In typical JYA fashion, I have been striving to make the most out of my year here in Europe by traveling as much as my bank account will allow. This weekend I flew off to Barcelona and Madrid, Spain! I thought I would share some of my stories and pieces of advice that I learned on my travels. (As it should always be noted, I am not a licensed travel agent and legally cannot be help responsible to my given advice.)
Tapas, Tapas, and More Tapas (and Sangria)
Honestly, do not waste your time eating anything else other than this famous Spanish style dish. For those of you who do not know, ‘tapas’ refers to small plates of food. Traditionally, a group orders several different types of tapas and they are shared amongst the group. Every night my friends and I would share different types of tapas and I found it to be such a great way to try an array of typical Spanish dishes. And in a country where the sangria is often cheaper than the water, why would you want to drink anything else?
Parks and Recreation
Both Barcelona and Madrid have two amazing parks that are most definitely worth visiting in each city. Straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, Barcelona’s Park Guell is designed by Antoni Guadí, a famous Catalan architect. From its fascinating architecture to the sweeping views of the city, this was one of my favorite places in Barcelona. Although, Madrid’s Retiro Park is probably my favorite place in Spain! It might have helped that we went on a day that was nearly 20 degrees, without a cloud in the sky, but this park would be beautiful no matter the weather. My favorite part of the park was a beautiful pond that featured a giant monument that dozens of visitors lounged on, seen in the picture below.
Tasha’s Tip: Ice cream and sangria really make a trip to the park a lot better.
All the Sights to See
Barcelona and Madrid have two very different styles of architecture, but both are very cool to see. Here are a list of must see buildings/attractions in both cities:
Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia, Vila de Gràcia, Las Romblas, National Art Museum of Catalonia, Park Guell, and the beaches!
Madrid: Plaza de la Cibeles, Retiro Park, the Crystal Palace (within the park), Plaza de Sol, Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, and Mercado de San Miguel.
Plaza de la Cibeles
Climb Every Mountain
The city of Barcelona is outlined by several mountains, all which come with amazing views of the entire city. If you are not a fan of hiking, the city offers many different ways to get the top. Being lazy myself, my friends and I decided to take ski lifts to the top of Montjuïc Mountain. For a person who is scared of heights, the ride was a little rough, but definitely worth the trip to the top.
Tasha’s Tip: If you want to save some money, buy the cheaper one-way ticket for the lift. My friends and I were able to walk down Montjuïc in about 20 minutes.
View from the Top
The Night Life
If you want to stay out until 6am every night, Spain is the place for you! From salsa bars to flamenco shows, the nightlife in Barcelona and Madrid is definitely an experience you will (partially) remember forever! Did I mention the sangria?