The Al-Andalus: Whirlwind Tour Through Southern Spain

9 Jun

IRT writer Angela Walker and traveling companion Shawn Bidwell enjoy dinner on board the Al-Andalus.  IRT photo courtesy of Angela Walker.

Embarking on the Al-Andalus for the first time from Seville was a bit of an adventure, as my traveling companion Shawn and I had to feel our way around the Santa Justa station in lieu of proper signage. But once on board, the train was a welcoming and luxurious oasis that was well worth the initial confusion.

View of the Alhambra from our wonderful local restaurant in Granada. IRT photo by Angela Walker

Al-Andalus passenger Shawn Bidwell disembarks the train in Granada. IRT photo by Angela Walker.

After being welcomed with champagne in the lounge, we settled into our Superior cabin, equipped with a lovely golden couch – which folded into a comfortable and roomy double bed at night – a writing table and chair, a spacious closet, and a full en-suite bathroom. The modern touches, such as vacuum toilet and individually controlled air conditioning do not take away from the beautiful Belle Époque design – striking sconces accentuate the carefully crafted inlaid wooden flower designs throughout the train.

Most of the Al-Andalus sleeping cars were built in France in the late 1920s, as were all four public cars: lounge, two diners and bar car, which are as comfortable and beautiful as the sleepers. The dining and bar car is lovely in tones of red and gold, while the lounge car is a more muted gray with large welcoming couches.

We could have spent a week enjoying the comforts of the train alone, but the many stops along the way – Cordoba, Baeza, Ubeda, Granada, Ronda, Cadiz, Jerez, Sanlucar, and Sevilla – provided an exciting and whirlwind six-day tour through southern Spain. Granada’s stunning Alhambra, built by the Moorish rulers in the 14th century, was among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites we took in on our journey, as was the famed Seville Cathedral – third largest in the world.

The staff of the Al-Andalus is always at the ready with hot coffee and tea during daily breakfast on board. IRT photo by Angela Walker.

Some stops were difficult to navigate with a group (the small and winding streets of Cordoba, for example), but the Al-Andalus guides did an excellent job of keeping everyone lively and on track. Most travelers on our departure were Spanish-speakers – but not to fear. As we were two of only three English-speakers on board, Mercedes, our fantastic translator employed by the train, became our de facto personal guide. She was patient with any questions we had and made us feel quite at home.

For Part II of Angela Walker’s adventures on the Al-Andalus, please click here.

7 Responses to “The Al-Andalus: Whirlwind Tour Through Southern Spain”

  1. Janet L. Ozzard March 6, 2013 at 5:43 PM #

    Looks and sounds like something I would be interested in.

    • Angela Walker March 6, 2013 at 6:00 PM #

      Great! We would be happy to send you more information about the trip and train. Just visit our website at http://www.irtsociety.com or email us with your mailing address.

      • Barry Hacker February 3, 2014 at 5:16 PM #

        Angela,
        I am now talking to a UK agent about booking this trip at a 5% discount for June 23 to 28, 2014 (Extramadura route). My wife and I are also doing the Transiberian route from VVO next year.
        Please call me on (310) 499 3910 when convenient.

        Thank you,

        Barry Hacker
        Beverly Hills, CA

      • Angela Walker February 12, 2014 at 1:31 PM #

        Dear Mr. Hacker,

        Thank you for your comment. This is a wonderful train and I highly recommend it. We are a booking agent for the Al-Andalus in the U.S. We also book the Golden Eagle train. Please visit our website for details of both journeys: http://www.irtsociety.com

        If you would like to discuss either with me, our toll free number is 800-478-4881.

  2. susiela soliman February 19, 2015 at 6:24 PM #

    Hi I’m interested pls give detailed itinerary and special price for. Four pax.

    • Angela Walker February 20, 2015 at 10:06 AM #

      Great! I will email you directly with details.
      Angela

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Al-Andalus: Whirlwind Tour Through Southern Spain, Part II « Track 25 - July 3, 2012

    […] Editor’s note: To read Part I of Ms. Walker’s adventures, please click here. […]

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