What better excuse is to come to Spain than to visit your daughter/sister that’s studying abroad? My family took full advantage of the situation to see the country and visit me while my brother was on spring break. This was fortunate because it landed right at the start of my Easter break, so I was able to travel with them for some time. They landed in Barcelona a few days before driving down to Valencia where we had a joyful reunion. Here’s how our trip went, city by city…
After getting lost a few times and struggling with the obnoxious abundance of roundabouts, my family made it to Valencia late afternoon. I picked them up from their hotel and brought them to my flat for a very late “lunch,” consisting of shrimp lime rice (it was delicious, thanks for asking). We then walked around the City of Arts and Sciences after stopping by their hotel once more. We saw a few men inflating a couple large, clear balls on the water. Upon further investigation, we learned people could climb in and (attempt to) run around on the water in front of the museums. So, naturally, my dad, brother, and I hopped in and spent the next 20 minutes looking like fools as we tried to balance in our giant hamster balls. It was significantly harder than it looked, but incredibly fun, nevertheless. More exhausted than we would have expected, we met Maddie at a restaurant called Taberna Roja, for some traditional Jamón Ibérico. After dinner, Anuj stayed at my place for the night, where my parents met us the following day to head to the city center. I took them on my “standard” tour, stopping for paella at some mediocre, overpriced restaurant near Plaza de la Reina. (I’m sad to say I’ve yet really had an excellent cooked meal in Valencia beyond food I’ve made at home. Don’t get me wrong, I like some of the foods, but nothing in Valencia has really blown my mind.) Anyways, I then returned to my flat to pack up my belongings for the next two weeks (while going through the frustrating process of buying a 3-day pass to Lollapalooza, a process through which I went through the 5 stages of grief before ultimately succeeding). Upon completion, I hopped in the car with my family and we headed off to Granada.
By the time we reached Granada, it was late (by American standards) and we were the perfect mixture of tired and lazy that warranted ordering in Telepizza. For some mysterious reason, our order included a free umbrella, festooned in cartoon rabbits. Couldn’t really figure out the logic behind that one. #Spain. In other news, my parents can NOT speak Spanish. Trust me on this. They “try” (or at least claim to) and it’s just pathetic. Needless to say, this was an endless source of entertainment for Anuj and I, throughout the trip. We spent the next day exploring Granada, first walking around the city center and grabbing some gelato from a place Alyssa had recommended and a tapa and caña from a small restaurant nearby. After this, we drove up to Alhambra (for the second time that day, first to get tickets, now to actually enter at the allotted time), and spent the rest of the day on the palace grounds, which are rather lovely. One area is called “Generalife,” which my parents kept pronouncing “general life,” leading to the birth of a new hashtag between my brother and I. #generalife. We piled back in the car and headed towards Córdoba. I was proudly able to reserve our hotel room in Spanish over the phone. Bam.
As always, parking at the hotel was tricky and a family ordeal, testing our communication abilities and tempers alike. Seriously, you could film a TV episode for every time we had to park during this trip. Great reality TV idea right here! Anyways, we grabbed dinner at a nearby tapas place which was surprisingly delicious. Many noms were had, particularly the fried aubergines with honey and cane sugar sauce. Yummy. The next day I awoke to the pleasant confirmation that Córdoba is still as cute as I had remembered. Following a quick cup of coffee and some pastries, I sat overlooking the river while the family checked out the Mezquita. We then had another delicious tapas lunch showcasing this time a paella negra (black because of squid ink!) and sangria of which Anuj kept stealing sips, because it “tastes like juice!” (so true though). Then once more back in the car, this time towards Madrid.
We grabbed dinner at a nearby restaurant, which consisted in part of some delicious risotto and the most adorable, tiny little burger. The next day, we walked around the city, seeing the sights and whatnot. The Plaza d’Espana is huge and full of the greatest variety of street performers I’ve seen yet. After walking near the palace, it began to rain slightly, so we ducked down an alley to San Gines Chocolateria for some legendary churros y chocolate that did not disappoint. For dinner, we went to a flamenco show. Though the food wasn’t anything special, I enjoyed that the setting was more intimate than the previous flamenco I had seen, with ESN in Córdoba. Furthermore, the dancer, a radiant British woman, was incredibly friendly and attentive, meeting us outside the restaurant so we wouldn’t get lost and going to each table at intermission to make sure we were enjoying the experience. Also, she was a damn good dancer. The next and final day, we saw more of the city, including the Prado and a Semana Santa parade. Anuj and I loved the Prado, lingering around the Goyas and Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. We headed to bed early after some light snacks at the hotel lounge, all set to wake up early for our flights and daylight savings. My family headed back, whilst I headed to Milan for the start of the rest of my Easter break adventures.
But that’s for another blog post… (or several!)