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Spain Trip Recap

Spain Trip Recap

Hola amigos,

It has been less than a week since I have returned stateside from my 10-day trip in Spain and I miss that country already. We chose Spain because my sister was studying abroad in Barcelona and decided to tour the other major cities.

For every trip I take, I write a daily journal for myself to make sure I recall all the things I do, both as a way to look back and as a way to share with others. Instead of just posting the journal here, I will spare you all the words and share some of the most interesting things I experienced in Spain in the hopes of inspiring you all to make your own Spanish trip a bit better.

Given the 10 days, this is how we decided to break up our time there, not to mention travel between the cities:

  • Barcelona (3.5 days)

  • Granada (1 day)

  • Seville (2.5 days, includes day trip to Cordoba)

  • Madrid (1.5 days)

We would have liked to visit other parts of Spain like Cadiz, Costa Brava, San Sebastian, and the Basque country but given the limited time, these were the cities we chose.

For each city, I will provide some of our favorite things we did (must dos), things you should book ahead of time, some restaurant recommendations, and links to everything. Keep in mind that I am not a museum person so my “must-dos” might be different from yours based on what you like to do while traveling (I explain this dynamic in my travel planning blog post here). I am not a museum person so know that I won’t consider any museums “must-dos”.  If you are curious about more, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email. Travel planning is a passion of mine and I am happy to help!


  • Must-Dos

  • Things you should book ahead of time

    • Sagrada Familia (save time in lines)

    • Park Guell (if you want to get into the monumental portion, you have to buy tickets for a certain time, though your experience will be highly-dependent on weather)

  • Restaurant Recommendations

    • Cal Pep - make a reservation to sit in the quiet, back room away from the tapas bar in front. We just had them bring out whatever they wanted and it was amazing!

    • Pinotxo Bar (in la Boqueria) - great tapas bar near the entrance of the market. Just sit down and order. I had venison, Galician octopus, and mussels here.


  • Must-Dos

    • The Alhambra - Arab-influence palace and fortress

    • Plaza St. Nicholas and the Albaicin Neighborhood

      • It’s popular to go here at sunset for a beautiful view of the Alhambra but it will be very busy

  • Things you should book ahead of time

    • The Alhambra (tickets will be sold out weeks before. We would recommend going on a tour to explain everything

  • Restaurant Recommendation

    • Bodegas Castaneda - delicious, old-school, and affordable (not sure why it's listed as $$-$$$) tapas bar. No reservation necessary.

Seville - my FAVORITE Spanish city


  • Must-Dos

  • Restaurant Recommendation

    • Juana La Loca

      • This came recommended by a foodie friend and in a book I own called “Where Chefs Eat” and it did not disappoint. Amazing tapas in the hip La Latina neighborhood, definitely on the fancier side. Making a reservation would help.

Barcelona and Seville, I will definitely be back. There is so much more to see in those cities that they are due another trip in the future.

Some surprises and idiosyncrasies of Spain (most of them are food-related)

  1. Tapas - Tapas themselves weren’t a surprise to me (they are well-known for being Spanish) but what surprised me was how much I loved them and how they changed my perspective on valuing food. In the past, I’ve often valued meals based on their quantity (making sure I had enough to feel full) and quality given a certain price. As someone who eats a lot, making sure the meal I order is enough food for the price is often top of mind. Eating tapas expanded by perspective in that it showed how meals could bring a new value: variety. With tapas, you often ordered 3-4/person which allows you to have many “mini-meals” in single meal. Being able to experience different tastes, especially in a different country, made my eating experience even better. I will take this learning back home and remind myself to try different things, to share more, and to expand how I think about the “value” of meals

  2. Animal Proteins - In the US, it was my inclination (and a quick Google search confirmed) that Chicken and Beef are the two most-consumed meats. I eat chicken almost every day. In Spain, I noticed that pork and seafood were much more common on menus than beef and chicken, especially chicken. Given the proximity to water, the seafood piece was no surprise. But on the pork piece, I learned that the Spanish are very proud of their Iberian pigs and eat it in many forms, the most popular being jamon iberico (which is very similar to Italian prosciutto). In many markets, you will find legs of pig waiting to be shaved to serve jamon iberico

  3. Chives - Restaurants put chives on EVERYTHING. Eggs, seafood, you name it! I was not complaining

  4. Siestas - Perhaps it was because we frequented bigger cities and more touristy areas in those cities but we didn’t notice that many restaurants/shops closed in the middle of the afternoon for their siestas. This was a nice surprise for something I wasn’t looking forward to about Spain.

Beyond the Spain-specific things, I wanted to share a few more travel tips I learned on the trip:

  1. Map app: Maps.me - This app was immensely useful in Spain, especially since I didn’t have a data plan. This apps allows you to download maps of wherever you are going so they can be used offline. It also allows you to preload locations so they are easily-findable when you open a given city’s map. We used this app every day.

  2. Priority Pass Select - A few months back, I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, arguably one of the best travel cards (if you are not loyal to specific airline). With it comes membership to Priority Pass Select which gets you access to airport lounges across the world. This came in handy during this trip, as I used it in 6 airports: Newark, Lisbon, Barcelona, Seville, Madrid, and LaGuardia. I was able to treat my mom to the lounge twice which felt extra special. If you are interested in the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, I am happy to discuss other benefits (there are many!)

Happy Traveling!


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