I have now visited all the sights on my spring travel list! Last weekend I concluded my travels by celebrating my 21st birthday in Granada.
Granada is famous for the stunning Alhambra which sits in the centre of the city on top of a huge hill. It’s recommended that you buy tickets well in advance (we bought ours in March) because they sell out about as quickly as a One Direction concert.
The Alhambra experience was very special, and worth the planning. There are palaces, towers and gardens to visit – all with spectacular panoramic views of the city below. Like a One Direction concert there were plenty of people, however the site is so vast that other tourists are dispersed amongst the various buildings and foliage so it doesn’t feel too intense.
You can easily enjoy many hours exploring the Alhambra, I was there all morning and I’m pretty sure I still didn’t see everything. The highlight is undeniably the Nasrid palace which is probably worth the entrance fee alone. it’s just as pretty as the alcazars in Sevilla or Córdoba but on a much bigger scale, I loved it.
The rest of the weekend was spent eating and drinking in Moroccan style restaurants and tea rooms (another great thing about granada) and it was all kinds of wonderful. I enjoyed frozen yogurt, my favourite treat, and even had a wild night out (complete with mojitos, crazy dance moves and 5am hostel return).
I now have just two weeks left before it’s time to say goodbye to Spain..
The Easter holidays are just one week long in Spain; as opposed to two at home (or five if you go to university!) but the time off was much needed and much appreciated nevertheless. I spent four highly relaxing days in Cádiz where I lazily flitted between the beach, the park and the town square, taking time to read my book and sunbathe. This has actually been my first Easter break without revision in about six years and it was quite blissful.
Cádiz is smaller than I expected and very easy to walk around. It reminded me of Manhattan, New York for the sole reason that its surrounded by water and the streets are in a grid formation. Its beautiful because you can get lost amongst the shops and bars then glance to the right and catch a glimpse of the turquoise ocean.
I spent most of my time being a lady of leisure, listening to podcasts, sleeping and eating frozen yogurt… However when I did get my camera out I captured these snapshots of the seaside scenery.
It was a little sad not to be at home for the holidays, but these beautiful views certainly made up for missing the family Easter egg hunt… For now though its back to another eight weeks or so of teaching Spanish teens. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone and I know I’m going to miss all this sunshine and traveling next year, so I’ll be enjoying every last second of the next few weeks. Happy Easter weekend!
I’ve come to realise that my mood is drastically effected by the absence of sunshine. As a result, I’ll probably become one of those tanned but wrinkly pensioners who retire in Florida, wear visors and play bridge. I really miss the sun during winter and January is especially hard. Amazingly, this weekend was gloriously sunny and surprisingly warm (19 degrees!) so I caught a bus to Seville to make the most of the weather. I’ve been to Seville a few times now so for this visit I decided to hop across the river to Triana.
Architecturally, Triana is very similar to the main city, it’s just smaller, quainter and has fewer tourists.
Calle Betis, the street overlooking the river, is lined with coloured houses and apartments, ornate balconies and the typical Seville orange trees.
Sunshine and blue skies all day long – oh Spain..
Everyone was out with beers and tapas enjoying a beautiful Saturday. There were even people sunbathing topless by the side of the river. Isn’t it winter?
I think I even got a slight facial tan, on the 10th of January. It may be harder to leave Spain than I originally thought…
I took myself on a solitary sight-seeing adventure this weekend, to the Andalusian city of Córdoba!
I did a lot of solo travel in France this summer but in Spain I’ve been lucky enough to have a great group of friends to travel with, so this weekend was actually my first time adventuring alone since moving here last month. I took a Blablacar (I picked a woman driver to minimise personal safety risks) and it was a complete success. I couldn’t rely on my flatmates to do all the Spanish speaking this time; so I was forced to talk for the duration of the 2.5 hour journey. This was great practice for my Spanish and I actually maintained a good conversation. Estefania, the driver, told me that I spoke very well and that it was impressive considering I’d only been in Spain for a month. I think she may have understood that I’d only been learning Spanish for a month, which would explain her awe at my ability, of course I’ve actually been learning for two years but let’s take her praise as a compliment nevertheless!
As it turns out Córdoba was a beautiful city and probably the perfect place to explore alone given the friendly atmosphere, the abundance of tourists and the close proximity of all the monuments to my hostel. I felt very safe all weekend long.
As both a former Roman capital and a city under Muslim occupation (to mention just two parts of it’s story) Córdoba has a VERY diverse cultural history. The whole city is architecturally really interesting with Roman, Islamic, Christian-medieval and modern architecture reflecting it’s complex past. As a result, Córdoba feels really eclectic in style – it’s an amazingly jumbled haven of culture. The city features the orange trees of Seville, the Bougainvillea-clad white walls of Santorini, aromatic Tea rooms furnished like arabian palaces and a Jewish quarter with a beautiful 14th century Synagogue.
Córdoba wins the award for my favourite place in Spain (so far). So watch this space for Córdoba part two…
When I first received the news that I would be spending nine months in Zafra, my immediate thought (after some frantic google searching) was ‘Ooh it’s only an hour from Seville!’. While I now appreciate Zafra as a great place to live in it’s own right; with it’s beautiful scenery and small-town friendliness, I’m still very happy to be within reach of a big city. Last weekend my flatmates and I sandwiched a trip to Portugal (more on that later) with two days exploring sunny Seville. It was wonderful. Plaza de España (above) has got to be the ‘must-see’ spot in the city. It is vast and breathtaking, with a fountain in the middle, horse and carts trotting around, mosaic bridges and ornate towers. We happened to be there on a Spanish national Holiday so a funky red and yellow hot air ballon added to the visual spectacle.Around the Plaza de España is a beautiful park (below). There were runners and roller-bladers everywhere, a pond full of swans, palm trees, lily pads and a some impressively ornate museums too. You can easily walk around, lose yourself in the wilderness and completely forget that you’re in the middle of such a busy city.The Streets in Seville are the very definition of picturesque. The buildings are colourful and quirky, the roads are wide, impeccably clean and there’s a tram that runs down the middle (I love trams!).
The Metropol Parasol or Las Setas de la Encarnación (below) is a really interesting mushroom-like structure located at the Plaza de Encarnación, in the old quarter of the city. Architecturally it’s amazing, at 26 meters tall it’s apparently the largest wooden structure in the world. The view from the top was spectacular and the three-euro entrance price buys you a free drink in the cafe, scoring bonus points with thirsty but thrifty tourists like me.
From the viewing platform at the top of the mushroom you can see right across the city; from the Cathedral to the Alcázar palace and everything in between.Just like the rest of the city, the river is stunning. I leave you with a picture taken on the bridge overlooking the historic neighbourhood of Triana, which lies just across the water from the main hustle and bustle. It’s meant to the most authentic side of town, with fewer tourists but a greater number of colourful houses, narrow streets, food markets and traditional tapas. It’s also considered to be the ‘spiritual heart’ of flamenco and I can’t wait to discover more when I next visit!