Lifestyle

Traveling through Spain and Portugal

 

Entering the Madrid airport I looked up at the ceiling and the first thing I noticed was the bamboo plywood that covered it. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, especially in an airport. This visually stimulating structured ceiling felt very welcoming after a long flight.

From the airport we went to get our rental car and headed off on our new adventure.

First stop was Segovia, a cute old city about 1.5 hours outside of Madrid. We visited the Alcázar de Segovia, which was truly magnificent. We got there when it opened, around 10:00. This was great because there wasn’t a lot of tourists around, so we got to explore the castle by ourselves. The views were breathtaking! It sits on top of a hill overlooking the little town and a lot of beautiful vegetation. We only spent enough time here to visit the castle before traveling south.

 

Second stop was Toledo, another old town quite similar to Segovia, but more people out and about. This city melted my heart, and one of my favorite places we stopped at. This town even though being very old, was very much alive! People out exploring, taking in the view, going to little local shops, or cafes. We stopped to get a cappuccino, and set off to explore the city. I felt that it was truly my first taste of Spain. (No pun intended.) I loved the little memories made from our short visit here.

 

Then, it was off to Seville! Seville was where we stayed for 4 nights. It was a blast! This lively old city was rich in culture and the locals were so sweet and helpful. There were tons of great places to get tapas and wine! Our favorite restaurant was Mamarracha! I highly recommend going there. One of my favorite dishes on the menu was the risotto with roasted tomatoes, arugula pesto and kalamata olives! Since my boyfriend’s sister is studying abroad there, she was a great help in finding neat areas to visit.

We decided to attend one of the walking tours. Check out Pancho Tours! They offer a free (but make sure to tip) walking tour. The name of our tour guide was Chel. He was such a great tour guide and provided us with many stories and facts about Seville. We walked all around this amazing city. Tons of gardens, parks, monuments, and cathedrals. With all the walking around we did, we thought it would be a great idea to relax and unwind.

For this, we went to Aire Seville. Here they offer many different packages but we decided to get a massage and take a dip in the thermal baths. It was my first thermal bath experience and it was great! You go from warm water, to a jacuzzi, to cold water, to hot water, then float and relax in the salt water bath and finish with the sauna. It was the perfect activity for a lazy rainy day.

We spent Thanksgiving in Seville, and what was really neat is that we got to experience the history of Columbus, Isabella, and Ferdinand, from the other side of the pond. We retraced the footsteps of Columbus and heard more stories about his voyage to the new world, his scandals, and many other things you don’t hear about in history class.

We decided to take a day trip to Portugal. We stopped by Lagos first. One word to explain it, wow! It was a beautiful warm day, and we really enjoyed soaking up the sun and walking along the beach. One of the first things I noticed was how different the shells looked when comparing them to the ones I normally see on the east coast back home. Pretty colors of pink and blue. The ocean was very clear, it looked so inviting and I wanted to jump in! I could have sat there and stared at it all day. The town was very gorgeous, all the white houses and the steep cobblestone roads and pops of color from the flowers, it was so much fun exploring. After that, we drove to another spot in Lagos where you could walk along the top of the cliffs and to me, this was one of the highlights of the trip. The cliffs were so tall, and it was quite scary at first but I began to drift closer and closer to the edge to try and get a glimpse of all the waves crashing on the rocks. David didn’t like that, and kept begging that I wouldn’t get so close.

On the way back, before leaving Portugal we went to a place called Faro. It looked like a ghost town at first. Many of the shops there looked like they closed down for the fall, but as we kept walking, we could see there was still a number of people out and eating at the restaurants. There was a lot of tourists here, so we fit right in. Before leaving, we laid on the beach, enjoying the last of the warm weather. I enjoyed the sand between my toes and the breeze blowing through my hair.

After our stay in Seville, we stayed a night in Valencia. We were told many times that this was the place to get the best Paella. We walked over to the old city in Valencia and sat at the courtsquare and here is where I had my first Paella experience. It was extremely delicious, so many flavors. I knew that I was really going to miss all the great food I had in Spain when I got back to the states. 

From Valencia we headed to Barcelona. Though we spent many hours in the car driving from one location to another, we saw some pretty cool things. One thing that really excited me, was all the olive trees. They were everywhere! Miles and miles of them. It was crazy to see so much of one thing scattered out as far as the eye could see.

We really enjoyed our time in Barcelona and spent a few nights there, and despite a minor complication with our AirBnB, we managed to have a great time! We took a tour and learned about the Gothic Quarter, architecture, bull fighting, and my favorite, learning about the castellers. I recommend getting a ticket for the Barcelona bus tour. You can hop on and hop off this bus all day. It takes you to great locations and provides you with earbuds so you can listen to the history of Barcelona. Another great thing to do, if you love comedy, is check out the Barcelona Improv Group, they offer a show in English that is very entertaining!

We loved Aire Seville so much, we decided to try the one in Barcelona. David and I walked everywhere, and we were very tired, so taking some time to relax was necessary.

Our last stop was Madrid. We stayed at a cute AirBnb located in a busy court square. We set out to grab some food, sight see, and visit the Museo Nacional del Prado. This museum had the largest collection of art I had ever seen. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to look at it all.

Of course I couldn’t go to Spain without seeing a Flamenco show. We had a blast watching the dancers perform. We went to the show at Tablao Flamenco Villa Rosa. I really enjoyed the intimate setting, the dim lighting , and the drinks were great. I highly recommend this place if you stop by Madrid.

Though I was very stressed about packing for the trip, I ended up not stressing over what to wear, which was very surprising. I had just what I needed, though with all the rain, I wish I had packed my rain boots. Overall, this trip was absolutely amazing and I am very blessed to have had David be my travel partner. Many great memories were shared here and I can’t wait to visit Spain again!

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