This post is unusually long as I’ve tried to fit in a month’s worth of travel pictures. However, if you have any questions about any of the places I’ve been to and want to know more, feel free to reach out to me.
First of all I have to acknowledge the past two years of my life in London. I was living in London on a working visa with an expiry date of 2 years, at the time I thought 2 years would be enough – I was so wrong. I moved over to the UK with one expectation in mind which was travelling, what I didn’t anticipate was enjoying my job and even more so, unexpectedly falling in love with the people who I met in the past two years of my life. It’s funny to think people can be so warm and inviting to new comers and accepting them into their lives as if they’ve been there the whole time. People’s generosity and kindness will never cease to amaze me. I had a hard time accepting saying ‘goodbye’ to my London friends and an even harder time closing that chapter of my life. But you never know what the future will hold!
I’m currently backpacking for the next two months around Europe before heading home to Australia, and decided to spend one month of it in Spain. I’ve chosen Spain because I was hoping to relocate there after England – however getting a working visa in Spain has proven to be quite difficult. Instead, I’ve allowed myself a month to see and experience as much of Spain as possible, to satisfy my Spanish curiosity.
My first stop was Madrid. Travelling in March/April has its pros and cons, one being it’s off peak and there are not many tourists around, however the weather is still cold and there some rainy days.
I’ve been to Madrid a few times now, so this was a quick stopover and seeing a few things I’ve missed on the previous trips.
Madrid is becoming quite trendy and you can find some quirky alternative stores in the area near Tribunal.
And of course I had to take a stroll down Gran Via.
Enjoying the views of the Palace, before it started to rain.
I think returning to Madrid this time round, I started to enjoy and noticed the smaller shops with its characteristics, and appreciated the different identities of each areas surrounding the city.
After a day in Madrid, I made my way to the university town of Salamanca, about 1.5hrs north west of Madrid. I caught the train there, but there are buses available too. I’m travelling alone, but if you were travelling around Spain with a partner I would strongly recommend hiring a car – you’ll get to see more of the landscape that way. I booked majority of my bus trips via ALSA and trains with Renfe. The key is to book in advance as the prices will increase closer to the departure date.
Salamanca blew me away, with its history, architecture and laid back attitude. It made my 3 days there enjoyable. Realistically, you can see everything there in a day, but I wanted to take some time out to enjoy the authenticity of the city.
The University surrounds the city.
But the main attraction here is the main Cathedral.
For a small fee (I think it was €7) you can climb up the tower for a great view of the city.
Salamanca is known to have the prettiest Plaza Mayor in all of Spain, I had to see it at night too!
Exploring the alleyways of Salamanca.
There’s a lot of history surrounding the old town, it has gone through a lot of political discourses but luckily it has remain intact of its identity and is now an UNESCO city.
After 3 days in Salamanca I started my slow decedent down to Southern Spain.
Spent a few hours in a quaint town of Caceres. One of my favourite things to do while travelling is discovering hidden gems, away from the usual tourist tracks. Caceres is definitely a secret gem!
Caceres is in the province of Extremadura, where you will find a lot of medieval buildings and the beautiful Moorish architectures.
Also, I should note that one of the best things about small towns, away from big cities, is the price of food is a lot cheaper! You can easily go out to a bar, order a drink and you’ll get a small meal with it for free! Best kind of tapas! A lot of my meals were less than €5!
I then caught the train from Caceres to Merida, where I stayed overnight.
I really enjoyed Merida, it was one of my top small cities. I think it was because the people were so lovely and humble, and there was a real sense of authentic Spaniards.
I stayed at this accommodation, which is a mixed between a hotel and hostel. I’ve chosen a dorm, but because I was travelling off-peak, I had the entire dorm to myself! This actually happened a few times. Another perk of off-peak travelling!
The great aqueducts of Merida.
The main attraction in Merida – the amphitheater. A local told me that during summer they put on real plays in the amphitheater, and people around the country would come for this attraction.
Other roman ruins remains around the city.
My next stop was Cordoba! Cordoba has been on my wish list for quite some time now, I decided I need to give it a couple of days to do everything I had on my list!
Cordoba is the most photogenic city in Spain, and maybe Seville too. But in Cordoba you will be obsessing over cute courtyards and patios. There’s even a patio festival in May!
My first tourist attraction was checking out the grand mosque Mezquita-Catedral. Here’s a tip, it’s actually free entry from 8:30 – 9:30am. Which works out in my favour a lot, less people to get in your photos, and you’ll only need about 30mins in there to see everything.
I couldn’t get over the beautiful Moorish designs, honestly one of the best I’ve ever seen!
If you plan this correctly, you can also get in for free to the gardens of Alcazar, I think it’s free entry before 10am? However, I was there on a Monday and it’s closed every Monday.
Here’s me trying again the next day….
I did take a ridiculous amount of photos at the Alcazar but I didn’t want to bore you with my garden photos. But take my word for it, and it’s a must visit!
Checking out the beautiful sunset on the Roman Bridge of Cordoba.
Hunting down more beautiful courtyards and patios.
This is one of the most popular one, it is on the street Calleja De Las Flores.
My obsession with patios didn’t stop there, I paid for entry to go see one of the famous ones – Palacio De Viana.
After being Patio-ed out, I made my way to the seaside city of Cadiz. Also known as one of the oldest cities in Europe.
Unfortunately for me it wasn’t warm enough to get in the water. Shame really, considering it’s a popular coastal town!
I don’t have much to say about Cadiz, other than to get lost in its alleyways and explore the city. You will quickly fall in love with the city.
Cadiz has the most watch towers I have ever seen in one city. I went up the popular one Torre Tavira for the view of the entire city. Your ticket up will also include a live demonstration of the camera obscura – which is an old fashion yet still very effective telescope.
After spending 2 days in Cadiz I started my journey to Ronda.
But first – a quick stopover in Gibraltar. Quite literally quick – I was there for 2.5hrs!
It was so easy too! From Cadiz I got a bus to Algeciras, then from there a public bus to La Linea de la Concepion. Then you have to walk across the border into the UK to get into Gibraltar. Remember to bring your passport!
Being time restricted, I bought myself a tour ticket which essentially would take me to all the main attractions in Gibraltar for 2 hrs, it was €30. Looking back now, it was the best value for money! Gibraltar is small but walking around seeing everything would have taken me all day.
Top of the rock of Gibraltar.
The caves inside the rock. My tour guide was very knowledgeable and told us the history of the island. There’s a lot of interesting facts about Gibraltar and why other countries have been trying to conquer it. The Spanish don’t want it back as Gibraltar has been under the British empire for quite awhile now, it opens up job opportunities for the local Spanish people (with a higher income) and it increases their security defence. Gibraltar also has low business tax, and if you are a resident there, you practically pay nothing – no medical, no school fees – all educations are free including university – in fact they even pay for you to go aboard to study! The only catch you ask? The rent to live here is amongst the highest in the world!
Gibraltar also has its own micro climate, making it paradise all year long! The English introduced the monkeys to the island, and now they’re a known feature to the island. They are well kept and fed by the government.
After a little mishap of missing my train after visiting Gibraltar – I won’t get into details with that, but just always give yourself 30mins to get to your next destination and if all else fails – catch a taxis to get there – don’t leave it to chance like me!
Finally made it to Ronda.
I was there for 3 days, my first day had a beautiful sunset, before it started raining for all of the 3 days I was there! I should have known this would happen seeing as it was up in the mountains.
The famous Bridge of Ronda – Pont Neuf.
Ronda has some incredible views, but I personally don’t recommend staying here for longer than 2 days, it’s quite small!
You can catch a bus 30mins outside of Ronda to a small town of Setenil De Las Bodegas. Make sure you plan your journey accordingly as the bus timetable is limited.
But I would highly recommend going here for a lunch stop as it’s so crazy to see people build houses surrounding these rocks!
I caught the train from Ronda to Malaga. I think Malaga is my favourite region in Spain yet! I couldn’t believe how beautiful every corner was! You have long stretches of sandy beaches then you go further inland and you’re in the mountains, where you can hike for days! There’s so much to explore in Malaga, I can see why so many Europeans decided to buy a retirement home here.
I spent 3 days in Malaga by the sea, mainly just to get some warmth after being so cold and wet in Ronda.
This view is from the Mirador de Gibralfaro lookout, where you can overlook the Plaza de Toros (Bull fighting ring).
To be honest, there’s not a lot to do in the city of Malaga, other than eat and drink.
But it was a good place to base myself, as everyday I did a different day trip to different cities near Malaga.
I spent the day in Estepona, which was a quick bus ride away. Absolutely fell in love with this seaside town. It’s small, but it was so well decorated! People took such pride in the appearance of their homes.
I then made a quick stopover to Marbella, and to be honest, it was a bit too touristy for my liking. Plus the weather that day wasn’t good enough for me to spend it at the beach.
Then I moved on to Nerja, and spent 2 days there by the sea.
I really enjoyed Nerja, I thought the locals were really warm people, and there were plenty of things to do there to keep you occupied. You can also do hikes around the area.
Or you can catch the local bus up to Frigilana, which is the white town on the cliffs. Great for photo opportunities!
Highly recommend the Garden Restaurant, great place for lunch!
After the few days on the coast, I moved inland to the mountains – Granada!
Granada has also been on my hit list for quite some time now too. Although, I have to admit I did not plan this well. First of all, the main attraction is the Alhambra, which I didn’t realised required 3 months of booking in advance. So that didn’t happen. But that didn’t stop me from exploring the city to get a good view of the Alhambra!
While staying in Granada, I also did a day trip to the Sierra Nevada, which was surprisingly easy to do! You can get a bus from the Granada Bus station for a return ticket of €9! And best of all, it was still snow season!
How crazy to think just an hour away you’re in the snow! Good enough to ski! You can hire pretty much everything you need to ski here too. I had to hire boots to walk in the snow for a cool €10 for the day.
After Granada, I made one last stop in Murcia before I started my Wwoof volunteering.
Murcia is wonderful, I enjoyed my overnight stay here. I was lucky enough to see the Semana Santa procession during their Holy Week. At first it was a bit overwhelming as I didn’t know what was happening, but it ended up being such a joyful occasion.
They were giving sweets out to the children, this went from 6pm to midnight! It’s quite a sight to see, and happens in every major city around Spain. I love being immersed in culture, especially that of traditional values from the locals!
This concludes my travels in Spain, after Murcia I made my way to Alicante where I spent two weeks on an Olive Finca volunteering through WWOOF, which I highly recommend for anyone who has free time during their travels (min of 2 weeks)! Agriculture is something I have been wanting to explore and learn for quite some time now, and WWOOF makes it possible for you to volunteer on farms in Spain. Helping out with the farm work, in return for accommodation. The program endeavours to teach people about ecology sustainability and spreading the organic movement, which in today’s world we need to make an impact on!
My farm stay was on an Olive Finca in Jijona where my wonderful host mum taught me how to live a more bio friendly lifestyle, so much so that I’ve decided to become a vegetarian.
I was also lucky enough to meet her horse! And got to play with other animals too.
Stay tuned for my next trip to Malta!