Even though it had been over 10 years since I last visited Spain, I was more excited to see it for the first time through my husband and son Quincy’s eyes. But really, after two weeks of traveling to three of my favorite cities, it was as if I was seeing it all for the first time. I had forgotten how incredibly charming the country is. How good the food is. How stunning the architecture is. How fascinated I am in the history of the Spanish colonization. How much I love the concept of siestas. How much I love cava. How I can’t wait to return. So without further ado, here is my much abbreviated guide to Seville, Granada and Barcelona – please feel free to chime in in the comments below! Oh, and if you’re looking for more food tips, head on over to HonestlyYUM for the lowdown.
Stay at Hotel Alfonso XIII. Look no further, this is the place to stay in Seville. The 100 year old hotel and landmark has played host to Ernest Hemingway, Jackie Kennedy, Eva Perón and other royal dignitaries. It’s no wonder – the hotel is absolutely stunning with it’s Moorish influences and Spanish architecture. Have breakfast in the courtyard and take your siesta by the pool with a glass of ice cold sangria. Eat at Azotea, a tiny little restaurant with an inventive and seasonal tapas menu. Don’t miss Eslava, a bustling little spot where all the locals go for unpretentious, reinvented tapas – order everything off the menu, you won’t be disappointed. See Plaza de Espana, Plaza del Toros, The Alcázar of Seville and an authentic flamenco show. And simply stroll along the orange tree line streets of Seville. Shop the busy, pedestrian street that is Calle Sierpes. It is lined with age-old artisan shops selling handicrafts, hats, hand painted fans, beautiful lace mantillas, and flamenco dresses. But remember, siesta in Spain means stores are closed from approximately 2-5pm!
Stay at Hotel 1800, which is nestled in the heart of the Albayzin and sits at the base of the Alhambra. This 17th century mansion has been converted into a lovely boutique hotel with an equally charming outdoor courtyard to enjoy afternoon tea and rest your feet. Try and get a room with views of the Alhambra. Eat at Tajine Elvira for authentic Moroccan fare and if you’re a seafood lover, don’t miss Cunini, which is located on Plaza Pescadería. Fried fresh anchovies, anyone? See the Alhambra from afar by hiking up the Albayzin quarter to Mirador San Nicolas for amazing views. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance for the Alhambra and The Nasrid Palaces. This breathtaking Islamic palace is like nothing you’ve seen before so give yourself at least half a day to explore and appreciate it. Shop at Granada’s historic Arabic Quarter, El Albayzin. It has a very North African feel to it as you can find an assortment of Moroccan handicrafts like leather tooled handbags, tea sets and slippers.
Stay at Eric Vökel Apartments. Hotels in Barcelona can be expensive so staying at a hotel-quality, furnished apartment can be an understated luxury – especially in an urban city as large as Barcelona. Each Eric Vökel apartment is designed to make you feel right at home with a full, modern kitchen, en suite bedrooms and proximity to some of the city’s most visited sites. Eat at Bar Pinotxo inside the bustling Mercat de la Boqueria. You might have to elbow your way to get a spot at the bar but the food is so comforting, you’ll want to come back again and again. See everything and anything Gaudí designed. From Park Güell to the Sagrada Familia to Palau Güell, there is no denying that this Spanish architect was an unparalleled master at his craft. Shop at La Manual Alpargatera, an artisan workshop that has been making espadrilles, since the forties, for everyone including Alexa Chung and the Pope. Get lost in the narrow streets of El Born neighborhood for unique and charming little boutiques. Take a break from shopping at a tapas bar along the way for a couple of glasses of cava and a nibble.
(images by HonestlyYUM & HonestlyWTF)