I'm sitting down on a lovely sunny afternoon (at about 6PM) to write about my time in Spain so far. We've been here for 13 days already and right now we're in our fourth city - Malaga. I'll talk a bit about each place we've visited in this sunny country, but first, an overview of why we're here!
I knew I wanted to visit Spain since I was in college. At the time, my relatives and friends went to Spain and loved it. They stayed up late, drank cheap wine, and had delicious food. It always seemed like a magical land of sunshine and ham and flamenco and manchego cheese! The Spanish people appeared to be laid back with a flair for drama and passion (from what I'd heard) - just like me, right? ; ) I had to check it out.
When planning our big 3-month adventure, my husband and I knew we wanted to really get a feel for this country. We allocated almost 3 weeks and included 5 cities. First, in the middle of the country was Madrid (the capital), then we went south to the region of Andalucia for visits to Sevilla, Granada, and Malaga, and in a couple days we'll go up to the northeast corner for a week in Barcelona.
Spring is a perfect time to visit these parts of Spain. There is little rain and the temperature is still cool at night and comfortably warm during the day. In the summer, it can get brutally hot out which makes sightseeing quite difficult. But right now it's perfect and there are flowers everywhere!
So, what have we been up to?
After recovering from jet lag (did I mention I slept 11 hours our first night in Madrid?) we explored all the main plazas and neighborhoods. The Prado Museum was great, as was the Royal Palace. There was a beautiful park near our hotel which was an ideal spot for running in the morning. One afternoon we took a bus to Toledo and mentally traveled back in time while walking in the old walled city. Food highlights: vermouth, jamon, and albondigas (meatballs).
My memories of Sevilla will always be linked with the delightful aroma of orange blossoms. The trees lining the streets were so fragrant, it was unbelievable. Here, the best part of our visit was getting lost on little streets and finding charming tapas restaurant exactly when we needed them every time. We saw a fantastic flamenco show up close and personal - oh, the passion! The Sevilla cathedral was beautiful, as was the Alcazar Palace, but my favorite attraction was the beautiful Plaza de Espana. As the sun went down, it glowed.
This smaller city right near the Sierra Nevada mountains has a LONG history starting around 5000 BC. These days, people go to see history from the Moors, especially the large palaces build on the old fortress which is called the Alhambra. When tourism at the Alhambra started picking up about 40 years ago, it brought an influx of visitors to Granada. The Alhambra is the most important thing to see in Granada and the rest, in my opinion, is take-it-or-leave it. After the charms of Sevilla, we found Granada to be more difficult and a bit grittier. We still saw beautiful streets and sunshine, but it just didn't have the same charm.
Now the Alhambra on the other hand, was AMAZING. A must-visit. I was blown away by the different sections from different centuries, the gardens, the summer palace, the military towers, and more. It was so beautiful and interesting! The Nasrid Palace from the 12th century was my favorite part and I'd never seen anything like it. These photos can't do it justice.
By the way, did you know that Granada means pomegranate in Spanish?
Sun and sea, Malaga is a vacation hot-spot. We're staying up on a big hill which provides beautiful views! But also a 15 minute walk to get anywhere...
Our first day in Malaga was Palm Sunday and we stumbled upon the city's parade.
Now for a few more days of sunshine, views, and relaxation near the water before heading up to BARCELONA!