After traveling around during my spring break, I came back to Alicante and there was another holy week celebration going on called Santa Faz (Holy Face). The main highway from Alicante to the church of Santa Faz (in a nearby, smaller town) was closed down for the day so that people could make the 5-mile journey on foot (the Santa Faz pilgrimage). I went with my host family. There were thousands of people walking in the street and along the sides there were people playing music and selling palm branches. Once we got to the church, there was a long road behind it full of people who had set up stands to sell all kinds off things: Hard candy, caramel apples, freshly-roasted almonds, rugs, clothes, etc. We ate lunch there and afterwards there were buses available for us to take back in to Alicante so we didn’t have to walk back.
The next weekend, I visited Barcelona with a couple of friends. Barcelona is a city farther up the coast with a lot of really cool architecture by some famous architects/artists such as Antoni Gaudí. His most famous work is La Sagrada Familia, a giant Roman Catholic church that is still under construction today. I got to go inside, and it was the most beautiful building I have ever been in. There were giant stained-glass windows surrounding the whole inside which looked amazing with the sun coming in during that time of day. Everything was colored bright and vivid and the ceiling was hundreds of feet high. I really want to go back some day when it is finished!
There was also Park Güell, which is a huge park with buildings covered in beautiful painted tiles. Unfortunately, part of the park was under construction when we got there, and they were only letting so many people in at a time, so we weren’t able to visit the actual part with the beautiful buildings. But we were able to see the buildings from a little farther off and we were able to climb up some tall hills with a good view of the city and the ocean. It was also my 22nd birthday on the 20th while I was there. My friends and I celebrated by going to a bar where I ordered my favorite drink: pisco sour. Earlier that day we also happened to find a little shop that sold acai bowls which are one of my favorite things to eat. There was also a really cool fountain show at the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc which was actually really impressive a fun to watch. A friend of my friend Nicole just happened to be visiting Barcelona at the same time as us, so that night we decided to meet up and do something. He had heard that there was some mountain nearby with a great night-view of Barcelona, so around 11pm we headed over to find it. After several hours of getting lost taking the wrong bus and the wrong metro, we finally got to the mountain and climbed to the top (around 3am), but the view was worth it. Overall, Barcelona is a really cool city to visit and a must for anyone visiting Spain.
I spent last weekend in Madrid. Disclaimer: Madrid is a huge city and if you decide to walk everywhere instead of taking public transportation your legs will hurt a lot. That’s right. Rather than spending a few euros every day to take the metro and figure out how that works, I decided to make the two-hour walk to the city center from my Airbnb each day that I was in Madrid. Granted, I wandered past some really cool buildings and neighborhoods that I would have missed if I would have taken the metro, but unless you are super fit and have lots of extra time, I would suggest taking public transport when visiting Madrid (or any foreign city for that matter). Like, I run 15 miles for fun and my legs were killing me halfway through the second day.
Anyway, in Madrid there are tons of huge, palace-like buildings everywhere and gorgeous fountains in their plazas every few blocks. There are also some pretty cool museums such as the Prado and Madrid has its very own Egyptian temple! During my time there I also took a day trip to Segovia, a nearby city with a giant roman aqueduct and a castle! The city of Segovia itself is very old-fashioned with tiled roofs and everything. It was a very cool sight and a must-see for anyone visiting Spain! I also had the opportunity to watch a bullfight while in Madrid. It was a really cool experience that I enjoyed watching, though it is not for the faint of heart—especially if you faint at the sight of blood. Anyway, Madrid was a great place to experience some real Spanish culture and practice my Spanish some more. I’ll be visiting Barcelona soon, so check back in a couple of weeks to read about that! ¡Hasta pronto!