My adventure began over two weeks ago, on Thursday, March 21st when I hoped on a morning bus from Almería to Madrid with my friend Amanda. Our purpose of going to Madrid? The Mumford and Sons concert. We arrived in Madrid around 4:30 and as quickly as we could we got to our hostel, dropped off our things and hopped on a metro towards the concert. We arrived around 6 (two hours before doors open), which we thought would be plenty of time to get a decent spot in line considering the Spanish laid back mentality, but boy were we wrong. The line was incredibly long, probably five or six blocks, I lost track. Fortunately, later some friends I met up with managed to get us a closer spot in line and we got great spots for the concert! The show was fantastic; the openers... not so much but Mumford made up for it! They're even better live.
The next two days in Madrid we did a little exploring. Because it was my third time to Madrid, I had already seen most of the main tourists sights, so it was nice just to relax and see some new sights that aren't so touristy. The one stop that I made sure that we made was a trip to the Mercado San Miguel which is a market full of little bites of delicious food: stuffed olives, chocolate, yogurt parfaits, paella, croquetas, etc. My favorite taste of the night was a tostada topped with fresh mozzarella (made right in front of you), pesto and a tomato. The cheese tasted like cream, needless to say it was incredible. One my last afternoon in Madrid we visited the Reina Sofia (modern art museum) and I got to meet up with a Bennie friend who was in Madrid visiting family! I love Madrid more and more everytime I go.
|Gardens of Versailles|
Day two in Paris we woke up early again and went straight to the Lourve. Although we knew the Lourve was giant and we could easily spend hours there, we decided to just see the main masterpieces and move on. We saw many well-known masterpieces from ancient egypt, greece, italy, franch and more. But I have to say, the biggest disappointment of all was the Mona Lisa. There was a crowd of nearly 100 people crowded around the picture. If you want to get a picture with it, you literally have to force your way to the front, you have about five seconds to take the picture and thats it. Meggie commented afterwards "I'm not sure I even looked at it." That's okay though, all of the other spectacular art works made up for it. After we were on a mission to find Angelina's, supposidly home to the best hot chocolate in the world! We found it, paid the price (7.90 for a serving), and then indulged in divine liquified chocolate topped with fresh whipped cream. It was incredibly decidant, and despite the steep price, I would recommend everyone try it at least once if you're ever in Paris. Afterwards, none of us really were hungry for lunch, but we admitted we needed substance so we split a French-style hot dog, topped in melted cheese and sandwiched in a baugette. As we munched on the hot dog we headed up the notorious shopping street Avenue des Champs Elysées towards the Arc de Triomphe. We had planned on going to the top of the Arc, but the line was long so we decided to take the short walk over to the Eiffle Tower and take an afternoon nap instead. It was just what we needed for some r&r. In the early evening we hopped a metro to Montmarte, a famous neighborhood in Paris mostly due to Moulin Rouge. We saw the Sacre Coeur church (amazing), enjoyed a delightful happy hour of assorted cheeses, bread, chardonnay and escargot (even the snails were good!), and visited the notorious Moulin Rouge. We spent the rest of the night in the hostel, resting and packing up for our early train the next morning to Nice!
The following morning, we had a 5am wake up for our 6am train. The wakeup was brutal, but we were able to sleep for quite a bit of the 5 hour train to Nice. After my nap, I woke up for the last hour of the ride and it was incredible, the train followed along the Mediterranean coast. Amazing. We settled into our hostel, had a bit of lunch, and wandered around a bit. Later that evening we visited a candy factory and got to sample tons of different types of candy including candied madarins, flowers, flower-flavored marmelade and chocolate covered espresso beans (my favorite). We discovered a great place for Happy Hour near the main square and split a bottle of Rosé (famous to southern France). Later that night, we went to a restaurant recommended to us by a French girl working at our hostel, and she was dead on. We indulged in gourmet french food for a price we could afford! I had roasted duck with potatoes and a celery purée, Meggie had truffle rissoto and Sarah had bacon scallops. All delectable. For the first time on our trip we got to see a bit of French nightlife that night. We had a blast but unfortunately our night ended with Sarah's cellphone getting stolen right out of her hand. Word of the wise: don't take your phone out at night while traveling, not even just to send a text or snap a photo.
|View of Barcelona from Parque Guell|
|Paella in Valencia|
|Science Museum in Valencia|
I was reunited with my family one night later in Almeria. They arrived at 8, so we didn't have time to do much, so I brought them to my favorite tapas bar with some of my friends. They loved trying traditional Andalusian tapas and we had a great night.
|Our for tapas in Almeria|
We caught a 9am train to Granada the next day. When we got to Granada we went to the center for souvenir shopping and lunch. We had a Morroccan influenced lunch and then continued on to visit the incredible Cathedral of Granada! My mom even said she liked it more the the Vatican. After an hour at the cathedral we did a bit more wondering around the old part of the center and then went back to the hotel. After a quick break, we went out to our Flamenco and Dinner show! My family had never seen Flamenco before, but they really enjoyed it! Especially Juliana who had done a flamenco style dance the year prior at her dance studio. The dinner served with the show was esquisite! We all loved our food. After the show we went to the Mirador San Nicolas, a famous viewing point of the Albayzin (the neighborhood we were in). This viewing point is on top of a hill and you can see all of Granada lit up at night, the Alhambra and the rest of the city! A great way to end the night.
|Mom, Dad and I at the Alhambra|