Immersion

Mallorca, Spain

If you told me where I’d be now and who I’d be with way back in January, I’d… I don’t know! 聽But if you asked me in April – well, look at the end of my last entry in my South America blog for a quick hint.

This is certainly not what I was expecting eight months ago, but it’s the most apropos way for me to end this trip.

After ending my South American leg with Oscar and Silvia, it only seemed fitting to end my Europe leg with them again, after we split up in Ecuador to head around the world in opposite directions. 聽At their invitation, I spent 15 days at their home in beautiful Mallorca. Continue reading

Stay another day

C谩diz, Spain

It’s only an hour and a half away from Sevilla, but C谩diz feels like a different world away from Andaluc铆a (which it’s still part of). It’s the old city in the whole of Western Europe as well! Situated on a peninsula that used to be an island, it used to be the gateway to the New World, and Christopher Columbus has sailed from here before (as he had also in Sevilla).

Yeah, so all this Spanish history rush finally comes during my very last city. A pity, I know. But not being so into history in the first place, I missed out on a lot in my other cities. I decided to join a walking tour here with my hostel, and learned quite a lot. Continue reading

Alhambra

Granada, Spain

Moving from C贸rdoba to Granada marks the gradual appearance of the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range that spans southwestern Spain. And despite the fact that it was 35潞C…the name says it all: sierra nevada means snowy range. There’s still snow on the nearby mountains!

But yes, the heat. Before we get to that… Continue reading

Feria

C贸rdoba, Spain

From Sevilla, I headed to C贸rdoba. The main sight to see is the Mesquita/Catedral – a space once used as a mosque, then converted to a cathedral. Now, I’ve become sick of seeing cathedrals in general and have resolved not to bother entering anymore if I have to pay, but the Mesquita is the one sight you must see in C贸rdoba.

And when I entered, I understood why. My jaw pretty much dropped. The ambience is unlike any other cathedral I’ve been in, let alone the architecture. Red peppermint-striped arches and pillars line the empty space – indeed, this part is like a mosque. In the center section, the altar and pews. The Mesquita was a lot darker than any of the other cathedrals I went into either, but with quite a bit of natural light as well. I spent some time walking around the edge, taking in the mix of Islamic tiling work and Christian religious paintings. They coexist as if the contrast isn’t even there. I ended up spending over an hour in the Mesquita! Continue reading

Pulse

Sevilla, Spain

I usually can tell if I like a city if I can feel its pulse. It’s such a vague and cheesy term, I know. But what I mean…if I can feel how a city works, how the locals live, and the spirit of a place, I feel its pulse. Usually that means I love the place.

The love affair has never been quicker than it has been in Sevilla.

After a 7 hour bus ride from cold and rainy Salamanca, the warm Sevilla weather was a very welcome change – and a heat wave from the past few days had just passed as well, leaving the weather quite comfortable. Getting in during the evening, I was pretty ready to do any sort of walking around, so I headed to the river to catch the sunset, passing a few landmarks on the way. Continue reading

Easter eggs

Salamanca, Spain

Having gotten little sleep in Madrid (good hostel, but everyone seemed eager to go out and return in the early hours of the morning), I was quite ready to leave. I resolved to head to Salamanca, but to stop in Segovia first if I woke up early enough to catch the bus – which I easily did, when some people in my dorm came back at 5 and snored so loud my earplugs didn’t help…

I had three hours in Segovia, which was more than enough for the pleasant but very small old city. The view is dominated by an enormous Roman-constructed aqueduct, a marvel to behold. Along with a pretty plaza, a castle on the edge, a nice view from the walls, and a museum visit about the geography of the area and its history as an industrial center for glass and wool, the visit was short and sweet. Continue reading

Dissent

Madrid, Spain

The six hour bus ride from Santander to Madrid was gorgeous, full of picturesque little villages set in front of mountains and valleys that zoomed by in a flash – I wish I had taken my camera out earlier. But then this happened.

A fellow passenger hopped on about halfway through the journey in Burgos. As I was chilling out to my music and enjoying the scenery, he tapped me on the shoulder, asked if I knew Madrid (I said no, and that I was just a traveller), then asked if he could join me – despite the bus being nearly empty. Continue reading

Opposites

Santander, Spain

After a night full of crowded streets (football match, Bilbao lost) and a lovely morning walk through Bilbao’s Casco Viejo – and of course, more pintxos, for the last time – it was time to head out of Basque Country. A two hour bus ride through some very beautiful coastal roads (I wish I had taken more pictures) brought me to Santander.

Despite my hostel being literally one block away from the bus station, it took me almost half an hour to find it! Fail. I didn’t have a map…and neither did my hostel. The tourism office closed very early on Sunday, and I couldn’t get a map there either. For the first time, I just walked around aimlessly. Continue reading

Exquisite snacking

San Sebasti谩n, Spain

Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to take a night bus out of Barcelona to San Sebasti谩n… I left at 10:15 pm and arrived at 5:30 am, having not fallen asleep at all the entire time. My hostel didn’t open until 9 am – actually, not even until 9:30 when I called, after no one answered the door. But I sat at the bus station (it’s literally an outdoor bus stop, thank goodness the weather was okay) until the sun rose just before 7, then walked around town, a little weary after three consecutive days of little sleep.

My first view of the Playa de la Concha…and my jaw just dropped. All the tiredness went away. Continue reading

Directions

Barcelona, Spain

It’s amazing how quickly I veered from “What am I doing here?!” to “Can I live here already?”

Well, I’ll start from the top. What happens when you lose that spark, the one that makes you want to keep travelling?

It’s certainly a odd time to have this moment, at the beginning of a trip. But in essence, this is the middle of a longer one.

I walked for ten hours on my second day (first full day) in Barcelona. Went from tourist site to tourist site. Everything was there, everything was wonderful! I started my day out in Parc G眉ell, designed by the architect Antoni Gaud铆, whose work runs prolific around the city, walked the Gr脿cia neighbourhood, the sprawling Passeig de Gr脿cia with La Pedrera and Casa Batllo (two more works of Gaud铆, and I went inside La Padrera), Pla莽a Catalunya, La Boqueria (one of many markets in Barcelona that could give Granville Island in Vancouver a run for its money), Las Ramblas, Pla莽a Espanya, Torre Agbar, and a bunch of other places in between. I got lost like 10 times trying to follow my map. (If you know your Barcelona geography, you’ll realise that many of these places are very far apart. I walked to most of them.) Continue reading