Posted on August 17, 2015

WANDER: Take me back to Spain

Wander

Hey everyone, I’m super happy to bring this week’s travel post to you because I love, love, LOVE Spain! I can’t wait to be able to go back there one day insha Allah to visit more amazing cities.

A big welcome to the lovely Sidra, who spent some time in Spain recently and was kind enough to share her images and experience of travelling to this amazing country 🙂

– Marryam x

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Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. – Ibn Battuta

I love every aspect of travel from the planning, the journey, the shopping, the food, the culture and of course the memories. Having an internationally scattered family, we try to re-group once a year to explore a different country or culture. Trying to pick a place that none of us has traveled to is becoming quite the task.

This year the decision had to include Baby Z and his needs as well. As much as I would like to explore the heights of Peru or majesty of the amazon it wouldn’t have been feasible with an 18 month old. I have always wanted to visit Spain. I can’t really pinpoint why, but something about the country has constantly been intriguing and this summer everything finally lined up.

One of the first things I always do is buy the Lonely Planet book for the country I am visiting. After having a thorough read through and talking to friends that had already visited Spain, I knew AndalucĂ­a was the place for me. As a Muslim, I love learning about Islamic history, art and architecture. In that aspect, Spain definitely delivers. We narrowed down our trip to Seville, Malaga, Granada and Madrid.

We landed in the Andalusian capital of Seville first. Luckily, it was during the Feria de abril de Sevilla, their spring festival, which is actually an amazing time to visit the city. Although it is a tough festival to actually partake in, being a bystander is beautiful enough – the flamenco dresses, the beautiful tents and the decorated horse carriages are everywhere.

While in Seville, we explored the Real Alcázar, one of the most beautiful palaces in Spain, which was made under Muslim Kingdoms. This was my favorite part of our Seville stop and if you are an art lover like I am, you will love it too!

Our second stop was the Cathedral right across the Palace. When you are there, make sure to go up the Gibraltar tower for breath taking views of the cathedral and the city (Be warned that the walk up to the tower is quite the workout).

Seville is home to the famous Flamenco, so a trip would not be complete without taking this art in, either through the many impromptu street performances or a formal show at the Museo de Flamenco. Other than that it is the perfect city to soak in Spanish culture – We spent hours sitting in cafes, with coffees, churros or gelato (and sometimes all three at once ;)).

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We then decided to rent cars and drove to Malaga. The views along the drive are spectacular. We added this stop to our itinerary because we wanted to see a coastal city with a nice beach. We didn’t get to spend much time in Malaga and unfortunately the day that we were there, the weather wasn’t the best. However, if you are looking for a day on the beach, I would suggest you skip Malaga and pick another coastal city – the beach was mediocre at best.

Fun Fact about Malaga – it is the birthplace of the famous painter, Pablo Picasso. Make sure to check out the Museo Picasso Málaga if you have the time.

Before heading to Granada, we made a quick stop at Córdoba to see the Mezquita de Córdoba, the Great Mosque of Córdoba. This building was originally a Catholic Church that was then changed into a Mosque and then later back to a Church again. The building is most notable for its arcaded hall with hundreds of columns. My favorite part – the Mihrab. It is absolutely beautiful! Make sure to relax in the courtyard outside the Mosque as well – the orange trees and spectacular backdrop are worth it.

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Next stop – Granada. The narrow alleyways, the beautiful architecture and the mighty Alhambra will steal anyone’s heart. We were lucky enough to rent an apartment that had views of Alhambra Palace, which was our first major stop of the city.

Because these Islamic palaces are one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, make sure you buy tickets for Alhambra online or on the phone to avoid really long line-ups. Let me tell you though, it is definitely worth the wait. The architectural details are so intricate and beautiful that I could spend hours just staring at them. Granada was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip and I was sad to leave it.

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Our last stop was Madrid. My siblings are huge football fans, and Real Madrid is their team. We couldn’t come all the way to Spain and not see them play. I had never been to a football game before and it was quite the experience. The atmosphere is electrifying. And can we talk about Ronaldo now please? All I can say is he is majestic to watch.

The royal family doesn’t use the Royal Palace in Madrid anymore but the day we were in the city they were hosting the Egyptian President. It was nice to see all the pageantry that surrounded the visit. Madrid in general has a lot to offer. It is the perfect contrast to Andalusia – a modern cosmopolitan city.

My advice for Madrid is to explore the city by walking around and getting lost in all the historical plazas. But if there is one thing you should do in Madrid, it would be a visit to ChocolaterĂ­a San Gines for quite possibly the best churros in the world.

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As you can tell, I loved Spain. The weather was beautiful even though we went in April. It is full of history and culture that beautifully reflects its Muslim past and Christian present. The Spanish people are welcoming, the language is beautiful and the architecture is spectacular.

Now on to the next trip – All suggestions are welcome!

Follow me on Instagram at @s_idra to see more pictures from this trip and to get to know more about me.

Thank you for reading!
Sidra

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