When I was planning my trip to Spain, I thought 10 days would surely be enough, it really wasn’t.
It was so nice to get away from London’s weather and into actual summer heat in Spain, everyday was an average of 35 degrees. Spain, I realised can be quite extreme in climate. Summers can get up to 45 degrees and winters can drop down to the minuses – resulting in snow. I feel I might have to visit Spain again in winter to experience what winter has to offer.
My Spanish adventure started in Barcelona, I landed at midnight and didn’t get to my hostel until 2am. I was staying in the Gothic Quarter which is guaranteed a buzz every weekend. I was too excited when I landed in Barcelona to go to bed at 2am – especially when outside my doorstep people were out and about enjoying the late Spanish night life! I wandered the streets of Barcelona alone in the middle of the night, it wasn’t scary – actually quite safe. But it didn’t take me long before I started feeling tired.
The next morning I ventured out to Montserrat, a monastery I’ve had my heart set on visiting for quite some time. You have to take a train ride to Pl. Espanya then an hour long train ride to Monsterrat, followed by a 10mins cable car ride (or 20mins tram ride) up towards the mountains. Not going to lie – my trip took me 2.5 hours each way, but it was so worth it!
Moments like this I had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream.
I can’t describe just how surreal this place is, but there’s not much to do there as it is a monastery. You can visit the basilica and check out the statue. I was just happy to sit and marvel at god’s creation of the beautiful mountain ranges.
The Stairs to Heaven Statue
From there, I headed back to Barcelona where I met up with two friends and do what we do best – eat, and tan. Being a fellow Aussie living in London means there are two things we miss the most – the beach and decent seafood. And Barcelona delivered.
My favourite place in Barcelona – Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Casa Batllo – Gaudi
On my third day I said goodbye to my friends and headed out to Valencia. It’s roughly a 3 hours train ride from Barcelona but I had the unfortunate luck of a train delay half way through, where trains were replaced by buses – took me 5 hours to reach Valencia.
Having done no research, and no expectations, Valencia blew me away! I think I can happily live in Valencia. It has everything you need, plus this city is surprisingly cultured. They are committed to the arts and sciences, and it wasn’t as touristy as I initially thought.
City of Arts and Sciences
From Valencia I took a train to Alicante where I would based myself for the next two nights. Alicante is a beautiful coastal city, to be honest it’s a little quiet for my liking but it was so close to all these little pockets of smaller cities which were so fun to visit!
Alicante beach front
Now, at this point on my trip, I have to point out I was on a strict budget – travelling once a month is a very expensive hobby! So everywhere I went I would rely heavily on public transport. From central Alicante, I caught the tram to Benidorm. Benidorm is quite touristy – filled with Brits holidaying. Amazing coastal beaches, right next to Costa Blanca.
Beaches of Benidorm
In Benidorm, I caught a bus that took me to Guadalest. This bus comes only once a day – I was stressing out where the bus stop was and if I had made it on time! Also, the bus stop in Spain is one sided – if you’re heading in the other direction, you simply cross to the other side and wave the bus down (they don’t have two bus stops on each side – weird?). Once I got to Guadalest, I was on a time restriction to catch the same bus back to town (again – once a day). Giving a total of 2 hours in Guadalest. Which was plenty of time, as it was only a small mountain village. It was totally worth the visit to this beautiful reservoir, the bluest water I’ve ever seen! Mainly caused by the tiny particles of the silt suspended in the water. You can swim in it, but I think one half of the reservoir is closed off from swimming (not too sure why?).
The next morning I caught a bus to Torrevieja – a small town an hour away from Alicante. This would definitely go down as one of my many off trail random adventures. Once I got to Torrevieja, the next step was to catch a bus (which came once every 40mins) to the pink salt flats. Only it was a 40 degrees day and I was not in the mood to wait for the bus. I cheated and got a cab to the pink salt flats which was 10mins away (the bus ride would have taken 50 mins).
So pretty! I can’t stress how pink the salt lake is, these photos are not doing it any justice. The tradition is to gather some of the black soil and cover yourself with it as it acts like body mask and it’s meant to be good for you. Instead I just spent my time floating around in the water. Because it’s high in salt level your body rises. Probably one of the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Also, if you’re going to visit the salt flats bring a large bottle of water to wash yourself down.
Now, getting back into town was a bit of struggle. You’re literally out in the middle of nowhere, I had no phone reception, there are no taxis, and I had no idea where the nearest bus stop was. I started walking aimlessly and luckily came across a bus stop and decided I’ll jump on the first bus that would come – it’ll have to take me back into town eventually right? The bus came and it took me an hour to get back into town. I didn’t mind the bus ride, I got to see more of the town. Best thing about solo travelling – you don’t ever have to apologise to anyone you’re taking the longest route possible.
If there was one flaw in my whole trip it was leaving my planning very last minute. So last minute that the prices for the train went up and I couldn’t afford a train ticket from Alicante to Sevilla. Instead I booked myself on a 10 hours overnight bus ride. Won’t be doing that again. It did save me one night accommodation – but really it’s not worth being tired and fatigued over. Especially when you need all that energy to explore Sevilla.
Modern architecture in Sevilla
Can we just take a moment and appreciate the beautiful design of Sevilla’s train station?
From Sevilla, I caught the train to Madrid where I spent the last few days of my trip.
I think I’ve fallen in love with Madrid. I had the expectation it was quite similar to Barcelona only without the beach. But it was a lot more diverse and had a great vibe than I expected. There wasn’t as much tourists in Madrid compared to Barcelona, but there were more expats living in Madrid than anywhere else in Spain I’ve visited. But I loved how easy and accessible it was to getting around the city and how close everything was, I walked most of the city within my first day – giving me enough time to explore the small cities outside Madrid.
I’m trying really hard not to look like a tourist….
I caught a short train ride from Madrid to the medieval town of Toledo.
I had a great day in Toledo, but while waiting for my train back to Madrid I had my tripod stolen. An important lesson for anyone who is travelling alone, remember to pick up all your belongings and be aware of your surroundings. I think my mistake here was carrying four loose items and it was easy to forget to pick something up – and hence someone was targeting me as a tourist and was probably watching my every move.
But that won’t dampen my spirits on my holiday! But it does mean my next few photos won’t be as good.
On my final full day in Madrid I visited Segovia which has also been on the top of my list! It’s an hour by bus from Madrid and you won’t need more than 3 hours to walk around the town to check out everything.
Thank you Spain for an incredible 10 days trip! Definitely will start planning my next trip soon!
Also, Madrid has one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen!
If you’re interested in visiting any of the places above, you can email me for the exact locations 🙂