A part of me did not want to cover this destination on my travel series…not because I did not enjoy it- this trip was nothing but life changing. It was my first trip I ever needed a passport for. I remember the excitement when I received it in the mail. It was a college graduation gift to myself. It was the trip that started my wanderlust desires. The first longest flight I have EVER taken- about 7 hours, but considering the time difference, the jet lag was REAL. I spent 13 days in unknown lands, and I am eternally grateful for this experience. However, this trip took place 4 years ago and I am afraid my memory won’t do it justice! I visited so many cities in Spain! I saw, I conquered, even got a tattoo! And I also had the opportunity to meet extraordinary people who shared the same passion for travel. I will do my best to paint the beautiful picture Spain truly deserves, a trip I wish I could re live and re do over and over and over again.
I’m sure you guys know the drill by now 😀 here’s a few fun facts about España:
- The currency used in Spain is the Euro. This was fun trying to figure out while I was there. You can convert your money at the airport into Euros. The US dollar is actually worth less than Euros. $1.00 equals to 0.89 Euros, so make sure you spend wisely!
- The largest city and capital of Spain is Madrid. Madrid was one of the cities I visited during my time at Spain. Definitely has all of the big city vibes!
- Spain has a variety of foods and unique dishes such as paella (a type of rice dish) and tapas (a range of small snacks or appetizers). First of all, the paella was delicious! Don’t even bother ordering this dish in the states, because I promise it won’t taste nearly as good as the authentic paella in Spain. Second, I lived off of tapas! You can literally get any full size entree as a tapa upon request, and they are super affordable. One of my favorite tapas was papas bravas, a potato dish fried in oil and topped with spicy tomato sauce.
- The second largest city is Barcelona. Another city I visited- although it is considered the second largest city in Spain, I feel like you can’t ever get lost. It’s literally a big circle; you’ll eventually end up where you started.
- Flamenco is not actually a dance; it’s a musical style which can involve dancing. I saw a flamenco show in Barcelona, and fell in love ever since.
One of the first cities I visited while in Spain was Barcelona. It is a very elegant city, rich in art and history. The day we landed, we literally hopped off the plane, dropped our luggage off, and was out to explore! My Spain trip was booked through a college tour, and they had a full day planned for us. We headed to the city square and immediately dived into the culture.
We visited Park Güell, a public park composed of gardens and breathtaking architecture with amazing views overlooking the city. The park’s design was inspired by nature and the artist, Antoni Gaudí, was very adamant about the architecture containing no straight lines. He committed to this theory because in nature, he stated, “there are none.” Being one of the popular tourist attractions in Barcelona, the park was incredibly crowded. Many of the pictures I did have are floating around in Google Drive space, but I was able to recover these!
Another amazing tourist attraction I was able to check out was La Sagrada Familia, a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona. It is a church that has been under construction for over a century! And no, it is still not finished. Designed by the same architect mentioned earlier, Antoni Gaudí, he knew this church would not be completed in his lifetime. Talk about the detail involved in his vision! And when I say detail, I mean it- The story of the Holy Trinity can be found in the sculptures in the altars, and the builders of this majestic building are immortalized in stone. That doesn’t even cover half of the building; stories of Christ are narrated in the sculptures throughout. It is the tallest religious building in Europe and is said to go through its final construction stage in the year 2026.
While in Barcelona, there was also a bike tour that took place…except I didn’t join…because I don’t know how to ride a bike and I definitely missed out! Don’t get me wrong, I definitely attempted. But after a few failed attempts, the tour leaders decided it wasn’t the best idea for me to go on the tour, for safety reasons. *insert sad face* Barcelona is considered a very bike friendly city. Many locals choose biking as their main source of transportation. However, this can leave beginners like me unsafe because they ride at FULL velocity. I’m accident prone as it is. So instead, I roamed the city alone and blended in with the locals.
After Barcelona, we continued on our journey. We traveled to Figueres, the birthplace of artist Salvador Dalí. Yep, that’s right- I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the original Dalí museum in Spain; although the one in St. Petersburg, FL is amazing, the one in Spain is permanently engraved in my brain! So different and creative.
From Figueres, we spent overnight on a train to Granada. That was an experience! The funnest, most uncomfortable night of my life, SERIOUSLY. We had 4 girls to a cabin and all had bunk beds. Also, there were no showers. Only a sink in the cabin and a bathroom stall.
Sleep deprived and anxious, we arrived to the beautiful city of Granada. By far, one of my favorite cities! It was magical with secret gardens, cute fountains, and mini boutiques throughout the city. With its medieval architecture dating back to 711, it was exactly what I envisioned for a city in Europe.
Granada also blessed me with the experience of La Alhambra, a hilltop palace surrounded by beautiful gardens and mind blowing views. Go on, take a peak below ❤
I also discovered that there is no such thing as Dunkin Donuts, but there is Dunkin Coffee. Mind. Blown.
Our days in Granada ended and we headed to Seville, a city known for its flamenco, Moorish architecture, and cathedrals. This city was another favorite of mine. While there, we visited the Royal Alcázar of Seville, a royal palace built for the Christian king Peter of Castile. This castle was surrounded by stunning gardens filled with the most vibrant colored flowers I’ve ever seen. I may be biased because of my love of purple, but you can decide for yourself.
Other cities we traveled to were Cordoba, Marbella, Toledo, and Madrid. I wouldn’t be surprised if I am missing any cities. We traveled around Spain so much! Cordoba reminded me of Roman cities we read about in history class filled with cathedrals. Marbella is gorgeous, a luxury city filled with Mediterranean beaches, villas, and night lounges. We only spent a night there but I took full advantage and hung out at Wallace Marbella, which was walking distance from our hotel. Toledo is an ancient city known for its medieval Arab, Jewish, and Christian monuments. I appreciated how quiet and traditional it was. A city that sits on hills high above the ground, it offered unforgettable views.
One of the last cities we visited was Madrid. Being the capital and the largest city in Spain, I was not surprised to encounter a busy lifestyle where the streets buzzed with energy all day and night. It kind of reminded me of New York City and immediately made me homesick.
At this point, I was so accustomed to lack of sleep and being on my feet all day exploring. To think that it was coming to an end, stung a bit. It was a harsh realization that I would be returning back to reality. But I also have to admit, I missed my then boyfriend (now fiance) terribly. I wish I could have shared this experience with him. The experiences I made here were priceless. Spain taught me that it was okay to slow down and be present in the moment. It taught me that it is acceptable to drink wine at any time of the day. And that most times, dinner will be served at 10 PM. It taught me that bread served before your meal will cost you extra money lol. It taught me to be open to a different culture and way of life. There is so much more out there folks, trust me. Much more than we can ever imagine. I can’t express how grateful I am to have made the decision to go, despite my dad lecturing me of ALL the horrible things taking place outside of the U.S. I wish I could have went into greater detail with all of the cities in Spain, but then you would probably be reading for hours. Spain-you hold a special place in my heart. Thank you for all of the lessons and experiences with open arms. I hope we have an opportunity to meet again!