So you’ve probably all been to Spain on a family holiday or girls holiday to somewhere like Benidorm. I’m talking to you Emily Simm.
But my first trip around Europe we didn’t include Spain.
The next year we backpacked just Portugal and Spain and I’m here to tell you why Spain should most definitely be on your top places in Europe next summer.
Where did I go?
Seville, Granada, Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona and L’Escala.
1. The weather
You are basically guaranteed good weather.
It’s not like Paris or Prague where it could vary. We got the best weather most days for 2 months. Weather can make or a break a day sometimes so it was amazing to have sun nearly every day.
We managed to travel around just on buses.
That was difficult in the rest of Europe, but in Spain? They were the cheapest and quicker way to get from city to city.
A bus from Seville to Granada costs around £20, and only takes 3-4 hours.
These buses, mostly, had air con and WiFi. If you’ve travelled before you’ll know how excited we were for bus WiFi.
Just be careful you don’t accidentally book a bus to a Valencia station thinking it’s the actual Valencia but in actual fact it’s a bus station in the north of France. Don’t worry, even through broken Spanish we figured it out before it was too late. Still blaming Clarke Gates-George.
Alice and I a bit too happy the bus had WIFI.
3. The food.
One word. Tapas.
It is amazing.
You quickly learn that tapas is so cheap you can actually eat out most nights. Which, again if you read my other post, you’ll know was a massive treat instead of crisps.
In Granada there’s a rule, and it is possibly the best rule ever.
If you order any drink you get a free bowl or plate of tapas. It differs in each bar you go in and is a chance to try some local food. So you may as well drink really?
I also rekindled my love for olives. There is little outdoor olive markets everywhere and you can try different types.
Stuffed chilli olives. That’s all I’ll say.
Lastly, seafood paella. Try it, eat it as much as you can there and just appreciate it as much as I do. Please.
4. The sites.
I soon became aware that Spain is astonishingly beautiful.
Granada, again. We went on a hike on a blistering hot day up Sierra Nevada. If you haven’t heard it look it up it is amazing. I think it was my favourite day in Spain.
Just look at that.
Complete with hikes, waterfalls, and just beautiful scenery. We even had a local dog for a tour guide.
Spain is just pretty, basically. Seville with its rich flamenco history and beautiful artistic monuments. Granada with it’s Moorish designs and amazing scenery. Valencia with its stunning architecture and beaches. Madrid with its city vibes and busy atmosphere. Barcelona with, well everything and where we ended in L’escala epitomizing Spanish life.
If you want to know my favourite places in each city we went to just drop me a message!
5. The nights out.
Where do I even start?
From what I can remember, they were in amazing.
From walking up to a look out point and watching the sun go down with a bottle of wine whilst locals played guitar, to the bars and clubs, you’ll never be bored. One thing to know about Spain is that although your days are chilled, your night will start late and end late. Locals go out for their tea around 10-11, strange I know. They usually have a few drinks with tea then go onto a bar after, the clubs and bars are open late.
In Seville, our hostel, The Oasis Backpackers Palace, had a roof top pool. Need I say anymore? I would highly recommend this hostel, it’s great for meeting people, the staff are extremely friendly (shout out to Adam Jennings, number one staff member obviously) and helpful, and did I mention the pool?! Homemade Sangria in watermelons in the sun turned into tapas and beer round the corner which inevitably turns into dancing on the top of a bar we somehow had a lock in inside.
One night we accidentally created our own bar crawl from the hostel.
Neill, our fav aussie tour guide, clearly sold it. We were drinking in the lounge, next minute we’d recruited a whole team of us on a bar crawl. And what a bar crawl it was! That was one of the best nights we had in Spain.
It just showed how a group of people who didn’t know each other before can organize themselves, very intoxicated, and still make an adventure, and make it to a fair few bars.
In Valencia we joined the hostel bar crawl, for around €6 we could drink unlimited sangria and beer for 90 minutes. It’s safe to say Neill quickly got thrown off the crawl and his flip flops did not remain on in the club.
These are just a few examples of some amazing nights we had in Spain.
As I have previously mentioned, I love beaches. In Spain there is no shortage.
Valencia beach. Barcelona beach. Tossa de mar beach. L’Escala beaches.
We spent many a day on the beach.
Whether it was drinking mojitos in Barcelona or cliff diving in Tossa de Mar. It’s one massive advantage of Spain you don’t get in a lot of Europe.
7. Trips out
You’re never too far from your next place in Spain
So days out are a must and easy to do.
From Barcelona we took a 2 hour bus to Tosser de Mar located on the Costa Brava. It was one of my favourite days out of the trip.
We snorkeled, cliff dived, and just chilled but it was so nice to experience a brand new place so close to a major city. It felt like we were getting a taste of the real Spain, compared to the big cities we were used to.
8. Game of Thrones
Some Game of Thrones was filmed in Spain.
Seville. Seville’s beautiful Alcázar palace was the set for some of season five’s Sunspear the seat of House Martell and the capital of Dorne.
You may recognize some of my pictures from the Dorne episodes. It is the oldest palace still in use in Europe with its breathtaking architecture, and the fact that the royal family still occupy the upper level, what is there not to want to visit?
GOT film makers also looked into another location we visited, Granada’s Alhambra palace. Which I’m sure you’ll agree is just as beautiful.
9. The Architecture
So one thing I will keep with me is all the astounding architecture in Spain. Brace yourself, this section is slightly longer, but worth it, I assure you.
In particular, Barcelona needs a shout out.
The Sagrada Família especially is breathtaking, and I’m not one to use words such as ‘astounding’ and ‘breathtaking’ in daily language. So, you know it is good.
When we visited it we were quite literally in awe. The sheer size of the Sagrada Família is crazy, even when still being built. Then, once you are getting over how amazing it is outside, you go inside, and it’s just a whole other level of awe.
Both the inside and outside of it made me stand staring up with my mouth open. It is worth a trip to Barcelona just to see it.
Now, another place I feel the architecture really struck me was in Granada. It’s Moorish history is prevalent everywhere, and I loved it.
If you don’t know, Moorish culture and history relates to the group of Muslim people from North Africa who ruled Spain from 711 to 1492.
You can tell the difference from say Madrid or Barcelona to the architecture in the South of Spain. I think Granada was my favourite for architecture, the Alhambra palace, which I have already mentioned in Granada, is a key example of this.
The use of arches, mosaic tile work and beautiful patterns gave the whole of Granada an amazing feel, I didn’t feel like I was in Spain at times. It is one place I would love to live one day.
I could go on and on about the architecture in Spain, but I’ll just mention Valencia last.
I didn’t know what to expect with Valencia. We weren’t planning on going, it was a bit of a whim, as we realized San Sebastian in the north was far away and pretty pricey. Our Aussie friend Neill, previously mentioned, was heading there too so we though hey why not? Plus, we were kinda missing our tour guide.
It is a whole different world to the more historic and old style in Granada. Valencia is contemporary and visionary.
We were pleasantly surprised when Neill suggested a day to the City of arts and science centre, we groaned a bit, all ‘are you sure it’s not going to be boring?’
But how wrong we were.
It is called the City of Arts and Science and is an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex. Well worth a visit for any age, we had fun learning science stuff and playing around with contraptions as well as spending time viewing a film on space in the dome Ominax theatre.
One last thing I thought was really cool in Valencia is the Turia Gardens, running right through the city. It is a former riverbed turned into a park.
It is one of the largest urban parks in Spain, boasting gardens, play areas, cycle routes and sports areas. It goes right under all the bridges and areas in the city all the way to the City of Arts and Science. It’s a really cool place that the city has turned into something special.
So, I know number 9 was a long one so I’ll keep it brief.
Definition: A siesta (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsjesta]) is a short nap taken in the early afternoon, often after the midday meal. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in some countries, particularly those where the weather is warm.
I don’t think I need to point out how great it is to actually be allowed to take a nap mid way through the day. Not just that, but be encouraged to.
All the shops shut too. So really, you have no choice.
Plus, you don’t realize how accustomed you become to them. Not being an avid napper in Britain, my brain is usually working overtime, but after Spain I felt like I needed them. They were a part of my daily routine by the second week.
So, I thought I’d leave you with that one.
I hope these 10 reasons have made you think about Spain in a different light. That, or for the amazing people I met along the way, they’ve just left you a little nostalgic.
Either way, I hope it was helpful. As always feel free to ask for further information!
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‘Til next time.