Have you ever wandered past a collection of cozy restaurants, a dozen shoe stores, and the 3rd largest cathedral in the world in just 10 minutes? Have you ventured to the burial site of monarchs that united a country and permanently changed the world? Have you ever had a monkey climbing on your shoulders minutes after walking across an active runway?
I love reminscing of my days in Spain and the mystical Gibraltar. Being pleasantly lost as I wandered along the cobblestone streets was invigorating. Motorcycles whizzed past as I strolled by a row of pastel buildings along the River Guadalquivir. Women in heels and sunglasses glided down the street, their hair blowing from the gentle breeze. The smell of fresh calamari filled the air as my thoughts drifted to the flamenco shows that I enjoyed while grazing on selections of amazing tapas and wine. As I continued into a giant plaza lined with orange trees, a grand statue beckoned me to continue my Spanish dream.
In the "land of the setting sun", the culture is intoxicatingly rich and full. Flamenco shows, decadent food and wine, and ancient ruins come together with inviting plazas, elaborate architecture, and welcoming people to form an experience like no other.
Madrid’s Palacio Real, or Royal Palace, offers a glimpse of how the Spanish royals lived, the perfect compliment to the museums that house the works of some of the most famous artists in the world, including Goya, Picasso and Velázquez. Seville holds the peaceful gardens of Alcázar and the magnificent Cathedral, the 3rd largest in the world. It’s also the home to the spectacular Plaza de España, where Star Wars was filmed. There was something so peaceful about settling on a bench in the sun with the sound of the water and children laughing, a notebook and a pen in hand.
Journeys into some smaller cities didn’t disappoint: Granada is the home to the magnificent Alhambra, where I first discovered my love for Moorish architecture, as well as La Capilla Real, or the Royal Chapel, the burial site of the great King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I. Their simple tombs gave no hint to the fact that they changed the course of history, but their stories and accomplishments prove otherwise.
Ronda boasts the Plaza de Toros, the oldest of all bullfighting rings, and the great Puente Nuevo, with striking views that reminded me of how amazing this world really is—and how much I don’t like heights.
Surrounded by the Sierra Blanca and the Concha mountains, Marbella has the perfect climate, and the Plaza de los Naranjos, the home of a 16th century Town Hall building, one of many architectural accomplishments of the country.
To finish off my adventure, I continued along the coast for a taste of Britian in the sun - walking across the border into the amazing Gibraltar where I had my fix of fish and chips, Marks and Spencer, and the incredible melting pot of cultures to whom this beautiful Rock is home. Exploring cliffs and caves was the perfect adventure, especially with the ever-friendly monkeys and the active runway, where sometimes, cars stop for planes and sometimes, planes stop for cars. I also relaxed on some of the 6 beaches on the shoreline before heading to the top of the Rock. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything more amazing than Europe at my feet, Africa on the horizon, and the Mediterranean and Atlantic on either side.
Until the next adventure...
Unas Vacaciones Soñadas (A Dream Vacation)