Tag Archives: Spain

#OrangeTravels: Barcelona

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Ah, Barcelona: overcrowded, super-touristy, ultra commodified and yet it still holds a special place in my heart as one of my favourite cities. I had been travelling inland for several weeks now and had a deep yearning to be near the water and the mountains again (I mean, I am from Vancouver). I found this spot overlooking the beaches, climbed over the railings, dangled my legs over the edge and watched the waves crashing against the concrete blocks below – I had found my happy place.

One of my absolute favourite things about any city is their markets. I live for markets. There I can sample a whole range of “local” foods/ drinks at a fairly cheap price. At their famous Boqueria Market, I found fresh seafoods, pastries, mountains of cheap fruits and veggies and 1 Euro juices! This was a city of indulgence.

I stayed at the Sant Jordi Sagrada Familia hostel which I 100% recommend. Some of the best and friendliest staff who took the time to show me all the hidden spots within the city. Super cool lounge area with a indoor skate park, topped with nightly drinking games and bar crawl every night, this hostel had partying down to a science.

Normally I’d write more but honestly, most of the trip was spent wandering every inch of the city, checking out the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, burning my ass at the beach, and a whole lot of self-reflection.

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#OrangeTravels: Granada, Spain

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Hola! The adventure continues down south in the gorgeous city of Granada. When I first arrived, I immediately noticed the Arabic influences. My hostel was located in the heart of the city, down an alley lined with Arabic shops and hookah lounges. If I had more backpack space, I would have loaded up on trinkets. They were selling beautifully coloured purses, small zip bags, and home decor.

Granada is most famously known for The Alhambra palaces. Built in the 9th century, it used to be a fortress which was then renovated into a palace. Let me tell you, this place was ginormous! I left at 8am and didn’t finish exploring the grounds till 6pm. I believe there were 4 mini palaces + a billion gardens so be prepared to do a lot of walking. Food was pretty terrible and expensive up there so I packed my own and had me a grand ol’ picnic. In every city I visited, picnics became the default style of eating.

Pro tip: They limit the number visitors per day and you can’t buy tickets online. Instead of waiting in long line ups at the palace, Visit the official Alhambra shop located in the city, at the base where you begin your trek up the hill to the palace. They have a little ticket machine and very friendly staff who will help you though the buying process.

I stayed at Oasis Backpackers Hostel which I would highly recommend. They had great dinner specials, central lounging areas where everyone convened in the evening and best of all, clean facilities! While it was a great place to stay and meet people, there was no air conditioning – yea I either wake up to a pool of my own sweat or the loud rumble of fan that circulated the hot air. Gosh, I hope they fixed that.

One night with some hostel folk we went for a flamenco show which I though was pretty cool but apparently according to others, they’ve seen better. Afterwards we hit up Bar Poe which is a must-visit. It’s owned by a British man that serves tapas for free(!) when you order a drink. Uhhh win-win situation! Well traditionally speaking, when you order a drink, tapas are supposed to be complimentary.

After many glasses of sangria, one girl and I split off  from the group and we were determined to find this local hotspot where you could view the Alhambra all lit up and pretty in the night. Of course, we got lost. This place was apparently a local secret and not a lot of tourists go there so finding it took some help from some locals we met along the way. In hindsight, it did seem a bit sketchy having two young guys lead us though narrow paths in the residential areas but thankfully we did end up getting there safely without being mugged. At this point it was probably 11pm and there were families with young children still out and running around, people were chilling out, playing guitar and couples were making out. That view though, wow. You could see all of Granada, the stars, and of course, the big Alhambra palace all lit up in it’s glory. Sandy and I shared life stories and it turned out she was the same age as my sister, 10 years older than me. We chatted about relationships, career, travels, home and gave me lots of perspective on life. You know those nights where you just know will be the highlight when you look back at the trip as a whole? Yea, this was one of those nights.

Granada has earned its spot on the list of my favourite cities. What really made my experience so great was largely attributed to the people I met and chose to hang out with. And of course the cheap drinks and kickass tapas – you wanna buy a jug of sangria for a dollar? Sangria for everyone!!

#OrangeTravels: Madrid, Spain

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Hola! Enter the world of sangria, tapas, and gypsy pickpockets. After Portugal, I exchanged my “obrigada” for “gracias” and hit up Spain.

I stayed at Las Musas Hostel where for the majority of my 3 day stay, I met and hung out with a bunch of cool hostel folk from all parts of the globe. There was England, Aussie, India , USA, Kiwi, Scotland, and of course, Canadian. We did walking tours, bar crawls, and visited the Egyptian Temple of Debod to see the sunset. I just remember everywhere we went, liquor was the same price of water so I was downing sangria like so.

I was there on a Sunday which meant that the Museum of National Treasures, Renia Sofia had free admission. Booyah! I was travelling on a strict student budget so any means of saving money was taken advantage of.

Honestly, of all the cities I visited, Madrid wasn’t my favourite. It was expensive, not the friendliest, and I felt on-edge the entire time. Our tour guide stressed that gypsy pickpockets were everywhere and work super fast – that didn’t help my anxieties. Don’t take me wrong, it was a beautiful city with plenty to see and do. I was just so heat exhausted that all I wanted to do was sit in the shade and eat a kebab.

After 3 days of wandering around the city and clutching my purse for dear life, I was excited to hop on a bus and head south towards Granada! I had heard so much about that city and it was highly recommended by friends back in Vancouver so it was a no-brainer that I would add it to my itinerary.

Funny thing about travel itineraries, I had one for the first quarter of my trip before I said “fuck it!” and just went wherever I felt like or was recommended by fellow hostel mates. Before I constantly found myself in situations where I had to stay longer than I wanted or leave too early because I had the next flight to catch. People would mention all these amazing cities I never thought of visiting but because I had planned too far in advance, I couldn’t fit it into my itinerary. Finally my “fuck it’s” kicked in and I decided I would only plan no more than 1-2 days in advance to give myself the utmost flexibility possible. Best decision I ever made.