Spain is a special place for me. I had the opportunity to travel there in high school for the first time, as part of an exchange program. The family I was placed with became like my extended family, and whenever I have the chance, I go back to visit. My husband, Eric, is the most important person in my life and he knows how much I love it—he even proposed to me from Spain through the podcast Notes from Spain. I’ve been able to share this special place with him before, but there was so much of the country he hadn’t seen. So for our fifth anniversary in October, we decided it was time for a big Spain trip, where we could take in lots of the highlights and see the country for all it is.
Barcelona is vibrant, modern and ever-evolving. We walked through La Boqueria market, inspired by the beautiful food, and along the waterfront in Barceloneta in the sunshine. Our time in the city was spent taking in its modernist architecture, enjoying spectacular meals with good friends and loving the culture of the Catalan capital.
Madrid is close to my heart, since I spent time studying abroad here in college. The capital of Spain is an incredible city, known for its nightlife, food and architecture. I also love that it’s a working city — regular Spaniards are out and about, doing their thing, wherever you look. In Madrid, we took in modern art at the Museo Reina Sofia (including Picasso’s Guernica, which is so beautiful and sad and incredible), we lazed in the sun for long lunches of the Plato del Dia (a common affordable prix fixe menu at local pubs) and we toured some of the royal sites, like the Palacio Real and Catedral de la Almudena (with the most beautifully painted cupola I’ve seen).
We hopped on the Renfe Ave high-speed train to Sevilla to see the classic vistas of Andalucia: Moorish architecture, orange trees growing in the streets and the famed Rio Guadalquivir. We ate tapas in the shadow of the massive cathedral and were absolutely stunned by the beauty of the Plaza de España. Sevilla is the city where the Spanish go to relax and vacation, and we loved being surrounded by all that language and culture.
Toledo is an easy day trip from Madrid by bus or train, and we enjoyed our day there walking the narrow streets and spiritual sites. The Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes has courtyards that sprawl with citrus trees. It’s one of the most serene places I’ve been.