Andalusia

Summer in Spain: Málaga

Our last stop in Andalusia before heading to Barcelona was the wonderful city of Málaga, and birthplace of Pablo Picasso. My travel buddy and I weren’t sure what to expect here, but it ended up being a lovely addition to our Spain trip. Compared to the other cities we visited, we took a more relaxed pace here and spent most of the time on the beach. These are some of my favorite parts…

  1. Museo Picasso Málaga. There was a Picasso museum in most of the other cities we visited, but the others weren’t in the birthplace of the artist. I ended up loving this museum more than expected. I highly recommend doing the audio tour as it tells a great story about Picasso’s life and the art displayed.
  2. Mirador del Gibralfaro is an uphill walk well worth the view! From the viewpoint you can see the coast and city. You also have an aerial view of the Plaza del Torros. If you look closely in the photo below you can see a bull in the arena.
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    View from Mirador del Gibralfaro. See the bull?

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    We passed by ancient Roman ruins on our walk from the hostel

  3. Málaga is also known for a wine by the same name. It’s a fortified sweet wine made from Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes. I personally loved the dessert wine. We bought a few bottles and took them back to our hostel to enjoy on the patio.
  4. I have to mention our hostel, Feels Hostel City Center, as it was my favorite lodging during our time in Spain. It was such a friendly and lively crowd staying there, the staff was hospitable and the location was wonderful. It was a close walk to the cathedral, beach, Roman ruins, Picasso museum and many restaurants and shops.
  5. The beach. This was the middle of August in hot, humid Spain for two weeks. So yeah, we spent most of our days on the beach which makes this a short post. We saved money in this city by buying groceries for a few days and preparing food at the hostel or bringing a picnic to the beach.

    More of Spain:

    Sevilla
    Granada
    Barcelona

Summer in Spain: Granada

After an inappropriately long time of not updating the blog, I’m back! I have some exciting trips planned for 2017 that I want to write about. But first, let me finish giving you highlights of my Spain trip. In my latest post, I told you about my time in Sevilla, now I’ll share my experience in Granada, another beautiful city in Andalusia, Spain.

Here are the highlights…

  1. Tapas! Spain is famous for tapas, right? But did you know that every time you order a drink in Granada, you get complementary tapas? I think this is heaven on earth. Bodegas Castañeda (for vermouth and sangria) and Los Diamantes (for tinto de verano and fried seafood) were our favorite spots for drinks and tapas.
  2. Alhambra. It think this goes without saying, if you’re visiting Granada, plan to spend an entire day exploring the gorgeous gardens and plazas of Alhambra, meaning red castle in Arabic. The mix of Muslim and Christian influences are beautiful. We had trouble getting tickets, so I HIGHLY recommend buying them in advance.
  3. We spent an evening wandering Sacromonte, a traditional neighborhood in Granada. We walked the narrow roads and admired the beautiful white homes. We made our way to Mirador de San Nicolas for a gorgeous sunset view of Alhambra. I took a picture with my iPhone 4 which does nothing for the picturesque, emotional view.
  4. Alcaiceria Market was a fun day activity. The narrow street is crowded with leather goods, spices, teas and textiles overflowing from small shops. After spending the day shopping for unique goods, we took a break for Arabic tea.

     

  5. Dessert: Los Italiano’s for Cassata Ice Cream (I hear Michelle Obama visited here while she was in Spain) and THE. BEST. SWEET. EVER: Piononos. Piononos have changed my life and I wish I could find them in the U.S. They are sweet, rich, delicious cake rolls with a creamy topping and I need them back. We also had a unique experience of purchasing a box of cookies from nuns of Monasterio de San Bernado. This is something I’ll never have the chance to do again. You ring a bell and wait for a nun to greet you and trade a couple Euros for a box of delicious cookies.

    Those a just a few highlights of an amazing three days in Granada. This city is gorgeous and friendly – one that I would love to visit again.

    Check out more from my Spain trip:

    Sevilla
    Malaga
    Barcelona

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    View of the moon and Alhambra while walking the streets of Granada

Summer in Spain: Sevilla

10612854_10202587269192900_2593304565863529067_nAfter a much-too-long hiatus, I’m back to blogging. My trip to Spain was the highlight of 2014 and coming back to write about it was overwhelming at first, so I took a break from Road and Air.

I’ve decided to come back and write one post per city I visited in Spain with suggestions on what to see and eat. I may be rushing past the details, but I hope you make the trip and have your own experiences. To sum it up, Spain is a beautiful country with an alluring, laid-back culture and wonderful people.

I first landed in Sevilla (Seville in English) – it’s a hot, beautiful city gushing with Andalusian culture. Here are the highlights of my 3-day stay…

Hostel: Pension Virgen de la Luz

The hostel here was fantastic! It was clean, safe and in a great location. The staff was wonderful too, I arrived straight from the airport via bus and was exhausted, so they cleaned the room early for me so I could nap while waiting for my friend to arrive. We booked through Hostel World.

hostel

Food: pastries, sweets and coffee at La Campana

I fell in LOVE with Spanish food, wine and coffee my first day there. Since Sevilla was my first city to visit in Spain, I tried all sorts of Spanish food and drink for the first time at quaint bodegas and friendly bars. But there’s one place I want to call out specifically… La Campana.

Founded in 1885, this charming pastry shop was so yummy we visited for breakfast every day of our stay. I’d pick an array of small pastries based on how they looked (I didn’t always know what the names meant in Spanish) and have a cafe con leche in the outdoor seating area. If you visit, make sure to try a yema, a traditional Spanish sweet made with egg yolk and sugar – I’m a huge fan of egg-based desserts so I thought they were delicious.

Breakfast at La Campana - Yema is the bell shaped pastry you see.

Breakfast at La Campana – Yema is the bell shaped pastry you see.

Entertainment: Flamenco at La Carbonería

As this Spanish folk music and dance originated form the Andalusia region, I made it a point to go to least one Flamenco show that wasn’t a high production tourist stop. The atmosphere at La Carbonería was very relaxed and intimate. The bar was crowded but hushed when the show started. My friend and I ordered a pitcher of sangria and sat among the crowded benches for a lovely (and free!) flamenco performance.

flamenco

Sights

The city itself is beautiful, but there are several landmarks of Sevilla that make it extraordinary. Here are the ones I visited and recommend all of them:

  • Catedral de Sevilla and La Giralda: This is the largest cathedral in the world and worth the visit. You can see the tomb of Christopher Columbus as well as walk the spiraling ramp up to the top of the bell tower (La Giralda) for a breathtaking 360 degree view of the city.
  • Alcázar de Sevilla: My absolute favorite sight-seeing in Sevilla, the palaces are absolutely beautiful and I spent hours awing at the detail and architecture. Just look for yourself…
  • Plaza de España: The plaza was under construction when I visited, but it was nice to walk around this ode to a beautiful country.

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  • Metropol Parasol (also known as the mushrooms): I recommend spending the euros to go up the elevator! If I remember correctly it was about eight euros and included a complementary drink (soda, tinto, tinto de verano or caña). We went in the evening when the mushrooms are all lit up and enjoyed the night view of the city.

More on my trip to Spain: