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Al-Andalus trip (Islamic Civilization trail)

10th October 2015 - 17 min read

I returned from Andalusia today with a big smile in my face, looking back to the experiences I had been through. I am still overwhelmed by all the Muslim history that actually was forcedly demolished and not so many people learnt. As Yasin put it ‘if you imagine europe continent as whole, andalusia was the only light can be seen, other countries were in the darkness”

I am glad that I am once again able to scratch what has been on my list for so long, visit Andalusia. This time is even more special because I could bring along my parents, plus my  sister number 2. Little did I know back then that I could be able to trail Muslim history in Andalusia with my family member although for so long I have been dreaming to take my parents around, but I would not think it would be in this Pilgrim trip. Pilgrim because it is a journey to a holy place, where a lot of Islam milestone history written. For once they were so much ahead and ruled the world, through Europe. Yes.. Europe. Not so many are aware because Islam is merely associated with Middle East or Arab country. I am lucky that my dad is a very curious man with many knowledge who seems to know everything and try to find answers to his questions especially concerning our religion. I first acknowledges about  the story of Andalusia from him. It makes me want to go to Andalusia so badly. I want to witness with my own eyes, the magical leftovers building from the glory of Islam more than 7 centuries ago. Gratefully, my parents are able to come a long. I am very happy to experience this together with them.

I booked the ticket months before the departure days. I managed to buy the ticket from Easy Jet for 150eur/ person, which is considered as a  normal rate. We decided to stay in Andalusia for a week. A week is perfect because there are a lot of things we wanted to see and we would move from on city to another. Yet, a week is enough to make my parents not to have to jump here and there too much. I wanted them to still be able to enjoy the visit without being rushed with time constrains. After ticket booking, I tried to build the itinerary myself until I got recommended a halal tourist agency. This halal tourist called Eren tour, it is guided by a local who is fellow Muslim and what makes it special is that he studies the history of Islam in Andalusia area. They guy is named Yasin. The money we payed were worthwhile, since visiting alone without clear story in mind and with someone who could explain every little details on what were you looking at, were very much different. Moreover, the accommodation was convenient with Yasin’s car.

Day 1 & Day 2- SEVILLA
We arrived at 9.30 om in Sevilla after 2.55 hours flight went straight to our airbnb. Tips: If you know you would arrive on Saturday night to anticipate some supplies (because a lot of stores closed on Saturday and Sunday). We brought rices and snacks from the Netherlands.  The next day on Sunday, we had breakfast and utilize our supplies, because as we assumed, all the stores were closed. We started the day at around 10.00. I was telling myself that no matter what happened, we needed to just enjoy the ride. Because the family time was more important. As a lot of places closed on Sunday, we just walked through the neighborhood and went to the city. The weather was perfect, 23 degrees, we went along the street with the help of the map then we continued with Sightseeing Bus. It was my first time going with hop on hop off bus, pretty remarkable 😀

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This is long awaited day. We would officially start the Muslim trail journey with Yasin, the man of Eren Tour. Yasin picked us up in the big square nearby our place called Plaza del Salvador. First thing Yasin asked was if we already did went to Alcazar and Plaza de Spana. We were looking at each other, and said ‘we think so, but we did not stop‘. He said hysterically, “No, you have to go inside to have more insights“. Thus we ended up going there first before we drove to Cordoba. They said, Alcazar is the Chinese version of Alhambra. That is pretty funny. It indeed looks exactly like Alhambra, only much smaller. So many arabic carving on the walls, that I am proud of. I am amazed by the famous beauty of Andalusia in which actually created and built by muslim in the 7th century.
In the afternoon, I started feeling sick and weak since the morning, and got worse in the evening. Could not really enjoy the journey anymore, although I was still excited but my body turned exhausted really quickly. At night I decided to just be dropped home and stayed to get some rests hoping the next day I could start fresh.

Alcazar – royal palace in Seville, Spain, originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings. The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula.[1] The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, and was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site ( source: Wikipedia)


Mozaic pattern with arabic words in Alcazar


Looks like Alhambra patio, but smaller
Plaza de Espana: plaza located in the Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park), in Seville, Spain built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Renaissance Revival style in Spanish architecture
We continued driving to Cordoba and went inside the Cordoba mosque


Mosque/ Cathedral of Cordoba –
It originally was a Catholic church built by the Visigoths.When Muslims conquered Spain in 711, the church was first divided into Muslim and Christian halves. This sharing arrangement of the site lasted until 784, when the Christian half was purchased by the Emir ‘Abd al-Rahman I, who then proceeded to demolish the entire structure and build the grand mosque of Cordoba on its ground.After the Reconquista, it was converted to a Roman Catholic church, culminating in the insertion of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the 16th century.
Since the early 2000s, Spanish Muslims have lobbied the Roman Catholic Church to allow them to pray in the cathedral. This Muslim campaign has been rejected on multiple occasions, both by the church authorities in Spain and by the Vatican. (source: wikipedia)


Cordoba – Hamam


Where we had lunch in Cordoba, Yasin took us to the 1st halal restaurant in the neighborhood after islam was demolished.


Day 4 – Medinat Azzahra – Granada (Albayzin Village)

I woke up feeling much better after being sick for the past days. I think my body tumbled waiting for the right timing (read: when my parents and my sister around, so that they can take care of me) *winkwink* After all, I am the baby in the family. We left the memories in Cordoba and moved on to Madina Azzahra before going to Granada.







We arrived in Granada in the afternoon and went straight to the airbnb. Our stay this time was pretty remarkable and authentic, the owner said the place was built 300 years ago. It’s petite and looks super old indeed, my sister and I got a bit of bed bug bites LOL, fortunately she got her allergic paste so the feeling could have been worse.

By far, this is my favorite city, it’s like no others. It’s located in the mountain area, hence it’s hilly. The road is made of stones, the street is super small so it requires somebody’s expertise to drive there. And coincidentally, Granada is where Yasin lives, so he’s trained for it really well.
Unlike all of us, my mom had some difficulties climbing up, but all paid off every time she saw some places to shop. There was this Maroccon bazar alley that got her all excited. After arriving, we took a rest for couple of hours and then went out to the city center and caught some sunsets from Albayzin ( the village where we stay ) to look over Alhambra with its redness with the spot light from the sunset.


Day 5 – Granada (Alhambra)
Yasin arranged a guide in Alhambra because it was not allowed to bring guide from outside. Our guide named Tariq, he’s as old as my dad. I can see a fatherly figure on him. He explained the story properly. Alhambra is a royal house (not palace), total is 7km and without even realizing it, my mom made it from the beginning till the end. The power of mind and not knowing!

Alhambra (/ælˈhæmbrə/; Spanish: [aˈlambɾa]; Arabic: الْحَمْرَاء‎, [ʔælħæmˈɾˠɑːʔ], Al-Ḥamrā’, lit. “the red one”),[a] the complete form of which was Calat Alhamra,[b] is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-11th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.[1]
Alhambra’s Islamic palaces, as we know them today, were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain and the court of the Nasrid dynasty. The decoration consists, as a rule, of Arabic inscriptions that are manipulated into geometrical patterns wrought into arabesques. Painted tiles are largely used as panelling for the walls.[4] The palace complex is designed in the Mudéjar style, which is characteristic of western elements reinterpreted into Islamic forms and widely popular during the Reconquista, the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims by the Christian kingdoms.

Another highlight of that day, WE FINALLY FOUND FLAMENCO PERFORMANCE anddd for free!!! I trusted on my guts!

Day 6 – Orgiva – Alpujjara Mountain – Slobrenia – Malaga
Sacrifice day! We were lucky we could celebrate it here, in a total different environment. Yasin kindly promised to bring us to pray and celebrate eid in his village. I was so excited to see another culture of sacrificing day as well as to meet new people. I did not really know what to expect, yet turned out it was a small remote village. The people were super warm and welcoming. My dad and I used to watch a Canadian Serie called ‘The little mosque in the prairie‘ and it’s a total reality life in front of me.  Everybody knows everybody. I met a woman, which apparently a SWEDISH. I was a little surprised wondering what she was doing in that small village. It is not a place that random people would prefer to stop and stay. We had a little conversation, this woman moved there because she achieves peace, she feels the love around her, so she wants to have another form of life surrounded by those local people. I saluted her, it is a brave decision.
After praying, we went to another village that looks like Greece with the white houses. A village that’s never been changed since first was built hundred years ago. Furthermore continue to eat fish in the beach side of the mountain. It’s another city called Slobrenia, not so many people go here except locals. So it was peacefully quite during our visit.


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At 4pm, Yasin dropped us off in Malaga, our last stop in this trip. It’s sad that it comes the time to say goodbye to him. Not only that we will miss his smiles and stories, but also his capability of Spanish since no one speaks english properly in South of Spain hehe.

After arriving, we just went to the beach in the evening, had home-cooked meal for dinner, and took a good rest for the next day.

Day 7 – Malaga – Alcazaba and beach day
Malaga is a port city, very modern and surrounded by oceans. However, it still has some leftovers from the old Moorish times like some follows.

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Day 8 – Sevilla airport

Total journey was a rip off to my pocket, but it is all worth it! Time to say see you later to this beautiful lowland with its histories. ¡Hasta luego!

Recommended tour:

Europe Spain

Invierno en Barcelona

2nd June 2011 - 8 min read

Barcelona adalah sebuah kota di Spanyol dan merupakan ibukota wilayah otonom Katalonia. Kota ini adalah galeri hidup dari arsitektur dan dekorasi bergaya modernis dan Art Nouveau (Seni Baru). Kuil-kuil dan bangunan karya arsitek Antoni Gaudí, gereja abad pertengahan, sisa tembok Romawi dan plaza serta tempat orang berjalan-jalan-semuanya terlihat istimewa.

Kita berlima, Ipa, Ivy, Tante Jerry (Mama Ivy), Geo, dan aku sendiri, Muriel, berencana untuk travel ke kota itu. Yep! For winter break, people !! Waktu yang ditunggu-tunggu para students untuk melemaskan urat-urat dan otot-otot yang tegang karena jadwal padat sekolah, menyegarkan pikiran dengan getaway ke negeri seberang, ataupun sekedar santai di rumah. Anyway, we couldn’t wait for the journey yang ternyata penuh liku-liku dan tidak semulus yang direncanakan.

Hari keberangkatan pun tiba, dari kita semula yang berencana pergi berlima, menjadi tinggal berdua, aku dan Ipa. Ivy dan mamanya terjebak di Belanda karena salju yang luar biasa lebat dan turun terus menerus. Geo harus ke Indonesia mendadak, karena kakeknya meninggal dunia (may He rests in peace!). Tapi itu semua tidak menyurutkan semangat kita untuk melihat keindahan kota yang disebut Parisnya Spanyol itu. Kita berangkat tepat sebelum salju lebat di Belanda turun dan kita pun sampai di kota indah itu safe and sound. Alhamdulilah !

Pertama kali menginjakkan kaki di Barcelona, kita disambut dengan bangunan-bangungan cantik dengan gaya khas Spanyol dan bukit-bukit batu yang luar biasa unik. Kita tidak akan menjumpai hal yang sama di Belanda. Spanyol, khususnya Barcelona adalah kota yang berciri khas, semua bangunan dibentuk dan dibuat berdasarkan seni. Gedung-gedung tua terlihat sangat terawat dan dijaga keasliannya. Suasananya benar-benar berbeda dengan kota-kota yang selama ini pernah saya kunjungi. FYI, kita membeli Barcelona Card, kartu turis yang memungkinkan kita transportasi secara gratis dan masuk ke museum atau daerah rekreasi tertentu dengan diskon yang lumayan, dengan harga yang relative tidak mahal. Di hari ke-3 dan seterusnya kita berjalan ber-4 dengan mbak Heny dan Stella, salah satu teman dari Den Haag yang juga sedang berlibur di tempat dan waktu yang sama.

What we visited (Must-see place in Barca!)

Satu tempat yang wajib dikunjungi di Barcelona adalah Parc Guell (Taman Guell). Parc Guell adalah taman yang berisi elemen-elemen arsitektur yang terletak di bukit el Carmel. Taman ini dirancang oleh Antonio Gaudi tahun 1900-1914. Tamannya luas dan terdiri dari beberapa bagian, kita harus jalan naik sekitar 1-2 km sampai benar-benar masuk ke wilayah taman. But it’s worth chasing, karena semua bangunannya bersejarah dan berbeda satu dengan yang lain. Di beberapa sisi, terlihat pengamen-pengamen jalanan yang mendendangkan lagunya, ada yang bernyanyi dengan gitar, ada yang bermain piano, flute, dan lain-lain. Pun di sudut-sudut kota Barcelona lainnya. Musisi jalanan itu tidak hanya bermain music, tapi mereka bermain music dengan hati, benar-benar menjiwai, dan satu lagi, mereka sangat professional.

City Center atau yang biasa kita sebut Centrum, adalah satu tempat yang tidak boleh terlupakan untuk didatangi, untuk berbelanja, berjalan-jalan atau window shopping. City center di Barcelona atau yang disebut La Rambla, berisi toko-toko, restoran-restoran yang berjejeran, dan monumen bersejarah bernama Monument of Columbus. Susunan city center ini terbilang berbeda dibandingkan dengan Belanda, toko-tokonya berada di pinggir jalan raya, mereka terletak di sisi kiri dan kanan jalan, dan ada satu trotoar besar ditengah, gunanya untuk orang berjalan-jalan, tempat menjual souvenir dan makanan ringan. Satu lagi yang berbeda adalah adanya pasar tradisional yang terletak di salah satu sudut Plaza Catalunya.

La Sagrada Familia Church, Magic Fountain (atraksi air mancur dengan lampu-lampu spektakuler), sayangnya atraksi itu hanya terjadi pada hari tertentu dan tidak pada hari saat kita mengunjungi tempatnya, Picasso Musem, Chocolate Museum, Modernist Building (Casa Mila dan bangunan-bangunan lain karya Antonio Gaudi di sekitarnya). Ada satu lagi yang menarik yaitu Poble Espanyol Village, desa buatan yang di dalamnya menunjukkan bagaimana kehidupan di salah satu daerah tradisional di Spanyol, berisi rumah-rumah, pasar, toko-toko, toko mask, toko gitar, toko keramik, dan lain-lain, yang lebih asyik, kita bisa melihat bagaimana proses pembuatan dan sejarahnya, kita juga bisa menunggangi keledai di dalam desa itu). Tibidabo, amusement park yang berada di titik tertinggi Barcelona, kita bisa menaiki kereta gantung yang tersedia dan menikmati pemandangan Barcelona dari atas.

  • Satu lagi yang tidak boleh terlewat khususnya bagi para penggemar bola, FC Barcelona Stadium. Kita bisa membeli tiket untuk Experience dan Museum seharga 19 euro.


Spanyol terkenal dengan hasil laut mereka yang tasty dan segar. Makanan khasnya juga tidak jauh dari seafood, yaitu Paella dan Tapas. Paela adalah nasi yang diberi bumbu rempah dan diberi campuran hasil laut (udang atau kerang) di atasnya. Jaman dulu, makanan ini disajikan terutama pada hari Minggu dan perayaan Falles. Tapi sekarang Paela dikonsumsi warga Spanyol sebagai makanan sehari-hari mereka, begitu juga Tapas. Tapas adalah bermacam-macam jenis appetizer atau snack yang bisa disajikan dingin atau juga hangat, biasanya dingin seperti salad yang berisi keju, selada, dan olive, sedangkan yang hangat seperti fried baby squid, octopus, fried mushroom, dan banyak lainnya. Biasanya mereka menyajikan hidangan kelinci di dalam menu makanan mereka. Satu cerita aneh waktu kita sedang memilih makanan di salah satu restoran di tengah La Rambla, ada satu menu yang membuat kita terbelalak, mereka menjual ‘Baked kid Shoulder’ ?????!!!!!!?????!!!!! Pundak anak siapa yang di bakar ? Tapi tidak ada satupun dari kita yang mau memesan atau bertanya. Overall, untuk lidah Indonesia seperti kita, makananannya relative cocok dan enak, terutama untuk para penggemar seafood. Sayang sekali Ipa alergi seafood, jadi dia harus membatasi diri.

Keep in your mind !

Selalu hati-hati kalau berjalan-jalan di Barcelona karena copet berkeliaran dimana-mana dan jarang aku dengar dari teman yang ke Barcelona tidak bercerita tentang mereka dicopet. Di hari ke-3 aku tidak sengaja bertemu dengan teman kakakku di tengah Plaza Catalunya, dia bercerita bahwa dia baru saja dihipnotis oleh orang yang tidak dikenal. Kita harus benar-benar menjaga tas dan jangan pergi sendirian.

TIbalah saatnya kita harus meninggalkan kota cantik itu, kembali ke Belanda yang super duper dingin dan salju 30 cm yang menyapa dengan tidak ramah.

Hasta La Vista, Mi Amor !!







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