Vamos a Espana!

Friday, September 25, 2015

When I put together my 101 in 1001 list a little over a year ago, I added one ambitious item in my "Wanderlust" section: 34. Go to Europe! If I'm being honest, I didn't think it would happen.

Although I'm pretty well traveled within the U.S. (including Hawaii, California a few times, Puerto Rico twice, terrible places for work infinite number of times), I've never been to Europe. To me, it feels kind of like the farm with the rabbits in Of Mice and Men. Some far off magical dream that's never going to happen anywhere but my imagination.

But then....we booked our plane tickets to Spain! (!!!)
*Barcelona image here
Even though I traveled constantly for my last job, I never redeemed a single Delta frequent flyer mile (I'd been hoarding them for a "big trip"), so we used all miles. We are flying from Madison to Madrid in late November, and I'm so excited.

We are staying for 11 days and planning on staying in 3 cities: Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville, with perhaps some day trips to other nearby cities. Lots of people asked me: Why Spain? Well, first off, we wanted to go somewhere neither of us have been (Stephen has seen England + Italy). Secondly, we wanted to see ONE country. We didn't want to see 9 countries in 11 days, or whatever. I know some people do that and love it, but it's not us. Also, the food :)

And now is where I need your help: Have you been to Spain? Do you have any tips? Any must sees? Restaurant recommendations?

Oh, and does anyone know how to learn Spanish in a couple months? I am listening to CD's I got from the library in my that's at least a start.

I would love to hear any and all Spain advice!


  1. Make sure the CD's you're listening to are Spain Spanish - the accent difference in Spain from people in the Americas is pretty strong!

    1. Ohhh thanks, Tara!! The library had lots so if not I'll get some new ones.

  2. Almost NO ONE speaks English (or, from what I could tell, any non-Spanish language), so getting at least a little Spanish down is critical for any shopping, tours, or coordination outside of a hotel (clerks in hotels were the notable exception). I pulled into NAVSTA Rota, a joint US-Spanish base this summer, and got to explore El Puerto de Santa Maria (not far from Seville). El Puerto is a wonderful historical town with several monasteries (including the hotel I stayed in), a 1300 year-old castle containing a winery, a lovely cultural/historical/shopping district (El Centro Historico), and some great restaurants, as well as a beach and some other historical draws I didn't have time to get to. It also happens to be the city Columbus sailed from on his second voyage to the Americas. If you have time, I'd recommend paying El Puerto a visit! The other opportunity I was afforded was a canyon descent down a river near the village of Juzcar (the village used and painted blue for the filming of the most recent Smurfs movie)-the drive across southern Andalucia was gorgeous, and the descent itself was a great time with loads of wonderful views and of course, the joy of learning to rappel! This was arranged by an outfit called Discovery Aventura. The guides were great, spoke enough English that we could communicate readily with them, and really knew their way around the river. All in all, Spain was a blast, my only regret was not making it to Seville or Gibraltar due to new Navy restrictions on personnel travel during port calls.

    1. Ohh good to know, I will increase my Spanish practice! I took it in high school but that was so long ago, of course. Thanks so much for the tips! Sounds like you had some incredible experiences! :)