Spain is about a lot of things, including Food, Football and Fashion. From dazzling architecture to golden beaches to Spanish music to Flamenco dance, to evenings with wines & tapas to vibrant nights. Life is a fiesta here…. starts slow and goes on till really late. Culturally it feels as if no one crosses the teenage or college times here 🙂 It’s a great place to be, anytime you decide to feel young and vibrant again or wish to learn relating to your own teenagers at home. Guess, that’s why life directed me here.
I visited Spain when the temperatures were soaring high, clothes were getting shorter, their hems higher, and the country was in full time celebration mode. There were fairs, festivals & parties all around. I didn’t know God sends boring mothers here to see Gen Z in other countries too.
Here is the link to what I did last summers ! – Summers in Spain – Snippets from my solo journey – YouTube
I was supposed to travel to Spain with a close friend in 2020, just before covid. But covid ruined all our plans then and there. Spain happened in 2022 by chance as a result of no planning & no thinking. Last year, after hiatus of months on international travel, I had decided to visit my sister and her family in UK. But before I could even do my UK ticket, my sister had made a family plan to do Marrakesh via Madrid with me for a week. So along with my UK ticket and visa, now I also needed to apply & pay for two other visas. Schengen and Moroccan. Reason I don’t like being an Indian passport holder. Modiji not done. Despite you being there, value of our passport hasn’t gone up even by 5%
Anyway…to make my tickets and visa worth the effort, I decided to extend my travel from one week to almost 21 days to cover Spain and Morocco. The friend couldn’t come … and so I traveled alone except for the part where my sister and family could join me for 6 days.
When it comes to travel, I am a true Bengali and a die-hard fan of Rabindra Nath Tagore. ‘Jodi tor daak shune kyo na aashe taube ekla cholo re.’ (meaning, get going alone…)
Spain is big and like most countries time is never enough to see and experience everything, so I picked Andalucia region to travel within Spain.
About Spain and Andalucia region
Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second-largest country in Western Europe. 58 million tourists go to Spain every year, making it the fourth most visited country in the world. Spain is divided into 17 autonomous regions, each with its own history, culture, and government. Andalucia is a region in southern Spain, the largest and most populous, boasts of stunning Moorish architecture, beautiful landscapes, sunny beaches, flamenco, and delicious cuisine.
The provinces in Andalucia are Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Malaga, Sevilla, Huelva, Jaén, Almeria. The most popular attractions in this region are the Moor cities of Seville, the birthplace of flamenco; Granada, home to the famous Alhambra palace and fortress; and Córdoba, which has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other city in the world. Andalucia is also known for its festivals, such as the Feria de Abril in Seville and the Carnaval de Cadiz, so be sure to check the calendar before you go!
Off the list, I visited Madrid, Malaga, Marbella, Ronda, Seville and Granada. I dropped Cordoba and I missed visiting Barcelona in Catalonia region courtesy Vueling’s flight cancellation. Summers is when whole of humanity in Europe travels and Spain being a hot spot, from long queues of immigration to flights being overbooked, canceled & rerouted, no longer remain a remote possibility but is a reality. I did face all of this.
As a solo traveler, my travel style was to use public transport and stay in apartments within the city centers and close to major attractions so that I could do most places easily within the time at hand.
From UK the first city I landed in was Madrid to travel to Marrakesh with my sister and family from there. I have to say, we were lucky for Madrid. Real Madrid won the Champions League the day we landed, and you can see me holding the Real Madrid banner with one of the football fans in my family- My brother-in-law. I so missed my son in that moment whose religion is playing football.
3 days of Madrid with hop on hop off bus as option was good enough. We visited – Museo Nacional del Prado, Retiro Park, Royal Palace and Gardens, Plaza Mayor, Cibeles Square and Gran Via, San Jeronimo el Real Parish Church, Royal Basilica of San Francisco el Grande and more. Evening entertainment meant Flamenco dance performance. Infact me and my shopaholic sister did get time to sneak into various shops and boutiques as well during our time in Madrid while my nephew and bro in law managed to have their ice cream dosages every now and then.
After completing my Morocco trip, on my way back to Spain, I first flew into Malaga from Casablanca. Malaga is a coastal city that offers a mix of culture, history, and beach life. Most importantly, Malaga is popular as the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. I reached here by almost 8pm in the evening though it felt like 4 pm afternoon. Looking at streets, I realized the day had just started for the Spanish. Cafes and pubs were choc a bloc. I first checked into my apartment and then decided to go out. Guess where? To the shopping district, Calle Larios. This was to satiate my unfulfilled shopping ambitions of Madrid.
Next morning, I picked up the map and started following my tourist instincts. I visited The Alcazaba of Malaga , Gibralfaro castle Malaga Roman theater, Malaga Cathedral and OfCourse visited the Picasso Museum. I don’t miss the art and history part when in Europe anytime.
Marbella doesn’t usually top the charts when it comes to architectural gems in Andalucia region but is definitely popular in Indian itineraries, as this is place with the luxurious version of Goa vibe in Spain. Proof- I could get authentic Indian Rajma chawal here after many days of my travel in a restaurant called Jaipur overlooking the beach. The chef was from Simla to my wonder. We spoke and he explained why he chose Jaipur. Food was heavenly in this perfect setting where I could eat while looking at topless men and women both.
After lunch, I took a ferry to visit the claim to fame luxury marina and shopping district Puerto Banús. Today, it is the largest entertainment centers in the Costa del Sol, with 5 million annual visitors, and is pretty popular with international celebrities. To feel a part of this place, I did spend a few bucks on Nutella chocolate crepes. Rest nothing was of my interest 🙂
I loved this colorful shop there and wished, if only Asians could sell their stuff in such places with celebrity footfalls.
From Marbella , I took a bus ride to Ronda. A beautiful brawny town perched on a cliff, Ronda offers stunning views and a dramatic history littered with outlaws, bandits, guerrilla warriors and rebels. Its famous bridge, the Puente Nuevo, spans a deep gorge and is a sight to behold. Its spectacular location and its status as the largest of Andalucía’s white towns have made it hugely popular with tourists. All those of you who have seen ‘Zindagi na milegi Dobara’ and the Spain in it. This is one of the places where they shot.
These are a few more pictures from the bridge.
Interestingly, modern bullfighting was practically invented here in the late 18th century, and the town’s fame was spread further by its close association with American Europhiles Ernest Hemingway (a lover of bullfighting) and Orson Welles (whose ashes are buried in the town).
From Ronda, again I took bus and reached Seville. Ooh, such grandeur! The capital of Andalucia, Seville is known for its grand cathedral, charming old town, flamenco shows, and delicious tapas. I walked a lot here …. From Basilica De La Macarena to Metropol Parasol to Casa De Pilatos to Alcazar to Cathedral De Sevilla & Giralda Tower to Plaza De toros to Plaza De Espana, I was going on with my undying spirit to see everything possible.
Ok, so I saved the best for the last. From Seville, I took a train to Granada. Home to the magnificent Alhambra palace, Granada is a must-see for anyone visiting Andalucia. From the imperial majesty of Granada’s Alhambra and its gorgeous Generalife Gardens to the magnificent Moorish architecture of the Nasrid palaces, there a lot to see here.
Being one of Europe’s most popular attractions, Alhambra in Granada, attracts up to 6000 visitors a day and more than two million per year. Set against the brooding Sierra Nevada peaks, this palace started life as a walled citadel before becoming the opulent seat of Granada’s Nasrid empire. Their 14th-century Palacios Nazaríes, is among the finest Islamic buildings in Europe and, together with the Generalife gardens, forms Alhambra’s broadcasting feature.
Below is Granada’s charming old town, the Albayzin, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Besides, this is the first time; I witnessed the fanfare with which Spanish celebrate their festivals. Oh! the whole city comes to a standstill. I couldn’t get a taxi from the Granada train station to my hotel for about two hours when I landed here, as all the roads to my hotel were closed. It was almost 3 days of celebration and they would close all roads and everything around for a few hrs everyday for procession to pass through.
Apart from all these places, there is Cordoba, famous for its Mezquita, an impressive mosque-turned-cathedral; and Cadiz, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain, known for its beaches and seafood; and Almeria, a beautiful old town with impressive fortresses, and picturesque beaches.
My travel style is quite like Jawani Deewani’s Ranbir Kapoor. I like to explore as much as possible and don’t like to miss a lot. Besides, novelty being one of the biggest motivating factor for people like me who get bored easily, I try to look at a new place each time. However, this solo trip to Spain last year, did become quite hectic after a point as it was just me who had to get up on time to board the train/flight or bus. It was me who had to plan the whole day myself, change cities every other day dragging my luggage and myself single handedly. And it was just me who had to figure out the maps and directions (not good with that).
It’s like when you are on alert for a long time, you start craving for doing nothing. This is my excuse to touch this blog after almost a year even though I had clicked so many pictures on my trip to share 🙂
To avoid such delays in future, now I have started looking for travel buddies to travel with me especially to places where my family can’t accompany. So please connect if you are interested to travel with me & go beyond the usual destinations… Look forward to some good company in future explorations … no Europe though!
However, if you are already inspired by ‘Zindagi na milegi dobara’ movie, European summers and my blog here, please get in touch to get a customized luxury travel to Spain at email@example.com