The Rain in Spain

The title of my article comes from the musical My Fair Lady.  It rained the first four days of our trip – nothing that caused us to be cold, but we had to remember raincoats or umbrellas.  And the song was on repeat inside my head.

My husband’s sister has a child studying abroad in Madrid for the semester so when we heard they were going to go for a visit, we invited ourselves along and we are so glad we did.  Spain is beautiful.  We arrived in the middle of Holy Week and apparently Spain gets quite busy for the Easter holiday.  We had a full itinerary planned for us as we visited four cities on our eight-day adventure.  Here are the highlights:

 

Madrid – served as our home base. We stayed in a beautiful apartment located near Puerta del Sol. It was a great location, close enough to the subway (my very first subway card!) and close to all the places we wanted to walk.  A very friendly walking area. Highlights from this beautiful city:

    • Las Ventas Bullring – a beautiful piece of architecture, great walking tour but I have no desire to see a real bullfight.
    • The Cooking Clubhouse – cooking class with Chef Eric was so much fun. The cava didn’t end and we learned to make five tapas. Followed by dinner and dessert. Highly recommend!
    • Prado Museum – Spanish national art museum, I saw a real life Picasso piece!
    • Mercado San Miguel – a market where you can eat, drink, shop and have fun!

Barcelona – took a train and stayed in Barcelona for a couple days. Highlights:

    • Tuktuk tour – took an hour-long tour with a local. The tuktuk is relatively new to Barcelona (coming up on a year) and these electric vehicles took us through the main parts of the busy city.
    • La Sagrada Familia – unlike any cathedral I have seen before. The details on the outside were incredible (so many to see) and the inside was just as beautiful. Antoni Gaudi’s vision is set to be complete in the next few years.
    • Park Guell – a private park with gardens, buildings, mosaics. I’ve never seen anything like it.
    • Casa Batllo – another piece by Gaudi. This man’s mind was ahead of its time. The details of how he incorporated light and air into this building is truly fascinating.
    • Museo del Chocolate – a museum of chocolate? Heck yes! The admission ticket was a chocolate bar to eat afterwards. We even drank a “traditional” hot chocolate. I don’t know how people drink it – it’s THICK!

Valencia – took another train and went to this beautiful coastal city for a couple days…I truly understand why there is a large American expat community here. This city is bright and colorful. Highlights include:

    • Walking food and drink tour – our guide Danny was from the UK and spoke five languages. Our tastings included drink and food, of which I discovered my new favorite drink – agua de Valencia!
    • Mercat Central – another food market BUT my goodness, it was big, beautiful and clean. It was a place where you could eat and grocery shop. We found a fresh juicing station and had some fresh Valencian orange juice. Multiple visits for us!
    • Beach – I am not sure I’ve ever seen so much sand for people to sit. The beach was very large and the promenade was full of restaurants (even a Burger King). We opted for a highly recommended place that served paella.

Segovia – a small but very charming city. Located about 1 ¼ hours from Madrid, it was totally worth the drive. We just spent a few hours here but was worth seeing:

    • Alcazar of Segovia – a medieval castle in beautiful condition. This castle was the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s castle in Disneyland.
    • Cathedral of Segovia – Gothic style. I always feel like once you see a church in Europe, you’ve seen them all but each one has something unique to offer.
    • Aqueduct of Segovia – built around the city to channel water, it is a site to behold when you think about how long it has been standing.

Now for the closing event – we went to a Michelin star restaurant called Kuoco and had the most wonderful dinner.  This restaurant has had the “best sourdough bread” three years in a row, which is served with smoked butter.  Everything from start to finish was exceptional and was the perfect ending to an outstanding trip!

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