Spain in 21 Days

Spain: the holy grail of tapas, flamenco dancing, bull riding, and beautiful conquistadors

 

The summer of 2018 I had an amazing opportunity to travel with my mom around Spain for 21 days in 11 cities. My mom and I love traveling together and we’ve dreamed of touring Spain our whole lives. So as a much needed end of my high school career to a bittersweet start to college, my mom and I needed a trip for ourselves as we embraced the unknown.

Image Courtesy of Abbie Briskin: My mom and I at the Alcazar in Seville

 

We landed in Madrid on June 25 and immediately went to eat. Naturally, what else were we supposed to do? Our family friend met us and directed us to a small local restaurant. Our first meal consisted of manchego cheese, croquetas (ultimately fried cheese with ham), pimientos de padrón (fried and salted green peppers from Galicia), and SANGRIA!!!

Image Courtesy of Abbie Briskin: Our first meal in Madrid

During our time in Madrid we visited Plaza Mayor, Prado Museum, Gran Vía (they had a restaurant devoted to churros with hot chocolate and you best believe we indulged), and Palacio Royal (which is the largest royal palace in Europe with 3,418 rooms! Now THAT’S some good closet space)

 

The next day we took a day trip to Toledo, known for the fusion of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish cultures. Toledo was the capital of Spain for hundreds of years, utilized for its natural fortress qualities: the surrounding mountains and river which kept invaders away. Toledo was easily one of my favorite cities in Spain as I fell in love with the small streets and historic buildings.

Image Courtesy of Abbie Briskin: City views of Toledo

We also took a day trip to Córdoba (where I actually lost my mom for about a half hour and realized how difficult adulting is and that I am indeed, still a baby.) This city had huge Muslim influence during the Middle Ages and was founded by the Romans. Like Toledo, Córdoba was known for the intertwining of the three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judiasm. But what Córdoba is most known for is its Mezquita, which is the world’s largest mosque and temple. What makes the Mezquita so unique is that the mosque underwent a long history of rule starting with the Romans to the Muslims to the Christians, with the temple having both cultures, art, and architecture. The duality of the classical church with stained glass and extravagant features contrasting the Muslim more modest style is quite interesting.

Image Courtesy of Abbie Briskin: Córdoba 

My favorite city in Spain had to be Seville. There we toured the Plaza de España, La Giralda, and the Reál Alcazar (Fun fact: Obama stayed there for a visit a few years ago on an international political visit!) We also saw our first Flamenco show in Seville, in a tiny room filled with about 20 people and a stage half the size of my Towers dorm! We ate incredible food and shared early mornings eating in solitude in front of the famous Giralda tower.

 

Image Courtesy of Abbie Briskin: Giralda Tower in Seville

Image Courtesy of Abbie Briskin: Plaza de Espa​ña

From Seville we took a day trip to Rhonda, which is a white village town hidden in the mountains. The impeccable mountain views had my local state park SHOOK. After Rhonda, we settled in the beach town of Málaga for several days to take a little break from the go go go and lay in the sun for a bit. The Spanish heat is no joke, but the Mediteranean clear blue seas offer solace. From Málaga we took day trips to Benalmádena (private beach), Nerja (another beach town), and Mijas (white village town). These few towns are very small but each unique in their own way. In Málaga we finally had the opportunity to visit a local market and buy an assortment of vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, wines, and EGGS!!! Cooking our own food with a Spanish influence was necessary after eating out for about 14 days!

Image Courtesy of Abbie Briskin: Views from Mijas

After our lazy beach days, we drove to Granada. This city also has a lot of Muslim influence, as seen through the Alhambra which was a fortress in its prime. Granada had an AMAZING shopping scene influenced by the Moors. The city is filled with Moorish culture and traditions, making it unique from other Spanish towns. We saw our second Flamenco show, which interestingly enough was quite different from our first one in Seville. The Royal Chapel of Granada is also the burial place of Queen Isabel I and King Ferdinand, who thanks to my AP World class junior year, I learned excommunicated the Jews and funded Christopher Columbus’ journey. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.

Image Courtesy of Abbie Briskin: Alhambra in Granada

Last but not least we went to Barcelona, which is quite different from other Spanish provinces as citizens of this city speak Catalan. I would even compare Barcelona to a European New York City. Here we visited La Sagrada Familia, which was absolutely stunning, with modern architecture and colorful stained glass. Construction is expected to finish bt 2030. We also visited the houses and museums the famous artist Gaudi designed. His work was influenced by elements in nature. The Gothic Quarter is home to small side streets and tons of unique artisan shops. The Picasso museum was a huge highlight as it displayed all of Picasso’s earlier works, which is drastically different from the work we associate with the artist now.

Image Courtesy of Abbie Briskin: (Top: some sort of vegetable dish with fish, Right: Gazpacho soup, Bottom: fried eggplant with honey, Left: Salmon tartar with avocado)

Overall, Spain was a dream. I got to eat amazing food, visit historical sites, and practice the language. 10/10 recommend!

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