Spain, what isn’t there to like about it… Warm weather, happy people. The whole country pretty much shuts down in the afternoon for a ‘siesta’ (nap). Be prepared.
We trained into Spain using our Eurail Pass (Europe train pass), and the ride in was absolutely gorgeous. The colors and variety in landscape was stunning. Of all the wonderful places you can go in Spain, we chose to go to Barcelona and Madrid. First stop, Barcelona.
Where to stay? I honestly can’t remember the name of where we stayed…but we took the metro to get there and it was right by Cathedral de Santa Eulalia. Here are some ideas for hostels to stay at. You’ll want to stay near the city center…it’ll make it easy for you to walk/train everywhere.
Things you cannot miss in Barcelona:
- La Sagrada Familia – A massive, gorgeous church designed by Antoni Gaudi (you’ll be hearing more of him). This church began construction in 1882, and is STILL NOT FINISHED. Gaudi passed away in 1926, and the church is anticipated to be finished by 2026. Absolutely mind blowing. So, when you go there, you’ll see cranes and scaffolding surrounding the building. It kind of sucks for pictures and all that, so go inside to make it worth it! Buy your tickets ahead of time.
- Park Guell – Mr. Antoni Guadi does it again with this park. You will fall in love…I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Hike up to the top – the view is worth it! & buy your tickets online ahead of time.
- Barceloneta Beach – Take the train to get there…then follow the crowd. Be prepared to see boobs, or naked people in general. Join in, if you’d like. Also, the water is freezing!!!
- El Born – Born is an area/neighborhood in Barcelona that is filled with narrow windy streets that are cute and quaint. There are also SO many great restaurants there. If you’re looking for authenticity..go there.
- FOOD. Paella, tapas, and sangria. Eat/drink all of it, and as much as you can. When you sit at a restaurant, the servers will let you sit there as long as you’d like without bothering you (unlike America). You basically have to flag them down to get your check.
Things I missed/other things to do:
- Santa Maria del Mar – Another massive church resembling to La Sagrada Familia. They are all about their gothic architecture in Barcelona.
- Anella Olimpica – Home of the 1992 Olympics.
- Montjuic – This is the name of a castle, but also refers to the park that the castle is in. This park is HUGE, and I’m sad I missed it. There is a cable car that takes you up to the top of the hill – I highly suggest doing this! (heard about it from fellow travelers)
Be careful for pickpocketers in Barcelona, and every where else. I witnessed someone getting their wallet stolen on the train…don’t let that happen to you. NEVER keep important belongings in the outside zipper of your bag or backpack. People will work together, i.e. someone will play the guitar to distract everyone while another person pickpockets you. Just be aware!
Next stop…Madrid and it’s gorgeous white architecture.
Sooo we really only had about a day and a half in Madrid, and almost one whole day was consumed with dealing with our canceled flight to our next destination, Morocco. It didn’t really get canceled, but Ryanair claimed the Barcelona baggage workers were on strike, so we wouldn’t be able to check a bag. Long story short, Ryanair stretched the truth…and really ONLY THEIR WORKERS were on strike because their pay was getting cut 30%. DON’T FLY RYAINAIR. Yes it’s cheap, but everyone I’ve talked to always has some kind of problem.
We ended up having to buy another flight, thank god for travel insurance!!!
We did make it around to a few places:
- El Retiro Park – It’s massive, it’s green, it’s gorgeous. There is a large pond in the park that you can rent row boats on…which we did, and sun bathed =). The monument you see along the pond is awesome and called Monumento Alfonso XII.
- Calle Baja St. for dinner – There are tons of cool restaurants on this street, definitely check it out!
- Puerta del Sol – Our hotel was two blocks off the main square. I think this is considered one of the busiest areas in Madrid!
- There is lots and lots of shopping, indulge if you please. And again, eat lots of tapas and drink even more sangria!
Other things YOU shouldn’t miss:
- Royal Palace of Madrid – Massive and amazing looking
- Plaza Mayor – Go at night
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum – Especially if you’re into art!
I plan to return to Spain, and soon. I feel like I didn’t get to experience nearly enough. Thanks for reading and enjoy!