Category Archives: Spain

The end of Andalusia

I had my first minor glitch today in Granada. It wasn’t anything major or plan altering- mostly just annoying. By going to Córdoba instead of spending that extra day in Seville, and then having the day in Seville so slow/rough, it left very little time for Granada. I thought I had a whole day and a half when in turn I really only had half of a day. Half of a day is NOT enough for Granada by any means. I’m sure Granada is doable in a day, but in no way half a day. 

I woke up early to get to the Alhambra. They only admit a little over 400 people into the massive park at a time, and sell about 300 of the tickets online. This leaves very little wiggle room. I tried to get tickets the day before but they were sold out. They also only admit people into the palace in even less abundance so you have a single specified hour. I couldn’t get an early enough time and ended up having to skip that. Oh well.  It was still absolutely beautiful. In a fluster I ended up getting the audio guide. It wasn’t that great honestly, but I’m glad I got it. I knew absolutely nothing so it clued me in quite a bit about the Moors and the Muslim history of Medina and Alcazaba in Granada that I barely knew existed. There also are barely any signs at all so it may have been for the best. I did the whole park in 3 hours, but I would assume the average was much longer. I started with Generalife and then moved on to the rest. 
   

                                                                                                                               

The man who planted these beautiful roof top flowers came over to me and told me to go look at them, a little out of the main paths view and not as easily noticed. He was so proud of them, it was adorable. 

   

                                             

      

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

 To be continued…

 

 

 

 

  

Game of Thrones and Star Wars sets

The day in Seville was a rough day… My friend living there showed me a real Spanish experience the night before (when I got home from Córdoba) and we needed to get an early start on the day… It wasn’t a great equation. 

 

Olivia had off and took me around the city. We were off to the Alcazar! We first passed the Giralda on the way. 

   

         

I was so excited for this. They filmed some of the new season of Game of Thrones here and I’m clearly a big fan. We spent about an hour walking around the grounds, just letting our allergies soak in all the pollen.

   

                      

    

         

We walked down to the river and around the Arenal area seeing the Royal Bullring and men tanning amongst other things.

   

                                           

To top off my nerdy fan girl day we went to Plaza de España… Where part of Star Wars was filmed. I was blown away. 

   

               

                                     

We took a nice scenic route back through the city before I was off to Granada!

  

                   

Gone to visit Ferdinand and Isabella

I woke up and due to scheduling despite my desire to not, it was a day trip travel kind of day. Seville is centrally located in the south of Spain so it was a great location to day trip from. My only complaint was that there were too many places to choose from. I really wanted to see Gibraltar but it was a very long bus ride with little time between to actually be there. I could go to the beach, Cadiz or Malaga. Out of ease (laziness) and lack of brain power to decision make I decided on Córdoba. I previously wanted to go here, nixed it, and now here I am. Córdoba seems to have a lot of mixed reviews as to being worth going to more than other places. And despite my lack of planning for Córdoba from my 33 page PowerPoint (not kidding, I love planning) I set off. I went by an over priced quick train. I also want to add now, I loved my choice and didn’t regret it. This is shown by my hundreds of pictures I’m about to post…

  

I saw that on the way… Like what? Random castles between the orange vineyards. 
I think the city has public wifi, that or I signed off in Spanish to use the wifi probably for the price of my 3 first born children. Either way, it was awesome. From previous GPS I found my way through gardens and continued with the newfound wifi. Gardens is kind of an understatement…. Fountains, shops, and orange trees. 
 

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

I followed along and ended up at the Cruz Roja de Córdoba. 
   

  

  

 

Walking from the train station, Mezquita Catedral de Córdoba and Virgen de Los Faroles came first and was where my path led. It was €8 to get in (adult, no student discount) and completely worth it. As everyone knows, I am not one to pay to go into things but this is not the place to be stingy with those whole eight euros. 
   

  

  

  

  

  

 

   

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

    

  

 

  


I walked around back to find the old Roman Bridge and the Calahorra Tower. It was Mereen, straight out of Game of Thrones.  

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

   

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

   

  

               

Last but not least, the Alcazar. 

   

                                                                             

After that, I got paella, wandered, and found some art displays before leaving Córdoba. 

   

                                    

I still hate paella, Spanish food does not do good things for my stomach. I also ended up not being let on my train because I “wasn’t early enough”. But, I got on the next one at no extra cost and all was fine. 
 

A teaser

I flew from Amsterdam to Seville, parting with Nick as he flew back to London. I have a friend studying abroad in the city so once I got settled in I met up with her. I only got to see a little of the city that night and on my walk to the train station the next day. I’m SO exited to explore the city, it was a nice teaser that I thought I would share… 

   

  

    

  

  

  

  

  

 

Left in the dark

We had one other day in Barcelona, Spain that has been left unaccounted for. We were determined to do all the other tourist things our hostel really recommended.

Despite my last post about some bad things, I love Barcelona. I love that my knowledge of Spanish actually works here, people really understand me and vice versa. I would love to just move here for 2 years and become completely fluent. I love the architecture. Every street is pure art.

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Seriously, how do I make these?

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We went to the Gothic Quarter and the whole historical area to look around. We started with the Gothic Cathedral. There was a band playing out front and the older crowd doing Jewish-type dances in the square. It was wonderful.

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We found this clock art installation inside some passageway off the path.

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And then we found this whole holiday celebration taking place. I’m assuming that’s what the band in front of the Gothic Cathedral was about, but we’re not sure. I took pictures of the sign with the name but couldn’t find on the internet anything about it. So anyway, we went into the big crowd to see what this festival was all about and there were little children climbing on each other. It was cool but incredibly strange. At the top were little children with helmets who literally climbed up each other like a ladder.

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The Picasso Museum has free entry on Sunday’s 3-7, but the line was so long and fast moving that they would give you a ticket with a time to come back to the museum for. We had about an hour to kill so we walked down to the shore by the aquarium. We also found this adorable little bakery on the way…

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Columbus Monument…

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We went back to the Picasso Museum then and only saw more beautiful artworks on the way. Literally, this city is a piece of art in itself.

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Photography inside the museum wasn’t exactly allowed. The architecture of the Picasso Museum itself might have even interested me more than the exhibits. Picasso’s not really my favorite artist so it didn’t speak to me nearly as much as other people. I still learned a lot, like who knew that Picasso started with portraits and almost all real-life kind of art. It was extremely eye-opening and I felt very cultured/educated afterwards.

After the museum we went to “Barcelona Crepes” right outside the Cathedral. Despite being in Spain, the Italian food was just really doing it. (The paella really didn’t.) We had so many crepes as we looked up what we could do on a Sunday night. The Spanish aren’t known for their hard work already but I can really guarantee that just about absolutely everything was closed in the city (minus the bars). Our flight left around 5am so we were just wondering the city before going to the airport early to try to nap.

Now, everything I’ve said is literally everything I’ve done in Barcelona. Anyone who knows Barcelona knows this is very, very wrong. We did everything that the hostel had told us to. They also told us to uh pass by Sagrada Familia. So we had that on our map as “must go” but you know, just pass by on our way back to pick our stuff up from the hostel. We also found from my friend’s pictures the Park de la Ciutadella. So, we ran into the Arc de Triomf and through the Paessig de Lluis Companys Park on the way to the other park…

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We finally got into the park- nothing was lit up. Not a single thing. I could still see but the pictures I got all turned out pretty badly… but this is what I got…

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I’m not sure how much you can see but this is a massive pond. There were ducks, birds, and trees in the water. It was gorgeous.

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Next I hope you can make out this insane beautiful fountain. The top in the back which you could walk up to had gold statues. It was such a work of art, I would suggest looking it up on google images since I clearly did no justice.

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We finally decided to call it quits and go to the Sagrada Familia as our last thing. On the way there we saw maybe the most Barca sight yet…IMG_2559

Okay so we got to Sagrada Familia and I like to believe it was just more beautiful at night and we didn’t miss this massive thing…

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Please take my advice and look at these sites sooner, don’t believe any crappy bug-filled-hostel workers. Don’t get left in the dark.

Honestly, you need way more than 2 days in Barcelona. It’s so beautiful and amazing… as bad as some things were on this trip, I needed more time and would need to come back anyway. Now when I come back I just know better.

Bugselona

We had an early morning flight from Madrid to Barcelona through Vueling for like 40 pounds or something extremely cheap.

We got a T-10 ticket for the metro. It took awhile to figure out, it’s multi person but on the same single ticket. We quickly learned the Spanish do not take their metro payments very seriously anyway. Imagine 4 girls with bags trying to shuffle through a single turn of a ticket…. We were just happy when we found out this was normal. We stepped off the metro and came out into the light for our first sight of Barcelona…

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We later learned that building is extremely famous and throughout the city there’s random buildings of the same architecture. I love it.

We checked into our hostel and got on our way! We were going to La Boqueria off La Ramblas (apparently a parade was going on) and stopped in Placa de Catalunya and the other sites.

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After that was Park Güell. We did less of the park area and more of the hike. It. Was. Gorgeous. I know it’s tourist packed, etc. but it was amazing.

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There were also some buildings on the way up/down that were just gorgeous.

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I realize now posting these, 1. Pictures do this place no justice. And 2. My pictures are just really weak and I think I need to step up from my iPhone.

After this walk we got dinner and went back to our Primavera hostel to take a 2 hour nap before going out on the town. When we started to get up the first girl starts screaming. Bug. Bed bug. It’s a complete myth you can’t see them, at certain stages in life you can and we definitely did at that. We get the guy working and we look around to point one out to him- there’s bugs everywhere. We lose our shit, pack up, and go to another hostel. By the time the whole ordeal is done it’s like 2am and no one is going out. The girl who woke up with the bug next to her face has clinical OCD over cleanliness- so she was having mental breakdowns. The other girl is a fashion major and freaking out over our clothes. I didn’t even have room to get upset. The hostel wasn’t even nice about it. The main guy was, he got us another hostel somewhere else, but the manager was plain rude. The one girl was going to continue to have breakdowns and not sleep until we got home. The whole thing was a mess and he wouldn’t even take responsibility. Also, for the record, I would just like to mention their staff seemed helpful and friendly but actually gave horrible tourism advice and kind of left us in the dark about quite a lot (we’ll get to that later).

I’m going to skip the next day to finish the bug story because it’s quite good honestly. I’ll finish the rest of the trip in the next blog post.

The manager grudgingly ended up paying for the next hostel and agreeing to give us all our money back and some for cleaning our clothes. As soon as we got into London we went to Primark and bought £5 dresses and Boots for some laundry detergent. We went to some laundry mat towards our housing to wash this mess. Imagine 4 girls, wearing literally only dresses and boots (no socks or anything else) doing about 10 loads of laundry. The woman thought we were insane. There was a pub 2 doors down. We all ended up getting hammered wearing about nothing waiting for our laundry to dry. I took it so seriously even my laces went in the wash…. Homemade laces.

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Let’s just hope we didn’t let the bed bugs bite…

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Just another European city.

I hate to say this, I feel quite bad and hate to be that person, but Madrid was “just another European city” as people would put it. There’s a reason it isn’t on every top list of places you just HAVE to go to. Even as I had to read the map, plan, speak Spanish and direct four sheep-like-girls- I still don’t feel I need to go back and do it again. Sorry Madrid, you were pretty.

We got in in the evening. My friends refused to do a hostel so we stayed in a rented apartment (never my preference) around the center of the city. We went out blindly and found ourselves a mojito bar.

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I don’t have much to say on this night other then don’t let a bunch of light weight girls get into BOGO mojitos. It was a long night for all of us.

Actually I do want to say something about the area we went out in. It was kind of tucked back, artistic, and just genuinely really cool. There was lots of graffiti and unique bohemian bars. I lost the picture but we got burgers at a tiny cafe with a massive McDonald’s clown head with a wifi name of “Free Gay Porn”. That I will say, was it’s own scene I haven’t quite seen yet. I don’t know if the area had a name but it was about a 10 minute walk back from the Sol area and my favorite part of Madrid.

We woke up the next day to be the usual tourists, starting with coffee and tapas.

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These were the only ones I got down Gran Via Avenue. It’s a super popular street but it just looked like New York City so we avoided it. Also this was my first glimpse into the Dunkin Donuts European takeover known as Dunkin Coffee. For the first time ever I was proud to see corporate America taking over corporate world… The world now runs on Dunkin.

Next was Plaza España including Torre de Madrid and Edificio España (direct translation: Tower of Madrid and Spanish Building- I hope this is some kind of cultural translation mishap and this isn’t really the hype of their brainstormed tourist attraction titles.)

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Temple of Debod and the surrounding areas…

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The Royal Palace with the Jardines de Sabatini, Plaza de Oriente, San Francisco de Asis, etc…

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We also came across the shop of nightmares.

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Plaza de la Villa and Mercado de San Miguel.

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And this one’s for my Game of Thrones fans. Even though I’m super against the sword being replicated as such with such a tacky direwolf I couldn’t not get a picture when I found it… Winter is coming.

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Next was Plaza Mayor.

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Puerta del Sol…

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“Should I go to Madrid?” Would I recommend it?
Not necessarily. If you’re back packing around it might be cool to see. I mean if the above interests you go for it. It’s neat but not necessary.

“How much time do I need in Madrid?”
One day, one night. No more, no less.

Is Madrid expensive?
Not really. I found it pretty averagely priced. It was cheaper than London and most European cities actually.

“What should I definitely do in Madrid?”
Temple of Debod was probably my favorite along with the little night seen back behind Puerta del Sol (just kind of wonder around?). The palace was pretty and a must. Everything else just seemed to be these plazas with pretty buildings, statues, and tourists.

 

CityMapper works in Madrid, that’s about all there is to it.