Due to minimal budgets I basically just find the cheapest transport and accommodation possible. On Saturday night I found a cheap hostel in Madrid and a super slow train through the mountains all day Monday. It was about double the time and half the price of most of the other journeys so naturally I took it.
I was waiting at my platform expecting a semi modern train to arrive when a glorified steam engine pulled up. The doors didn’t even open themselves, it was like something from Harry Potter. There were no plugs or wifi on the train and the only toilet smelt like balls and urine. Despite this it was actually a really nice journey.
The ticket inspector at the beginning of the trip told me something in Spanish, I panicked and just said “si”. When he said the same thing to the girls behind me they started asking questions about time and place names so I had to ask them what he said. Turned out I had to change trains towards the end of the journey. Thank fack I asked the girls otherwise I would probably be in some tiny town in the middle of Spain right now instead of sweaty Madrid.
The actually journey was so beautiful we went up into the mountains around Valencia and through all these tunnels and over valleys. It was definitely one of the most relaxing and picturesque journeys I’ve taken. We passed through tiny little farming towns that look like they are ten million miles away from everything else. It was definitely worth the 30 beans for the views alone.
I think after this I will definitely always be going the longer slower route. I didn’t get to take many photos but I’ve never seen country side like what I saw on the train and I definitely would have missed it on a faster train.
My third destination set the bar very high. I’m not sure if anywhere else will be able to live up to the last five days in Granada. The combination of the city, hostel and beautiful people I met all contributed to some of the best moments of my life. I stayed in Granada Inn backpackers hostel, it’s been the cheapest and best place I’ve stayed so far, dorm rooms started from only nine euro a night and it was super clean, comfortable and really easy to make friends there.
I did a walking tour of the city with this company for free on Monday which lasted about two and a half hours and showed you around the old parts of the city. This was super cool not just because it was free but because you got to see so much and then could choose to go back and revisit stuff it you wanted more detail later on. They also have tours in the evenings but I skipped this to watch sunset and moonrise on the walls of the old city.
About ten of us walked up to the Sacremonte area and into the hills where the gypsys live and to the ruins of the old city walls. To get to the top of the wall it was necessary to climb the old wall, something that I did not excel at. At one point my hands and feet were so sweaty with fear I thought I was going to cause a mudslide and slip down the mountain to a certain death. Surprisingly I didn’t and when we got to the top it was so worth it. We had views of the whole city and surrounding mountains all to ourselves. It felt like an episode of Skins (minus the drugs) it was so perfect. I’ve never sat and watched the moon rise before and this was the perfect first time.
Basically everything in the city is so pure and exciting that I never wanted to leave ever…
P.S Photo creds to Gabby Rogers xxxx
Cadiz was really beautiful and definitely lived up to what everyone says. It is really touristy but still feels super Spanish. The Castillo’s on either side of the Santa Catilina Cove, the Cathedral and the campus buildings all around the city were some of my favourite parts. The economics building by the beach and the student accommodation by the cathedral made me wish that I had studied Spanish and could come back for my Erasmus. The fresh fish and fruit market in the centre of the historic city was gross, interesting but gross. I’ve never seen so many different types of dead fish. There were huge tuna heads with all the brains carved out and eels still with their teeth and eyes lying on show.
The best bit of Cadiz for me were the shaded park areas that ran from the Park Genoves to the port. Park Genoves itself is really cool and it almost feels like you’re in Jurassic park (without the dinosaurs). From the park to the port there are tiled walkways shaded by plants and trees. Each pathway opens to a small courtyard with a water feature and benches. Even though you were still pretty much in the city centre these areas were so peaceful and probably the prettiest place I ever put my butt.