Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Past Ten Days

After a rather dead month, mostly spent in bed napping or being somewhat sick, dad and Beckie came to visit. They just left yesterday after an ambitious 10 day trip across Spain. Matt and I met them in Barcelona a week ago. We had a stellar break thanks to Carnival. I'm talking a 5 day weekend! It was a great trip. I'd been there twice before, once with mom ages ago and a second time when I was studying in Valencia. I thought it was one of my favorite cities in Spain before, and this visit just confirmed that.

La Seu Cathedral

From the top of the Sagrada Familia

We went to a Barcelona game against Getafe. Shakira and her new baby were also in attendance, and Pique even dedicated a goal to them! Bah, cute. We also saw the Sagrada Familia, which after seven years looks a lot better! When I first went with mom the interior was hardly finished. I remember peeking through scaffolding to get a glimpse of the stained glass windows. Now, the inside is almost completely done. It looked really amazing.

Great seats!

To paraphrase Matt: why can't more of the world look like this?

We mostly just wandered around Barcelona. Matt and I were staying in an apartment in the Gothic area, so there was tons to see. El Born and La Ribera were just a few minutes walk away too. I found great shops in El Born that were way out of my price range, an incredible creperie with sangria made in house from cava (Spanish champagne) in the Gótic area, and some really neat bars. There were tons of people in costume at night due to Carnival, so it made Barcelona even more festive and quirky than I had remembered it.

Ham, goat cheese, arugula, and honey!

Stumbled across a Carnival parade in El Born


Matt and I flew back to Valladolid last Tuesday since we had to work the next day, and dad and Beckie rented a car and drove up to San Sebastian. It was a lovely short work week for me (just two days!), and then I was back to traveling. Dad arrived in Valladolid Thursday evening, just in time for the cheap tapas Thursday deals around town and a quick drink at one of my favorite bars. The next morning we headed out for Salamanca. The weather was perfect! We saw a ton of things, and thanks to one of the teachers I work with who lives there (talk about a commute) we had loads of recommendations. My favorite moments were climbing the Clerencía towers and eating at a take-away coffee place called Pan Cake. I had the most amazing chocolate volcano cake there for only 1.50 euro that blew my mind.

Plaza Mayor with Dad

Actually climbed up La Clerecía this time

So gorgeous

We saw more the next morning before driving to Segovia where we had a whirlwind couple of hours to see the Cathedral and more importantly the Alcazar. It's a really neat castle/palace dating back to the 12th century. Dad and I climbed to the top of the towers just in time to see the sun set on the town. It was an incredible view with all the buildings glowing a vibrant orange. Definitely worth the cramped, vertigo inducing climb up the spiral staircase.

Talk about good timing

Inlaid crossbow in the Alcazar

Then to Madrid! We arrived in Madrid late Saturday and went out for tapas. On Sunday I finally got to see the interior of the Royal Palace, and it was incredible. From seeing the world's only surviving Stradivarius quartet, to Charles V's sets of armor (spent waaaayyyy too much time in there), to the dead body (called a "relic") of a saint from centuries ago, it was one of the most awesome things I've seen in Spain. Not sure why it took me three + Madrid visits to get to it. I think I was distracted by all the art...can you blame me?

the Royal Palace rocked my world

I took a fast train home after the palace. It was hard saying goodbye to dad and Beckie, but we had such an awesome time! I can't think how it could have been better.

And this weekend I might be going to Portugal? How long can I keep this travel pace up? Let's find out!

xo