Today I am continuing my Spain series with Part 3 – Places and Experiences. This post was my most difficult to get out there. Why was it difficult? Well…It is because we did a lot on this trip and I have so dang many pictures and thoughts to share. This is also why this is the longest post. So grab a refreshment and read on.
While my mind wants to go day by day, experience by experience, I simply cannot. In that format, each day could be its own post. Heck, we packed so much in that some days from this trip could be multiple posts. With this in mind, I am going to take a different approach and just share images by city and break it down that way. Words will be short with a focus on simply sharing images and a few highlights. If you are interested in a place, an image or location, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!
As a recap, here are the cities we visited on this incredible journey. Itinerary: Madrid to Barcelona to Granada to Sevilla to Toledo to Madrid. In the gallery’s below, click on any to go to Slideshow mode.
Note: A special shout out to my wife and super planner for mapping out and planning the planes, trains and automobiles. Truly a trip to remember!
Madrid: Surprisingly, Spain was completely new to all of us. Despite traveling quite a lot over our lives, none of us had set foot in Spain. Our first footsteps in Spain were in Madrid. We spent only 2 days there. Honestly, it was sensory overload filled with exciting sites, adventures and tastes everywhere. While a big city for sure, it does not feel like a huge city like Tokyo, New York, etc. It’s a really beautiful city. We stayed near the city center and spent our time walking and adjusting to the time zone. Highlights in Madrid include all the firsts; tapas, colors, smells, Madrid Cathedral, the Royal Palace, cookies baked by hidden nuns, and the Atocha train station. The thing we enjoyed the most in Madrid was simply walking, talking, laughing and going tapas bar to tapas bar experiencing the culture, food and drink. Madrid was a great way to adjust and get settled.
Barcelona: We taxied to the Atocha train station and boarded the high speed train to Barcelona. We planned our longest time in Barcelona, partly because one of my life bucket list items was on the list, seeing FC Barcelona play at Camp Nou! You see, when you book tickets for FC Barcelona you book for a two day window and they don’t give you a date, a time and nor seat assignments until days before the match. We only knew it would be Saturday or Sunday so we set our schedule up around it. In the end, it ended up being Sunday night and started at 10:00 PM! Highlights included FC Barcelona game, staying by the beach, 4 Cats, Picasso’s art work all around, the Gothic district, Sagrada Familia Basilica, a day on the Costa Brava and a drive & gondola up to the incredible Montserrat. Barcelona was beautiful, comfortable and easy to navigate. We covered a lot of ground here and had a few really late nights! A note about this portion of the trip. My personal favorite area that I am longing to go back to is the Costa Brava area just North East of Barcelona. Simply stunning area and I want to hike the miles of coast line and stay and eat in the small coastal cities.
Granada: We flew on a cheap, European airline from Barcelona to Granada. We did this not only because it was incredibly cheap (flights under $50!), but also to give us some additional time in Granada. For those new to Granada, it is the home of the Alhambra. The Alhambra construction began in the 12th century! There is a lot of history here to read up on. Too much for me to type. From the Islamic architecture, to the red bricks, to the gated city and to the expansion and hostile take over by the Spanish Christians. It is believed that Columbus asked for money here for his expeditions that resulted in the discovery of America (Which I struggle with because when he “found America” there were already natives here). The point is that it has so much history. I could of have spent at least 2 days simply walking the grounds and photographing this place. The highlight of Granada was walking the winding streets as well as finding a dinner spot to sit, eat, drink and watch the sunset with a grand view of the Alhambra. I also found my favorite coffee spot of the trip, La Finca and Jen & I had our favorite breakfast here at I Need Coffee (the kids were still sleeping)
Sevilla: Another day another train ride. As a side note, I sure love train travel. I can stare out that window, journal’s, doodle, or just sit quietly dreaming of riding my bike on roads and trails that I see through the windows. Sevilla was quite a surprise for all of us. We saw flamenco both in a performance hall as well as on the streets. Food, drink, walking, both old & modern architecture, a surprise peacock and music on the streets. We absolutely loved Sevilla and I think all of us would go back here for a bit more time.
Toledo: Toledo is known as the city on the hill. Many do Toledo as a day trip from Madrid but we decided to stay a night. We had one day Toledo but it felt much shorter than that. Not only were we all exhausted, but also spent most of the afternoon getting our covid tests and documents in place so we could return to the USA (required at the time of our trip). In the end, we left later in the day to walk around and it was brutally hot! I forgot my camera (unreal right?). We ended up walking for a bit, getting a refreshment and crashing early. I don’t think we gave Toledo a fair shot as we were so tired and focused on the covid test, results and getting the airport in the AM. But it is a beautiful city and a fun day trip from Madrid.
So those are the places and experiences. We LOVED every minute and can’t wait to go back.
Lastly, I will have one last post on Spain. I decided to add a bit of an artists interpretation and a day in the life of Spain post. Something a bit more artsy and some of my favorite images that have not entirely fit the story line so far. That should come later this week. Stay tuned.