Andalucia: Gradada, Cordoba, Seville, Torremolinos, Marbella, Porto Banus, Malaga Costa de Sol
By Dimos
  Notes from a 10 day trip to Andalucia in July 2002.  
  Arrive at Malaga airport. Take the bus to the City's Bus Station. From there take the bus to Granada. Once you arrive at Granada, exit the station and take bus number 3 which passes in-front of the station and goes to Town. After 5 min or so you will see Hotel Athena to your left (so keep looking left). Exit the bus at the next stop. There are plenty of hotels on this street (Gran via de Colon) and hostals on the vertical streets. If you have arrived in the afternoon, I suggest you walk in the town and go to Alhambra the next morning. Walk to Plaza Nueva and continue on Carrera del Darro along the almost dry small river. At some point, turn left and walk up-hill into the little streets to reach Albaicin. Walk around and you will see houses with lots of flowers. Walk towards the Mirador de San Nicolas (Church). There is a great view from here of the Alhambra. Walk down to Gran Via De Colon. If you want to experience daily shopping life in Granada, walk on Reyes Catolicos. You may want to visit Capilla Real but there isn't that much to see. There are lots of tourists shops around there that sell things from Morocco. If you like Moroccan things THIS is the place to buy them. You will NOT find this selection in Cordoba or Seville. There are plenty of shops and plenty of tourists so the prices are fair [Same items are more expensive in Cordoba and Sevilla]. The books say that the Cathedral has nothing to offer so I did not visit it. At night you will find tapas bars near Plaza Nueva and Elvira (parallel to Gran via de Colon). You order a drink and they treat you to FREE tapas. So all you do is keep drinking and they will keep bringing you tapas. This is the best deal ever. Not only you get free tapas, you have no idea what to expect…so you get surprised and you do not have to try to figure out what to order! There are some bars in Elvira and young women on the street will invite to go in and get a discounts on drinks.  
  Next morning wake up at 7am and make your way to Plaza Nueva from where the buses depart for the Alhambra. Busses take 5 minutes to reach Alhambra. You need to be up there by 8:15 if you want not to wait on line. (If you arrive after 9am, prepare to wait on line for long). You buy your ticket and enter. You need a minimum of 3 hours if you walk fast and take 10 pictures. In reality, you should plan to be there for 5-6 hours. The place is great and there is so much to see and take pictures. If you rent to audio-guide prepare to stay for 6 hours…  
  Once you finish with Alhambra, return to the hotel, pick up your things and take bus 3 to the bus station. From there take the bus to Cordoba.  
  Once you arrive in Cordoba, take the bus to the town center (Plaza de las Tendillas) [3-4min]. There are some water fountains in the middle of the square. Do not get off there. The bus will continue down the hill. Get off as soon as you can see in front of you the river [1-2min from Plaza de las Tendillas…be attentive as the distances are really small]. You should be in Cruz Rastro. Look at your map. There are hostals between Cruz Rastro and Mezquita. There are two major things to see: Mezquita and Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos (castle of little interest, but great gardens). The tourist shops are 10-20% more expensive than at Granada. It looks like that not many tourists stay overnight at the town…most tourist from Costa de Sol do day trips there. You can walk in the streets for endless hours looking for flowers, nice houses etc. You can get bus 3 bus to the bus station from a stop at Paseo De la Rivera near Cruz Rastro. Take the bus to Seville.  
  There are two bus stations at Seville, the Main Bus Station and the Plaza de Armas Bus Station. Traveling from Cordoba you will arrive at the Main Bus Station. Cross over to Mezandez Pelayo and to Sta La Blanca and Plaza de Sta Cruz. There are some Hostals around there. If you are traveling from Madrid, you will arrive at the Plaza de Armas Bus Station. Walk across to the streets behind Marques de Paradas and you will find Hostals there. The main things in Seville are the Alcazar, the Cathedral, Plaza de Espana. I visited the Plaza de Toros (bull-fighting arena) but the mandatory tour was a waste of time and money (they take to see the room for emergency surgeries, the chapels were they pray…). The shopping streets are Sierpes and Cuna. There is a traditional flamenco bar near the intersection of Campos and Pages del Corro in the Triana area worth visiting.  
  Sevillianos go out after 12midnight and stay up all night. You do not have to pay entrance fee to any club (if you do, you are probably at a club for tourists!). Many young people buy bottles of whisky, vodka etc and party by the river without going to the clubs. This is particularly common near the Plaza de Armas Bus Station.  
  Costa del Sol  
  From Seville Main Bus Station, you can take the bus to any place along the Costa del Sol. There are all about the same : tall buildings, lots of old pensioners. If you are on a tight budget, I suggest you stay at Torremolinos. There are more hostals in Torremolinos and you can easily get to Malaga airport by train. From Torremolinos you can take the bus and go to Marbella for an afternoon and to Porto Banus. There are busses that run along Costa de Sol all night but not too frequent. Marbella is an expensive town with lots of expensive restaurants. There are 5-6 small hostals only and they full up quickly. The risk of not finding a room at a hostal is huge! From Marbellia and towards Estepona there is a little port called Porto Banus. Half of Porto Banus is full with super models and expensive cars (I got a picture with four Ferraris parked next to each other). The other part is of Porto Banus is full with English tourists. Life starts after 10pm till 5am.  
  In Torremolino you will find lots of tourist shops. But they do NOT have the collection of Moroccan things that are sold in Granada. There a lots of restaurants of various quality. For night life, do not stay inside Torremolino. Take the bus to the west to a location full of clubs. Ask the locals for the location. Do not just walk inside a bar. Wait for someone to make you an offer like "2 drinks for the price of one". You do pay for one and you get two.  
  We did not find Spanish young people on Costa del Sol. We were told that most Sevillianos go for swim at Huelva and Cadiz (on the Atlantic ocean). Apparently the Costa del Sol area is too expensive for them. Unfortunately, we did not visit Huelva or Cadiz so I can not comment.  
  We visited Malaga to get a feel for it. There is a cathedral, but it is not anything special if you've been to Cordoba and Sevillia. There is also a castle, that is free. But is directly under the sun and has no facilities. So either take water with you or just do not walk up!. If you are contemplating between a few more hours on the beach vs. visit to Malaga, I suggest you stay at the beach!  
  Another option is to go directly to Torremolino, stay in a hostal and take the tourist busses for day trips to Cordoba, Seville, Granada. The advantage is that you do not have to look for a place to stay in every town. The disadvantage is that you do not stay at night in any of these places. Granada and Seville are worth staying over at night!