Wrapping up the last leg of my trip abroad, Spain was definitely one of my favorite countries to visit. I did not know much about the country and the many different regions with distinctly unique cultures before my time in Spain, but after exploring two of the four, I’ve come away with a better understanding and respect for it all.
I flew from Marseilles to Madrid because it was cheaper and quicker to do so in comparison to taking a train or bus. I’m thankful that I did because it allowed me more time in this beautiful capital city.
Many of the popular attractions and museum offer free entry in the late afternoon and early evening, so I was able to save money by planning out how I wanted to spend my days in advance.
I met a nice group of au pairs while grabbing a snack at a Museo del Jamon (which are everywhere in the city) and ended up going out with them for the night. We met some locals who said this moustached man is hugely popular around the neighborhood biking around.
I took a spontaneous detour out of Madrid to spend a few days in Granada. The bus ticket was cheap and I really wanted to see the famous Alhambra, flamenco dancing and gorgeous city I’ve heard about from other travelers I had talked to as I was abroad.
The Alhambra limits the number of tickets sold each day to prevent overcrowding and to help preserve the ancient attractions. You can buy tickets in advanced or queue up in line for hours with the hopes of buying a ticket on the day of (which often sells out by late morning or early afternoon during high and shoulder seasons). Since I did not plan ahead, I could not buy an advanced ticket and had to bank on getting tickets once I got to the city.
Sadly all the day tickets to the two most popular attractions (Nasrid Palaces and Generalife) was sold out for the day, but I was able to find out that there was a combination package (The Alhambra Experience) available that allowed me to see the palace at night and come back the next day to go to the garden and explore the rest of the compound the next day. This worked out perfectly because museum fatigue is a real thing and spending too much time at an attraction can really put a damper on how much you can absorb and appreciate. One last quick tip for the Alhambra, the tickets are timed for many of the popular attractions within it, lines can get long so queue early to make sure you get in at the right time because security is strict and may turn you away if you miss your window!
From Madrid I took another detour out to Segovia, a small city to the north of Madrid. It amazed me to see how wide-spread the Roman Empire was when I came across one of the city’s main attractions, the aqueduct.
Segovia is easy to navigate by foot, walking from one popular tourist attraction is possible to do in thirty minutes or less (unless you’re distracted by the many tasty restaurants and enticing souvenir shops along the way).
My favorite place (second to the aqueduct) was the Alcázar of Segovia, which was rumored to have inspired Disney’s Cinderella castle. With its unique slate spires, I can see why.
Oh, Barcelona! My favorite city in Spain hands down. This is partly due to the serendipitous timing of the annual La Mercé Festival. I happened to be in the city for almost the entirety of the festival and was blessed to witness so many awesome cultural events all over the city center as a result. The other reason it was my favorite was because the city itself is incredibly gorgeous with all the art nouveau buildings and I splurged a bit since it was my last city.
If you have the chance to go to Spain in September, I highly recommend coming during the festival in honor of the city’s patron saint. You’ll get to see the human towers, the Catalan dance and so much more. Most of the events are free and brings out a difference side of Barcelona and Catalonia culture that you may not be able to experience otherwise.
I’m immensely grateful to have had such an amazing experience traveling around Europe ending in a fantastically welcoming city as Barcelona. My last night was perfectly times with the last day of the festival ending with a spectacular fireworks show at the hugely popular Magic Fountain.
Since coming home, I’ve been at a crossroads in my life. I’ve since celebrated my birthday, bringing me one step closer to my quarter-life mark, I’ve gone traveling within California visiting friends and family and now it’s time for me to decide what is the next chapter of life. I’m at a crossroads because after getting this taste of traveling, I want to keep going, even just for only a few more days. But I feel the pressure of figuring out my next career step and the American cultural norms and expectations. And also the important lack of unlimited funding to keep traveling :P.
So as I figure out what’s next for me, Right Where I Left Off will be in transition also. I hope you follow along as I navigate these choppy waters ahead of me. And if you have any suggestions of where I should travel to next give me a shout in the comment section below or on the contact me page! XO Meesh