After leaving the charming, beloved Andalusia region, I headed to my last stop in Spain – Barcelona. Barcelona has a different vibe from the other cities I saw, most of all being much more crowded with tourists. However, we had an amazing time exploring and learning about the Catalonia capital. Here are the highlights:
My favorite part of visiting Barcelona was experiencing Festa Mejor de Gràcia, where the streets of the Gràcia neighborhood decorate in different themes for one week. This was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. They put on amazing decorations in themes spanning from Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, haunted house, southwestern U.S., under the sea and SO many more! We walked around drinking caña (draft beer) from street vendors and admiring the hard work and passion of the residents of the neighborhood. I’m having trouble locating most of the pictures from this, which is saddening, but believe me when I say I couldn’t do the creativity and joyful vibe justice anyway.
We did theFat Tire bike tour which was a blast! This is a great way to see many different areas of the city, starting from the Gothic Quarter, to La Sagrada Familia, and ending at the beach (with much more in between). The tour guides had some ridiculous anecdotes about the city’s history which I’m still not sure I entirely believe. Note: I highly regret not getting to see the inside of La Sagrada Familia. This is probably obvious, but add it to your list of things to do in Barcelona.
Sights along the Fat Tire city bike tour
Riding the streets of Barcelona with the Fat Tire tour group
Parc de la Ciutadella
Posing outside of La Sagrada Familia
Again, goes without saying. Go to La Boqueria, the market in Barcelona. The crowds were overwhelming, but once you get past that you can truly appreciate the vendors and samples of fruit, chocolate, marzipan and more. They also have stands that serve full meals. I ordered this “taco” pictured below which ended up being a bowl of the colors-of-the-rainbow and was quite spicy and delicious. I wish I could remember the name of the stand.
Pintxos are actually from the Basque region of Spain. However, I had no plans to go there this time around, so trying the culinary delight in Barcelona was good enough for me! We tried them at a restaurant called Euskal Etxea. You grab tasty tapas from a buffet bar and are charged for the number of toothpicks you’ve pulled at the end of your meal. I really don’t know what I was eating but it was ALL delicious!
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…
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.
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.
View from Mirador del Gibralfaro. See the bull?
We passed by ancient Roman ruins on our walk from the hostel
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.
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.
City Center of Malaga, the area our hostel was in
Crepes from the shop right next door to the hostel
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.
Yes, bottled tinto de verano is about as good as the ones I order from the bar
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…
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.
Vermouth on tap
Drinks and tapas in Granada, Spain
Tapas in Granada
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.
Beautiful fountains and gardens in Alhambra
Amazing detail and architecture
Gorgeous flowers and colors make the gardens a special place
Rainbow prism in Alhambra
Amazing detail and architecture
Patio de los leones
Amazing detail and architecture
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.
View from Mirador de San Nicolas – this picture does not do the view justice
Sunset in Sacromonte
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.
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.