So my last post was April 3rd…I always tell myself I won’t allow any of these long hiatuses to occur, but here we are. A lot has gone on since April and between work and my personal life this took a back seat, but I am back – and what better way to come back with a nostalgic post about Spain?! Around this time two years ago I was travelling all over Spain, loving every second of it, even the historical heat wave we faced in Madrid (well, maybe not that part). Spain was absolutely beautiful with such an incredible culture and people, so I cannot wait to share these images and stories with you!
Our first stop was Madrid. Beautiful beautiful Madrid! I have never been to Spain before so I wasn’t too sure on what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Throughout all my European adventures, I have never seen such detailed architecture before. The plazas were extremely large, much bigger than the ones I saw in Italy. The nightlife was unmatched – watch out NYC, they are the true city that never sleeps…well, aside from the whole siesta thing (yes it is real!). Literally everything shuts down during siesta time, I had extreme trouble finding even a convenience store to just grab a bottle of water!
I loved exploring everything Madrid had to offer, from the museums, to the parks, to the flamenco dancing, and of course the tapas and wine! They also have great trips available to places like Toledo (so sad we didn’t get to go!). I would definitely recomend renting a bike (we were able to do so at a gas station lol), see a flamenco show, and explore EVERYTHING. Don’t be afraid to get lost!
Oh and if you’re there in the summer be sure to order a the popular summer wine cocktail, tinto de verano. It literally translates to red wine of summer. Super light and refreshing 🙂
Let’s start with some of the sites you can’t miss!
The Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace of Madrid) is just breathtaking. The size alone will leave you in awe! No pictures are allowed to be taken inside but surely what you see will be engraved in your memory. The rooms are so beautifully (and ornately) decorated and full of indulgence, you could only imagine a king living here! They have gardens surrounding the place, making it hard to believe this is right in the middle of Madrid! They also have an armory full with an incredible collection, some even say the best in Europe.
Plaza Mayor is a typical plaza full of street vendors and little stores, but what makes it so unique are the murals painted on the Casa de la Panaderia (Bakery House). the building was constructed in 1619 and as assumed, has undergone many renovations. It was originally designed to house the Baker’s Guild, which was extremely powerful as they controlled grain prices. the original paintings on the walls were redone in 1992, so pretty recently! It is now home for the Madrid Tourist Information Center, so if you are looking to get any information, this is the place to stop by! Also, typical to touristy areas, I would stay away from the cafes in the plazas, you can find a much more authentic and reasonably priced place one off the beaten path.
Statue of Felipe III in front of Plaza Mayor
Plaza de la Villa – just a cute little square close to Plaza Mayor 🙂
Monumento de Victoria Eugenia y Alfonso XIII
Down to Andalusia we go! Marbella was a great way to relax on beautiful beaches and drink some tropical dranks after a bunch of touristy things (and a TON of walking) in Madrid. There were a ton of British and Russians there when I was there, I am not sure if they like to vacation there or if they kind of took over. Nonetheless it was absolutely beautiful. From the little stone pathways, the winding tiny streets. It reminded me of Sorrento or Cinque Terre. They had the cutest boutiques, the most quaint little cafes. I would totally recommend just walking around and getting lost and see what you stumble upon. They have wonderful ocean front dining and clubs at night right on the beach. I have honestly never heard of it before coming here, I assume places like Ibiza overshadow it, but it seems pretty family friendly too as I saw a ton of families with young kids! We literally just ate, drank, and relaxed on the beach during our time here, we didn’t do much exploring at all.
Our final stop before heading back to Madrid to go home! And WOW, what a way to end a trip of a lifetime! Granada was just breathtaking, from the 1000 year old Alhambra and the views, to the wonderful markets and vendors, to the Turkish baths, to the modern shopping and dining, Granada has it all. I will certainly be adding more pictures as I unearth them from my computer, but the views I was able to capture from the Alhambra Palace are literally nothing like I have seen before. It was totally worth the trip to see and explore the grounds here. It truly felt like I was time warped to the past. This is another city with a ton of winding little alleys and streets that you should get lost in. It also had a very Arabic feel, with Arabic restaurants, vendors, etc. Completely different vibe and energy form Marbella and Madrid and anywhere I have been really. Loved every second of it.
Also, though there are no pictures here (we weren’t allowed to take them), of the first Turkish baths in Spain, I highly recommend going. After a long trip of travelling and walking around, see and learning and being apart of this awesome history was just incredible. The baths were beautiful and clean, and we got massages after!
View from Alhambra Palace
Food from restaurant that overlooked Alhambra – I want to say it was the Carmen Mirador de Aixa
Amazing work being done by hand in the palace.