verona

ESPANA

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!File_003(2)


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  • Madrid

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!

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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.

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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.

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Statue of Felipe III in front of Plaza Mayor

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Plaza de la Villa – just a cute little square close to Plaza Mayor 🙂

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  • Marbella

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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.

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  • Granada

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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!

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View from Alhambra Palace

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Food from restaurant that overlooked Alhambra – I want to say it was the Carmen Mirador de Aixa

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Amazing work being done by hand in the palace.

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Verona – the city of love

Hello lovelies! So, keeping with the theme of love since I am still so giddy about Valentine’s Day, I decided to write about Verona, one of the most romantic and quaint little cities in Italy. I’m sure it sounds familiar, as I think everyone and their mother has read Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, which takes place in Verona. To me, Verona was so incredibly beautiful, yet so full of history. Nestled between the Adige river and Lake Garda, I feel as though this place is one of the more underrated tourist destinations compared to some of Italy’s more famous regions like Rome, Milan, Naples, etc. There is something so romantic and charming about Verona, just strolling along the alleyways and seeing the beautiful arches and churches. There was really something breathtaking in every nook and cranny. I really wish I was able to spend more time exploring this city. If you are ever in Italy, I highly recommend taking a day or weekend to walk through the infamous streets of Verona.

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Since it is most well-known for Romeo + Juliet, it only makes sense that they have many monuments and odes to this famed play. For example, Juliet’s house where you can see the symbolic balcony (for a small price), or stand next to the Juliet monument where legend has it if you touch her right breast, you will have good fortune bestowed upon you. You’ll also see here the walls where lovebirds write their names . I can’t even imagine how many couples have written their name here. Also down the street, they have Juliet’s tomb, which you are able to walk around as it seems like a garden, but there is an entrance fee to see the actual tomb.

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Sant’ Anastasia Church

There are so many beautiful and historical churches all throughout Italy. The Sant’ Anastasia church in Verona was so ornate and beautiful that my sister and I couldn’t resist just walking around and taking in all of its beauty. The detail that went into creating the ceilings, the murals, the statues, it was all just unbelievable. HINT: if you are wearing spaghetti straps or revealing clothes, definitely have a shawl or scarf handy to cover your shoulders.

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Castel San Pietro

Okay for the best view in all of Verona, I don’t care what anyone else says, the best view is at the top of Castel San Pietro. Bring your water and your walking gear because there are about a million steps to the top, but it is worth every step. I believe there is a trolley or bus of some sort, but what fun is that? The real way to take in all a city has to offer is by foot. You get to walk past houses and yards, and little caverns and balconies, there really are no words for it. And once you get to the top, you will just be completely awe struck. You really feel like you are looking out into the entire universe.

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Piazza Erbe

Although there are many plazas within Verona, the one I liked most was Piazza Erbe. There are so many stalls and stands, from food to clothing to souvenirs, it is basically one giants market square and flea market.

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Castelvecchio

Castelvecchio is a beautiful, ancient castle from the Middle Ages. It costs about 6 euro to tour the entire museum, but you can also walk around some of it for free. Constructed back in 1354, it was used to protect the citizens of Verona from attack. The Ponte Scaligero bridge is also said to have served as a quick escape route to the country-side.

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My sister and I crossed both the Ponte Scaligero and the Ponte Pietra. Built originally with wood and then with white and pink stone, the Ponte Pietra is absolutely beautiful, but the history behind it is even more beautiful. Since the bridge has been around since 1 B.C., it seems only normal that it has collapsed several times since then. What makes this bridge so fascinating is that every time it collapsed, architectures of that time rebuilt it in the style of that time. For example, the right side of the bridge dates back to the Middle Ages and in 1298, features such as towers were added on and then the arches were renovated again in 1520.

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Ponte Scaligero

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Ponte Pietra

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Ponte Pietra

Verona Arena

The Verona Arena is an expansive structure that resembles the Colosseum. I believe it is the third largest of its kind in Italy. Eros Ramazzotti was performing the night we were there which was pretty amazing. If you can attend an event here I would certainly do it – and if you do show me pictures! I’d love to see what it looks like on the inside, if it is just as beautiful on the outside! Also to the left of the arena, is the town hall which is called Barbieri Palace. With the Grecian columns, it certainly resembles the White House!

 

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Gavi Arch

This arch also reflected the Venetian influence as it is built in white marble. When the French took over, it was completely dismantled as they believed it messed with traffic patterns and such. They discarded the pieces under the arches of the arena. In 1932, it was finally reassembled, piece by piece.

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Portoni della Bra

Right behind the arena is Piazza Bra, the largest square in Verona, and some say the largest in Italy. Lined with cafes and shops and stands, there is a ton of people-watching to be done here. There are also little fountains with lush plants spotted here and there throughout the square. In the square you will also notice two large arches with a clock in the middle. This gateway  is called the Portoni della Bra.

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Or you simply just wander around, you never know what beautiful sight you may come across 🙂

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