August 1 – 12, 2014
Before my freshman year of high school, which seems like forever ago now, my grandparents took my family on a super fun trip to Spain. I’d been to Europe before, Italy and France, but never to Spain, and I was curious to see how it would differ from the places I had been before.
We packed each day full of exploring new areas, channeling our inner tourists. We stayed in San Sebastian as well as Barcelona, and I can honestly say that 14-year-old me had the time of my life.
Day 1 & 2: Arrival
It was no easy feat getting to Spain with two flights equaling over 10 hours of travel. We flew from Tampa to Madrid for eight hours, then from Madrid to San Sebastian.
Although I can never sleep on overnight flights, it was all worth it the next day when we arrived at our apartment complex and saw how gorgeous the beach was.
We would be staying right in the middle of the city, and for the rest of our second day, we just explored the shops and the beach.
Day 3: Aquatica
For our third day, we headed to an aquarium in the morning and saw tons of fish native to San Sebastian and its surrounding waters.
In the afternoon, we hit the beach for the very first time – the water was the prettiest clear aqua color, but was freezing cold. I remember forcing myself to stay in for a little while, but removing myself as soon as I started feeling miserable.
Day 4: Running of the Bulls
We drove out of San Sebastian to go to Pamplona, the famous city where the running of the bulls happens. On the way, we crossed a mountain with gorgeous views of all of San Sebastian; we could see everything from the water, to the old buildings.
When we arrived in Pamplona, we walked around the city, discovered its shops and ate lunch before heading home.
I loved how the architecture was distinctly different from San Sebastian even though we weren’t that far away – the streets were narrower and the flavor of the city seemed to pour out of every building. At night, we rested up at my grandparents’ apartment complex and ate a homecooked meal with them.
For days 5 and 6, we stayed in San Sebastian and did some more exploring and swimming.
Day 7: More Hiking & Swimming
In the morning, we hiked up a mountain to get to the San Sebastian monument where we saw another amazing view of the city.
Later that afternoon, we relaxed and hit the beach again. We walked over to an area with a 15-foot dock where people were jumping off into the water. I’m not a big cliff diver, but I gave it a try and I remember having a ton of fun.
Day 8 was pretty much the same – we hit the beach again and walked around the city some more.
Days 9-11: Barcelona, Baby!
On our ninth day, we woke up early to take a six-hour train to Barcelona for the weekend. Barcelona was extremely different than San Sebastian, as it was more of a city and less of a lowkey beach town.
There was so much character in the streets and everything was lively – it almost reminded me of New York City, but a little less chaotic. I loved how much wider the streets were than in San Sebastian, and I felt like I could see everything better.
During our days in Barcelona, we visited the Arc de Triomf as well as the Sagrada de Familia and some other Cathedrals. I always love sightseeing and doing touristy stuff when I’m in a new place, and I definitely left this trip feeling like there was nothing else I could have done or seen in those cities.
This trip was incredible for many reasons, but most of all, I loved the food, the beach, and the architecture of each Spanish town we visited. Spain definitely looked and felt different than the other European countries I’d visited before – my favorite part of it all was its distinct character.