Articles Tagged with: senior travel Spain

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors Visit El Escorial

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For some reason, this senior put El Escorial on the desktop screen of my computer. So one day I took a closer look at the site and was I ever impressed with what I saw.

It was something very special. Do you have your coffee?  We’re going to Spain this morning.

I discovered that the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as El Escorial, is a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, some 35 miles northwest of the capital, Madrid. The Escorial is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Spain’s most visited landmarks.

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The building is the most important architectural monument of the Spanish Renaissance.

Construction of El Escorial began in 1563 and ended in 1584. The Escurial Monastery stands in an exceptionally beautiful site in Castile.

Seniors Find a Monastery, A Church And A Royal Palace

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Its austere architecture, a break with previous styles, had a considerable influence on Spanish architecture for more than half a century.

It was the retreat of a mystic king and became, in the last years of Philip II’s reign, the centre of the greatest political power of the time.

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Within the monastery’s massive volume, there is an ensemble of different buildings: the monastery, the church, the royal palace, the school, the seminary, and the royal library, brilliantly organized around eleven main courtyards and three service courtyards.

It is said that the design is similar to that of the grill, the instrument used for St Lawrence’s martyrdom.

Its accessibility and connection to Madrid have turned it into a tourist destination for the Madrid residents as well as senior visitors that feel attracted by the patrimonial, cultural and natural attractions of the city.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

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FeelMadrid.com notes that El Escorial is “Simplicity in the construction, severity in the whole, nobility without arrogance, majesty without ostentation.” That statement says it all to me from what I have observed writing this blog.

In the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama, it was built as a monument to commemorate the Spanish victory over the French in the battle of Saint Quentin on 10 August 1557 (feast day of St. Lawrence).

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El Escorial Monastery was the largest building in the world (about 675 by 528 feet/206 by 161 meters), for a period of time, a great rectangle of three parts, the center being occupied by the church.

So on your visit to Spain and Madrid in particular, senior travelers, plan to spend some times at El Escorial.  Bring along some extra memory chips for your camera, it is that kind of structure.  Enjoy. -jeb

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors Enjoy The White Villages of Andalucía

Spain 364 The White Villages of Andalucia Spain or Pueblos Blancos, are a series of towns and large villages that senior travelers will find in the northern part of the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga in southern Spain, mostly within the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.

These small, quiet hilltop towns are distinguished by their simple whitewashed houses influenced by the Berber architecture of North Africa, the Moors’ native land. Spend a night in the romantic queen of the white towns, Arcos de la Frontera with my travel hero, Rick Steves.

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Towns with “de la Frontera” in their names were established on the front line of the Christians’ centuries-long fight to recapture Spain from the Moors, who were slowly pushed back into Africa. Today, these hill towns, no longer strategic, are just passing time peacefully.

Arcos de la Frontera is one of the more popular of the White Villages, because it combines a beautiful old-town center with the more modern and lively upscale downtown area.

 Seniors Take The ‘Route Of The White Towns’

The whitewashed villages of Andalucia are impressive historical monuments in themselves, and their people still live according to age-old traditions, inherited from their Iberian, Roman and Moorish forefathers.

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In these village seniors will find Spanish hospitality as legendary as the landscape in all directions. Greenlife Estates notes that Andalucía is much more than great cities, beaches, sun, golf and parties.

If senior visitors go deeper into the northern parts of Málaga and Cádiz, they will find a real treasure for those who love rural areas: the Route of the White Towns, or as it is known in Spanish, la Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos with 20 villages, one right after the other.

White Villages Offer Relaxed Pace

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Grazalema is another famous site. Lets descend into a valley and drive into this White Village. After visiting the most touristy cities of Seville, Granada, and Córdoba, this senior found that Los Pueblos Blancos offer a welcome escape to nature and a more relaxing pace.

Most of the villages are clustered around the Sierra de Grazalema, the Sierra Nevada, and Las Alpujarras. The villages are close to each other and can be easily combined on your driving route.

There is so much to see and do in these neat little villages. The accolades go on and on, and rightfully so. Bring up Google or DuckDuck.go and enjoy exploring the plethora of White Villages information. Have fun in Andalucía as my wife and I did.

Look for the big black bulls on the hills and the huge guitars as well. If you don’t see them…you have not been to Andalucía. -jeb

SENIORS VISIT SPAIN


Seniors Stop In Casares

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Casares Spain is a picture postcard village with a population of just three thousand and senior travelers will find that the view from the approach is worth a photo. Casares is one of what is called Andalucia’s “White Towns.” To say that Casares is beautiful is an understatement.

Located about 20 km inland from the Costa del Sol town of Estepona, Casares is of Arab origin and  has been designated a Historical-Artistic Site. Its main attractions are the quaint streets, the ruins of the Medieval castle and the Birthplace of Blas Infante. I’d want to check out the Old Roman Spa with ferric sulfurous baths that were rebuilt by the moors.

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Casares Castle is perched on a limestone massif overlooking the region’s valleys, hills and meadows. It is an ancient Arab fortress and its remains include towers, walls and two gates.

 Seniors Enjoy Enchanting Village

Most of the so called White Villages are beautiful, but there is something very special about the sight of Casares that causes the visitor to park the car and check out the village. It is a little difficult to believe that this enchanting Spanish village lies only nine miles from the hustle and bustle of the coast and somehow succeeded in avoiding the typical tourist circuit.

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This village, situated on a bed of limestone, has many attractions, including the birthplace of the political Blas Infante, considered the “Father of the Andalusian Homeland”. This is also where Julius Caesar supposedly was cured of a liver complaint, thanks to the sulfuric waters that still pour out of the local spring.

The 12th century Castle, around which grew the present town center, was founded by the occupying Moors. Seniors, plan your stay around one of the special celebrations in Casares. The main fair (Feria) of Casares takes place during the first weekend in August. The day of the patron saint, the Virgen del Rosario, is celebrated in the first week in September, and in the middle of January is the Feria del Cristo. The most important of the Romero takes place the last Saturday in May, so take your pick.

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 Seniors Find Narrow, Steep and Winding Streets

The old original fortress at the pinnacle of the village lies 1,400 feet above sea level, which would have been a superb vantage point during a time of invasion and piracy. The village streets are narrow and wind steeply so be prepared for a steep and energetic climb, rather than a tranquil stroll through the village. Senior visitors, wear good shoes.

Casares is one of the most scenic and photographed White Villages in Andalucia and is ideally located to offer something for everyone in Southern Spain. Don’t miss it. Enjoy. -jeb

Filed under : Europe, Family Travel

SENIORS TRAVEL IN SPAIN


Seniors Find Beauty and Intrigue In Albarracín

mq1Albarracín in Spain is part of the autonomous community of Aragon. If you’re senior traveler who enjoys combining rugged terrain, ancient castles, untouched villages and a drop or two of fine wine, then Aragon is a wonderfully deserving, underappreciated place to visit.  

The municipality is small with a population of 1,075 inhabitants yet tourists arrive in droves just to soak up the ambiance and atmosphere of the region. Senior visitors will find Albarracín to be a picturesque town surrounded by stony hills. The town was declared a Monumento Nacional in 1961 that sets it apart from other villages in the region.

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Some say that the town is named for the Moorish Al Banū Razín family that dominated the area during the period of Muslim domination in the Iberian Peninsula. Others say that the name comes from the Celtic terms for Mountain (alb) and Vine (ragin). What is certain however, is that the town of Albarracín is well worth a visit.

Seniors Enjoy Historical Town

From 1167 to 1300, Albarracín was an independent lordship. The former capital of a Moorish kingdom (Taifa), today the small town of Albarracín has preserved all its Islamic and medieval flavor. The Alcázar (castle) Fortress and the Andador Tower are from the 10th century. In the 11th century, the kings of Albarracín constructed the walls around the poor area of Engarrada.

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Rough Guides highlights the town that is 37km west of Teruel, as one of the more accessible towns in rural southern Aragón. Also one of the most picturesque towns in the province, Albarracín is poised above the Río Guadalaviar and retains, virtually intact, its medieval streets and tall, balconied houses.

There’s a historical curiosity, in that from 1165 to 1333, the town formed the center of a small independent state, the kingdom of the Azagras.

Albarracín’s dark, enclosed lanes and ancient buildings adorned with splendid coats of arms make for an intriguing stroll, reminders of past eras. The narrow lanes between the tall houses intertwine, uphill and down. But, it’s a small place in spite of the massive crenellated walls.

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Seniors Find One Of Spain’s Most Beautiful Villages

Senior visitors will want to walk along the walls called Murallas de Albarracín. The Plaza Mayor (Main Square), is the hub of action with the preferred places to eat and to enjoy some Spanish wine.

Albarracín has been called“The Most Beautiful Village in Spain.” France does the same thing with “Les Plus Beaux Villages.” “To be in Albarracín feels fairy-tale like as the sharp winds blow off the Sierra Albarracín to the north and one feels transported in time through the blind alleys, sharp turns and cobblestone streets.”

 Senior visitors say that Albarracín feels loaded with history and uniqueness, because it has both. So come and experience it all for yourself.-jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States

SENIORS TRAVEL SPAIN


Seniors Pay A Visit To Grazalema

800px-TejadosGrazalema Senior travelers will find Grazalema in the northeastern part of the province of Cádiz, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Situated in the foothills of the Sierra del Pinar mountain range, Grazalema has a population of just over 2,250.

It is known as “a charming white village” because most all the houses are white. Traditionally, the economy of the village was generated by small-scale agriculture, sheep herding, cork harvesting, and handicrafts, like hand-weaving lambswool cloth and furniture-making.

Its steep, cobbled streets are immaculately kept and are lined by whitewashed houses with windows covered by wrought-iron rejas (bars) and plant pots spilling over with a wide array of colorful flowers.

Seniors Head For A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

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In the heart of the village is an attractive main square, the Plaza de España, lined with bars and restaurants. On this square is Grazalema´s central sight, the 18th-century church of La Aurora.

Designated a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 1977, the Sierra de Grazalema was declared the first natural park in Andalucia in 1984 and is one of Spain’s most ecologically outstanding areas. Sierra de Grazalema is considered to be one of the most important natural parks in Spain due to its wealth of flora and fauna and its unbeatable landscapes.

The park is famous for its spectacularly rugged limestone landscape of cliffs, gullies, caves and gorges. The region is well known for being the rainiest place in Spain, with an annual rainfall of 2,200 mm. There are 1,300 Mediterranean plant species registered there, many of them endemic and some of them unique to the Sierra.

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Seniors Enjoy Grazalema’s Fiestas

Grazalema is filled with history, lots of things for seniors to see and do and plenty of fiestas. The first fiesta is the Romería of San Isidro Labrador which is held on the last Sunday in May, celebrating the arrival of summer.

On 13 June, the village celebrates Benamahoma, the fiesta in honor of its patron, San Antonio. During the third week of July, the Fiestas of Carmen are held which climax with the Monday of Bulls.

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The limestone composition of these mountains creates a landscape of sinkholes, galleries, caves and shelters all making for a memorable hike. Senior hikers, bring your hiking  boots.

After your hike a good soaking in the Spa Wellness Grazalema will regenerate  your muscles. For some great practical souvenirs, pay a visit to Artesania textil de Grazalema for some beautiful local wool products.

There are several walking tours for those of us who enjoy nature and flowers. Enjoy your visit to Grazalema. -jeb

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors, It’s A Big Food Fight

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Yes, a big big fight.  Senior travelers, it’s a food fight, the largest food fight in the world. I would rather read about it than participate in it…you can choose for yourself.

Buñol, Spain is world famous for the fight that takes place there annually. It’s called La Tomatina. La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August each year in Buñol just west of Valencia.

Thousands upon thousands of people make their way from all corners of the world to join in the fight  where tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets. It’s estimated that around 120,000 pounds of tomatoes (it’s a fruit, not a vegetable) are tossed at this annual fiesta, which began in 1945.

It’s one wild scene. Be assured that there is a whole lot of sangria and Spanish wine consumed the evening prior to the big day. This week-long festival features music, parades, dancing, and fireworks.On the night before the tomato fight, participants of the festival compete in a paella cooking contest.

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Prior to 2013 anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 (reported to be 50,000 in 2012) people crammed into this huge tomato fight, greatly expanding Buñol’s normal 9,000 population. Since the 2013 event official ticketing was put into place limiting the number of participants to just 20,000 lucky people.

Seniors Learn How It All Got Started

There is an interesting history behind how it all got startedSo seniors, if you would like to toss a few yourself, a word of advice. There is limited accommodation for people who come to La Tomatina, and a limited number of tickets. So, many people take the easier option of staying in nearby Valencia, 38km to Buñol by bus or train and get your ticket early.

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In preparation for the dirty mess that will ensue, shopkeepers along the route use huge plastic covers and plywood on their storefronts to protect the facade their businesses from the juicy carnage.

What actually happens? Well, at around 11 am, the first event of the Tomatina begins. Many trucks haul the bounty of tomatoes into the center of the town, Plaza del Pueblo. The tomatoes come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive.

One Hour Of Tomato Carnage!

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Technically the festival does not begin until one brave soul has climbed to the top of a two-story high, greased-up wooden pole and reached the coveted ham at the top. In practice this process takes a long time and the festival starts despite no one reaching the meaty prize.

The signal for the beginning of the fight is firing of water cannons, and the chaos begins. Once it begins, the battle is generally every man for himself. After exactly one hour, the fighting ends when the water cannons are fired once more to signal the end. At this point, no more tomatoes can be thrown.

It’s all their fault. These two guys that started it back in their youth and now it’s an annual tomato brawl. Join in if you dare. jeb

SENIORS ENJOY SPAIN


Seniors Visit Zaragoza

Unknown Zaragoza, also called Saragossa in English, a large city with a population of nearly 700,000, is one of Spain’s major cities. This capital of the Region of Aragon is located on the banks of the Ebro River, halfway between Madrid and Barcelona. Seniors discover Zaragoza to be one of the great monumental cities in Spain.

My wife and I have found that Spain has a plethora of marvelous historic cities and monuments and  scenic beauty wherever you travel. The city center in Zaragoza is conveniently small, with walking distance between most sites of interest. The city is a  veritable architectural treasure.

Senior history lovers and slow strollers are in for a real treat in the Old Town (Casco Historico) and Downtown (Zona Centro) areas, that display uncountable splendid buildings and monuments that bear witness to the city’s 2000-year-old history.

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Seniors Enjoy The Capital Of Culture

Zaragoza, the Capital of Culture, has a history extending as far back as the 7th century B.C. when it was a Carthaginian outpost. In 24 B.C., the city was invaded by the Romans and in 714 A.D., the Arabs came to call during their conquest of Spain. It wasn’t until 1118 during the Reconquista that Spanish Christians regained control of the city and made it the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon.

The University of Zaragoza was founded in 1542. The school can trace its origins back to the Ecclesiastical Schools of the 7th century and today has more than 35,000 students and 3,500 professors. Thanks to the huge university campus, there is a growing young population that guarantees a busy night life.

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Many buildings from the empires that ruled the city are still visible today. If you are a senior art enthusiast and are seeking out the great art of Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Zaragoza is incredibly significant.

Goya, the city’s greatest citizen, was born in the nearby town of Fuendetodos. The modest home where Goya spent the first few years of his life has been fully restored and is now a national monument.

Zaragoza, A Senior Destination

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Zaragoza is an interesting destination to consider. Senior travelers can make various walks of the most important tourist areas or perhaps pick your landmarks and aim to discover the city. Zaragoza offers food and drink for every budget and taste. But enjoying the local tapas is a gastronomic must.

The best way to enjoy Zaragoza’s monuments is to stroll through its attractive streets where you can sense the wealth of its 2,000 years of history. The city walls, churches, basilicas, palaces, stately houses and squares of the old quarter reflect the different civilizations that settled the city. Romans, Moors, Jews and Christians all “left their indelible mark on the Spanish soul.”

Put Zaragoza on your travel-bucket list and make plans for a visit. – jeb

SENIORS SPEND TIME IN SOUTHERN SPAIN


Seniors Seek Adventure in Genalguacil

imagesIt’s a bet that should win when I challenge senior travelers as to whether or not you have ever heard of Genalguacil. It is a town of 500 in the province of Málaga, part of the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. The municipality is situated approximately 150 km north of the city of Málaga on the Mediterranean coast.

Set in the middle of the Genal Valley, a stone’s throw from the sea and one of the highest mountains in the Ronda mountains, the woods of Genalguacil are of enormous value and beauty. These woods are populated by chestnuts, corks and pines, including the Blue Spanish Fir, a botanic relic that is found nowhere else in the world.

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Almost 90% of this territory is covered by woods. Besides the forests, there is an abundance of water in this region that makes possible a large number of orchards.

 Senior Visitors Find Cobblestone Streets, White Houses and Cork

The town’s name comes from the Arabic “GEN-AL-WACIR”.  It is known that there were mines of gold, silver and copper, and even some remains are in a place called Los Morteretes. Genalguacil is a town with steep, narrow winding cobble stone streets and white houses everywhere (testimony to its Morrish origin), each adorned with pots of colorful flowers. The only monument in town is the Church of San Pedro de Verona dating back to the 17th century.

The town of Genalguacil Malageño shares with other “white villages” of the province of Andalusia an enviable setting. Senior visitors will find it nestled in the mountains and surrounded by sites of high ecological value, and charm and picturesque character given by its whitewashed houses.

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Genalguacil is not just another village. Its little squares and balconies overflow with flowers and its inhabitants lead peaceful, silent lives that are historically and economically dependent on the extraction of cork for your wine bottles.

 Senior Visitors Have An ‘Art Encounter’

Genalguacil is an “open air museum” and as you walk along cobblestone streets, senior visitors will find paintings, sculptures and other works of art integrated throughout the village.

Art Encounters in Genalguacil takes place the first two weeks of August, every two years, Yes, that video is in Spanish, but I found it to be a good one…so maybe time to work on your Spanish with my Spanish Websites. Gracias.

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For the past 20 years, the town has supported artists from all over the world to create their ‘works’ for the festival and in return the pieces become part of the village life.

Seniors, come to Málaga and see if you can find Genalguacil up there hidden in the hills and enjoy your adventure. jeb

Filed under : Adventure Travel, Europe

SENIORS TRAVEL TO LA RIOJA, SPAIN


Seniors Visit Famous Wine Area

La-Rioja-Region-CountryBred La Rioja is a province in Spain, located in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. Its capital is Logroño, the region’s largest city. Senior oenophiles know the many fine wines from the La Rioja region.

This area of Spain has over 500 wineries and is internationally famous for the quality of its wines. Rioja ranks as the granddaddy of them all. La Rioja wine exists in seven varieties, four of them red and three white. Plan to take in what many consider the best wine museum in the world at the Dinastía Vivanco in Briones.

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As well as wine tasting, a visit to this region also offers a range of activities which take place in and around the vineyards, including horse-riding and hot-air ballooning.  Located in north east Spain along the Ebro River it is protected to the north by the Cantabrian Mountains.

 Seniors Find The Way To Santiago

This region is closely linked to the famous Way of Saint James pilgrim route, (Camino de Santiago) and has a host of cultural attractions. Senior visitors can enjoy adventurous fun like skiing, biking or white-water rafting, while the more leisurely paced will enjoy sipping wine in the region’s lush vineyards, or trekking along the famous pilgrims’ trail to Santiago.

When I lived in Paris I remember many young folks would walk the entire trail from France to Santiago. The monasteries along that way carry high artistic and cultural importance. Close by you will discover the neighboring Basque Country and Navarre regions.

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Two well known attractions include the Parque Zoologica Riojanatura and the Calle del Laurel. Laurel Street runs parallel to the Breton de los Herreros, the place where the ancient walls of Logroño stood until it was demolished in 1862. Today Laurel street is a great place for just strolling and shopping.

 Regional Gastronomy And Local Wines, The Greatest

It is here that senior visitors will find some of the greatest red wines in the world, and also some of the best values for older wines. The BBC can fill in your itinerary with a mini-guide of the entire area. For you senior gourmands, the regional gastronomy is outstanding.

Spring and fall are the prime visiting seasons. Late September into October is harvest time. Maybe even bring along your favorite copa and enjoy sipping on the spot. It will be a memorable visit. -jeb

SENIORS TRAVEL TO SPAIN


Seniors Seek Adventure in Genalguacil

GENALGUACIL It’s a bet that should win when I challenge you senior travelers as to whether or not you have ever heard of Genalguacil. It is a municipality of 500 in the province of Málaga, part of the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain.

The municipality is situated approximately 150 km north of the city of Málaga on the Mediterranean coast. CNN Travel found it for this senior and suggests that we all go and check it out for ourselves.

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The woods of Genalguacil are of enormous value and beauty, populated by chestnuts, corks and pines, including the Blue Spanish Fir, a botanic relic that is found nowhere else in the world.

Almost 90% of the municipal territory is covered by woods. Besides the forests, there is an abundance of water in this region that makes possible a large number of orchards.

Genalguacil is a town with steep, narrow, winding cobble stone streets, and white houses everywhere, each adorned with pots of colorful flowers. The only monument in town is the Church of San Pedro de Verona dating back to the 17th century.

 Seniors Discover White Villages

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The town of Genalguacil Malageño shares with other “white villages” of the province of Andalusia, charm and picturesque character given by its whitewashed houses.

Genalguacil is not just another village. Its little squares and balconies overflow with flowers and its inhabitants lead peaceful, silent lives that are historically and economically dependent on the extraction of cork for your wine bottles.

Genalguacil is an “open air museum” with paintings, sculptures and other works of art integrated throughout the village. Every two years “Art Encounters” keeps everyone in the town busied with a throng of tourists. Art and nature come together for (“Los Encuentros de Arte del Valle del Genal”) “Art Encounters in Genalguacil”, that takes place the first two weeks of August.

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Seniors Find Unusual Art Encounters

Yes, that video is in Spanish, but I found it to be a good one…so maybe its time to work on your Spanish with my Spanish Websites. Gracias.

For the festival, various artists from all over Spain and the world, work, create, live together and exchange ideas and experiences. The local Council provides them with accommodation, food, as well as materials, means and equipment for their creations. In return, the art pieces made become part of the patrimony of the town that has become a real open-air museum.

Genalguacil, a town with only 500 residents, tucked away in the Genal valley, has hosted this art festival for the past 20 years. And get this, the budget for Art Encounters is 100,000 euros – the highest in its history.

Seniors, when you are in Málaga, see if you can find Genalguacil up there hidden in the hills.  Enjoy your adventure. jeb

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