I couldn’t help but be a little nervous as I pulled my rental
car keys out of my pocket and unlocked the car door. It was my
first time driving in a foreign country and I didn’t know how
difficult it would be. But I decided that if I wanted to see the
famed White Villages of southern Spain, self-touring was my best
I pulled out of the car lot, and as I drove, it became clear
that I was wrong to worry. Driving in Spain was no problem and my
trip was going to be fantastic.
I highly recommend a self-driving tour for clients visiting this
region. Many villages are close together, road conditions are
generally good with clear directional road signs and Spain’s
traffic laws are nearly identical to those of the U.S. But most
importantly, driving offers the flexibility to explore the White
Village’s nooks and crannies while avoiding steep hills on foot.
However, drivers should understand that missed freeway exits can
result in long detours, as there are substantially fewer road
exits. Agents should map itineraries carefully.
My vehicle was rented through Bravo Holiday Cars, which offers
agents up to 20 percent commission and travelers a reliable car
able to navigate the winding streets.
The White Villages are walled hilltop cities built by Moorish
and Christian kingdoms as strategic military posts, and they are
painted white to protect the clay towns from the harsh rays of the
sun. Today tourists will find charming cobblestone streets that
wind through narrow corridors, offering wonderful views, historic
landmarks and ancient alcazars.
Here are a few basics for clients.
Arcos de la Frontera
A vertical precipice surrounds Arcos de la Frontera making
picturesque views inescapable. The local plaza faces
Basilica-Parroquia de Santa Maria church and the three-star Parador
Arcos de la Frontera. This parador (an approved accommodation in
historic settings throughout Spain) is soft lit and trimmed in dark
While just steps from the town plaza, La Casa Grande feels homey.
This quaint eight-room hotel was built in 1729 and has original
terra-cotta floors and beamed ceilings. The 300-year-old mansion is
quiet, cozy and perfect for couples.
In Grazalema, sightseers will undoubtedly want to see La
Encarnacion Church and La Aurora Church both built in the 17th
century near the town plaza.
On the outskirts of town is Villa Turistica de Grazalema. The
villa is the site of one of the most beautiful views in Grazalema
and has an outdoor pool and tasty traditional meals. Clients can
book private villas or standard rooms.
For those cruising the N-340 coast road, be sure to hit Vejer.
Declared a national monument in 1978, Vejer feels
off-the-beaten-path and is home to one of the most pleasant village
squares in Spain, Plaza de Espana.
For accommodations by the plaza there is La Casa del Califa.
Originally culled from five separate houses dating as far back as
the 13th century, La Casa del Califa Hotel is one of the more
romantic paradors in Spain. Seventeen rooms are set in a maze of
halls and stairways featuring Moorish decor, and the Restaurant el
Jardin de Califa, which specializes in Moroccan fare. Reservations
Although technically not a White Village, Carmona should not be
missed. Located about 18 miles outside of Seville, Carmona offers
White Village aesthetics, a gateway to the Roman Baetica trails,
ruins of the Roman Necropolis and my vote for the nicest parador in
Spain, the Parador de Carmona.
Originally part of a 14th-century Arabic fortress, the hotel
features views of the river Carbones and authentic Carmona-area
delicacies. Clients shouldn’t miss the delicious olives served at
|AROUND SPAIN: SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS|
Barcelona is celebrating Catalan cuisine through February of 2006.
During Barcelona, Cuisine, Food and Gastronomy 2005-2006 visitors
can busy themselves with cooking demonstrations, tastings,
celebrated chefs, street fairs, gastronomic walking tours and more.
With more than 150 events planned, Barcelona will be a food lover’s
In addition, the city will celebrate Nit of Sant Joan, the
anniversary of the city’s patron saint on June 5. Festivities
include the “Cava in the Sky,” which is the simultaneous opening of
1,000 bottles of Cava.
Home to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, this region is celebrating
the 400th anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes’ acclaimed
masterpiece. Over 2,000 art exhibitions are planned along with
concerts, dance performances, theater and more.
Bilbao will compete with Barcelona for the most inventive cuisine
this year during Bilbao Estimula 2005. The celebration includes
wine tastings, gastronomic walks, cooking demonstrations,
photography, exhibitions and more.
Casa del Califa Hotel
Convento Hospederia de San Francisco
Hotel Puerto de la Villa
Villa Turistica de Grazalema
Arcos de la Frontera
La Casa Grande
34 956 70 39 30
Parador de Arcos de la Frontera
Casa de Carmona
Parador de Carmona
Hotel Playa Victoria
Puerto de Santa Maria
Hotel Monasterio San Miguel
All hotels mentioned offer 10 percent agent
Bravo Holiday Cars