Time flies by when you are having fun! I am super late on writing on this blog considering we will be hitting our 2 year anniversary here soon but better late than never, right?

For our one year we decided to go on an adventure to SPAIN mid November of 2016.  If Spain isn’t already on your bucket list- ADD IT RIGHT NOW.  It is a beautiful country with a lot of  rich history and culture.  As you plan your trip, don’t forget about the siestas in the afternoon!

Madrid – 2 days
Granada – 2 days
Cordoba – 1 day
Seville – Day Trip
Barcelona – 2 days

If you haven’t figured it out already – we are budget travelers so our trip consisted of staying at AirBnB. I have found that AirBnB is much better in Europe and a cheaper alternative than staying in hotels in most cities.

Madrid

We started our trip in Madrid. I met my husband there since I was in the UK for a work trip. Flew over with RyanAir which has ridiculously cheap flights. It is comparable to Frontier/Spirit in the U.S. as far as the plane quality goes. You do have to pay extra to reserve your seat in advance as well as for your luggage. Even then, the price is a a great deal.

We picked an AirBnB close to the main train station to avoid having to drag our luggage around the city or having to pay for a cab. It is walking distance to everything.

Travel Tip: Madrid is known for pick pocketing and I can confirm that by sharing…my wallet was stolen within minutes of arriving here. Yes, I knew it was known for this and I am a pretty cautious traveler but after a long day of travel and in a hurry to get to the AirBnB, I let my guard down. Luckily, my wallet only contained my U.S. driver license and some USD. Credit cards and passport just happened to be in my coat pocket, THANK GOD.

Madrid is a like any metropolitan city. There is a lot to do and see but in my opinion it wont really tell you much about the country and its culture if that is the experience you are looking for.

To explore Madrid to the fullest – I found a walking tour google map we could plan our days around and created one of my own. (err attempted to at least – it does the job, okay.)

Main attractions:

The Museo del Prado – It is considered to have one of the world’s finest collections of European art. That being said- depending on the type of art you enjoy, this may or may not be for you. I personally didn’t care for this museum and the entrance ticket was overpriced. (For me it was a “Skip”)

El Parque de Retiro – This park is beautiful and very big located right in the middle of the city. Similar to Central Park in New York. Definitely worth visiting and strolling around.  This place has street vendors and artists. You can spend a whole afternoon here! (Definitely a DO)

El Estanque – The park has a fairly sized pond in the middle where you can rent cute canoe style boats and spend some time on the water. I LOVED THIS! You get one hour to enjoy yourself on the water, paddling or just relaxing for a small fee. It was kind of a romantic experience. We played some music and enjoyed the atmosphere surrounding us. (Definitely a DO)

Velazquez Pavillion – A free exhibition building within the park. It’s free so why not check it out, right?  😉

Palacio de Cristal – a beautiful glass and brick building in the park that sometimes houses contemporary exhibitions. Also FREEE.

Gran Via – This is where you will find all the upscale shopping areas and restaurants. We strolled through this area on our way to Plaza Mayor. There’s a train station in this area so its a convenient area to get to.

Plaza Mayor – Central plaza in the city of Madrid. Lots of restaurants in this area and street artists. We continued our tradition of having an artist draw a caricature.  Depending on what you are looking for, the prices are reasonable. (Definitely a DO)

Royal Palace/Sabatini Garden –  We didn’t go in because to be honest, I think all European royal palaces look the same (yes, I have been to a few). That might be an ignorant statement but whatever. We did however sit on the steps across the palace to relax from all the walking and enjoy music by local street musicians. On our way out we found the royal gardens which would’ve been a better choice for relaxing.

Temple of Debod – What an interesting piece of architecture found in Spain!  This temple is an ancient Egyptian temple that was deconstructed and rebuilt in Spain. The chapel is dedicated to the god Amun of sun and air.  Entry into the chapel is free but the line to get in can be long.

Rose Garden of Parque del Oeste – We randomly found this place during our stroll. SO BEAUTIFUL! An entire garden full of unique roses. It smells beautiful and is such a tranquil place away from the hustle and bustle of the city. In May, they host a contest for the best rose. (Definitely a DO)

Cable car of Rosales – This was our last stop located at the outskirts of the city.  The cable car rides above the river & parks with views of the city & Royal Palace, ends at a picnic area.

Granada 


My FAVORITE city hands down in Spain. Where do I even begin. *sigh* Someone take me back there now.

We arrived in Granada by Train and Bus.  It was a beautiful sunny day. Checked into our AirBnB which by the way was just perfect. A beautiful 2 story home with a terrace located right by the city center.

Granada is located in a valley surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains. It can get pretty chilly in the morning and evenings so be sure to dress accordingly!

Our first day was spent roaming the city center and shopping areas within El Centro.

Alcaiceria – While strolling through El Centro you will come across a small doorway to the Alcaiceria. Its a small market set up in old Moorish fashion. My husband and I enjoyed shopping here for goods I would consider to be more “local”.  A lot of the goods reminded me of things I saw in Turkey. We purchased souvenirs for our family from this market. BARGAIN BARGAIN BARGAIN. The price they first tell you is definitely over priced. (Definitely a DO)

Mirrador de San Miguel – This location is located on top of a mountain. It would be a very long walk up hill so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are in good shape and have the time. We took the bus from the city center to save ourselves some time. The last stop for the bus is this location. This area had beautiful extensive views of Alhambra and the mountains. It was a nice and quiet location to immerse yourself in the beauty around you.  You will notice a lot of hidden houses built in the side of the mountains! Try not to trespass on someone’s property. The path down to the city is an easy and enjoyable one.  (Definitely a DO)

Mirrador de San Nicolas – Best spot to watch the sunset. Bill Clinton commented this was the most beautiful sunset he has seen and I have to say, it is quiet breathtaking. This spot has a great view of the Alhambra palace. There are restaurants around this area you can grab a bite to eat. There are also music artists and street vendors you can buy jewelry from.  It gets pretty packed in the evenings so if you want to get a good viewing spot, get there a bit early and enjoy the atmosphere. The walk up to this location isn’t too far from the city center. You get to stroll through winding narrow streets and come across some hidden architectural gems.  Check this place if you are looking for a romantic sunset and stroll through the city 🙂 (Definitely a DO)

Last but not least…

Alhambra Palace – The main attraction of Granada. 
This is a must. BOOK YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE.  We forgot and decided to book a day before and all the timings were sold out.  We were able to find an open time slot very early in the morning the day we were leaving and unfortunately had to rush through the palace so we wouldn’t miss our bus to the next destination.  This palace has stunning architecture and so much to see. Pay the extra to get the audio tour so you can learn about the history of this palace and the people who once occupied it. Can easily spend half a day or more roaming around the grounds. There are multiple buildings and areas. Try not to get lost! (Definitely a DO)

Cordoba

Cordoba was a passing through stop for us. Our main reason for visiting was to see the Mosque- Cathedral of Cordoba (which is now just a Cathedral).  The history of this building is quiet fascinating – google it sometime! We spent one night here. Cross the bridge to see the mosque at night! It looks like it is floating when lit up with the darkness surrounding it.

Seville

We spent half a day in Seville. This city has the closest airport to Cordoba/Granada and our next stop was Barcelona which was a bit far so we opted to fly there with RyanAir. RyanAir is comparable to frontier/spirt in the US. You can get ridiculously cheap flights so its worth it.

We left our luggage at the train station- you can rent a locker for cheap and went exploring for the day.  There is also a bus that runs from the station to the airport (The ticket is a few euros).  This bus can get VERY crowded. We were all crammed in there like sardines with no A/C.

We were pretty tired from the previous few days so decided to take it easy. We spent some time at the Plaza de Espana – Seville and people watched. You can rent boats here and boat around the plaza. We ended our trip at one of the main shopping areas.  We let our noses guide us a found a restaurant that served tapas style fish. Delicious…except for the fried sardines. No bueno.

Barcelona

Last stop, BARCELONA!

Sagrada Familia – Pictures don’t do this place justice. It is an incredible work of art.  Its placed right in the middle of the city and seems a bit out of place. So tall you cant even view it fully from the ground unless you move a block away. The construction takes away from it but it might be another few years before its complete. We didn’t go inside because it was very crowded but I think it would be worth seeing! (Definitely a DO)

Park Guell – Another Gaudi masterpiece. This is a bit underwhelming. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it doesn’t live up to the hype. Buy your ticket in advance and be sure to show up on time. Gaudi’s work is still considered…gaudy. Can’t believe they thought building a neighborhood with this style would attract people …

La Rambla Street – Where the party don’t stop! Lots of restaurants and shops in this area. Definitely a tourist trap but I didn’t even mind. Great place to people watch! Don’t let the restaurants with outdoor seating and fixed menus fool you.  It’s false advertisement.

Beach – Depending on when you go, it might be warm enough to go to the beach! We went for a long walk on the beach 😉 JK ain’t nobody got time for that. We did hangout by the pier and boardwalk area. ALSO- all beaches can be nude beaches? not sure on the rules but just a heads up incase you don’t want to be traumatized..
The area around  the beach is a great place to buy souvenirs from street vendors especially football jerseys! You can get a great deal on previous years jerseys. You can also find knock off goods here.
Bargain where you can!

Bunkers del Carmel – If you love views – this is the place for you! It is a bit of a trek to get up there but totally worth it! It gets very crowded though (mostly a younger crowd) but a perfect spot to see Barcelona city, the ocean, and the sunset. Great spot to end our trip 🙂

This trip was originally published on Travel Diaries

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