14.07.2012 - 02.08.2012
After 2 weeks of a ‘UK summer’ I was well and truly ready for some sunshine and a chance to swop the rain jacket and jeans for something a little lighter! Spain went above and beyond in this department. Bluebird every single day, even in Bilbao where the weather usually resembles London’s! Train travelled worked a treat and meant we were able to cover a lot of the country in a short period of time
I had low expectations for this place because of other people’s reviews however I was pleasantly surprised with what this central city offered.
• Felt like a queen arriving to a hotel room with a private bathroom (after a few weeks of scummy hostels)
• Georgie and I started our epic two weeks of walking throughout Spain – approx. 20-30km per day or 10+ hours!
• Amazing park – Retiro Park. This was a massive park with amazing water features, trees and plenty of walking paths, apparently it rivals Central Park! Perfect way to start the day!
• Free walking tour with a very hungover guide, was interesting to learn about some of their more recent history. We also squeezed in a visit to Queen Sofia Arts Centre to see Picso famous……
• Trip advisor served us well – found a great place for dinner with amazing steak, chicken, squid and salads (tried them all because we went back twice)!
• The start of our corn flake breakfast and tuna salad eating days (it’s not so easy to travel when you are a celiac)
• We had a few sighting of the riots and only once was it a little too close for comfort!
This place is something else. Full of so much history and so many step little roads which we of course explored by foot
• Crazy day walking once we arrived (after walking 2km from the train station in the scorching heat with our bags). Climbing up to the highest viewing point in Granada in the scorching dessert sun, we passed very few other people (I wonder why?). But worth the 3 hour walk for the views! Exhausted and extremely thirsty we somehow made it back to the hotel
• Exploring the Sacromone district, gypsy caves, on our own by foot before we really knew what it was, was an experience!
• Amazing walking tour with a local guide who gave us a brilliant explanation of Granada’s rich history (it was then we found out what the gypsy caves were) and even taught us how to turn a Mosque into a Catholic church
• Everyone who goes to Granada visits the Alhambra, so this meant an early morning walk to line up for tickets. We thought it was very impressive although we had our express tourist mode on, didn’t quiet spend the ¾ of a day there like people recommend
• Food – Granada is famous for its free tapas with drinks. We didn’t take advantage of this due to the above mention allergies. Dinners included a random vegan place and then a vegetarian place and it was here that Georgie’s love for kebab salads begun!
Can’t say we were dying to go back to this place. Visiting the south of Spain in July can be a little challenging
• Our lovely travel agent booked us into a hotel a 45min bus ride from the centre, in a housing commission area. Meant we couldn’t enjoy some of the finer dinning that was on offer in Seville
• First day of our walking explorations it reached 46 degree and it was siesta by the time we got into the city. 3 hours and 4 ice poles later we retreated back to the hotel
• The free walking tour was run by a very enthusiastic Moroccan who told many stories about Christopher Columbus and the importance of Seville as a port to the new world. He also managed to teach us some Flamenco and gave his opinion on the financial/political crisis in Spain. 50% of people under 24 were unemployed!
• No tuna salad for me here, I had amazing black paella (recommend by Carmen)!!
This was the once place Georgie said was a must see, to visit the Guggenheim Museum. I had no idea what it was before hand but so glad we went, it’s like no building I have ever seen before!
• A whole days train journey to reach Bilbao gave our feet and legs a much needed break!
• This was the best hotel by far! 4 stars with the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in and an amazing buffet breakfast!
• As per usual we did a walking tour, interesting to note that until 20 years ago Bilbao was purely an industrial city, not overly attractive on the eye
• Guggenheim museum is such an amazing building, it captures you attention from every angle! Surprisingly I also enjoyed the art inside the museum. I was pleasantly surprised, such a large exterior but a relative smaller interior meant we went through it and saw everything in 2 hours (I didn’t have time to get bored)
• The highlight for me was my afternoon 30 minute Metro trip to Sopelana Beach. GD wanted to stay at the hotel and write FB messages so I went by myself. Got a little lost finding the beach but it was well worth it in the end, just look at the pictures!
• I loved it so much the next morning I went back and did a run along the cliffs from Sopelana to Getxo, couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, this is how I like to see things!
Finally our last stop in Spain. Didn’t start on the best foot with our late arrival to ‘Hostel Barcelona.’ Walking down some dodge side streets to find the most expensive accommodation of our trip but by far the worst. GD had a melt down and was talking to Robin and Marcel as she was trying to find somewhere else to stay but at 12am decided to stay here and re-evaluate in the morning. In the end she decided to stay if we spent all day out exploring and only slept here
• Again we were off to find the free walking tours. We were able to do an Old town walking tour and a Gaudi walking tour, both of which were very informative and worthwhile
• Our first day we clocked up 13hours of walking (GD was on a shopping mission), after having dinner down at the beach we literally limped home, our old war wounds (sacrums and planter fascia) were not happy!
• Gaudi park was a definite high light, amazing view of the city, I love the perfect grids. Gaudi’s unique and crazy designs were interesting to see, we will have to go back in 50 years time to see the Sagrada Familia when it is finally finished!
• Loved the food markets, the vibrant colours and the fruit and lollies was memorising! Libby would have been in heaven with all the lollies on offer
• Nothing too special about the food we eat apart from the lunch place! A vegetarian falafel salad bar, was always packed with people but we lined up every day, best cauliflower of my life!!
So after 2 weeks of ‘express touristing’, walking, eating and sweeting we were well and truly ready to head to Croatia to relax for a few days! Loved Spain but might not head back down south in the heat of summer!