Spain, Spain And More Spain

C5A5EA9F-4BEA-49A8-96B1-98556400E5FAFor many travelers with regular work holidays the idea of revisiting countries seems a bit wasteful especially when there are so many places to visit. I certainly had the same mentality when I was on holiday and still in my 9-5. So, it should come as no surprise that the idea of only visiting new places that I hadn’t been too was hard to shake when I finally did become a full-time traveling nomad. (I did have a 6 month plan with 90% of the destinations being new before beginning this Girl Takes Mundo trip after all.)

Eventually, and just like almost every traveling nomad I’ve met, you relinquishes control of your travel plans and let the higher powers guide them to the next location. There is this beautiful, “I’ll see where the world takes me” or “I’m thinking of going here or there but I haven’t decided” and with a go with the flow mentality it’s easier to REALLY go with the flow and find yourself in 1) countries for longer then you would have “planned”, 2) in countries that weren’t even on your radar or 3) in countries you’ve already visited. This was exactly what happened to me with Spain. 

In hindsight, with my not set in stone travel plans and my newly acquired traveling nomad mentality, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that I would find myself spending my European summer between England and Spain with a “I didn’t see that coming” visit to Israel. 

FYI: Since mid April, I slowed down my Girl Takes Mundo journey with a month and 1/2 in England followed by a short holiday in Spain with family-like friends to then return to England for an additional month before making my return to Spain for a month long work exchange. I then headed to Israel to celebrate my 1-year friendiversary with Ronnie who I met last year while traveling in Cambodia before…wait for it…returning back to England. If that’s not revisiting countries or going with the flow I really don’t know what is. 

What I learned about revisiting countries specifically during my 3 separate trips in Spain this summer (UPDATED with more from must do’s from my additional trip in July of 2019) is that you truly can experience the same country in different ways simply by visiting different cities. Even cities I had already visited in Spain such as Bilbao and Barcelona came with their nuance and new experiences. And thus, with this new found knowledge after spending half my summer in Spain, I preach to you, “don’t stay stuck on the idea that if you’ve already been to a country that there isn’t a reason to return. Allow yourself to go with the flow when you are traveling even if it is on a holiday from work. I can personally attest that even after visiting Spain more in depth this summer I know I will be back.”

See all the cities and what I got myself into this summer in Spain below. FYI: This Spain mashup travel guide was shaped according to what I did in each city be it, 1) playing tourist, 2) returning and playing less of a tourist and 3) doing a work exchange. 

If you are seeking more detailed information on each city whether it’s a new city you plan to visit or a city you will be returning to, reach out here and I can help. 


Barcelona – The most visited city in Spain by tourists and known for its art, architecture and night life. 

Transport to and from airport to city: Many options to get you to the city or other cities in Spain. Check out this useful article here for all available options and pick the one that suits you.

Visit/Eat: 

  • I really played tourist the first time I visited over 7 years ago and pre this website so sorry for no post but highlights continue to be park Güell, a paella cooking class, Sagrada Familia, walking through Las Ramblas, casa Milà and eating my way through La Boqueria. 

Bilbao – An industrial port city in Northern Spain and the capital city of the Basque region. 

Visit/Eat/Do:

  • Bilbao was a repeat city for me since I did a long layover here back in April but it was nice to spend more days leisurely walking through the city, eating at the various tapas bar/restaurants in the city and relaxing before moving on to my work exchange with Stoke Travel. 

See how I spent my long layover and must see spots here. (UPDATED with more from must do’s from my trip in July of 2019)


Granada – A Spanish city in the southern region of Andalucía known for its medieval architecture and its dominant Moroccan influence. 

Transport to and from airport to city: Alas coach bus company can easily bring you to the city for €3 Euro ($3.50 USD) each way and is right outside of the small airport in Granada.

Visit: 

  • Alhambra Palace
  • Jewish Quarter
  • Palacio de los Córdova
  • Paseo de los tristes
  • El Banuelo (Arab baths)

 


Sevilla – The capital city for the Andalucía region famous for its flamenco dancing and in my opinion a must see city to visit while in Spain. 

Visit: 

  • Jewish Quarter
  • Alcazar
  • Gothic Cathedral, oldest gothic style cathedral in the world, 3rd largest in the world and where the tomb of Christopher Columbus is.
  • Plaza España, A MUST during your visit to Sevilla!!! This plaza is stunning with beautiful architecture and a park to match.

Eat:

  • Cafe Restaurant Alianza 
  • Arte y Solera
  • Brunilda, delicious and surprisingly economical tapa restaurant enjoyed by locals and tourist alike. Be ready to wait as its a small restaurant, they don’t take reservations and is very popular but worth it.

Do:

  • Flamingo show at “Casa de la Memoria”, the hour show is €18 ($20.85 USD) for adults and €15 ($17.37 USD) for students. 

 


Córdoba – Only a short 2 hour drive from Sevilla you will find Córdoba which was an important Roman city and Islamic Center in the Middle Ages. (FYI: I would recommend this as a great day trip if you are visiting Sevilla.)

Visit:

  • Templo Romano, for views of the remains of the ancient Roman city. 
  • Mesquite Cathedral, A breathtaking Mosques and Catholic Church rolled in one proving religions can live harmoniously.
  • Madinat al-zahra, excellent ruins of the purpose built capital of the Muslim caliphate in Al-Andluz. Visit the museum as it provides great information. (€1.50/$1.73 for museum/ruins and €2.50/$2.89 for bus shuttle)
  • Jewish Quarter, former Jewish Quarter where the Mesquite Cathedral is located and now a tourist enclosed area within the city walls full of shops, restaurants and cafes.

Eat: 

  • Mercado Victoria, market building full of food stalls very popular by locals and tourists alike for its variety of cuisine options.

 


Jerez + Cádiz + Ronda – Both Jerez and Cádiz are a short 1 hour drive apart with Ronda not to far from Cadiz in the Andalucía region. Jerez being known for its sherry production and horse shows and Cádiz for being an ancient port town.

Do:

  • Visit a sherry production company in the famous “Sherry triangle”. I went to “Fundadores” and did a tour with them which I would highly recommend.
  • Check out a horse show.
  • Walk around the town of Ronda and check out the beautiful bridge and its landscapes viewing point.

 


Haro – Located in the Rioja province in Northern Spain, this small town comes alive once a year for its wine festival, “San Vino” which includes a wine battle where locals and tourists alike participate. Don’t forget to bring your goggles as I learned that wine stings the eyes but the experience is incredible. 

I had the opportunity to experience this week long festivities of San Vino with Stoke Travel in Haro as I did a work exchange with them and was able to take my love for wine to a next level. 

  • Learn more about this festival here.
  • Learn more about experiencing San Vino with Stoke Travel here.

Don’t forget to use my code “GirltakesMundo” when booking so that you can enjoy unlimited free booze thanks to moi.

 


Pamplona – Located in Northern Spain, this city is best know for its annual “San Fermin” festival in July. During this festival the infamous Running of the Bulls happens where daredevils are chased by bulls in the streets of Pamplona. 

This was another festival I got to experience while working with Stoke Travel and single handily my Spain highlight this summer as I gambled with my life not once, not twice but four times being one of those daredevils who participated in Running of the Bulls. (UPDATE: I loved this city/trip so much that I returned back in 2019 to experience this again and add a 5th notch to the times I’ve ran with bulls.) Not down to run? There is still so much to do here during the San Fermin festival and experiencing this festival from many angles really brought this city to life for me. I feel I would never have experienced this city the same had I visited here during another time. 

Do: (UPDATED with more from must do’s from my trip in July of 2019)

  • Nightly fireworks in park “La Cuidadela” during San Fermin festival.
  • Tour the route for the bull run. It’s filled with tourist shops, cafe’s, bars and restaurants.
  • Opening and closing ceremony of San Fermin in the main plaza. (Don’t forget to bring a red scarf and wine.)
  • Watch the Running of the Bulls from the Plaza de Torros Pamplona. Tickets cost €5 – €6 euros at the ticket office ($5.78 – $6.93 USD) but you can also buy tickets from the scalpers standing outside if you don’t want to wait in line for the ticket office. (FYI: If buying tickets from scalpers don’t pay anything more than €12 euros aka $13.87 USD.) 
  • Check out a street party by simply walking the city after the nightly fireworks. 
  • Run with the bulls
  • Have breakfast at “Pura Vida”, this place is centrally located close to the bus station and provides delicious juices, healthy sandwiches and bakery sweets at great prices.
  • Considered a favorite by locals, “Bar Gaucho” offers the best pintxos in the city.
  • If you want a more fine dining experience than “Baserreberre” will surely not disappoint.
  • Take in the sights by visiting the cathedral for a beautiful view of the city or stroll through Pamplona’s parks. Parque de la taconera, Parque de media luna and the park within the citadel are highly recommended by locals.
  • If visiting during the summer, the temperatures can reach 41 Celsius (aka 106 Fahrenheit so cooling off will be oh so necessary. Visit Pamplona Swimming Club to enjoy the refreshing pool.

Learn more about experiencing San Fermin and Running of the Bulls with Stoke Travel here.

Don’t forget to use my code “GirltakesMundo” when booking so that you can enjoy unlimited free booze thanks to moi.

2018

 

 

2019


San Sebastián – The resort town in the Basque Country of Spain is known for its beaches, bay front promenade and restaurants in its cobblestone old town. (It’s also the city with the most bars per capita in the world which means you will always find a party if you’re looking for it.)

Visit: 

  • Hike up Urgul Medina and see the Jesus statue with beautiful views overlooking the city.
  • Beach, beach and more beach time. (If you have it in you, consider swimming to the small island on Bahia de la Concha beach.)
  • Stroll through the cobblestone old town or walk outside of the old town to take in all the beautiful street art scattered throughout the city.

Eat: 

  • Eat your heart away and taste your way through the 2nd city with the most Michelin star restaurants in the world. 

2018

 

2019

I want to give a special thank you to all those in Spain who I got to 1) reconnect with like my family-like friends who came with my special request of lucky charm’s from home, 2) friends who I met while traveling who were also visiting Spain while I was there and I had the chance to meet again and 3) my Stoke family I made. To you wild goons I say, “How good life”.

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