España 🇪🇸

Arriving in Barcelona was wonderful… it was finally warm again 😅 not to mention that I had really wanted to visit the city. In the end, it’s another city I could perhaps live in someday. Time will tell…

I ended up bouncing around different hostels while in Barcelona, due to availability and price. I think I stayed at 3 different hostels for a total of 4 nights.

I went on two walking tours with the same guide, the first covering the old town and some history, and the second covering Gaudi’s work. They were both fun, but I didn’t feel like I saw much of Barcelona. I walked down La Rambla, La Rambla del Mar, strolled in the Gotìc quarter, took in the sights of parc Güell on two separate occasions (because the paid part was not available the first day I went). And I caught sunset at MNAC and walked around parc Montjuic. I had delicious ice cream and chocolate at places the tour guide had recommended. Visited the Sagrada Familia for half price, somehow, and went clubbing at Eixample.

I also managed to sign up for a free bike tour, that ended up being only offered in Spanish. So I figured it was a good opportunity to practice - I’d say I understood maybe 70-80%. My teachers would (hopefully) be proud 😆

And of couuuuurse, I ate loads of delicious Spanish ham, which unfortunately also costs a pretty penny. It compensated for the really cheap tapas, pintxos and sangrias 🥳

I also checked out the Ministerio de Montserrat with a Dutch guy from my hostel. It’s not too far from Barcelona by train, but we might not have picked the best day to go… when we reached the top of the mountain where the monastery is built, we were completely in the clouds 😛 so much so that our hair got wet from the humidity. To be fair, it was pretty cool being up there in the clouds - and it resulted in some good memories and pictures 😊 the view from a bit lower on the mountain was also spectacular so the day wasn’t a total failure 🤪

Due to absurdly expensive public transportation options, I had the genius idea to book a “non-stop” night bus from Barcelona to Madrid. The driver was horrendous, and we obviously stopped and were forced to change buses halfway through 😒 to make matters worse, the bus arrived a full hour earlier than scheduled because that’s the way it works in Spain it seems… upon arriving in Madrid, I found myself a hostel, took a wonderful nap, and headed over to watch a military parade… where I saw the king drive by - that was neat 😛 👑 That day was mostly spent chilling to recuperate from a long sleepless night 🥳

I tried some Spanish food in Madrid, such as the typical bocadillo de calamares (sandwich), I tried a shot of madriño: which is a fruit that grows from a tree. The tree, combined with a bear, is the symbol of Madrid. The name comes from Madrid and Otoño, because the fruit ripens in the fall… legend has it the locals used it as a cure-all because they saw bears eating the fruit and looking happy. Turns out the fruit contains alcohol, so they nowadays make liquor from it 😆). I also had a bunch of churros - which I still don’t find all that delicious. In the afternoon, I checked out the Rastro street market, which a fellow traveller had suggested. It was huuuuuge. The hostel I was at that day organized a walk to a parc with a great view of the sunset. It was a good time, where I met a few fellow 🇨🇦 from Toronto and Kirk, a chill Aussie from Perth. We went out that night to a couple bars then some folks wanted to go to a techno club 🎶. I said why not, and immediately regretted it after entering. The music was horrible and the place was almost empty. I bailed after 5-10 minutes 😅

The hostel organized a day trip to Toledo, which I took part in. It’s a cute place, where the Don Quixote trail passes through 😛 nice views, nice pictures, but nothing special other than that…

Hector, a Mexican I met in Barcelona came to Madrid on the fourth day I was in town, so we grabbed some authentic Mexican tacos and tried some of the drinks they had to offer. The tacos were delicious - Hector confirmed it. We then walked around El Retiro parc and saw some street art in a community centre basement 👍 That day, we also saw a big protest for the gouvernement to adjust retirees pensions - so, as you can guess, old people were up in arms in the street chanting with posters. So adorable.

My last day in Madrid, I tried to go to El Botìn, the oldest restaurant in the world still in business at its original location - but impossible to get a table. Next time 😛 I ended up doing a day trip to Segovia with the hostel - where, again, there were some nice views but nothing much to see other than that in the town. That evening, we went clubbing with the hostel but I wasn’t a big fan of the music, and was tired to I headed back around 1h30.

I then headed to Granada to see the Alhambra again. It was absolutely refreshing to see a change in architecture and the small narrow streets were reminiscent of Moroccan medinas. I loved it. I took a free walking tour in Granada, where I got to see the gypsy caves outside of the city where they claim flamenco was born (and not to trust people from Sevilla 😛).

I then headed to Sevilla, where I wanted to see the Plaza de España again. The city was beautiful, but I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to visit the Alcazar and it’s gardens along with the Cathedral where Cristobal Colon (he's Italian, this is his name in Spanish) was originally buried. I met three chill French guys, whom I walked around town with on my second day in town. After eating a few delicious portions of amazing Spanish jamòn.

Finally, I headed to Málaga, for a long awaited reunion with Sandrine 🤗 As malaga isn’t the most interesting city to visit, we high-tailed it out of town to Ronda the following night. Ronda is a cute village known for its suspended bridge to enter the old town of Ronda. We walked around, took in the views and headed to Gibraltar 🇬🇮 as a pit stop on the way to Morocco 🇲🇦🥳🥳