I was very lucky to get to go to a conference in Valencia, Spain in January. I decided for the first time to take a solo trip, and chose four cities in Spain to explore. Granted I am now 48 so this wasn’t exactly a college student trip…haha.
I packed up a backpack to make it easy to travel and as soon as the conference ended I was picked up by my car and driver, Jesús with My DayTrip. He was amazing, I explained that I wanted to take the slow route and as many beaches and small cities along the way. I said that even though I only paid for 8 hours I was willing to pay for more and that the most important things was to have fun. We decided to stop for a cappuccino and set up our plan (such as it was).
The roads along the coast are often one lane roads with surprises around every corner. On one road Jesús stopped to pick me to Valencia oranges (and he did not mind me spraying orange mist all over his Lexus). We stopped at a farmers market, a castle, a national park and lots of beaches. This unusual beach was my favorite. Not exactly a lay in the sun relaxing beach but the terrain was amazing, I have never seen anything like it, it reminded me of lava rock.
It was an amazing day but I was exhausted so promptly passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. I stayed at the Palacio de Santa Ines, a fabulous little hotel in the heart of the Albaicin walking distance to the Alhambra then this is the perfect hotel for you. The staff is amazing, beds are comfy and they have a stocked mini bar and coffee in the room. Walk to great restaurants, Cathedral and Sacromonte within a few minutes..
I woke up to the sounds of Granada and was ready to hike the hill up to the Alhambra. I had booked a 4 tour of the Alhambra, make sure you book your admission or tour early as it is often sold out – I highly recommend you take a guided tour as they are small groups and gives a great overview of this amazing historical location. I am a big fan of looking up and I think I took over 30 different ceiling pictures here but this was my favorite in the Alhambra. I took a hike up to the Flamenco Caves the next day and was able to get a great shot of the Alhambra from a distance. Make sure when you visit Granada you experience a flamenco show in the caves as this is not to be missed. In Granada was where my love affair with Iberian Ham started. I began every day with this breakfast and I will admit sometimes had for lunch and dinner too…so delicious. Look for it to show up further down in this post.
Even though I barely speak Spanish I was able to manage to find the correct bus to take to Cordoba. Pulling into the city for the first time I had no idea that I was going to fall in love with this place. I took a cab to the Hacienda Posada de Vallina, which was a quaint property near the Mosque Cathedral. I dropped off my luggage and started to explore the city, I went to the Roman Bridge and walked through the Tower Museum. Over the next few days I took a tour of the Alcazar, the Mosque Cathedral, the Jewish Quarter and I took a Tapas tour. The tour was not what I was expecting at all, I met my guide Diego and realized I was the only person booked for the tour. He took me on a tour of the back streets of the city with a stop at Calleja de las Flores (the Little Street of Flowers (my favorite street on the entire trip). We then arrived at a small house and we went inside (probably should have been a little apprehensive considering I did not know him haha but I wasn’t). After climbing to the fourth floor the door opened to the most beautiful rooftop deck and a table full of delicious food and wine prepared by our amazing hostess Elena. The three of us stayed on her deck for 3 hours talking and pretty much forgot that this was a tour and not a night out with dear friends.
I was sad to leave Cordoba but the train to Seville was calling my name. I am surprised the driver could find my hotel the Boutique Palacio Pinello through the maze of little streets. I finally was able to find it easily the day I left haha. I decided to take a horse drawn carriage tour around the city to get acquainted with the area of town that I was staying, what a fun way to see the city. In the morning I got up very early to meet my guide for a the Royal Alcazar and Cathedral Tour. Watching the sun come over the Cathedral walls was a beautiful way to start the day. The tour was amazing but once again my favorite part is always the ceilings. This was easily my favorite ones of my entire trip. The food in Seville was fantastic and of course I tried more Iberian ham, cuttlefish paella and roasted suckling pig.
Sadly my trip was coming to an end as I was taking the train to Madrid and then flying home the next day. I knew I needed to make the most of my day so I quickly left my luggage in my room and took a cab to the city. I spent the next 3 hours walking the city, stopping to take pictures of architecturally beautiful buildings, ate tapas at the San Miguel Mercado and took a tour of the Palace. I then spotted a tuk tuk offering a one hour tour. My guide Fernando was fabulous and we spent the next 2 hours exploring the city (he would not let me pay him for the second hour). I am so grateful to him for taking me to the Temple of Debod as this was the best picture I took on the entire trip, just breathtaking.
I hope to someday be able to back to see more of this amazing country and promise me if you have the chance to visit Spain you do not miss Cordoba and Seville, I left a little of my heart in Cordoba.