In Andalucia, Spain's most enduring stereotypes are true. Gypsy passion, bullfighting, flamenco, extravagant Catholicism and dreadful, truly dreadful, driving; it's all there and all in your face.
Andalucia's famed theatricality, its love of life, inevitably rubs off on the football, given a particular spin down in the south, supposedly the home of the most flamboyant, flashy players.
Joaquin Sanchez (Betis, Valencia) and Jose Antonio Reyes (Sevilla, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid) are held up as perfect examples of the artful Andaluz: wingers with fantasy in their boots. And then there's the mental fans, whose guasa (characteristic southern jokiness) alone can make match day worthwhile – if you can get through the famously impenetrable accents.
Where else would you get a season-ticket holder who never misses a game, despite being dead? Cremation or no cremation, one Betis fan's son takes him to every match, albeit in the form of a milk carton full of ashes.
With loons like that it's little wonder that Betis-Sevilla is arguably the most passionate local derby in Spain. Which rather leaves Malaga feeling rejected; truth be told, neither Sevilla nor Betis are really bothered about them. Cadiz fans, meanwhile, just want to have fun – and, like quiet Recreativo, establish themselves in the Primera Division. Mind you, so too do Betis, after relegation in 2009.
If Recre are different, so too their home, the city and province of Huelva, out towards Portugal, where there are miles of golden beaches, untouched by the mass development that made the Costa del Sol so grim.
Be warned though: this isn't the Med and the water's freezing – another indication that Huelva is the exception that proves the rule, for elsewhere Andalucia is 'Spain', the Spain you expect it to be. And it is spectacular.
Nowhere more so than Seville: if you can see beyond the tourist traps and the tack emporiums selling flamenco posters with your name on and those T-shirts that say 'my brother went to Seville and all he brought me back was this lousy T-shirt', you will love it.
The winding, narrow, orange tree-lined streets of Santa Cruz and Macarena (yes, as in that irksome song), with their pot plants and tiled courtyards, the Cathedral with its famous Giralda tower, and the Plaza de España, where scenes from Star Wars were filmed.
Just as important is the football. Granada's Alhambra is fabulous, Cordoba too, but there's something missing, something big: Seville might be the home of bullfighting, but it's football that really ignites passions.
The city is superb anyway; throw in Betis and Sevilla and it's a trip you'll never forget. Just don't go at the height of summer, when the heat is unbearable – or when the Scots are in town. When Celtic faced Porto in the 2003 UEFA Cup final in Seville's ugly, soulless La Cartuja stadium, the only drink left in the city's bars was coffee. It was 45 degrees outside.
Explore Andalucia using the map below; click a badge and you'll get a link to the club guide.
For more on the Andalusian cities, see the relevant club guides: Sevilla, Betis, Malaga, Recre and Cadiz.
For regular updates on the crazy world of Spanish football, see our blog La Liga Loca
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