again the true reason why we travel: not to visit those sights that are packaged for the tourists, but to see those things that authentically broaden our horizons.

Image credits: Most of these photos were taken by my sister, Elanie Fourie

Andalucía - travel memories

In our house, we are avid fans of the Tour de France and would normally move heaven and earth to see as much of Le Tour on the TV as possible. For the past couple of years we started to follow the Giro d'Italia, but surprisingly, we have never watched the Vuelta a España, the big cycling tour of Spain. Maybe the TV coverage is move extensive this year, I guess. Anyway, this past week the riders covered a lot of ground in the area of Andalucía in the South of Spain. They started in Jerez and cycled through towns such as Rhonda, Cordoba and Granada.

All the beautiful sights on TV made me rather nostalgic. In 2006, pre-baby for me and pre-marriage for my sister, the two of us set off for Spain. We hired a car in Malaga and for the next 10 days we made funny and heart-warming memories travelling through Andalucía. Elanie’s suitcase did not arrive in Malaga and for the first three days she wore my clothes – we look like twins in my standard strappy-top-and-khaki-shirt holiday outfits. We were bitten by bedbugs in a really nice youth hostel in Seville, ate delicious ice cream in Puerto Banus, leant how to drive like the Spaniards (hanging out the winding and shouting “pasar, pasar” while we try to read our inadequate maps) and got tipsy in 45 degrees Celsius (the sherry houses in Jerez are not shy when they pour tasters). Whereas Elanie loved the warm weather I actually started to cry in Cordoba because of the heat, but it was still one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been. We saw row upon row of olive trees, watched the Andalusian horses dance, drank lots of Lemon Kass, stumbled on a local pilgrimage in a small town and watched locals playing and dancing the flamenco. The trip was also special for another reason. The age difference between Elanie and me is five years and before this trip that gap meant that we lived our separate lives far from each other, but this trip cemented a friendship beyond just sisterly love.

So, I dusted off the hard drive with the photos of our trip and thought I’ll share a few of those memories with you….



Image credits: We downloaded all our photos to one place, but I am pretty sure most of these ones (especially the really nice ones) were taken by Elanie.