Recently Kristin, a member of Friendly Planet’s Product Development team, had the opportunity to travel to a destination that’s always been on her bucket list! Check out some highlights from her recent adventure on our Discover Spain tour:
History & Art
Spain is rich in history and culture. Whether I was exploring the ancient cities of Toledo and Cordoba, discovering the towering icon that is La Alhambra, or wandering through the narrow medieval streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, it felt like I had stepped back in time!
There is an abundance of art and architecture throughout the country: wander through the opulent jewel that is Madrid’s Royal Palace; explore the fascinating La Alhambra fortress and citadel with its Moorish influence; marvel at Giralda Cathedral in Seville, the largest Gothic cathedral and third-largest church in the world; visit the Mezquita of Cordoba which illustrates a fascinating blend of Roman, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions; and of course, you can’t miss Gaudí’s iconic Art Nouveau architecture throughout Barcelona…and that’s just to name a few!
Of course a necessary part of travel, in my opinion, is taking a moment to indulge in the local cuisine—whenever and wherever possible. In Madrid, we visited Plaza Mayor for a calamari sandwich, deep fried squid on a long roll. When it’s time for lunch or an afternoon snack, it is almost certain you will find locals stopping to enjoy this classic. One of my favorite meals of the entire trip was a rustic paella, with partridge, rabbit, and wild mushrooms at a small eatery in Madrid! In La Mancha region we sampled local wines, Manchego cheese, and Iberico ham. And for those with a sweet tooth, a visit to Barcelona is not complete without churros and hot chocolate! The hot chocolate in Spain is thick and rich, perfect for dipping the warm, sugary, donut-like confections.
The Unexpected Experience
For an unexpected culinary experience—we took a cooking class in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The cheery instructor had the recipes printed and ready for us when we arrived and the modern, bright kitchen made us feel like we were on Food Network! There’s a lot to do in preparing the four traditional Spanish courses, making sauces, cleaning the seafood, preparing the vegetables, stirring the paella, and of course, caramelizing the sugar for the Crema Catalana (Spain’s answer to crème brûlée). Our fun-loving, small class was very playful and eager to participate, especially with the blow torch! Not only did we have a marvelous time creating the meal, it was a truly delicious experience.
Move to the Music
Flamenco, the song and dance from Andalusia, is a truly moving experience. The stirring, soulful singing and guitar accompanying the passionate, powerful dancers touches your soul. During my trip, I had a few opportunities to enjoy this art form. In Granada, we visited a traditional Gypsy cave in the Albayzín, the Muslim Quarter. The performance was intimate and raw, the plaintive style of singing reaches into you, transporting you to another time and place. Radiating from the dancers’ every movement you can sense their fervor, strength, and dedication. In Seville, we enjoyed another Flamenco performance. This one was more polished, set in a theater-style venue, but every bit as powerful as in Granada. The following day, we were treated to a Flamenco lesson! We learned a simple, fun routine which provided an even greater appreciation of how dedicated the performers I’d seen are to their craft.
#FriendlyFiles follows Friendly Planet’s adventurous staff as they travel the world. It is crucial that our team experiences first-hand the sites, hotels, food and transportation so that we know exactly how the trip will feel for our travelers—and to help us as we strive to provide experiences, not sightseeing!