Hooray for Holy Week vacation!! I promised to find time to sort out the thousands of photos that I took during my Spain tour last Christmas so here are some of the highlights of my trip.
If you follow me on INSTAGRAM @DearmarjSia, you’ve seen most of these photos because I immediately upload them on my account using Globe’s Unlimited Data Roaming. It has made my life easier and less boring during the long bus rides from one town to another because I could work on my phone thanks to the super fast speed of MOVISTAR, Globe’s telecommunications network partner in Spain. I was even able to post a beauty blog entry and my Christmas Spotify playlist through my phone! (Photo above: Streets of Toledo)
Our first stop after our panoramic tour in Madrid was Toledo. This small municipality was declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO because of its cultural and momumental heritage and religious history.
It’s one of the most breathtaking views that I have ever seen and the fog during day time added a bit more drama to it. Hehe!
Day 2, we traveled to Cordoba city in the Andalusian country side. The entire place reminds me of WESTEROS in the Game of Thrones.
Out of all the restaurants we went to during our 14 day trip, they have the BEST calamares and paella. Every city has their own cooking style and unique taste so Cordoba must have similar taste buds to Asians.
After lunch, we went to the Mosque-Cathedral of the Caliphs to learn more about Moorish Architecture. The Syrians believed that architecture equates to power so they built this mighty structure to show off what they have. (They didn’t have Instagram back then to brag. Lol.) It makes a lot of sense because who would have known what they are capable of if they kept all of their wealth hidden.
Before retiring to bed, we watched a flamengco show. It was quite boring for me because I don’t know how to appreciate cultural shows but I think the uncle sleeping beside me throughout the show agrees that it wasn’t as spectacular. I suggest skipping flamengco shows and just save the 50 Euros for something else.
The following day, I decided to sleep in and skip the morning tour because I wasn’t feeling well due to the sudden cold weather. When I found out that they entered and toured the halls of the Royal Alcazar of Seville, I wanted to kill myself because that was one of the locations of Game of Thrones! Arggh! This is on my check list when I go back to Seville.
Here’s another famous movie location – Plaza De Espanya! Every Star Wars geek must recognize this place from The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. We had to pass through a small park to get to this wide open space so we were all at awe when we saw the ceramic bridges and fountains.
After our 3-hour bus ride, we reached the small and peaceful city of Granada. And by small I mean you can literally tour the entire city center by foot! Hotel Carmen is a great place to check in because of the location and accessibility to shopping boutiques and supermarkets such as El Corte Ingles, Zara, Parfois, Pull & Bear and all the other Spanish retail brands.
Just like Toledo, Alhambra‘s beauty is truly breathtaking. This fortress houses a palace and beautiful gardens and fountains that were used by the last Muslim emirs in Spain. Some portions had to be restored after the place was overrun and occupied by squatters but after repairs, this is now one of the main tourist attractions of Spain.
This place is a masterpiece created by Moorish architecture and Islamic culture combined. It also carries a lot of history and there are even a lot of juicy details like the King hiring blind musicians only so he will not be able to witness and identify his concubines or indiscretions. Haha!
This may seem like a warm photo because of the sunset but trust me, my fingertips were about to break from frostbite. I didn’t bring gloves because it wasn’tt hat cold in the city. I wasn’t informed of the area’s elevation!
After spending a night in Granada, we then traveled to the nearest city of Valencia where they have the BEST chocolate, churros and paella.
Even the profiteroles and coffee was good in VALOR, their famous chocolateria place.
Eating churros will never be the same again once you take a bite out of this one. I’m not satisfied with any of the churros places in Manila anymore. :( Thank goodness I bought bags of instant Valor chocolate mix.
The streets of Spain all looked pretty much like this. I wonder how Manila would be if we kept all of the original structures like Intramuros? Yey or Nay?
Our last stop in Valencia was to see their famous opera house – Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. Doesn’t it resemble a sword fish?
I remember this was taken on Christmas Day at Costa De Valencia. Almost the entire day was spent in the car because it was a looooong ride from the city to Barcelona. The sand and water isn’t as beautiful as ours and it was really cold so none of us dared to take a dip.
Our first order of business in Barcelona was to drive to Mount Montserrat. This was my FAVORITE stop over out of all the places because of its unique location (1,236 meters/ 4,055 feet above sea-level). I believe this location inspired the CGI of The Game of Thrones’ famous episode, “The Mountain and the Viper” where Oberyn Martell was defeated. *Geek mode* I’m bummed that I wasn’t allowed to ride the super steep tram going towards the peak of the mountatin due to time constraint.
We decided to visit the Virgin of Monsterrat inside the Santa Maria Monastery to see the Vigin Mary and Jesus. This is also well known as one of the “Black Madonnas” of Europe. Everyone was touching the orb for good luck so I figured that I should do the same since I’m already there.
Our last day in Barca was well spent on hopping from one of Gaudi’s works to another. La Familia Sagrada is his most famous work and up until today, they are still doing finishing touches on it. It should be done by the year 2026.
The Basilica and Church was closed for a while and re-opened only in 2010 so we are lucky to be able to step inside and see the wonderful interiors, intricate details and marveous stained glass from inside. I’ll post more photos from this location in my next blog entry.
Park Guell is also another one of Gaudi’s brilliant architectures. It is famous for using mosaic tiles and flamboyant buildings.
This tranquil place made me feel peaceful and calm until I decided to chase a flock of pigeons….
And yup, they pooped on me!!!! BAD BIRD!!! :)) The elders with me said that bird poop brings good luck because it rarely happens to a person. It’s happened TWICE to me already so it’s no wonder I’m so lucky with raffles and contests.
Our final stop for the tour was Palau de la Música Catalana. This is the most elegant concert hall that I’ve ever seen. They wanted to show us that the architectural acoustics were perfect by playing a little bit of music for us to hear. Whether you’re seated upstairs, below, near or far, you can hear the same volume of music.
To make our last night in Spain special, we booked a table at Sobrino De Botin. They’ve been in the exact same spot since 1725. All restaurants that opened before them have already closed so they carry the title of the OLDEST restaurant in the world. They’re known for their scrumptious conchinillo but I think the Filipino-style lechon is still better. Gotta love our own! ;) Only those with reservations are allowed inside their premises so it’s best to book a table months ahead of your travel date.
Want to be able to share your travel photos instantly while you’re abroad? Subscribe to Globe’s Unlimited Data Roaming for only P599/day. I know that a lot of people are afraid to even turn on their phones while abroad because of the horror stories about being overcharged. We must be more aware of the notifications sent to us via SMS as soon as we are connected. The first one will look something like this:
Globe will constantly remind us to make sure that we connected via their PARTNER NETWORKS. For iOS/ iPhone, go to Settings >> Carrier >> Switch to MANUAL so you can manually select the preferred network. For Spain, I picked MOVISTAR because it had the strongest signal even in the outskirts of the city. If you just want to check something and be charged by KB, just pick a network that is NOT mentioned in the text message. (same as above) Or, if you don’t want to incur any data charges, just turn off your cellular data roaming or stay on airplane mode.
*All photos were taken using X30 FUJI camera. It’s the perfect camera for those who love to update their social media with perfect looking/ professionally taken photos because you can transfer the photos immediaely to your smartphone by connecting the two devices via wifi.
Hope you enjoyed my Spain Diary. Keep coming back for more travel photos. Have a blessed and restful holy week vacation! :)
Go to www.globe.com.ph to find out more about Globe Telecom’s Unlimited Data Roaming :)