Spain is really diverse in its own style, history and culture right across the country. Its has a very european flavor yet so different and unique. We knew with a country so big, we would have to break it down into more than one visit… or risk losing our jobs.
Like many of our European excursions this trip took place over a long weekend. Located next to Ibiza in the Mediterranean Sea. Mallorca, namely Magaluf is identified by many English as an underage Ibiza, A holiday place where parents can sit in English style pubs and not miss out on their all important football matches while the children play in the all inclusive hotel pool areas. Agghh the cuddly bliss of being in the comfort zone. What a wasted opportunity! The treasures Mallorca holds are waiting to be found all over the island for those willing to explore a little further. Our mates Chris and Joana joined Bianca and I as we went to find those treasures in a road trip around the island.
TRIP #2 – SOUTHERN SPAIN
Madrid, Valencia and the Andalusian region
Southern Spain is heavily influenced by the Moorish heritage, palaces such as the Alhambra in Granada and the Alcazar in Seville were built for once powerful monarchy’s and now attract people from all over the world as some of the most beautiful man made destinations in the world. The mosaic tiles and wood finishes in the palace are so intricate and beautiful they defy belief and truly must be seen with your own eyes. Bianca and I had 2 weeks to visit some of europe’s most attractive destinations.
TRIP #3 – NORTHERN SPAIN
Our final trip to Spain included Barcelona and the San Vino wine fight in Haro. Barcelona is a really fun quirky city with Architecture from Antoni Gaudi including the Basilica De La Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell. In a short amount of time we crammed in a ton of sights! Then it was onto Haro to get a bit sticky… in a good way! Check out our wine fight experience here.
Flights to Mallorca return over Easter weekend we found for 120GBP each.
Once we arrived at the Palma de Mallorca airport our plan was to get a rental car… This was a massive backfire as the rental agencies at the airport were all being extortionist buggers.
We got a little frustrated and decided we would sort it later from our hotel. Just as we were collecting our bags in a huff and making for the bus stop we found a local lady with a car rental sign. We stopped to enquire, got given a wonderful deal and the keys to a gutless little Fiat Panda which would become our rocket ship around the island. Perfect!
- London to Madrid we found a RyanAir flight for 76GBP each (Mid July).
- Madrid to Valencia = blablacar £8 each
We went with a first time blabla driver and she was lovely. Everything went smoothly and she had a large comfortable car. Much nicer than taking a bus. Taken from Madrid bus station to Valencia main square.
Valencia to Granada = Overnight train
We saved on accommodation and got ourselves a sleeper berth on a night train. Arriving fresh at 7am well slept and ready for a full day at Granada’s Alhambra.
- Granada to Nerja = bus
Not a long trip this one and easy to bus.
- Return trip Nerja to Ronda = local car rental.
Europecar and all the major rental companies were far more expensive than this local company. Helpful easygoing staff gave us a good deal and we’re flexible on return times as we arrived back after hours and dropped the key through the return box. It was a really nice day trip from Nerja to Ronda. Just pack extra water for a very hot drive. We managed to have enough time for a swim in Malaga just down the Coastline from Nerja on way home.
- Nerja to Seville = local busses
One change of bus at Malaga. This route is a beautiful drive, although in the back of a bumpy bus in 30+ degrees it was quite uncomfortable.
- Seville to Lagos (Portugal) = blablacar
Travelled with a full complement of other blablar passengers and the individual driver who was visiting friends in Lagos. Young guys, very friendly. Medium English ability. No problems!
From the airport you can catch an over ground train to the central stop Passeig de Gracia for €4.40. From here you can metro or walk to your accommodation.
- Barcelona to Haro
We were involved in the San Vino wine fight hosted in Haro. Stoke Travel organized a coach from Barcelona for us which was €40, Quite expensive however so are all the alternatives.
- Haro to Bilbao airport
We tried our luck at hitchhiking from the highway for this short leg but after 30min some police pulled over and kindly let us know we were in an illegal spot… eeekkkk! If Hitchhiking in Spain stay off the highways or you can nab yourself a €200 Fine!
Tail between our legs we went to the safety of the bus station that has regular busses to Bilbao for €9.70.
From the same Bilbao bus terminal you arrive in there are buses straight to the Airport, these leave every 20-30min and are €1.80Tip: The bus is cash only, and Haro has no cash machines, you must be prepared!
- Palma – BelleVue 2 nights 25GBP pp
Mallorca is full of all inclusive style hotels, pools, restaurants, bars and holiday activities for the kids. We just used the hotel to sleep and chill in the evenings.
- Magaluf – BCM Hotel Majorca 1 Party night.
All inclusive, trashy, tacky… loved it.
- Madrid – Fun sleep 2 nights 36.80 GBP total
Decent accommodation with a cereal breakfast. Perfect location, very central to walk wherever you need to go.
- Valencia – The River Hostel one night 13.88 GBP total
Very large hostel bunks and shared showers. relaxing chill out area good kitchen and can rent bikes.
- Nerja – hostal Alhambra 3 nights 141GBP total
Location is 200m from the beach and our room came with sea view.
- Seville – Trotamundos Hostel 1 night 17.00 GBP total
Simple hostel in a good location.
- Barcelona – Hola hostal Eixample €16
Clean, and has all the amenities you could want for. Breakfast is cereal and bread with cheese and cold ham. Plus all the coffee and juice you can drink.
- Spain does very good seafood and most restaurants will have some seafood options.
- Cold meats – you will see dried legs of meat in almost every window. Sliced thin this Jamon is delicious. Chorizo is another staple in the Spanish cuisine
- Paella – Especially the negros paella. Squid ink changes this usually bright and colourful dish into a dark grey/black pan of goodies. I don’t usually think black food is particularly appetising… I think granddads burnt toast, horrible liquorish strong overpowering flavours. The negros paella was something special. It reset the bar on paella even higher!
- Tapas – The old tradition was when you ordered a drink in a bar, you received a small tapa free of charge. This could be a small portion of paella, a bowl of olives/chips or some delicious chopped up chorizo sausage.
We Highly Recommend
- The Museo del Jamon in Madrid is a special place. 50cent Euro gets you a small beer, hamburger slider and a scoop of chorizo. Cheap, very cheerful and delicious. You will have to jostle with locals and travelers for prime position at the bar. Looks more like a butcher rather than a bar with cold meats everywhere available for purchase.
Tip: Some old fashion establishments such as this one have rubbish all over the floor. Do not be disgusted this is encouraged, the dirtier looking the place the better it is!
- Bar La Catedral in Seville If you fancy some extra special tapas you will need to go to a tapas restaurant. tapas are what these places specialise in so rather than have a main we chose a selection of tapas and shared those. I enjoyed trying lots of different flavours and was nice to share with Bianca… little romantic one might say. This one has really cool decor and some delicious tapas on the menu. If only I could have eaten them all!
Must see & do
Trip #1 – Majorca
Magaluf it’s dirty, nasty but go on and indulge for a day in the all-inclusive. You deserve it, let your hair down and go out on the town. Good! out of your system… leave Magaluf RIGHT NOW!
- Just drive – There are some spectacular drives in Majorca and on such a small island they are easy to find. Cruise on around the coast and marvel. The drive to Sa Calobra is as beautiful as the beach itself.
- Head to the lighthouse at the end of Cape Formentor and stop off along the way for more of Majorca’s magic panoramic locations.
- Walk the 13th century walled old town of Alcúdia.
- If you’re into windsurfing there is a massive windsurf community here.
Trip #2 – Southern Spain
- Nightlife is pretty wild in Madrid. Head into the …. District. Beware of going out too early though, most clubs/Bars will be dead quiet until after midnight. We met some locals who took us out until closing time when the sun was up. Just don’t get caught drinking in the streets, apparently they are very strict.
- Museo Del Jamon. Best place for a cheap beer and tapa. See more about in the food section.
- Walking Tour – Madrid is a really cool city to see in a walking tour. They explain the culture, the strange bear in the square and share some cool historical stories. My favorite stop on the tour was the oldest Restaurant in Europe, which happens to be Hemmingway’s favorite restaurant. The owner encouraged us to visit the ancient wine cellar… watch your head down the steps if you visit. Another awesome part to the tour is that she shared some awesome Tapa places with us. (The 50euro cent place mentioned earlier in the post.)
- Parque de El Retiro – If you have been out the night before then this park is a perfect place to relax in the sun. It has plenty of grass, statues and fountains to bask in as the hangover retreats.
- Prado Museum – Once you’re recovered this Art Museum is right next to the park. Entry costs but it has some of the world’s most important pieces of art.
- Rent a Bike and ride down the river past the Olympic buildings.
- It’s very hot so go chill at the beach.
- The Alhambra Palace – Sitting on the crest of a hill overlooking Granada the beautiful palace Alhambra and its immaculate garden is hugely impressive. It takes a full day to see it all, we began with the gardens and took in the views of granada then went into the main palace building.
Tip: Don’t wait in the massive line to buy a ticket, you can go around the back where some ticket machines will accept card and print you a ticket straight away. For some reason nobody uses them.
- You have made it. Time to relax at the beach and stroll the boardwalk to see the balcony of Europe.
- Day trip to Ronda. The home of Spanish Bullfighting and the Puente Nuevo an incredible bridge over a 120m chasm.
- Then get back on the sand and in the water. A bus will take you to the more crowded Malaga, but we prefered to stay put in Nerja.
- This is one of those cities where a walking tour is worthwhile.
- The Alcazar, (Dorne for you GOT Fans) similar to the Alhambra though smaller, and even more intricate. Just a beautiful place and a massive must see.
- Romantic night out! Wine her, dine her then take her to an authentic Flamenco show.
- Take a walk around the cathedral in the cool evening air. Delightful!
- Explore the fairytale architecture of Antoni Gaudi including the Basilica De La Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell.
Tip: Parc Güell cost €8 and needs to be booked in advance. Otherwise its free until 8am if you fancy waking up in time.
- Jump in the bustle of the La Rumblas and hustle yourself some food and souvenirs.
- You will need a bit of chill time at the beach after that. Lucky its right at the end of the La Rumblas.
- If you’re keen for a party then you have arrived in the right place!
- If you find yourself in Haro, it is likely for only one reason… Enjoy the annual wine fight. We went through Stoke Travel where anything goes. Even taking your airbed white water rafting.
The tour cost €120 for two nights with breakfast and dinner included. Unlimited beer and sangria gets everyone a bit loose, and they give you a box of wine to throw on people at the event.
Otherwise organize your own accommodation because the actual festival is FREE!