Wanderlust Journal : Spain
I was smitten by Spain when I first saw ZNMD. That was back in 2011 and I firmly believe that the bullfights, tapas, history, art, architecture, flamenco were calling to me all along.
So, one day after one of those “Happy hours” on a friday night that make you feel you can conquer the world, I booked my adventure and 6 weeks later I was on a plane to Barcelona.
I read a lot about the country before I traveled, took spanish lessons and realized that for me, Spain was not just about Barcelona and Madrid. I wanted to spend most of my time in Seville and I am so glad I did that.
It opened my eyes and opened my heart. It slowed time down, just as I wanted.
Seville is hands down one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places you could go to. The 1 Euro beer and tapas bars kept me feeling happy all day long (if you know what I mean) and I walked around the entire city on foot while watching musicians play their instruments at every second street.
I was shopping for some strawberries and some spanish music played in the background on the street – what a grocery shopping experience! Filled with flamboyant Moorish architecture, charming cobbled streets bustling with a colorful happy vibe, history, culture and the staccato drama of flamenco, Seville will fascinate any traveler.
South of Spain makes life feel like a series of fiestas, it is just just so laid back. It has the vibe which implores you to slow down and take notice of the world around you, the beauty that surrounds you. It makes you think and brings clarity. For me, travel in general does.
Seville also made a model out of me. A fashion designer who I just met while walking past the street dressed me up in traditional Spanish attire. I attended a village fair and almost felt like my life was a movie. Made my day. Here’s a photo of the spanish version of me.
Funnily enough, Seville also made me tolerant. Some man at the market said “muy guapa” and blew me a kiss. That made me laugh.
Back in India, I’d probably have held him by the collar and given him a lecture on how derogatory it is to behave in that fashion.
By the time I was ready to leave Seville, I was giggling at every “hola bonita” coming my way.
Madrid to me was classy, cosmopolitan but still a city that has managed to retained its European charm.
I spent time checking out Santiago Bernabeu due to my obvious (for those of you who follow me on fb) obsession with Cristiano Ronaldo but you could spend hours at Gran Via if you’re a fan of 20th century architecture, shopping and some great offbeat bars.
Europe has a concept of these major squares at multiple places which I absolutely adore. Plaza Mayor and Puerta de Sol are worth a mention and are surrounded by fabulous food options.
You could walk to the Royal Palace as well from Puerta de Sol and pass by tiny criss cross streets with bright colored walls. Art fans should probably hit the Goya mecca – Prado Museum.
You also cannot miss the authentic egyptian Temple of Tebod. It’s a great place for a walk, run and just sit back and relax.
Thanks to a friend, I had tickets to watch a flamenco show which took my breath away (though, if you have a choice, watch flamenco in Seville than Madrid)
Barcelona is easy on the eye. The architecture Mecca was slightly chilly for my liking and I therefore didn’t spend much time walking around in the evenings and instead went pub hopping(not complaining!).
I thoroughly loved the La Sagrada Familia, the unfinished work of Gaudi. Being a great fan of city views from the top, I went all the way up to Tibidabo from where you get the most spectacular view of Barcelona. Getting to Tibidabo is a lot of fun too with bus and train and cable car interchange and a beautiful scenery!
For the shopaholics, Barcelona is the home of Zara and Mango so you can go crazy shopping. They also have some really creative local brands that are worth a go. There are a multiple stores specializing in restored 20th century design pieces that are astonishingly beautiful.
I had fun every minute of those two weeks. It was noisy, messy but it was fun. I used to look up at the big blue sky when frustrated or lost and it would make me smile.
Looking back, it was slow internet connection and crumpled travel maps. It was ordinary people being amazing to a stranger. It was broken spanish conversations and being called a Pakistani to a Saudi Arabian to Indian and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.
It was eating patatas bravas over and over again and wondering if I would enjoy more if I ate meat and then shuddering at the very thought.
It was meeting long lost friends, drinking till dawn and lying at the rooftop staring at the stars in 10 degrees and giggling away like kids.
It was new lessons, new perspective and a promise that I’m going to go back there very soon. Pat Conroy was right. Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.
If I could say one thing to all those of you travel enthusiasts reading this post I would borrow words from Andrew Zimmern that I have penned down in my travel journal
“Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.”
To many more adventures…
Love & Laughter!