On March 21st, 2018, I took a trip to Spain. This was my first time out of the country by myself. It was a trip filled with fear, questions, excitement, and a great time with my friend Jesse who lives in Granada. This blog post includes my day-to-day experience of my journey from five different cities in Spain in thirteen days.
Day 1: March 21, 2018 Granada, Spain
I am afraid of flying. Throughout the years, my fear of flying has faded a bit, but I was still nervous to fly across an ocean by myself. I was stressed, moving my whole flight back a day because of another crazy snowstorm in New Jersey, but after a smooth flight, and sitting next to a guy who was definitely snorting cocaine in the bathroom, I landed in Madrid with only one hour of sleep. I didn’t know what time it was. I was so confused. I had airport employees screaming at me in Spanish, telling me which line I needed to go through. But even with the screaming and pointing, I still didn’t know what they wanted. I got through customs after I successfully answered why I was coming to Spain and how long I would be there. It was way too early to ask those kind of questions even in English! I then looked up at the signs for directions to my gate. The sign told me I had a thirty-minute journey until I arrived there. Great! No one told me the Madrid airport was almost as big as a city! But I made it through and flew to Granada where my friend, Jesse, greeted me with a sign with my name on it. A perfect welcoming. I was excited to tell him that my first words in a Spanish speaking country were, “el bano?”
We made it to Granada. We walked around, got breakfast with some of his friends, and took my first ever siesta. After we woke from this wonderful slumber, we hiked to the Mirador de San Nicolas in Granada to see the view of Alhambra in the distance as we watched one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen. We went out for drinks and tapas, and somehow got involved in an intercambio group (a group that meets up to practice speaking English and Spanish). We met some interesting people. It was a great day! And I got a lot of practice with my Spanish. A big step from asking, “el bano.” I learned sabor means taste. Thanks Jesse.
Day 2: March 22, 2018 Granada, Spain
This was my favorite day of the trip. We took a thirty-minute bus ride to a tiny white-washed town in the middle of no where. We hiked the Vereda del Barranco del Abogado trail—a nine mile hike that followed the Sierra Nevada mountain line. It was beautiful. We met some wild puppies along the way. I obviously tried to get them to come on the hike with us, but apparently I was too scary. We ate sandwiches, gazed at the white tips of the mountain, and talked about life. The trail brought us back into Granada. After six hours of being in the sun (I forgot to wear sunscreen and yes, I was a tomato for the remainder of the trip), the sun poisoning kicked in hard. But I didn’t let that stop me. We celebrated our finish by enjoying a tinto de verano, my favorite drink of the trip; it is like carbonated sangria. We went back to relax, and then Jesse took me out to a bar he knew I was going to love. It was a cerdo (pig) wine bar! For those of you who don’t know me, I love pigs. They gave us a pig shaped mug filled with cold white wine. For every pig we ordered, we received a tapa! What a great deal. After the pig bar, we went for even more tapas! One drink means more tapas! When we were full from tapas, we went searching for a bar downtown. We stumbled into a mosh pit at a punk bar. After we were soaked from spilled beer, we went to a bar called, Wall Street, where the prices of drinks changed sporadically during the night. The price would either go up or it would go down, so you were always taking a risk!
Day 3: March 23, 2018 Granada, Spain
Day three in Granada, we went to the Biodome at the Science Park. Here we saw some sharks, alligators, monkeys, lemurs, birds, and other random animals. After, Jesse and I played an intense game of chess at a life-sized chessboard outside in the Science Park. Jesse won (only by a little 😉 ). We went out for tapas to prepare us for the night, headed to a dollar shot bar, played some foosball, and then headed to a club called Mae West and danced the night away. It was fun finally dancing to all the Spanish songs I have been listening to for the past few years. It was my first experience staying up early in the morning—I survived.
Day 4: March 24, 2018 Malaga, Spain
We somehow made it up at a reasonable time to catch our Blabla car to Malaga. A Blabla car is kind of like Uber except more of a carpool system. You see who is traveling to the city of your choice on the app. Once you find a driver, you sign up for their car and meet them at their designated time and location. It was cheap and convenient, a good way to practice your Spanish with the locals. We arrived to Malaga and went straight to our hostel, Casa al Sur. This was my first hostel experience, and boy was it an experience. Apparently, this was a really nice hostel too. We only had four beds in our room with two other random guests. The showers and bathrooms were clean. And it even had a rooftop with a bar! We enjoyed some tea on the rooftop and then walked to the beach. After the nighttime beach views, we found a great Mexican restaurant. We then went to grab some mojitos at a mojito bar, and of course, went out clubbing. We danced the night away for a second night in a row. It was also daylights savings time and to make my jet lag even worse, the time jumped forward an hour. Yikes.
Day 5: March 25, 2018 Malaga, Spain
I didn’t get any sleep because we got back very late, and once we were back, our hostel roomies were waking up to catch their flights. We eventually rolled out of bed, had our morning tea, and then had a big, fancy breakfast. This was my first time trying the Spanish olives, and wow, did it change my life. The olives were absolutely amazing. After we were stuffed, we went to check out the Alcazar in Malaga, a castle that was once ruled by the Arabs. We took some artsy photos, did a lot of walking, and celebrated by going on the Ferris wheel to see the sunset.
Day 6: March 26, 2018 Malaga, Spain
When I planned this trip with my friend, I told him I don’t care what we do, I just need to go to the beach. Well, the weather finally reached 70 degrees, and we made this our designated beach day. We soaked up the sun with all the topless tanners, we jumped in the freezing cold water, and I read some Spanish Harry Potter. It was a relaxing day after all the walking we had been doing. When the sun was starting to set, we walked to the rocky pier at the end of the beach to take some pictures. We then bought some wine, cheese, and crackers, and traveled to the top of the castle to go watch the sunset. We met friends from New York, while we all cheersed with our wine and shared our cheese and crackers. We decided to go back to our hostel and call it a night. But little did we know we were walking into a trap.
A fifteen-minute walk turned into an hour because of the processions. Malaga was my first experience of the processions. It was Holy Week in Spain (the week leading up to Easter). Processions roamed the streets of Malaga. A procession is a parade where people dress up in wizard-like robes and hats (the KKK stole their look from the processions) and they would march with horns, drums, crosses, candles, and a big giant mural of Jesus, or the Virgin Mary. Well, the processions range in size (of the parade and of the crowd). This particular procession was huge! It took us an hour to get back to our hostel because we couldn’t find a way around the crowd. So we got back, called it a night, and went to bed. But no sleep happened that night. I heard the drums round the corner of our street and a procession stopped right in front of our hostel, blasting horns and drums at 4 in the morning. This went on for about an hour. And then our new roomies woke up early to catch their flights.
Day 7: March 27, 2018 Seville, Spain
We took another Blabla car to Seville and I passed out. When we made it to Seville, we were five minutes from the apartment we were staying at, only to be trapped by another procession! We had to take a detour and finally made it to the apartment; we stayed at a friend’s place. We immediately got lunch (probably the best lunch of the trip) and then checked out the Plaza de España where they filmed Episode 2 of Star Wars—that romantic scene of Anakin and Padme flirting in Naboo. After reenacting that flirtatious scene, we took a nap in one of the parks by the plaza and then walked along the river. We headed to a Flamenco show at a popular dive bar. Here we met the most interesting guy on the trip. This man suffered from autism, and was an amazing freestyle drawer. Before the Flamenco show began, there was a talent show. This man was showing us his drawings he was creating of the performers of the talent show. He had a stuffed animal Pink Panther with him. Every now and then he would hold the Pink Panther and do a ‘kiss kiss’ on his cheek with the Pink Panter, a ‘sip sip’ in his beer—dipping the Pink Panter into it as if the stuffed animal was having a sip—and a ‘laugh laugh’ with his Pink Panther. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. When the talent show ended, this man mumbled a goodbye. I then heard someone playing the piano across the bar. I looked over and it was the same man! He just hopped on the piano and started playing. Right before the Flamenco show started, the man stopped playing. The entire bar clapped for him and he stayed seated at the piano to watch the Flamenco show. What a cool guy! The Flamenco show was incredible. We had a guy dancer who blew us all away. After the show, the man continued with his piano playing. We left, fighting our way through the processions, and ate dinner at an empanada place. We showered and then went out clubbing under the Metropol Parasol, a giant wooden structure that looks like a giant mushroom!
Day 8: March 28, 2018 Seville, Spain
Hungover, we started our laundry. We then roamed the procession-filled streets searching for food. We were indecisive this morning and did four laps up and down the street until we finally decided on the restaurant we first thought of going to. After, a lady stopped us in the street and made us watch a procession with her. She explained the history behind this wild parade. It was fun watching it with someone who was actually into it. We did a river cruise that ended up being a time to take a nap for everyone. We then traveled to the mushroom, climbed it, and watched the sunset. We ate pizza and slept. Successful day.
Day 9: March 29, 2018 Seville, Spain
We had tostados for breakfast—Jesse’s favorite meal. We went to the city center to look at the cathedral. We then went to the Alcazar to look at the palace and gardens where they filmed Dorne in Game of Thrones. Later in the day, we packed our things, said by to the roomies, and took the bullet train to Madrid. We got there late, went straight to our Airbnb, got Kebabs and passed out. No clubbing for us that night.
Day 10: March 30, 2018 Segovia, Spain
When you visit Madrid, it is recommended to do a day trip to either Toledo, or Segovia. We went to Segovia. It was a bit rainy and cold but we didn’t let that get us down. We went to see the aqueduct, which was built by the Roman’s. It provided the city water from the mountains. It was built with no cement or adhesive in the stone, so people would try to push the adequate down. We walked to the castle after and climbed to the top of the tower. We got lunch, played some soccer with two little boys in the plaza, and then checked out the cathedral. We drank tea at a really cool Moroccan bar, and then caught the bus back to Madrid. We ate at a Mexican restaurant and went to some local bars for drinks. But no clubbing that night. We saved that for Saturday because it was Jesse’s birthday bash.
Day 11: April 1, 2018 Madrid, Spain
Our first day touring Madrid, we did a Sandman tour. A Sandeman’s tour is a free tour held in several cities around the world. We met our tour guide, Ramon, in the Plaza Mayor. Ramon was the best! Why Ramon, why? He answered all our questions. We learned tapas were invented to feed the alcoholic farmers. We saw the royal palace, got amazing Chinese food, and saw the Egyptian monument. We took a nap in the park. And then made our way back for a well needed siesta (we were struggling at this point after eleven days of traveling). We then got ready for Jesse’s 25th birthday bash. We met up with one of my friends who lived in Madrid. She used to work with me at a water park in New Jersey. We got tapas and stumbled into a 70’s music bar with a bunch of dancing moms. This was my favorite bar of the trip. Everyone was having fun and dancing with wavy arms. My water park friend left us, and it was time for Jesse and me to hit the club, Kapital. This bar had seven floors, though we only discovered two. The bartenders were awful! So rude, and mean, and nasty. But it was still a great time! We had fun on the dance floor with the strange show going on in front of us on stage. We got home at 5:30 am and slept and slept and slept.
Day 12: April 2, 2018 Madrid, Spain
We slept all day. Until 2 pm. We woke up and struggled to find pizza. After mediocre pizza, we went back to bed for another hour or two and then checked out the Reina Sofia museum with the famous Picasso painting, Guernica. We then saw Madrid Atletico play some futbol, and they won! At the end of the game, the entire stadium was filled with smoke. I almost died from it! I coughed for an entire week. That was my only negative thought of Spain: everyone smokes. We made pizza that night and watched That 70’s Show to finish our night in Madrid.
Day 13: April 3, 2018 Granada, Spain
We took a Blabla car back to Granada to finish the trip. We went to the Alhambra in Granada to check out the castle and palace. This was the nicest Arabian castle we saw. It was absolutely beautiful. We finished with one last sunset, and then called it quits. We were exhausted.
I headed back to the states with a different view on life. Spaniards love living their life. They don’t let their jobs consume them, they enjoy their meals and outdoor time, they are calm and stress-free. I enjoyed the kissing on the cheek, not having to tip the waiters, siestas, the light switches outside of the bathrooms, the healthy food and olives, and all of the PDA. I loved Spain because no one asked me what my career was. No one cared! Everyone was just trying to have a good time and enjoy themselves. It’s a great, healthy lifestyle. I think everyone needs to take a trip to Spain to experience this for themselves. It was life changing.