Whenever I go to Spain, I seem to be too emotionally exhausted to do it properly. Egypt had tired me out a bit, and since my passport was nearly full my options were limited. So, I opted to finish out the year by spending a month in the South of Spain. Well, a bit in the South of Spain, and then Madrid.
Everyone seems to love Southern Spain, getting a bit romantic about the way people live there. The laid-back atmosphere, relaxing on the streets and in public areas, 3-hour dinners in the street until past midnight, and tapas. Boy do they love the tapas. I don’t know if it’s just because it’s a fun word to say, or because they really like them, but people just can’t get enough of ordering a tiny beer and then getting a tiny plate of food multiple times in a row.
I flew into Malaga, actually meeting meeting the Swedish guy who had been in Egypt. I remember Malaga being nice enough, right on the coast with a long boardwalk and plenty of things to walk around and see. But all in all, nothing overwhelmingly special. So we had coffee there and then ended up meeting back up in Granada later, which was my next destination.
The Alhambra of Granada is simply breathtaking and a must-see for anyone visiting the area. My phone was dead so I didn’t take any pictures, but you can Google it to see what I’m talking about. One of the better Fortresses for sure. Granada also had a very nice Starbucks, which you can see below, which is great but no Alhambra. It also rained a lot while I was there, which was a bit of a downer.
Granada is also famous for their tapas. Our night out involved hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar enjoying tiny beers and tiny plates of food as we wandered the rainy, narrow cobblestone passageways. All in all a good time, as it’s tough to do on your own.
After Granada, I headed up to Madrid. Most people prefer Barcelona for its warmth and beaches, but I’m more of a Madrid man. It’s an exciting city with interesting different neighborhoods, always bustling, and it has plenty to see. I did a lot of wandering and happily get lost in the noise.
This time I went to El Prado in another attempt to like art. My favorite piece there was probably Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, mainly the Hell portion of it. It’s like a Where’s Waldo where while you look for Waldo you also see a bird eating a man head first or a dude getting a spear up the butt.
My AirBnb was near a McDonald’s, which is always nice, but it was also right in the tourist center. Being Christmas time, there was a giant tree, decorated windows of shops, and lots of people celebrating the holidays. I celebrated with a 5€ “ugly” Christmas sweater that I found to be spirited yet tame, which put me in the holiday spirit.
Most nights I just wandered around looking at these things and enjoying the architecture in Madrid. Here’s a picture taken just around the corner from my apartment just off the Gran Via.
My main frustration was that all the cafes were always so busy, so they didn’t really have the cafe culture where I could just chill out and work for a while. So I ended up in my apartment and hanging out in McDonald’s more than I’d like to admit.
I did make it to La Bicicleta Cafe once when it wasn’t too busy, which was nice, but overall just a bit of a rushed vibe.
And it was a quiet couple weeks. Making my rounds, getting my work done, but not partaking in the Spanish nightlife, escaping my time there without having a conversation that I can remember. Such is life with my personality and staying in an AirBnb.
All in all, it’s a nice enough city for a couple weeks around Christmastime. Plus it offers convenient flights back home when the time came (which was one of the major motivations for coming up here in the first place).
Still, if you’re going to do the South of Spain, I’d recommend doing it with someone. As much as I enjoy the solo travel, it’s a trickier place to do it due to the social nature of life there.