As covid lockdowns and travel restrictions came to a close, and spending two years in one of the most locked down cities in the world, I decided that it was time to embark on another trip, something less of the beaten path, and for a decent amount of time. It was time to head to continental Europe, this time, the Iberian peninsula. I had always wanted to go, particularly to Andalusia that had heavy islamic influence. The timing was also perfect, as I departed the week after I left Vanguard, returning a day before starting at Atlassian.
My first stop after flying in via Abu Dhabi, was the Catalan capital of Barcelona.
As I got off the airport bus, I was really pleased to have arrived into a European summer.
Mercado de La Boqueria - one of the many markets on my trip, I think I went to one in every city. These markets were fantastic, and really put QVM to shame. They were a highlight of the trip, however La Boqueria was my favourite. I ate here several times.
Bar Cañete, one of the best meals I had on the entire trip. This was recommended to me by a friend of mine. After a small wait, I was seated at the bar, and had some fantastic tapas, having here Bocadillo de Calamares. This place is a must visit if in Barcelona.
Sagrada Família. Whilst I was not the biggest fan of Barcelona, it was worth visiting just for this. I was in absolute awe of it. Both inside, and outside, it was incredible. I hope to go back when it is finished (scheduled 2024).
After a short flight from Barcelona, I landed in San Sebastian.
San Sebastian was much more relaxed than Barcelona (despite arriving during a rowing festival), and it was great to be able to put my feet up a little more.
Monte Igueldo, to the western side of San Sebastian provided one of the best views, if not the best, that I have ever seen.
San Sebastian is renowned for its pintox bars, which were amazing. I highly recommend trying as many as you can whilst there.
From here, I caught the Renfe train down to Madrid.
I managed to get a ticket to see Atlético de Madrid take on FC Porto in the group stages of the Champions League at the Estadio Metropolitano. The game was dull, and was 0-0 until the 89th minute, and finished 2-1 to Madrid, and was a fantastic experience.
Plaza de Cibeles. This was also lit up at night in the colours of the Union Jack, after the passing of Queen Elizabeth. It also featured great views from the top.
Royal Palace of Madrid.
Palacio de Cristal situated in Buen Retiro Park.
I spent a day just out of Madrid in the old town of Toledo, which was one the capital of Spain.
I finished my time in Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu watching Real Madrid dismantle RCD Mallorca. It was great to see former Chelsea defender Antonio Rüdiger score his first goal for the club.
Shortly after the game finished, I caught a late train down to Valencia on the Mediteranian Coast. Whilst it doesn’t have the fame of Madrid or Barcelona, I thought it had a great atmosphere, and I loved spending a few days here.
The Cathedral of Valencia.
Valencia 2 Supposedly - the actual Holy Grail (recognised by the Catholic Church).
Valencia boasts fantastic scientific museums.
This journey was a little bit longer, as I had to go back via Madrid, then change trains again at Cordoba, but after 6 hours or so, I made it to Granada, the old capital, and the last Muslim hold out until 1492.
The Alhambra. It is absolutely beautiful. Here is a view of it taken from the Albaicín, which is arguably better than being in the Alhambra it self.
Of course, it is a breathtaking complex.
The views from the Alhambra.
This quaint little town was also once the capital of Andalusia. It was on the way from Granada to Sevilla, and I spent a night here to see what I could of the old city.
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, that yes, served as both.
The Roman bridge of Córdoba, dating back from first century BC.
Sevilla, one of my favourite cities, and a real highlight of the trip. It boasts great food, nightlife, historical sights, and the people are very welcoming.
Plaza de España, built in 1928.
The view from the Cathedral of Seville. It was a big climb up the bell tower.
Watching Real Betis play Girona, featuring several familiar Premier League faces.
Setas de Sevilla, which translated is the Mushrooms of Seville, is the largest wooden structure in the world. You may also walk along the top.
Torre del Oro - The Tower of Gold sits right on the Guadalquivir river.
Royal Alcázar of Seville - featuring many similarities to the Alhambra.
I took a day trip out to see the white villages of Andalusia and the old town of Ronda, with it’s famous bridge.
After Sevilla, it was time to leave spain and head to Portugal, first, the seaside village of Faro, the capital of the Algarve region.
The city was very quiet, I had some great food, but only spent a night.
I caught a train up to Lisbon. This was my favourite city of the trip. I didn’t expect to like it so much, but I found the whole of Portugal absolutely spectacular. I will definitely be going back.
The view from Castelo de São Jorge.
It was really nice to be able to catch up and spend some time with Gareth, living in the UK.
Belém Tower, the 16th century fortification built to protect the mouth of the Tagus, and served as embarkation point for Portugese explorers.
Directly behind the tower, back in towards the city. A few people have asked when I was in SF.
The Jerónimos Monastery.
Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or Cormo convent, was ruined the in the catastrophic 1755 earthquake. Many attempted were made to rebuild it, but it was decided that it would be left as is.
My final destination of the journey was Porto, to the north of Lisbon. The hugely colourful city, and home of Port wine on the River Duoro was lovely.
Luís I Bridge and the Riviera.
Clérigos Church Tower, a Baroque style church, that looks over the entire city.
Taylors Port - one of the many cellars in Portugal. Many of the Port manufacturers are english, and have been here since the 18th century.
The view from the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal.
It was an absolutely fantastic trip, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I would love to go back, particularly to Portugal, to see the many other places it has to offer.