No… we didn’t spend 10 years and 10 days in Spain – that would be quite a trip! But this year marks my 10-year wedding anniversary to my wonderful husband, Matt. While our anniversary isn’t until October (so this post should really be called 9 1/2 years), that’s crazy busy wedding season for me. So we decided to celebrate early and spent 10 amazing days in Spain in March.
We began the trip in Barcelona. We arrived on a Monday morning, dropped off our luggage, and immediately went to visit La Sagrada Familia, a specatularly unusual unfinished cathedral designed by modernist architect Antoni Gaudí. Construction began in 1882, and optimists hope it will be completed in 2026. I don’t know about that.
This is looking directly up inside the cathedral. It’s like an indoor forest. There are two mostly completed facades, and a third that’s not even close to completion. This is the Nativity facade. We took an elevator up inside these towers. Yoda’s head? We took the elevator up… but it was all stairs going down. Later that day… our first day, we ignored our exhaustion and jet lag and enjoyed a tour of Montserrat, a tiny community about a 40 minute drive outside the city. Here there is a monastery, restaurants and some beautiful trails and scenery. Day 2 brought another gorgeous sunny warm day, a perfect time to visit Park Guell, a sprawling park featuring more architectural elements by Gaudí.Lunch on Day 3: my first taste of croquetas. These were so good!I told the waiter how much I loved them. Later he returned with a pencil and paper and dictated the recipe to me.La Casacada in Parc de la Ciutadella. Our final stop in Barcelona was Casa Batlló, an apartment building designed by Gaudí. His work features lots of elements inspired by nature, and I thought this was his most harmonious structure – my favorite. Next stop: Granada. You can still see an Arab influence in much of Southern Spain. And in come cases… actual ruins from when the Arabs were in control. These old Arab baths date back to the 11th century. So surreal being somewhere that is over 1,000 years old! That just doesn’t happen in the USA. One of the most amazing experiences we had was walking into La Catedral in Granada. We hadn’t read anything about it and just strolled in spontaneously, having no idea what it was like inside. And then we found it was HUGE! And AMAZING! And WHITE! A view of the old Arab neighborhood of Granada (La Albaycin), seen from La Alhambra. We only spent one night in Granada, and were lucky that our hotel recommended a restaurant where we could sit outside and have this spectacular view of La Alhambra. By chance, not by design, we were in Spain for Semana Santa, Holy Week. This is a really big deal in southern Spain, especially in Granada and Sevilla. They have many religious processions, where people dress in penitential robes and hoods. Large ornate floats are actually carried – not pulled – through the streets, accompanied by musicians. On our way back from dinner, we encountered one of the midnight processions. As they go through the streets, people inside the buildings turn out their lights so the procession is only lit by candlelight. It was a very memorable experience, and amazing to see so many people out so late. It was 2am when we returned to our hotel and the streets were still full of people. The Charles V Palace at La Alhambra. That’s Matt on the left. And on the right, I have no idea who that is. Someone with the same idea as us, apparently, who probably came home to a photo just like this.
The Nasrid Palaces at La Alhambra are 14th century Arab palaces, thankfully left intact by the Christians after they conquered the region. There’s a mind-boggling amount of detail in every inch of the palaces. After the hustle and bustle of Barcelona and Granada, we rented a car and relaxed (sort of) in the tiny town of Benaojan. Our room overlooked this raging stream. It was so loud!We were just a 15 minute drive from the mountain town of Ronda, which sits on top of a huge mountain cliff. Ronda is best known for this, the Puente Nuevo, which was described by one of my Instagram friends as looking like “something from Lord of the Rings.” Agreed! I could have stared at this view all day. My shoes were not that practical for walking down to the bottom of the waterfall… but that didn’t stop me. Our final stop was my favorite: Sevilla. We walked up the 37 ramps of La Giralda, the bell tower of Sevilla’s cathedral and were treated to this amazing view. My most favorite place of the whole trip: La Plaza de España. I could have stayed here all day too. On our last day, I was pretty exhausted. I handed Matt the camera and while he shot this… I shot this with my iphone – I love the timelessness of this photo. The Real Alcazar is just as ornate and amazing as La Alhambra. And thankfully less crowded.
Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla are underground baths inside the palace, my favorite spot in Real Alcazar.
Our last night in Sevilla: an intense, moving flamenco performance. If you’re ever in Sevilla… definitely check out some flamenco. The artistry and technique of the performers is really impressive. ¡Adiós, España!