Madrid

Introduction

When I first came to Spain, I was in Madrid. That was June 17. I feel like I can’t tell the story of my year abroad without talking about where it all started: Madrid.

Apartments

View from the 2nd apartment we stayed in

A lot of apartments in Madrid are very nice. I have personally only stayed in two, however, when looking into the window of a real-estate company’s building I saw pictures of many great apartments. The first apartment we looked at was a MAJOR disappointment (see my post about Spotahome https://herethereandeverywhere.blog/2019/06/24/spot-a-home-scam/ to see what I mean about said disappointment) but the first one we stayed at was perfect. My mom was almost ready to stay there for the whole summer, however it was booked the next day. We then went to a second apartment and that was where I truly fell in love with the apartments in Madrid. The second apartment was a penthouse about three blocks from the apartment we first stayed in. We actually wanted to go back there after our coastal trip (see https://herethereandeverywhere.blog/2019/06/29/coastal-journey/ to learn more about the coastal trip) but the apartment was booked.

Food

The restaurant outside of our first apartment had many interesting paintings (or posters of paintings)

The food in Madrid (or more specifically the neighborhood of Sol where we stayed) was some of the best I’ve ever had. Our first night we ate at a restaurant that my brother claims to be the restaurant of all time (he’s not too far off) called Gusto’s (see https://www.eltenedor.es/restaurante-plus/gustos-madrid-plaza-mayor/292055?cc=16778-ef8&msclkid=8a6d41f5014713be11a31cd17333f542&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=BING+-+SP+-++Madrid+-+Restaurantname+%2B+city&utm_term=Gustos+Madrid&utm_content=292055+-+Madrid+-+Gustos to reserve a table there.) Many of the other restaurants were good but none can compare to Gusto’s.

Sightseeing

The statue in the middle of Plaza Mayor is one of my favorite sites in Spain.

The sights in Madrid are basically on every block. Every block has something different. The views from the apartments were amazing. The views from the sidewalk were equally amazing. The statues in Plaza Major were beautiful and attracted many people day and night. Going to Madrid to sightsee in Sol is worth the trip to Madrid.

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t use Spotahome
  • Always be willing to walk for good food
  • The night is the best time to sight see

Conclusion

If you are going to go to Spain, Madrid is almost a requirement and while you are there you should either be staying in, or visiting, the neighborhood of Sol.

Day Trips

Introduction

After our two day stay in Torremolinos, my family and I went Fuengirola, where we will be staying until the 15th of July. While in Fuengirola, we took 4 day trips (as of July 4, 2019) to Malaga, Mijas Pueblo, Marbella, and took a second trip to Malaga

Malaga (part 1)

Malaga is home to many interesting houses, castles and buildings. This building was one I found to be interesting due to the fact that it was several hundreds of years old and was in a “modern” area of the city.

Fuengirola is maybe an hour from Malaga, so on June 28, my family and I decided to go explore it since we had heard good things. My mom (who I’ll be moving with in September) quickly fell in love with the city. We walked around and decided that we needed to live there so my mom scheduled an appointment to see an apartment (more on that later) and since we had two hours to kill before we saw it we decided to go see the Picasso museum. As I said in my last post, I am not such a huge fan of museums, however, I LOVED the Picasso museum. Afterwards we went to see an apartment and instantly all four of us knew that it was where we needed to move. The train ride back to our apartment was filled with conversations about how much we loved the apartment and how much we couldn’t wait to move there. Overall, this was definitely a successful trip. For those fo you hoping to move to Spain, I definitely recommend you look into Malaga.

Mijas Pueblo

Mijas Pueblo has a few statues. My favorite was this one because it reminded me of how my Grandpa used to tell me he walked to school (uphill both ways, oven on his back to keep him warm because it was snowing.)

My aunt, who I call Fafa, told us that we HAD to go to Mijas Pueblo and that it was absolutely gorgeous. We took a taxi that was maybe twenty minutes and arrived and immediately knew what she was talking about. I loved every inch of it. There was one area where you could see down a hill and see Fuengirola, a small forest and the ocean. It was breathtaking. As we walked more, I loved it more. There were many small shops (perfect for getting gifts) and restaurants. Mijas Pueblo is definitely a must and somewhere I hope to go again (sooner rather than later.)

Marbella

Marbella has many fountains, statues and paintings. Even the buildings are artistic. Besides just being a “playground for the rich,” Marbella is also a work of art.

After a slow day, we went to Marbella on June 30th. We had some trouble with the bus (see lessons learned to learn how to avoid this trouble) but when we got there, it was similar to Malaga in a love at first sight kind of way. There were many stores with a variety of categories. On any given block you could buy a suit for a meeting, get shorts for the gym and buy a sweater for when it’s cold (although it is rarely cold anywhere in the south of Spain.) The restaurants in Marbella are even more varied than the shops. There are Italian, Spanish and French restaurants, there are fast-food places, and there are places where you can get any kind of meat your heart desires. Marbella was, by FAR, my favorite place in Spain, however, I would not want to live there because I prefer the bigger cities like Malaga and Madrid.

Malaga (part 2)

Like I said before, Malaga has a lot of interesting buildings. I did not see this building until the 2nd time I went to Malaga, but it was one of my favorites.

On July 3, my mom and I got up early and went to the bakery for breakfast. We then took a bus to Malaga and walked around and saw the area with all the law firms, municipalities and courthouses (that same area had a lot of sex shops. Coincidence that they were on the same street as the law firms?) We saw a roman theater and a small castle (can we say our neighbor is a king?) and had a bigger breakfast. Then we went to the apartment we saw the first time, agreed on terms of our lease (pending acceptance of our visa, my mom and I are moving in on September 1!) and asked our last few questions. We did some shopping and I found my new favorite store (Massimo Dutti) and then headed home on the train. I’m really excited to move!

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t take pictures in the Picasso museum. All the security guards look the same and you will feel like one is following you if you do anything wrong
  • Buying round trip tickets for the train and bus is easiest
  • Get off in the town square, not he bus station, when you go to Marbella

Conclusion

I love almost everywhere I’ve been in Spain, but none more than Marbella, however, my favorite to live is Malaga (where I will be moving in September.) Also I want to give a special shoutout to my aunt Rafah (who I call Fafa) for giving the best travel recommendations.

Coastal Journey

Introduction

After deciding that we didn’t want to stay in Madrid and wanted to explore some of Spain’s coast, we rented a car and drove to Valencia, Cartagena, Torremolinos and finally Fuengirola

Valencia

A picture I took in the Town square, where we spent most of our time during our two night stay.

In Valencia we rented an apartment about 3 miles from the town square. Our first night we got there at around 5:00 PM so we went to the town square for dinner and to walk around. There were many restaurants and finally we found the perfect restaurant: La Coveta ( https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187529-d17604014-Reviews-La_Coveta-Valencia_Province_of_Valencia_Valencian_Country.html .) The next day we went to the beach, which was only a 10 minute car ride away, and everyone swam and tanned. We then went to the town center again for dinner. Sadly we had to leave, but not before we saw the Natural Science Museum of Valencia! Even as someone who does not like museums a whole lot, I found it to be very enjoyable and highly recommend it to anyone that finds themselves in Valencia!

Cartagena

The water at La Manga beach (about 12.5 miles from Cartagena) was amazing for swimming and taking pictures!)

My family and I stayed in Cartagena for two nights and loved every second. The first night we went out to eat at a tapas bar near the apartment we were staying at. Afterwards my brother and I found an EDM dance party that we went to. It was a lot of fun and afterwards we all met up and played cards (which started our tradition of playing cards every night.) The next day we walked around the Roman theater ruins before going to La Manga beach. Afterwards, we went back to the town center for dinner (and cards of course!)

Torremolinos

The beach was a recurring theme for us on this trip. The one with some of the best views was the one in Torremolinos.

Torremolinos was my personal favorite of the cities we traveled to on our coastal trip. The views from the beach were amazing, the food was good and the apartment we had rented was gorgeous. The first night we had dinner and went to a fish spa. The only problem was that they were cash only (a fact they neglected to tell us until it was time to pay) which led to a very inconvenient walk to the nearest ATM. The next day we walked to the beach and then afterwards I swam in the pool for an hour while everyone else napped. We were all sad to leave after the second night and I hope we are able to go back at some point during the year.

Lessons Learned

  • Always have cash because a lot of places are cash only
  • If you are looking to go to the beach, make sure that your apartment is near a beach you can swim at so you can avoid paying for a taxi
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone can be good

Conclusion

The trip that I took with my family along the coast has been very educational, eye-opening, rewarding and fun experiences of my life and I will forever be grateful for it.

Spot-a-Home, Scam?

On my first day in Madrid, I went to an apartment I had rented for the summer. I was excited. It was a gorgeous apartment with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and two kitchens. The videos and pictures had IMPLIED that we would basically have two adjacent apartments. When we walked in I immediately felt lied to. The apartment was much smaller than it looked. It’s two kitchens were right next to each other, and the bathrooms were so small that you could not sit down on the toilet.

Conclusion

While traveling in Europe, it is best to use a trusted site like Air BNB to avoid scams.