The Granada & Seville Travel Guide | Spain

Beautiful castles & flamenco anyone?

 

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In all of Spain, these are two places I wish I could have spent more time in. These are two of the most beautiful, culture filled and historically rich cities I have ever visited. When I was booking this holiday, I was told to only add one or the other onto my trip because of my time frame, but I didn’t, and I am so glad I didn’t because they are both amazing places which deserved a visit.

¬†Seville and Granada are part of what some call “Andalucia’s Golden Triangle”. Triangle because there is one other place in the area which is also a must visit called Cordoba. I however, didn’t visit because of the time limits but I will definitely make a point of it next time.

 Granada

I am still to this day, almost a year later, unsure if this or Lisbon was my favourite place of this holiday. I would probably say both as they are pretty different and equally beautiful. Of all places I went, I think I probably took more photos in Granada than anywhere else, purely because I wasn’t sure that it was even real.

It really is one of those places where you could just stare at the city and landscape all day and not get bored. Beautiful is an understatement.

In terms of getting here, I would recommend either bus or BlaBla car, which was my personal choice, however in hindsight, although it was the quickest way of getting there and the lady was absolutely lovely, maybe learn a bit more Spanish than I did first because it made for quite the awkward roadtrip!

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Accommodation
I stayed in a Hostel called ‘Old Town Hostel‘ which in terms of location and staff was great! I arrived at about 10pm and had it not been for another guy arriving at the same time I may have never found it, as it is very hidden down a small alleyway! However, all ended well.

Things to do

I must admit, my main reason for wanting to go here, and probably the main reason of most people, was to see the Alhambra (Tip: Book in Advance!! You don’t want to be one of the people having to line up at 4am to get in). The Alhambra, in brief, is an absolutely stunning Moorish Castle/ Palace that has a very detailed and beautiful history. It’s well worth a visit.

Another must visit I would say is a viewpoint called Mirador de San Cristobal. It has an amazing view from afar of the Alhambra and even the walk there is worth the walk alone.

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Other recommendations for Granada depending on the length of your trip would be

As for food

Meson Alegria – A bar with some amazing Tapas. Granada is also well known for the fact that you order a drink and receive a free Tapas, this place was no exception and the food & atmosphere was amazing! Even at 11pm!

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 From there, I took a bus & AVE Train to Seville
Granada to Seville

Seville

When I was planning my trip to Spain, I had to choose between Madrid and Seville and although I never visited Madrid, I am so glad I chose Seville. It’s so colourful and has its own unique kind of beauty. The food is amazing, the people are really welcoming and friendly and (fun tip)¬† if you are a Game of Thrones fan, you can visit the site where the Water Gardens of Dorne was filmed at the Real Alc√°za.

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This is also another place where I would highly recommend doing a Walking Tour. I did mine through the Hostel I was staying at (more on that soon) and it was super informative and interactive.

Accommodation

There is only one place I would recommend staying in Seville, whether you are traveling alone or not, and that is La Banda Rooftop Hostel. It is by FAR the best place I stayed on my whole trip. There is a reason they have a 9.6/10 rating on Hostel World. The people are great! SO friendly and accommodating, the rooftop bar is a great place to meet people, I would recommend doing one of the family dinners! They also have a nightclub tour type thing which was really fun. The beds are super comfortable, the place is clean and all around just so cool! If I get a chance to go back to Seville, you bet this is where I am staying.

Things to do

  • Flamenco Show –¬†100% recommend everyone go and see a show in Southern Spain. Honestly one of the most magical experiences I have ever had. The energy and emotion is completely captivating. Just do it.
  • The Real Alc√°za – I personally didn’t have time, however I heard it is similar to Alhambra so I wasn’t too sad.
  • Metropol Parasol – This building is basically what people describe as a ‘stylish mushroom’ and is quite different to anything else I saw in Spain. However, its really cheap to enter and has the most stunning views at the top!
  • Plaza de Espa√Īa – Truly a beautiful plaza. The architecture and (TILES) design is stunning. I recommend going earlier in the day as the crowds are really something else.
And for Food
My food highlight was a place called Bartolomea. Everything I ate here was just GOOD. Would definitely go back even though there are SO many places to eat in Seville. The decor is also really nice & the staff are friendly.

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And there you have it, the last of my Spain Travel Guides. Probably not forever, because I will definitely be back. Spain truly was amazing and although I haven’t visited much of the Northern part of Spain (its on my list!) I say, GO to Southern Spain. Its extremely beautiful, diverse and full of history & culture.

I would love to know where your favourite parts of Spain are! Please leave a comment and let me know!

Also feel free to share with friends and family, especially if they are planning a trip soon.

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The Costa Del Sol Travel Guide| Spain

Sun, Sand, Spanish beaches and Great Food

 

MALAGA

Malaga for me was just a ‘stop off’ destination. It was the place that I flew into because it was the cheapest and easiest from Barcelona! However, it is now that place that I would definitely go back to as I felt I did not get to explore enough. It is a place that has all the Beachy Vibes, Highrise Hotels, Resorts… but also a lot of history.

From the airport, the easiest way to get into the Town Centre is via a bus. Its cheap and makes a lot of stops so you really just need to look at a map beforehand and get off where you need to. The trip took about 30mins and once you are in the Town Centre, the easiest way to get around is just to walk!

 Quick Facts

If you are Artsy: Pablo Picasso was born in M√°laga in 1881
Currency = Euro
You can take a ferry over to Morocco – it takes about an hour.
Language = Varieties of Spanish & English in most places
How to Pay = Card & Cash ‚Äď Definitely have a small amount of cash on you
Best time to Visit = Between April & June or between September & November

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Accommodation
I booked a bed in a 10 person mixed dorm at a cheap & cheerful hostel called Picnic Dreams Boutique Hostel. Now, this probably isn’t the cheapest hostel you can find, however I would highly recommend. The location was perfect, people were really friendly and the place was clean! Plus there were little curtains over each bunk for privacy.

Things to do
I only really had a day and a half in Malaga and wanted to get an overview of the place. So I booked into a Walking Tour called Malaga Free Tour Monuments. It was a good way to get a brief history of Malaga and also get shown around to the various stand out points,¬† such as Picasso’s house, the Alcazaba and the Museums.

Top places I would advise visiting in Malaga are:

As For Food

Los Gatos – Traditional Spanish food – open really late – Great vibe – fairly cheap
100 Montaditos –¬†Fun Spanish fast food – Tapas – all really cheap, also really cheap alcohol, fast service.

Marbella & Puerto Banus

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Getting from Malaga to Marbella & Puerto Banus is fairly easy as its a short bus ride (BlaBla Car could also be an option – I definitely had a good, but interesting experience using this service!).
From there it is quite easy to hail a cab to where you want to go. Mine was to my accommodation in Puerto Banus – aka my splurge of the trip Hotel Bluebay Banus.

Puerto Banus is an interesting place to say the least and not somewhere I thought I would ever find myself. Its basically a ‘Mini Town/ Marina’ just west of Marbella. You can walk down to the dock and see yourself staring into very high end stores and watching the millionaires sail out to sea on their Luxury Yachts.

It does however have beautiful beaches, beautiful people, a relaxed but party filled atmosphere and many a beach club. Pretty cool… but I definitely felt very out of place!

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Top Places I Would Recommend Visiting/ To do’s in Marbella & Puerto Banus

  • Walking around Old Town Marbella
  • Cocktails at The Sinatra Bar
  • Go to the beach – there are many
  • Go shopping
  • Wander through Alameda Park
  • Take the Fly Blue Ferry from Puerto Banus to Marbella & back – Great views and probably one of the more fun things I did in this neck of the woods
  • Visit the Puerto Banus Beach Clubs
  • Take the walk (if you are crazy like myself) from Puerto Banus to Marbella. It is quite the walk but the views are absolutely worth it

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There are also a fair few day trips which you can do from this part of Spain.

My Top Recommendations:

  • Frigiliana – One of Spain’s most picturesque whitewashed villages.
  • Nerja
  • Granada – Post Coming Soon!
  • Ronda – Has Spain’s oldest bullfighting ring as well as being beautiful sitting on the side of a gorge
  • Gibraltar – Tax Free Shopping and a nature reserve? Yes, thanks.

Costa Del Sol is definitly somewhere I want to spend more time when I get the chance. I feel like I really only touched the surface of this side of Spain! Can not wait to go back.

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I would love to hear all your recommendations! Things I need to add to this guide??
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Reflecting on 2017

Well first, a delayed, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Heeelooo 2018. I love the new year. No, I am not all about the ‘New Year, New Me’, it’s more of a New Year, Lets learn from last year and kicksomeass. But first, lets reflect on the year that was.

 Summer

2017 started out on an  interesting note for me. I started with a bang fitness wise. Bought a few inspirational books & off to the gym I went. I managed to soak up a lot of sun, went to the gardens a lot & started my walkingeverylunchtime routine (which I have managed to stick to hooray!). We also had our friends Nick and Illana visit around Chinese New Year so we were able to have fun showing them around and enjoying the festivities before they flew back to NZ and Dietmar shipped off to South America.
Autumn
The start of Autumn was great fun. I spent a lot of time at the gym & being really active. I signed up to an Insurance Benefits program called AIA vitality in which exercise and being healthy is what earns you points. It’s actually really great. I also had my amazing Aunty come and visit for a girls weekend in which we did a tour up the Great Ocean Road – it was really cool.
 This was also the season where I travelled a lot. First РNZ to visit the fam Рback for a few weeks & caught up with a few friends. Dietmar returned  from his adventures & then I shipped off to Europe for my 3 week whirlwind trip around Spain and Portugal! My solo trip of a lifetime! Definitely one of the major highlights of 2017. 2 Countries, 5 cities & all the little towns inbetween!
Winter
The beginning of winter was dedicated to getting used to normal life again. After living alone for 3 months and then flying off myself, getting back and realising I had to adjust was surprisingly hard. I managed to spend some quality time with Dietmar, baked a lot & cooked a lot of comfort warm food! My birthday rolled around & I was completely spoilt with gifts and a LOT of chocolate from my beautiful friends.
Dietmar and I also did another trip up the Great Ocean Road for our anniversary and stayed in Apollo Bay which was really nice!
This was also the time that I left my job – flew back to NZ for a few weeks to visit all the friends and fam & then came back to Melbourne to start my new position. Was a whirlwind of a time!
Spring
Cherry Blossoms! I love spring. The weather starts to warm up again, all the flowers start to bloom and people just become happier! I started spending my lunchtimes walking around the botanical gardens & ate WAY too much fruit… because when berries are in season, I will eat them. Dietmar and I also managed to hire a car and take a trip up to Portsea & do the Portsea-Sorrento Artists Trail which is a beautiful walk.
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I also relaunched my blog & began planning out all my ideas for 2018. We had some magnificent lightening and thunder storms & I started to take more care of my health & fitness by joining a 12 week challenge at the gym. We had our friends Michael & Sarah visit from NZ for 10 days which was so great! We did many amazing things. High Tea, Dior Exhibition, Lunches, Brunches & dinners and my personal favourite, The Book of Mormon, where I discovered my absolute love for musicals.
Christmas came around & it was one of my favourites in Melbourne so far. We spent it down in Barwon Heads with my cousin’s & their extended family. Food, many kids & sun made for a fantastic day. Hiking on Boxing Day really topped off the festive period.
Overall, 2017 was really amazing and I am so happy with everything that happened. As per anyone’s life, there were ups and downs but I know that I was challenged and have managed to come out the other side feeling so proud of myself and accomplished. Definitely ready to see what 2018 has in store and to smash all my goals!
What are your goals for 2018? Does anyone else just have this feeling it is going to be the best year?

The Barcelona Travel Guide

 The city views are EPIC
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Barcelona is an interesting place. Before I went to Spain and Portugal, Barcelona was THE most hyped place. Everyone was giving me tips of where to go and what to see (yes, it was helpful, im not saying it wasn’t), however. I personally think it can be a little overrated.¬†No one tells you about the 4million tourists who come out after 10am.¬†
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But in saying that, I still did love it and would go back because you just can not see enough in 4 days!
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QUICK FACTS:
Pickpockets are a thing here so just have some common sense and keep a hold of your personal things. Keep bags close to you, don’t put phones etc on tables etc – Especially on the Ramblas!
Currency = Euro
Language = Spanish &¬†Catalan –¬† Touristy Places people speak English too
How to Pay = Card & Cash – Definitely have a small amount of cash on you
Best time to Visit = Between April & June or between September & November
QUICK TIPS:
– Get up early in the morning to do sightseeing
– Book tours earlier in the day and make sure to book in English
– download offline maps to get around – however location tracking is a bit off in the lane ways
– Loads of places have free Wifi – if you get stuck – go to Starbucks
– Walk as much as possible – I came across so many random amazing buildings just from walking around and getting lost
– Sangria & Alcohol in general is very cheap
Tinto de Verano is the ‘traditional’ drink in Barcelona? (Do not quote me on that – it’s basically¬†Sangria)
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ACCOMMODATION
 Hostels: I would highly recommend staying in hostels. As someone who had never done it before, I chose not to stay in a hostel for my first city but I really do regret it! Hostels are a great way to meet people and generally all the good ones are located in the city centre. After speaking to a few people the ones that continuously popped up were: Kabul Backpackers & St Christopher’s Inn.
Airbnb: Airbnb is a great option for couples or if you are a solo traveller meeting up with friends. They can generally be found in all areas of the city and for a great price! You will get to meet some of the locals which is always great and they can give you some recommendations & tips you may not have had before for that area.
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The little street I stayed in – El Born
 GETTING AROUND
I won’t lie. I don’t think I’ve EVER walked as much as I did when I was in Barcelona. I personally think there is no better way to see the city. One of my many joys of this city was seeing all the nooks and crannys that you can only see by being on foot. I clocked up a ridiculous amount of steps.
 However other options for the less able/ time restricted would be:
  • the Train/ Subway/ Bus – It’s fairly inexpensive.You can get a T10 ticket for around 10 Euros… and I think I only used about half while I was there.
  • Taxi’s are a pretty good option for when you have luggage etc. I used them to get to the airport and from the main area in the city to my Airbnb and it wasn’t too expensive. TIP: Generally the taxi drivers do not speak English so good luck!
  • I personally never used a bike while being here however, I wish I had, especially early in the morning when there is no one around.
THINGS TO DO
There are SO many things to do in Barcelona. You could seriously spend a week here and still not have seen half of it. It can be quite hard to pick and choose so I thought I would just give a run down of my favourite things!
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This magnificent Roman Catholic Church kind of speaks for itself. I have never seen anything quite like it. Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí was really one of a kind and when this is finished it should be one of the wonders of the world. Photos really do NOT do it justice.
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It isn’t expected to be completed until¬†2026‚Äď2028 and I 100% would love to go back and see it once it is done. I would recommend doing a guided or audio tour.
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Some of the best views of the city can be seen from up here. I would recommend coming near the end of the day as its a great place to see the sun set. Also, look out for the days and times of the Magic Fountain Show as its definitely worth staying to see! Although to get a good viewing spot you need to be early. I would recommend going an hour or so early and wandering around the grounds as you can really see some great views from less popular spots!
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View from the top – Can see Mt Tibidabo in the distance
You can get here via the train – which would be the easiest or you could potentially just walk, bus or take a taxi.
Tip: There is no Uber in Barcelona at this point so taxi is the best option if you have luggage.
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Unfortunately due to the amount of people in the market at the time I didn’t manage to get any photos however I loved this place. Its so vibrant and beautiful! A lot of Fruit and Vege as well as Seafood and Meat. There is also the usual Deli’s, Bakeries & Crepe stores! And, all the Spanish food you can imagine (plus Cheese Cones. Google it)
It is located just off the Ramblas (on the left hand side if you are walking from the beach) so it is quite easy to find!
A tip I will give is to go tot eh back, the further you go into the market, the cheaper it gets!

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View from the bar at the top of the Cable Car
The cable car goes from Barceloneta Beach up to Mt Montjuic and you see some of the most amazing views of the city. I will say that it is a little overpriced and is much better going from Montjuic Castle to Barceloneta rather than the other way around because the queue is insanely long!
 SHOPPING
Although I didn’t do a lot of actual shopping in Barcelona, I did do a lot of wandering and window shopping. I was mesmerised by the sheer size of some of the stores such a Zara and Mango. It was insane.
The places where I found the most popular with the best shops to, shop, were Passeig de Gràcia & la Ramblas. There were also a lot of small laneways off the Ramlas which had Outlet stores and smaller brand stores. I would 100% wandering through these just to have a look in some of these stores.
No matter where you go in the city, there will be a lot of shopping opportunities
  BEACH
Now, I will say this straight away. If you love the beach, this is for you however, go early (like, before 10) because after that there are just SO many people walking around trying to sell you things that it is seriously off putting.
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I didn’t spend a whole lot of time at this beach because of that. It’s really quite annoying. But, if you walk a little further down to the other beaches, it SO much nicer.
I never thought I would be one to enjoy visiting castles. But here we are, like, 4 down and I have to say, I love it! Castles and the history behind them is awesome. I visited this castle on my last day in Barcelona as I had a change of plans and needed something to do. I took the Cable Car to half way and then decided to walk the rest of the way up. TIP: Don’t do that.
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The views from the top of the castle are seriously spectacular. You can see the whole of Barcelona – 360 degree view. Which if you think about why these castles were built, is quite important I guess!
I would recommend going early in the day. But in saying that, in terms of tourist amounts in comparison to the rest of Barcelona, it was quiet!
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FOOD
I don’t want to add much in here because in all honestly, I researched a lot of restaurants etc before I went to Barcelona and I don’t think I even went to one of them! I was so busy that I basically just ate on the go half the time or popped into small hole in the wall places – which I would highly recommend!
There is however a bar/ restaurant I went to which was fantastic called La Luna which had great food and drinks.
I also had a ‘local’ coffee shop which I went to every morning called¬†Caf√©s El Magn√≠fico¬†because the coffee was top notch and the people were really lovely! They didn’t even mind my extremely broken Spanish!
 LANEWAYS
The Laneways in Barcelona were really just something else. SO beautiful. Nearly every other corner you turn, you will see something different and unique. Because of the history with all the different cultures and people. The structures can be quite different from one lane to the next.
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The Jewish Quarter and the Gothic Quarter which I saw whilst on a walking tour  (P.S highly recommend this walking tour!) were probably by favourites.
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 This place to me was like being inside a fairytail. It felt magical being here! The architecture really is something else. I spend probably 2 or 3 hours here . You basically buy a ticket to go in at a certain time but there is another part of the park which is free so you can wander this part in the wait time.

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View from the little house

They let in a limited number of people so book in advance – but you can also see quite a lot without entry ticket. You can bus to and from or walk which I did. However it is quite the hike.

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The famous seating which you have to get a photo with

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Other places worth mentioning:
Picasso Museum
Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
Cathedral of Barcelona
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Tibidabo Amusement Park
Casa Batllo & Casa Mila
Placa de Catalunya
Chocolate Museum
 DAY TRIPS
There are SO many options for day trips from Barcelona. Check out Viator for some great group options / ideas.
My Top 3 day trips had I had the chance:
1. Andorra¬†–¬† Would a LONG day but amazing to be able to go to such a small country! Its in between France and Spain and is about 3hrs from Barcelona. I thought about doing this trip through Viator.
2.  Girona РIf you are a Game of Thrones fan, then this place is for you. It is another big city in Catalonia and full of amazing sights and history.
3.¬†Montserrat – This is the day trip that I was actually going to do whilst in Barcelona. It fell though because I may have slept through my alarm that day. It is a short train ride from Barcelona and is home to a beautiful mountain and Monastery. There are a lot of guided tours that go here so maybe do that if you aren’t confident to go yourself. A tip I read is to go early in the AM to see the sun rise.
 All in all, all said and done, Barcelona is in my top 5 cities I have visited. It has the  traditional architecture with instagramable beaches, narrow atmospheric (stinky)  streets with delicious & not so nutritious local cuisine. I loved the local vibe of where I was staying as it was saturated with culture and cute laneways.
I leave you with my best tip. Book in advance & Go to these places as early as possible to avoid crowds! The Sagrada Familia’s of the world are packed for a reason, so you just need to get in early (and deal with it) .
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