It’s been a week since I returned from a long vacation in Spain, and I’m still easing my way back into normal life. But I’m determined to get off to a strong start with this trip report. This outline will be refined as I get going.
- British Airways Concorde Room – New York and London
- British Airways First Class
- British Airways Club Europe
- Le Meridien Barcelona
- Vueling Airlines – Barcelona to Granada
- AC Palacio de Santa Paula Granada
- Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville
- AVE Preferente Class Seville to Madrid
- Day trip to Cordoba
- Westin Palace Hotel Madrid
This was my second trip to Spain, and because both trips were so long it is now the single country I’ve spent more time in than any other outside the United States. But despite that and growing up in California, I don’t speak Spanish. I can reliably speak ten words, five of which are the numbers one through five. That doesn’t matter at all. It’s easy to pick up, and no one is going to glare at you for making the effort (unlike Paris, where the shopkeepers sigh and switch to English).
Spain is also one of my favorite countries because it’s got something for everyone. Warm weather, beaches, cuisine, architecture, design. I’d previously visited Madrid, Cordoba, Seville, and Barcelona with my sister several years ago. On this trip we went in the reverse direction and added Granada to the list. While Barcelona is probably my favorite, my wife and I enjoyed every city for different reasons.
I keep going back partly due to cost. Spain is recovering from the recession, but its economic misfortunes and smaller size are still an advantage relative to major tourist and finacial hubs like London. We also knew that we wanted to take advantage of our British Airways Travel Together Ticket before the Avios devaluation — we just didn’t want to go back to London so soon after a recent trip last fall.
Spain is also easy to navigate. Most of the major cities follow a high speed rail line from Barcelona in the northeast to Seville in the south. We flew between Barcelona and Granada so we could bookend the trip with two major cities, ending in Madrid. The cities themselves are compact. We took a couple cabs and ten trips on Barcelona’s metro. In the other cities we walked everywhere.
There are certainly other things I have trouble appreciating. I don’t know why dinner should start at 9 and end at 11. Or why people should line up to board their flight an hour before the plane even arrives at the gate. Other things keep me going back. I love the Moorish architecture in the south, Gaudi’s wild designs in Barcelona, and the intense paintings by Goya in Madrid. And sangria. I got sick of the ham after two days, but I never complained about the sangria.
My wife, Megan, made a point that we should take our time to explore each city without rushing, so I managed to collect lots of information on visiting Spain between this trip and my earlier visits. I’ll include some tips on specific restaurants and attractions. If there’s anything else you want to know, please leave a comment.