In late March, I travelled to Southern Spain with my program as an IES Abroad organized trip. I was gifted the trip from my grandparents who claimed that living in Spain without a trip south would be a crime! I was beyond excited to head to a new region of the country where visions of flamanco, tapas, and sunny days danced in my head. The trip was set to cover the three cities of Granada, Cordoba, and Sevilla which was luckily made possible by our long weekend.
Our four day and three night vacation to explore the Andalusia region of Spain was bound to be amazing! As a side note, Andalusia is an autonomous area in the south of Spain that is famous for its Moorish heritage that began in the 8th century and ended in the 15th century. Its capital is Sevilla, similar to how Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya.
Our journey began early Thursday morning on our Vueling flight from Barcelona to Granada, our first stop. The plane ride wasn’t long at all and we arrived midmorning to start our adventure. We met up with our private guide, Ricardo, who was coming with us to all three cities…definitely one of the perks of traveling with IES Abroad! Beyond that, there was incredible ease that came along with the program’s trip such as pre-booked hotels, plane rides, tours, itineraries and more! You really don’t have to worry about any of the planning which makes any IES Abroad field trip totally worth it for the convenience alone!
Our first day in Granada was spent doing a walking tour as we travelled down windy streets, saw beautiful flowers, and even stopped at a bakery in Albaicín where I had an amazing chocolate chip cookie-eske type of treat. The next day we toured the Alhambra which is an Arabic palace and fortress built on ancient Roman ruins in the late 800s under the Sultan, Yusuf I, which was later turned into the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella in the late 1400s. To say that is it incredibly beautiful would be a severe understatement because it is so much more than that!! The architecture is absolutely breathtaking and the history that goes along with it is equally fascinating. A fun fact is that it was at the Alhambra where Christopher Columbus received his royal endorsement to carry out his voyage to the New World!
The next city was Cordoba which was only about a two hour drive from Granada. Unfortunately, it was raining when we got there, but it didn’t dampen our spirits! We did a quick walking tour of the little city center before we went to La Mezquita which is a famous mosque from 784 AD that has a columned prayer hall and Byzantine-style mosaics. It is also known for its history of being a mosque, then church, and back to a mosque. The arches were so neat and I really enjoyed this stop...a definite "must-see" in Southern Spain!!
Our third and final city was Sevilla, who’s reputation of sunshine and flamenco precede it. We went to the Plaza de España which has little mosaic spaces and benches all around the perimeter for each Spanish city! A great tribute to an amazing country and a fun fact about this plaza is that one of the Star Wars scenes was filmed here! Later, we walked around the La Giralda area for shopping and wandering. On our last day, we toured the Catedral de Sevilla, which is the largest of its kind! The ceilings are so tall it is hard to believe it was built so long along. Our entire group climbed to the top after flights and flights of stairs! The view was beyond worth it, though.
There is no doubt Southern Spain has a vibe of its own! We ate great tapas and enjoyed lots of cool Spanish history. It was quite the adventure!