Crowded food markets, miles of beach, funky architecture (a la Gaudi), beautifully manicured parks, clubs that don't close until well after sunrise. Such is the attraction of Barcelona. God damn, it's a cool city. It took me years to get back but my fascination is still the same. Every building, church, and park that wears Gaudi's name makes me feel like I'm on the pages of a Dr. Suess book. With bright colors and whimsical designs, his creations sprinkled throughout the city add an element of light and playfulness. Both Las Pedreras and La Sagrada Familia left me in awe. To put it simply, the man was a genius.
I wasn't as impressed with Madrid. Although the food was delicious and spot on every meal, I felt that the city lacked character. It has some beautiful qualities of course. Maybe I'm just partial to Barcelona but coming from a city with so much personality, art, and culture, I found Madrid to be unimpressive. We did go to a Flamenco show one night and it was mesmerizing. Spanish guitar, vocals reminiscent of Bob Dylan, and beautiful women passionately dancing. Flamenco is one tradition that I hope never dies. I'm hoping to take a class before I leave the country. It was born in Andalucia so I think it's the perfect place to try and learn.
Meghan and I had a special visitor for the first 10 days of the year. Natalie was able to take advantage of the fact that two of her best friends are in Spain and she had unused vacation days. One perk of working in the wine and liquor industry is that you get to spoil your friends and take them to wineries in the Spanish countryside. How lucky are we? We spent a luxurious night in an old castle-turned-hotel outside of Salamanca where we dined with the estate director of Numanthia winery. Tasting everything on the menu that was vegetarian/pescatarian friendly and drinking the most delicious wines I have ever had the pleasure of trying. And I took a bubble bath! It was a very fitting night for a princess. The next day we visited the winery, drank more of these incredible vinos, and once again had a multiple course meal with the winery execs. It was the perfect end to our mini vacation with Nat and I think a good transition for her to return to work this week.
A few days and one fantastic bus ride later (not sarcasm, it was a great ride) and Meghan and I have finally found ourselves in the south of Spain. Andalucia has been our talked about final destination since starting the trip and it feels pretty satisfying to be here. We've landed in the enchanting hippie city of Granada and just the simple thought of having to leave this place makes me sad. It is so lovely. It's one of those places that everyone seems to get stuck in. I overheard a fellow traveler talking on our first night and saying that one never truly leaves. A couple hours later and I knew what he meant. Granada is one of those places that seems to speak directly to my soul. As with almost every other person I've met here, we came with the intention of only staying a few days and already have extended our stay. Part of me wishes that I didn't have plans for the near future and I could stay for awhile. But I do of course have more adventures planned and as sad as I'll be to leave, I am beyond excited for my fourth continent and the country that I have been longing to visit for more years than I can count. I still have a few Spanish cities left on my list but Andalucia will be the end of this three month Euro trip and the end of Meghan and I's travels together (atleast for a couple months). In just a little over a week I'll be crossing over the Strait of Gibraltar and spending a few weeks with yoga mates in Morocco!
This morning I woke up to hear David Bowie blaring from the courtyard and a huge smile spread across my face. When I made it downstairs I found out that he passed away. In honor of Ziggy Stardust, he's been playing in the hostel all day. And I leave you with one of his many genius quotes that seems particularly relevant to my life at the moment..
"I don't know where I'm going but I promise it won't be boring."
Rest in Peace and Power to a legend!