TRAVEL DIARIES: 10 DAYS IN SPAIN (MADRID, SEVILLA, BARCELONA)

This post has taken WAY too long to publish but I'm finally sharing all the deets on my 10 days in Spain! Keep reading for all the best things to see/do/eat, hottest rooftops, pick pocketing stories, and my ironic love affair with olives.

MADRID

Things To Do/Places To See:


Parque del Retiro (Buen Retiro) - This is one of the largest parks in Madrid spanning 350 acres and located in the heart of the city. The park is filled with beautiful gardens and monuments and even has a large man-made lake that you can rent row boats and further explore. You can also find street entertainers as well as merchants selling crafts, souvenirs, and oddly a LOT of selfie sticks.

Puerta de Alcala (Alcala Gate) - A pretty monument/landmark in front of the Parque del Retiro and one of Madrid's most well known monuments that was built in 1778. You can take some great pictures in front of the monument from just across the street. Just be prepared to wait inline behind the insta baddies with their tripods (I'm not kidding).

Rooftop Terrace of Circulo de Bellas Artes - This rooftop bar located inside a fine arts center has the absolute best view of the city. It cost about 6-8 euros to go up but it was well worth it. I was recommended to go both during the day and at sunset and if we had the time I totally would have - it was truly breathtaking. The layout/seating up top was also very fun and modern.

Puerta del Sol - This is the main square of the city for shopping, food, bars, etc and is one of Madrid's most famous sites. Each side street leads off into a different area of the city. It's semi-circular shape is a junction for the city's busiest streets including Mayor, Arenal, and Alcala which makes it a great spot to start exploring & just wander.

Gran Via - This is a a famous boulevard in the city lined with some or largest and most beautiful buildings in the city (that you can see from the Circulo de Bellas Artes rooftop!). You can find some great shopping and cafe's in the area. There was some construction when we went but it was beautiful and bustling, nonetheless.

Others we didn't get to:

Madrid Rio - Another large and famous park that is both cultural and recreational! This park has 17 'play areas' with everything from swings to climbing courses as well as modern looking bridges, cool fountain 'beach' area, a skate park, and more.

Mercado San Miguel - This is one of Madrid's oldest markets that's both charming and traditional. The covered iron structure is a popular tourist area isn't a traditional market, but a gourmet tapas market which makes for an excellent self guided tapas & wine tour.

Templo de Debod - Madrid's very own Egyptian temple. Yes, you read that right. As a sign of gratitude for Spain's help to Egypt in saving the Abu Simbel temples, Egypt gifted the Temple of Debod to Spain in 1968 so this temple was literally dismantled and then reassembled back in Spain.... and that's your history lesson for the day. All jokes aside, this structure is so old and has so much history behind it and it's really quite fascinating for nerds like me.


Food Recs: 
Cafe Alma Bar - A super cute cafe with authentic & amazing tapas. The perfect ambiance for a fire Instagram pic is just an added bonus.

Dona Luz Rooftop - A trendy rooftop bar & restaurant with pretty views and great food (& wine!). So reasonably priced too.

La Rollerie - A swanky bakery for brunch; get the Spanish omelette!

El Tigre - We didn't get a chance to go here but it was recommended by a friend. You get a free tapas with every drink! V bummed we didn't have time to check it out.



Nightlife:

  • Hot tip: I was recommended by a local to avoid Joy nightclub. I had this written down on my list of clubs to go to but was later informed it was more so for drunk sloppy 18 year olds. We took a pass.
  • Kapital - This nightclub was Madrid-local approved! It's 7 stories, good music/DJ's, fun dance floor
  • The Hat - secret rooftop bar in the Hat Hotel - close to Plaza Mayor. We didn't get to go to this one since we didn't have too much time time in Madrid but it looks perfect for a more chill night out. 



SEVILLA


Things To Do/Places To See:


Flamenco show at Casa de la Guitarra - Highly recommend! This was an awesome cultural experience of an authentic and intimate flamenco show. The venue was small and intimate (probably capacity of about 40 max) so there was no bad seat in the house. The show is actually in an 18th century house that was converted into a guitar museum. It was awesome and in a great location to hop around before/after for some drinks and tapas!

Tour of Alcazar of Seville - Highly recommend getting tickets beforehand and going as early as possible because the lines were CRAZY! I think we got tickets from Expedia or something similar a few days prior. The Alcazar is a beautiful 700+ year old palace in Seville filled with absolutely incredible architecture, ponds, gardens, chambers and more. We took a guided walking tour which was pretty cool to hear about all the history but we were able to freely explore after the tour was over. Parts of Game of Thrones was filmed here - it's truly that magical!

Catedral de Sevilla - This roman catholic cathedral is located right next to Alcazar and you can buy separate tickets for this tour (or find a deal that includes tours of both). We preferred to do a tour of the Alcazar because it was much bigger but the cathedral is still very beautiful and a must see when in Seville.

Plaza de España - 100% must see! This is a beautiful plaza located in Maria Luisa Park and built in 1928. This was quite a walk from where we were staying but this was my favorite place in Seville. The architecture is all so detailed and all parts elegant, colorful and beautiful. There really wasn't one bad picture we took here. We also saw some flamenco dancers performing here which was fun!

Metropol Parasol/Setas de Sevilla - This was close to where we stayed so we walked by this quite a bit. Metropol Parasol are large wooden 'mushroom like' structures above the Setas de Sevilla (Seville Steps) and are an iconic part of the city. It's interesting to see such a modern looking structure in the middle of all the beautiful and old buildings and streets.

Walk across/along the water of Puente de Isabel ii - Take a walk along here at golden hour/sunset. It was so so beautiful! This metal arch bridge connects the Triana neighborhood with the center of the city. There's a few really cute rooftop restaurants overlooking the water here as well.

Take a cooking class. We found this 'Spanish Cooking Class with a Professional Chef' on Airbnb the day we took the train to Sevilla and it was SO much fun; I'm so glad we found it! This was a 3 hour hands-on Spanish cooking class consisting of a four course menu (with Sangria and wine included). We made gazpacho, a spinach and chickpea appetizer, paella valenciana, and a light refreshing dessert. The food was awesome and we were sent recipe cards to try the dishes at home. HIGHLY recommend!




Drinks/Food:

EME Catedral Rooftop - A great spot for drinks overlooking the Catedral. The Spritz was 🔥. Definitely go just before sunset to get the best day time and golden hour/sunset views. It was on the pricier end for cocktails but still well worth it!

Pedro Viejo or Ovejas Negras - These are two separate restaurants but same ownership I believe. If there's one dining recommendation to take from this post it's this one. This was recommended to us by a local and we couldn't stop talking about this meal for days afterwards... We got a few appetizers, an INCREDIBLE steak dinner, and a bottle wine for about 40 bucks a person.

Hotel Doña Maria - Another rooftop about 100 ft from EME Catedral; we didn't get to go to this one as we heard the EME was cooler of the two.

 


BARCELONA: 

Things To Do/Places To See:


Park Güell - This is another one you should 100% buy tickets for. You buy tickets for a selected time slot since the Park is so busy (only allows 400 visitors per half hour) so sure you're on time! It's quite the hike up so wear comfortable shoes and find the escalators that get you up you up part of the way.
Park Güell is a public park made up of gardens and achitectural elements located on Carmel Hill. The park is famous for the colorful architecture of famous Antoni Gaudi.

Wine & Cava Tour - We did a wine and cava tour that was complete with tapas and a four wheel drive tour of the vineyard that was recommended by a friend who recently did the tour! This was a pretty long experience (and bus ride outside of Barcelona) so I wouldn't recommend it if you only had a few days to explore Barca but it was fun nonetheless! We got to try 4 different wines and 4 cavas - each paired with a different tapas dish. It was more informational than I wanted it to be (I'd rather be sitting in the vineyard drinking wine, duh) but it was cool to learn about the wine as meet all the people from all over the world who were on the tour with us.

The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia - Just a heads up that this church is under construction (and will be until 2026, I believe) but it's still a really beautiful and famous building that's considered a must-see if you ever go to Barcelona. The architecture for the church began in 1882 and just a year later, Gaudi took over as chief architect when the former architect resigned. You can definitely see his work  and style within the building - it really looks like something out of Harry Potter; so magical looking. Hot tip - find the pond that's a few hundred yards in front of the church to get the best photo op!

Shop around Passeig de Gracia - This is one of the major avenues in Barcelona with some of the most high end shopping in the area that still contains some of the city's most famous pieces of architectural buildings. I'd say the shopping is comparable to that of Michigan Avenue in Chicago. I stopped in YSL and got myself a little memento of my trip 😊

Las Ramblas - This is a beautiful, tree-lined pedestrian street located in central Barcelona. It's kind of a tourist trap (we were recommended by our Airbnb host not to eat anywhere directly on Las Ramblas as it would be overly priced and not very authentic) but it's a pretty walk nonetheless. This was close to our Airbnb so we'd walk around here to take public transportation every day. This is a good area to find some souvenirs; there's merchants set up almost every day with hand made jewelry and crafts, postcards, etc.

Barceloneta Beach - On the last day of our trip, we went to a local market and picked up a few bottles of wine, fresh meats and cheeses and had ourselves a picnic on the beach. I think this was my favorite moment during our stay in Barcelona. The ocean was beautiful and the people watching was PRIME.

Bunkers del Carmel - This is one thing I'm super bummed we didn't get to do since the weather was kind of crappy. You can see panoramic views of Barcelona from the actual bunkers used in the Spanish Civil War. Sneak in a bottle of wine in your bag and enjoy the views of the city almost 900 feet up!



Drinks/Food:

Brunch & Cake - Good spot for brunch (as you can tell in the name lolz). The food and drinks here were seriously like artwork... almost too pretty to consume! The outside is beautifully decked out in flowers. We were recommended this place by one of the couples we were on the wine & cava tour with and I'm so happy we went!

Rooftop of Hotel Colon - YOU MUST COME HERE. I don't care how crowded it is. I want you to come here and wait for one of the tables overlooking the Cathedrals to open up. And then I want you to sit down and order the Sangria. And then take a picture with said sangria in front of the cathedral.
This rooftop overlooks the square and the Cathedral of Barcelona. This was definitely the best rooftop we've been to. The views were just out of a movie. You don't need to stay at the hotel to go to the rooftop - you just have to order a drink!




Nightlife:

Opium - We didn't get a chance to come here (drinking wine all day most days got the best of us) but this is proclaimed to be the best and most famous club in Barcelona facing Barceloneta beach.

Mint - This was a more chill dive-y bar right off of Las Ramblas with great mojitos!

Dow Jones Bar - I'm super bummed we didn't have time to come here either but we found out about this bar from a couple from the wine & cavas tour. This bar has a New York Stock Exchange theme that is like a drinking game in itself. The prices for drinks fluctuate on the screens above the bar (just like stocks on the stock market). Sirens will go off at random times throughout the night warning patrons of cheap drink prices - up to 50% off normal prices! This is such a cool concept - I wish we got to go.



THINGS WE LEARNED:
  • When paying with a credit card you will get the option to pay in either euros or dollars. Always pay in dollars! This is called dynamic currency conversion. As a general rule, the currency you should chose is that of the foreign country you're visiting - whether it be euros, pesos, pounds, etc. The dollar exchange rate you're getting is probably pretty lousy and the merchant in fact will get the difference of the real rate and the rate you're paying. 
  • Bread baskets on the table are not free. I learned this a couple meals in and seeing the charge on our bill 😅 I still don't understand... if it's not free then why is it on the table?! If it's not free, then I'll order it if I want it and see it on the menu. Wild.  
  • If paella has peas it is NOT authentic and adding chorizo to paella is a crime. S/O to Chef Victor for this random piece of information I will never forget. 
  • You'll find Iberian ham (Jamon Iberico) on pretty much every menu. This Spanish cured meat (similar to prosciutto) is a very popular dish.
  • Siesta's are a real thing! Good luck trying to find a restaurant open around 5pm.
  • Most clubs (the fun ones at least) don't open until midnight.
  • You don't have to be fluent in the language but locals definitely appreciate if you at least try to speak Spanish. My 3 years of Spanish class paid off much more than I expected.
  • Patatas Bravas are God's gift to earth. This is a tapas dish that consists of fried potatoes paired with a spicy tomato-based aioli. 
  • Uber is more of a luxury and not a main type of transportation. We took Uber's to and from airports in Madrid and Sevilla and learned that Barcelona did not have Uber's at the time due to strikes. All the Uber drivers of the trips we took were dressed up in a suit, opened our doors, for us, took our bags, etc. 
  • Come prepared with your own entertainment for your plane ride...just in case. We had no issues on our flight going to Europe but our flight back home was not what we expected. It was an older plane with NO TV'S. Not even the randomly scattered TV's overhead. The flight attendants let us know we could download the Airline's app on a phone or tablet and then watch movie's from there. This seems like an ok idea at surface level until you remember you don't have cell service internationally and the Wifi of the airport SUCKS. I was thankfully prepared but Cassidy was not.... lol. 
  • Meals are an experience that happen at a much slower and intimate pace. You won't find waiters constantly asking if you're ready for the check. People aren't glued to their cell phones -  they're actually talking and enjoying their company. 

TIPS TO TRAVELERS:

  • Always be cautious of pick pocketers!! Both Cassidy and I had an experience with pick pocketing... both coincidentally enough in Barcelona. When we first arrived in Barcelona, we went down in the subway and were trying to figure out how to get to our Airbnb. We had our big rolling luggage, backpacks, as well as a crossbody purses so yes, looking like total tourists. I was facing Cassidy as she was on her phone looking for directions when suddenly I felt a slight push and before I knew it two men came between us and walked past me (with me in the middle). I was really thrown off and wasn't sure what was going on but Cassidy noticed the small front pocket of my backpack was unzipped. The two d-bags were quickly walking away from us while looking back to us laughing and sarcastically blowing us kisses (gross). Luckily, they didn't manage to take anything. Even if they did, the only thing I kept in that front pocket was a crumbled up RxBar. Another night when we were walking home from the bar, a guy literally just ran up to Cassidy and tried taking her phone straight from her hands. Luckily, she's a strong girl who takes shit from no one so she held onto the phone for dear life and instead, the guy starts running away from us down the alley as we screamed obscenities at him. Moral of both of these stories is just be hyper aware of your surroundings at all times. I recommend travelling with a cross-body bag that you can keep zipped and in front of you. 
  • Get recommendations from locals. They know the area better than any tourist site, travel  blogger, Pinterest post, etc. This is how we found the restaurant in Seville that was literally the best meal of the entire trip. 
  • Try to buy tickets for any and all attractions ahead of time. Not only is it usually cheaper but it will also prevent you from having to wait in crazy lines.
  • Don't pack heels. I packed a pair of wedges and a pair of heels and it was the biggest waste of space in my suitcase. We only went out a handful of times and it's so much better to be comfortable since you'll be doing a lot of walking! I definitely ended up taking off my heels and walking barefoot home. 
  • The majority of buildings don't have elevators. Remember that when you're booking your Airbnb's/packing. Two of our airbnb's were on the 5th floor and oh man, that was a real bitch to carry up our 45 pound suitcases. 
  • Make a loosely based itinerary but be open to straying from your schedule. This is how the best adventures begin. 
  • Step out of your comfort zone and be open to local cuisine or foods you've never tried before. I am by no means a picky eater but I'm pretty stubborn in foods that I don't like... or think I don't like at least. I know this isn't super ~wild~ story, but I tried olives for the first time in Spain and I LOVED them. The idea of olives just kind of always freaked me out but now I literally crave olives every single day. I'm not kidding.... every. single. day. 
  • Keep a travel journal. This was the first trip I got to use my new travel journal on and it was the best purchase I made! I tried to write in it as many days as I could and just wrote down what where we went, what we did, funny stories, etc. The travel journal I got has a spot to write the date, the place you're at and it also has a space to put things like tickets, postcards, etc. Find the exact travel journal HERE
  • Instead of going out to dinner for every meal, go to a local deli and pick up some fresh meats, cheeses, fruits, wine, etc. Not only is the food so damn fresh and tasty but the little picnic is so fun in itself. 
  • If you've been thinking of purchasing a designer item, do it when you're abroad! Not only will you avoid paying taxes, but European luxury items are usually a little cheaper across the pond. You can even get a VAT refund on the items at the airport. I purchased a YSL card holder in Barcelona. Not only have I had my eye on it for a while, but now I'll always think of my trip to Spain whenever I use it. 

This trip was nothing short of amazing in so many ways... and I want to give a special shout out to my lifelong friend, Cassidy, for being the best travel companion I could ask for.

Spain, you're beautiful! 



36 comments

  1. It looks amazing there! And it seems you're having a good time.

    Jennifer
    Effortlessly Sophisticated

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    Replies
    1. it was a blast! Thanks so much Jennifer! :)

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  2. oh this all looks like so much fun! and all that food looks so tasty!!
    kelseybang.com
    4allthingsdisney.com

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    Replies
    1. thanks girl! it really was ... craving it all right now!

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  3. What an amazing trip! You took so many great photos and had a wonderful time! I'd love to visit Spain, I have a friend there and it would be so good to catch up with her!

    Hope that you are having a lovely weekend :)


    Away From Blue

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Mica! Spain was incredible!

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  4. Spain is an amazing destination I have visited all these locations and I loved and remember all of them But I do not remember details such as pay food you did not order I was wondering if you don't eat the bread do you still have to pay for it? Interesting Lovely images and so happy you had a great time Thanks for all the tips here xoxo Cris
    https://photosbycris.blogspot.com/2019/08/lilacoco-power-of-being-you.html

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    Replies
    1. No, if you don't eat it then you don't pay for it! But still crazy - and took us a while to figure out lol!
      Thanks Cris :)

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  5. Traveling to Spain in on my bucket list and it sounds like you had an amazing trip! The food looks delicious! I'm pinning!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

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  6. Flamenco show souds wonderful. I'm glad you had great trip and enjoyed your time.

    www.ninakobi.com

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  7. wow you have seen so many place in Spain. I like so much the pictures from there. About Spain I was only in Barcelona

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  8. Omg Spain is suuuuch a dream! Definitely on my must-visit list. Thank you for sharing these shots + stories!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  9. wow... i really love all these travel photos. i'm jealous.

    JULIE ANN LOZADA BLOG
    INSTAGRAM: @julieann_lozada

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  10. OMG Spain is on the top of places I want to visit in Europe. Love this so much!

    www.fashionradi.com

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  11. I really want to visit Spain, I wanted to go my first time in Europe and it wasn't possible, but now I'm determined. Besides most of my family comes from Spain, it would only be logical for me to visit. Thank you so much for the tips :)

    Lindifique

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    Replies
    1. how cool! you definitely have to make a trip then!!

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  12. Wow, such an incredible trip. Thank you for sharing all your amazing recommendations and tips. I've never been to Spain but its on my travel wish list. Will be bookmarking this page. Have an awesome day.

    Xx
    Nikki
    www.nikkilivinglife.com/blog

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  13. These are amazing cities. I can't decide which one is my favorite. Thank you for such a detail city quide with amazing photos.

    New Post - http://www.exclusivebeautydiary.com/2019/08/ysl-black-opium-intense-night-edition_14.html

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  14. I'm dying to go back to Spain! Your trip looks so amazing!

    District of Chic

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  15. Wow.. it looks like such a great trip.. and great tips as well.

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  16. Hi, I love travelling, I loved this post, it was the most interesting. I like your blog, do you want us to follow each other? let me know.

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  17. Kapital is such a fun nightclub! I loved Madrid and Barcelona, your photos bring me back to my summer in Spain. It looks like you had a wonderful trip xx

    http://mylovelierdays.com

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  18. This looks amazing dear! What a fabulous trip!

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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    ReplyDelete