Spain Travel Guide
And part two of our European travel guide is here! We spent two weeks in Europe and went to both Northern and Southern Portugal, as well as Northern and Southern Spain. I have already posted the Portugal Travel Guide, but am now so excited to share about Spain! We ultimately went on this trip so visit family so many of the activities we did were recommendations from them! I hope this post helps if you are contemplating planning a trip! Happy Reading!
Day 5: Seville, Spain
Seville is known (so I learned) for its fashion and arts culture. This does not necessarily mean there were tons of places to shop, but there were tons of beautiful buildings and centers of culture. We spent most of the day wandering around checking out the narrow but hopping city streets and the tall and impressive buildings. We ended up deciding to go to the Cathedral- the biggest one if all of Europe! It was incredible and stunning and unlike anything I have ever seen.
After we finished a whole Cathedral tour (including a climb to the top of the bell tower), we wandered around until we found a bar. Our local tour guide informed us that a good bar is a busy bar. If there aren't people there, don't go. Also, it is worth noting that in Spain there were bars and there were restaurants. You often won't find bars listed online, you just have to stumble on them. Bars are small with only a few places but are by far the best places for tapas. It is super common for people to hop over to a bar for a glass of wine and a snack, so we did that often! I just unfortunately can't report where specifically we went. Bummer.
We then wandered over to our lunch location which was INCREDIBLE. It was also share plates but was on a whole other level. We had two kinds of seafood, red meat, and wine. All of it was SO GOOD. I highly recommend and will definitely link below.
After lunch we strolled a little bit longer, and came across the Plaza. A beautiful building with stunning grounds that offered so many options for pictures! So we took several, but ultimately decided to return to our Air BnB to rest before heading back out for the night. Our activities for the night were a surprise to us, but were met with much anticipation! Turns out, we went to a Flamenco dancing show! This was so fun and truly worth seeing! If you happen to find yourself in Spain, definitely find yourself a Flamenco show! On our walk from the Flamenco show, we stopped at a Middle Eastern restaurant where we sniffed our schwarma. Yummm. Then we turned in for the night to get ready for our fun and exciting day the next day!
Day 6: Cadiz, Spain
This one is easy. We were in Spain over a holiday weekend- Carnaval. There were celebrations happening all over the country, but we were determine to find the best party. Turns out, we just found the BIGGEST party. Think New Orleans at Mardi Gras. That is what we experienced in Cadiz. We caught pieces of the singing parade, had Cruzcampo at 10 in the morning, walked along the coast, and drank Gin and Tonics out of giant plastic cups. We fought through crowds and watched people make fools of themselves. Honestly, it was a pretty wild day. We were thankful when we sat down to eat a good old fashioned hotdog at the Cabin Bar and Grill, and when we sat on the beach to take in the views. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, but something I am totally okay doing once!
Day 7: Road Trip
We embarked on an 8 hour road trip from the very southern tip of Spain, to the north! The only notable part of this trip is that we stopped in Salamanca for a Tapas tour! We hit about three different bars and so many delicious kinds of tapas, including chocolate cake.
Day 8: Haro, La Rioja, Spain
Armed with a ton of new knowledge about wine, CJ and I were stoked about wine tasting in La Rioja. Haro is where CJ's sister is living, so we were super duper close to wine country! We found an English tour and tasting at La Rioja Alta SA. We got to see old and new parts of the winery and tried three amazing wines, including a 13 year old ruby wine. We met some fun people from Texas who did the tour with us, and between all of us, we finished off that 13 year old wine just like we should! We then wandered (literally walked next door) over to another winery just for a tasting. This one was Gomez Cruzando, and here we got to try 5 different kinds of wines, including whites! We then left winery row to meet CJ's sister for a picnic in the park. After the picnic we headed back over to hit two more wineries before they closed. We went to Muga and R. Lopez de Herraria Vino Tondinia. We tried a couple at each location, and then felt like we could say we gave La Rioja wine a good run. We ended up at a random bar in Haro for Tapas, where we had razor clams. Can't say I have ever had anything like that!
Day 9: San Sebastian, Spain
We played our day in San Sebastian really low key. CJ and I travel really simply. We don't always have a list of activities we want to do because we are both so content to just walk around and stumble upon things and just generally soak it all in. So that is how we did San Sebastian. A little bit of research told me that San Sebastian would be the place to get incredible pinxhos (tapas), so we did. We drove up to San Sebastian from Haro and once we got there we were ready for lunch. We went to the highly recommended Bergara, and feasted on incredible food. We had an orange based shrimp cocktail, jamon sandwiches, avocado toast, and calamari crostinis. I could have had one of everything on the menu, it was all so fabulous!
We then continued walking and found ourselves down by the coast. It turned out to be an amazing day, and we were definitely overdressed. Like, people were on the beach. What were we thinking?! San Sebastian has stunning ocean views and the beautiful buildings really add to the backdrop and experience.
We wandered for a while before we decided to grab a drink at a bar. Full disclosure, I had to potty. We ended up at Baluarte Donostia for Sangria. We sat on the patio with a fabulous view of the museum for people watching. We then carried on our walking with sweeping views of the cove and of the city. We wandered into the buildings to find any shopping of interest and just ended up at another place to eat. Aka gelato. At Gelateria Boulevard. Then we wandered back towards the coast and took a rest on some benches. This may not be the most interesting travel guide because I truly tell you CJ and I are so content to just sit and watch. We did end up going back into the buildings and went to Santana Bar for lunch. We had hamburger and coke and then a glass of wine and carried on our walking.
We eventually made our way back to Haro where we went to a couple of different bars for one last night of tapas with our family.
Day 10: Madrid, Spain
This day was hilarious. We said goodbye to CJ's sister in the morning and headed from Haro down to Madrid. We spent about 4 hours in the car and got to Madrid around lunch time. We had decided to cut down our time in Madrid to spend more time with family, and only planned an afternoon/evening there. But that was all right because we really had one goal for Madrid: LOUIS VUITTON. Certainly there are so many things we could have done in Madrid, but Madrid was also the most like what we could experience at home, and we just decided that is not what we wanted to prioritize.
Now if you have been paying any attention, you know that we had fabulous weather the entire time we were in Spain. Except for this day. When we got to our air bnb and settled in, our host gave us fabulous recommendations. As soon as she said "rooftop bar" I was sold. I quick made reservations at the most FAB rooftop bar in Madrid, and we headed out. We planned on walking over there, and then walking to Louis Vuitton, and then walking back to the airbnb for the night. Well, we headed out in what started as a drizzle. We walked a little further until it could have been considered a downpour. Well, then it started it thundering. By the time we got to Circulo de Bellas Artes (our rooftop bar) it was a full blown storm. We got up to the top of this giant building (which was feat in itself), telling ourselves they had to have an awning because they wouldn't loose out on business for rain, and then in fact we learn they do NOT have an awning. They didn't speak an ounce of English but were so kind in telling us that they had no covering and would we really want to eat there. Of course the answer is no, but they hand us an umbrella and at least let us take a quick peek at the stunning view.
CJ and I head back downstairs and decide to just start heading in the direction of Louie Vuitton and find food along the way. We end up coming across an outdoor restaurant that seemed decent. Turns out, it was absolutely fabulous. We had six courses, wine, and a great view of the bustling streets of Madrid. We were out of the rain but could still enjoy outside. At one point CJ says I picked the fanciest restaurant in Madrid! I highly doubt that is true, but we ended up thoroughly enjoying out stop.
Long and sad story short, we ended up going to two Louis Vuitton's and did not find the bag I desperately wanted. Thus taking home my sweet bag was not meant to be. I was a drowned rat walking into a fabulous designer store, and didn't even buy a thing. I am telling you, it was incredibly comical.
We then went back to our airbnb and relaxed for a bit while sipping on some wine gifted to us by our airbnb hosts. We thought we might go to the Prado Museum after Louie Vuitton, but ended up being too tired. Though in hindsight I wished we had. We headed back out to dinner at a steak burger place that provided much needed comforts of home. We turned in early to get ready for our big day the next day!
Day 11: Toledo ,Spain
Toledo is one of the many cultural centers of Spain. It is a place where Muslim, Christian, and Jewish folks have all lived and ruled together at one time or another. Every single person we talked to who had been to Spain told us to check out Toledo so we did! And I am a history lover, especially religious history so I was intrigued. We were also told to definitely plan two full days in Toledo because there is so much to see. We made the educated decision to only spend one full day since we were limiting what we were willing to pay for to see. We chose one piece of Christian history. One piece of Muslim history. And one piece of Jewish history. We also just walked around to take in all of the unique cultural and intersectional elements of the city.
First we went to the Catedral Primada and had a full cathedral tour including a climb to the bell tower. And honestly, we took home photos of the cathedral but it was truly out of this world and the photos just don't do it justice. I HIGHLY recommend going and checking it out!
Then we wandered over to La Puerta de Bisgara which is some of the oldest standing Muslim history. We saw the large gate and then a military wall that lines the town. The wall climbed up the hills and offered fantastic views of the whole city of Toledo and the water front. The gate itself was a little underwhelming but the views were stunning.
Then we found the Juderia District which is a Jewish neighborhood that still maintains a lot of Jewish culture. We grabbed lunch at the Greco Cafe, and had paella and chocolate cake. We enjoyed our meal, but full disclosure really only ate here out of convenience. If you go to Toledo, scope out on of the best of the best! We lingered over lunch trying to decide what to do next. We had seen what we came to see but didn't feel like it was enough. We scoped out a large pedestrian bridge that offered absolutely insane views of the city and the river gorge. Toledo was beautiful and unlike any other place I have ever seen.
Once we made it back to Madrid, we walked to a bar right in front of our hotel for tapas and gin and tonics. We ended the trip with all of our favorite tapas we had tried, and had the BEST gin either of us has ever had. This was a really fun bar, and the owner was super great and personable. The whole experience was a great way to close the trip. Unfortunately, I cannot find it on the internet to link it but if you think you might check it out, leave a comment and I will bring up the address! It is called Marevalles. But then after that, we turned in early-ish to make it up for our early flight in the morning!
Day 12: Coming Home
It has been amazing to relive this trip through this blog post, so I really hope you enjoy. It was a lot of work, but I am so happy to share! That was long winded, and I am proud of you for sticking through it! Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!