After this sombre but enlightening visit, we then headed to the capital for a few days. In my 20s, I thought Barcelona was by far the best city to live in Spain, almost as if it were the younger, bohemian sister with a bit of attitude, whereas then Madrid always seemed like the older and more conservative sister. With my 20s a distant memory, I find myself preferring Madrid and of course I no longer agree with my 20 year old self – now whether I’ve changed, Madrid has or both isn’t the point, the thing now is that Madrid has so much going on and we had such a wonderful time just wandering around bumping into interesting bars, parks, buildings and simply drinking in the summer city atmosphere. We stayed in a fantastic AirBnB near Plaza Santo Domingo which was a perfectly central location to wander around this amazing city for a few days.
– really good Korean food in Mashita (C/Bola 12,
Given their proximity, we also took the chance to visit a couple of other places. A short drive and in Ávila you have a very small and pretty old town surrounded by a magnificent wall surrounding it and very little else, but again like in all this part of Spain, the countryside is stunning. Toledo is one of those places which has been quite symbolic of the ‘real Spain’ for me, whatever that may be. Like Salamanca and Zaragoza, I think it’s just the sound of the names that sound incredibly Spanish. Toledo is a lovely, old town with beautiful architecture, impressive views and a very relaxed feel and the only place I know where you can a huge variety of swords and marzipan – though not in the same shop admittedly.
We then headed south to a tiny village called Aigües where we were staying in a small hotel for the last few days of our trip. Again, it was a really good base to see other places such as the chilled and Ibiza-like Javea, the more family-friendly and more traditional beach resort El Campello and another place which I really like, Alicante. I’ve only been there a few times, but like Valencia, I get to like that little bit more each time. The people I met here were incredibly friendly and because it’s another small city, you can easily wander around getting a feel for the place and bump into places such as the rather wonderful El Refugio cafe and of course, you have a traditional promenade which is perfect to while away the hours with a cortado or two, if you’re into that kind of thing.
And then, after 6 weeks travelling around this magnificent country, we headed back to Granada on the Alsa Supra bus, which if you haven’t tried it, is rather good. Comfortable, not too expensive, wifi and often faster and more convenient than the train.
We didn’t get round to visiting areas in the north such as Asturias and Galicia, but after enjoying this trip so much, we will definitely be going in the future for yet another perspective on this lovely country that I’m lucky enough to call home.