Travelling through Southern Spain

HI friends,

Sorry for the lack of blogging! I’m really working on creating a good balance of blogging when I have something to say, and time to properly say it. I didn’t have the time over the past week due to life and work being busy, so I had to wait until things eased up a bit.

I missed you all though!

After a couple of week’s with no travel recaps, I thought I would start up again with my trip to Spain.

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I will start this recap off with the simple fact that I loved Spain! Loved it so much. And I knew I would love it the moment that I arrived in Seville. It was evening when we arrived, and my friend and I went to a little shop where we had some sangria and tapas. It was about 11 pm and still very hot (Seville is very south, and we were there in June so during the day it was around 40 degrees C- very hot).

Our first full day in Seville, we started it off with seeing the Seville Cathedral. It is the largest Gothic church, the largest cathedral in the world, and the third largest church in the world. And it was stunningly beautiful.

We approached it from the wrong way, so we had to walk about half-way around it to find an entrance. Upon the entrance were some old ladies, with one approaching both my friend and me. Now, I speak a very,very minimal amount of Spanish- so little, it’s probably more accurate to just say I don’t speak Spanish. But this lady proceeded to give me my “fortune” for about 10 minutes, in full Spanish, despite me trying to stop her several times since I couldn’t understand what she was telling me. In the end she gave me a little tree, and I gave her a few euros so she would leave me (despite her insisting that I actually owed her 10 euros). So if in Seville- watch out for the ladies giving “fortunes” outside of the church.

However, eventually we did see the church and it was beautiful.

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My friend and I spent the rest of the day wandering around Seville. You can tell the church has a huge history in Spain, as pretty much anytime you see a building, it’s a church. It was a very, very hot day, so we rounded out our first day with some time at the pool of our hotel. A must if you are there in June!

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Day 2 in Seville started with a trip to Plaza de Espana. While the plaza is fairly new, especially in European standards, as it was built in 1929, it was stunningly beautiful. It was built with Spanish tiles everywhere, and is more a piece of art than building. It inspires thoughts of a time long past.

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After wandering around the city all day (with many breaks into air conditioned shops and cafes), we spent the evening in an air-conditioned building (can not stress enough how hot it was when we were there), and watched Flamenco dancing. Flamenco dancing gets its roots from this area, and is a form of Spanish folk music, and includes dancing, singing, and some fantastic Spanish guitar. The dancing is reminiscent of tap dance, but has so much more flair. The show itself was about an hour long, and was amazing to watch the performance live.

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Day 3 in Seville was actually spent outside of Seville. As soon as my friend and I started planning a trip to Spain, we knew we had to go to Granada, and see the Alhambra (more about it below). My friend organised buying our ticket, as tickets in high tourist season can sell out far in advance. The ticket allows entry for a 30 minute time frame, and the website is clear that if you miss your time slot, your ticket is no longer valid.

This was concerning to my friend and I, as we had some difficulties getting the train to Granada. Due to confusions when buying our ticket, the woman at the counter sold us the ticket that was directly to Granada, which meant we were to arrive at 3:10, despite our entry time being between 3-3:30. We had looked up train times the day before, and had arranged to be at the train station for 8 am, due to another train showing that it would get us to Granada for noon. We later realised that the confusion was the train we had found was not a direct train, so the woman working at the train station hadn’t realised that it was an option. Unfortunately, by the time we realised this (and ran to the counter to try and buy tickets for the train we wanted), we were told we had missed the cut-off time to purchase tickets for that train time. As such, we took the later train, and had to run from the train station, to a taxi, and then across the grounds of the Alhambra to get to the entry place for our ticket. We were very lucky, as we didn’t arrive until 4 and were still let in. However,  I don’t advise anyone to ever repeat this!

The run and confusion was worth it once we were in.

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The Alhambra construction first began in 899, but was then abandoned until mid-11th century. The palace was built for the final Islamic rulers in Spain. As such, it has a very middle Eastern feel to it. From the ceilings, to the floors, everything is carved and beautifully detailed. It is a world heritage site, and if you are ever in Southern Spain, it is a must-see.

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It was worth the 4 hours we spent on the train that day, as well as the massive confusion while trying to book trains and figure everything out. It is definitely a full day event, so if you are planning a trip- don’t plan anything else that day.

That night, we took the train back to Seville, and collapsed exhausted into our beds. We were up bright and early the next morning, as we had a flight to catch to Madrid.

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We were only in Madrid for two days, and I’m sure there will be many people who disagree with me for saying this- but that was more than enough time. Truthfully, Madrid was a let down after Seville- and I much preferred Barcelona over Madrid as well.

Now, this could be that I was there when the King of Spain was stepping down, and his son was ascending to the throne. And the hotel we stayed at was right by the palace. As such, everytime we went anywhere, we had to go through a security check and have our bags searched. We didn’t even try and go to the event where the King stepped down, as there were just people everywhere. I’m also not a huge museum person- and the main thing to do in Madrid are see museums- there are so, so many. However, as I didn’t really want to go to those museums, I found that two days was sufficient time.

What did we do since we didn’t spend any time at the museums? Well, we shopped. Madrid has some fantastic shopping. We saw the palace, but unfortunately, due to the timing of the King stepping down, we were unable to go inside at all.

We also checked out a beautiful old market which I loved (up until I saw Barcelona’s market…but we’ll get there)

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And that night we checked out the Madrid nightlife. One thing you learn about going out in Spain, is the night starts out very late! The clubs don’t even open until midnight, and no one really shows up until 1 or later. The picture below was taken at 3 am, as my friend and I were starting to think about leaving as we were both exhausted from a day of sight seeing. The club was really just getting started! Very different than a Canadian night club where last call is at 2 am.

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The below is the only picture I have from the next day. My friend and I got up and saw a few sights, but it was so hot (about 35 degrees), we were exhausted (and possibly a little dehydrated) from the night before, and were generally not feeling it. As such, shortly after this picture was taken, we went back to the hotel and read our books and enjoyed some relax time after being go-go-go for the past few days.

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We did manage to leave our hotel for some delicious seafood paella. It was worth braving the heat. Another recommendation if you’re going to Spain- research where to get good paella. Spain knows that every tourist is looking for it, and the few times that Erin and I ordered it without researching beforehand, it tasted like rice with tomato sauce. The authentic paella is amazing and worth the time it takes them to make it.

 

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The next day we were off to Barcelona- my personal favourite city in Spain! However, as this post is very long- we will pick up on Barcelona next time!

Has anyone been to Seville, Granada or Madrid? What were your thoughts?

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