This place is a foodie traveler’s paradise, but it’s also a country with a long and vibrant history, depicted by its monumental castles and preserved in fine art paintings, sculpture, and architecture that permeates the cities. Let me tell you about my journey of a lifetime across this historic wonderland – and feel free to follow in my footsteps.
Guest Post by Marie Nieves
When you think of Spain, the cities of Barcelona and Madrid are probably the first ones to pop in your head. Well, that happened to me as well, but then I turn to my good old friend Google and started to look for the most efficient ways to experience everything during my not-so-lengthy stay. After all- what’s a couple of weeks for an avid traveler?
Not a couple of minutes past when I realized that landing in the capital or Barcelona would require of me to go back and forth a lot, so the most sensible solution was to instead land in the historic city of Seville. From there, I had an easy time exploring the neighboring cities of Granada and Malaga, as well as the iconic fortress of Alhambra. I suggest you take this enthralling tour of these historic cities first, after which you can take the eastern coastline to the magnificent city of Barcelona.
Let’s not kid ourselves, Barcelona is the main reason why a traveler dreams of visiting Spain, at least it was my main reason. The famous city is beyond words, it’s vivacious and vibrant culture permeating every cobble-stone street, its intimate energy living inside every building, every street-side café. I knew I had to take more than a few days to experience it for all its worth.
Now, let me impart some wisdom here: the rates for calling your family back home are preposterous, so if you are embarking on a prolonged journey do not forget to put a Europe sim card in your phone in order to avoid the nonsensical charges. Having a local sim card will also help you get around easily, call a cab, phone museums and other institutions for information, etc. Now that my PSA is out of the way, it’s time to lose yourself in the passionate beauty of the city.
Be sure to walk down the iconic La Rambla all the way to the Grand Liceu and the towering monument of Columbus at the pier. Make a hard left and head straight to the Sagrada Familia, passing the Arco de Triunfo on the way.
Much like all of the country’s cities and towns, Madrid is a historic place with plenty to see and do, albeit with a bit of a modern twist. After all, this is the capital and it really does exemplify how modernization can live in perfect symbiosis with the cultural and historic heritage of generations past.
If you’re still determined on following in my footsteps, then your first order of business is to take a tour! The Royal Palace, the breathtaking El Retiro Park, and the grandeur of the Museo Nacional del Prado are excellent points of interest. With traditional Spanish restaurants at every corner, you will have no problem refueling for another couple of hours of exploration – my first pit-stop was at the El Boquerón, a renowned tapas institution I simply had to check out.
Yes, the southern region is more famous, but that doesn’t mean that the northern coastline is any less attractive – quite the contrary. Traveling north during my last few days in the country, I visited San Sebastian and the industrial city of Bilbao. However, the most memorable of all northern sights was the city of Santiago the Compostela.
Its bustling marketplace Mercado de Abastos de Santiago is equivalent to a foodie paradise, and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a monument you need to experience for yourself to believe its beauty. You can finish your exploration tour with a walk through the 16th-century park, Parque Alameda.
A parting word or two
I could go on about the amazing experience I had trotting through the cities of Spain, but I’m afraid that neither my vocabulary nor my time permit me to portray this amazing journey in all its life-changing glory. If there is anything I can leave you with it’s that you should take plenty of time to explore and experience every nook and cranny of this cultural gem of Europe.