After a week of the work portion of my trip to Spain, I hopped a train from Alicante to Valencia to meet up with Jamie and Steph for the true vacation portion of the trip to begin. Since even more time has passed since I’ve been back, I’ll try to just update you guys on the best highlights of the trip.
This was all of our first time being in this city, and looking back, it was on the top of our list for places that we visited. It’s a big city that has both a modern and historical part to it, there’s a beach, and there are also very few Americans here. We also happened to be there a week before the city’s largest festival of the year known as ” Las Fallas” which is a week long festival where people make satirical papier mache puppets that they proceed to blow up in the streets as a means to express their frustrations with various events that have taken place in the country over the past year. We also ate the largest pan of paella that you’ve ever seen, and it was delicioso!
We originally only planned to stay in Sevilla 1 night as a stop through on our way to Cádiz , but we made an impromptu decision to spend 3 nights here instead. I had a friend who lived in the city and he took us to the best tapa bars, to a live flamenco show, to Plaza de Espana, and all the other must-see spots. It was nice to spend time in the city with a local and to get a glimpse of what it would be like to actually live there.
We made this a day trip, and this was a nostalgic visit for Jamie and I as it was where we studied abroad in college 8 years ago. The city was just as we left it, and it’s funny how much smaller it felt to me than it did when I was a student there. We went on a beautiful day and were able to lay out at the beach we used to always go to and we stopped by our old streets where we lived as students. The people were super friendly and I think this is a perfect place for a first study abroad experience.
Since Portugal is Spain’s next door neighbor, we thought it would only be appropriate to pass through. We decided to spend 3 nights in Lisbon as it is the capital of Portugal and we had heard great things from other people we knew who had been there before. Lisbon is a very hilly city that has an old world feel to it and the buildings are all so intricate and ornate. It reminded me of Rome in a sense. We visited a beautiful castle and monastery, spent hours shopping for ceramic tiles, tasted the Vinho Verde, nata, and attended a fado dinner show, which is the typical music from Portugal.
This is a smaller city about an hour outside of Lisbon where we made a day trip. This was the place where Portuguese kings would retreat to on the weekends hundreds of years ago, so there are beautiful castles and palaces to visit here. The city was right out of a fairy tale, but unfortunately the weather was not picture perfect on the day that we went. It was very rainy and misty, but we powered through and the day luckily ended up clearing up for us.
We spent our last day here since Steph had never experienced the capital before, and we had to catch our flight out of there back home to Atlanta the next day. This day started out nightmarish for me, and then ended just as charmed as my trip to Spain began. We had a super early flight into Madrid from Portugal that morning, and in my tired stupor, I somehow managed to misplace my passport. I didn’t realize it until we arrived to the hotel and the receptionist asked to see my documentation. There are a few interesting things to note about this occurrence: 1) I had an entire 24 hours to come up with a solution since we arrived to Madrid at 10 am and our flight to Atlanta wasn’t until 10 am the next day 2) It was a Sunday, the US Embassy is closed on Sunday so they were unavailable to help me. The next day was a Spanish holiday, and the US Embassy was also closed the following day as well. I wouldn’t have been able to be issued a passport until later on in the week 3) The hotel was less than a mile( to my luck) from the airport and they had a free shuttle (also to my luck) that I utilized about 4 times that day 4) I spoke Spanish, and this was the only reason I ended up getting my passport back since none of the airport employees spoke English 5) After checking with every department at the airport with no one having a clue where my passport was, I called back a few hours later to discover that some kind soul had miraculously FOUND my passport and turned it into the correct lost and found department 6) The Spaniards who worked at the hotel were so helpful and concerned about me and my passport, and they made the experience so much less horrible for me than it could have been 7) I was returned my passport in a timely fashion and was able to return home with Jamie and Steph as if nothing had happened. We got on the plane, had a perfectly normal flight, and I was back to Atlanta in no time. I am convinced that I have a travel angel watching out for me at all times. Some may call it good luck, but I think it goes beyond that.
The trip was incredible, the weather was amazing, the company was lovely, and I will just patiently have to wait for my next opportunity to return.