“There’s something really special about going on a road trip, isn’t there? It screams adventure, camaraderie, great tunes, cosiness and freedom – and if you’re doing it abroad; then probably sunshine, having the windows down and the open road in front of you… some would say, it makes the best kind of holiday”
After the most amazing 7 months of living and studying in Spain on Erasmus, in the gorgeous little port town of Vigo in the north (which you probably won’t have heard of – I hadn’t either until I was chosen to go there by my uni tutor), we realised we had been living in a happy little Erasmus life bubble. Wanting to explore more of the country which we’d come to love, some of my new friends and I decided to hire a car and take some time out to see what the south of the country had to offer…
M a l a g a
Our first stop was the lovely little white-washed beach town of Malaga. After a short flight and after picking up our rental car for the next ten days, we were off to find our hotel, a little oasis of palm trees and sun-beds which signified the start of our trip! Lazy afternoons were spent wandering around the old town centre and past beautiful architecture, with tapas and ice cream stops in the small squares, and lazing by the pool in the Spanish heat.
M a r b e l l a
Our afternoon in Marbella was a blur of glistening white yachts, Ferrari lined streets, expensive ice creams and posh beach bars. After a walk around the marina, we stopped for a refreshing and much needed cocktail at one of the beach bars, which remains one of my best memories of the trip! If you’re on a budget though, don’t stay here for too long as the expensive beach bars and cafes will take its toll on your wallet!
G i b r a l t a r
Gibraltar is literally England away from England! It’s one of the most bizarre places I’ve been to. Firstly, the airport is right in the middle of the town and you can drive right over the runway! There are England flags hanging from high rise apartment buildings, sunny Spanish squares lined with English pubs, English residents, newsagents selling English papers and red post boxes – all resting on a backdrop of the Gibraltar Rock.
Take a drive up to the top, where you’ll find is the home of hundreds of monkeys, and enjoy the gorgeous views back down to the town and over the sea. Definitely worth a visit just to see Gibraltar – but I wouldn’t recommend more than a day here!
T a n g i e r
Next stop was the small Moroccan port town of Tangier right on the border. Our couple of days there were spent touring the markets and souks of the old town centre, trying the local food, wandering through the back streets, visiting the famous cave with the outline of Africa silhouetted in its opening to the sea, driving past the mansions of the rich and the beach coastline, and lazing at our hotel pool.
Not a great holiday destination by any means but my Aussie friends who we were travelling with wanted to tick Morocco off their list!
C a d i z
With only an evening spent here, our visit was short and sweet but it really is a gorgeous place! We followed the line of rocks along the sea in the last of the evening sun, past the white-washed and pastel coloured buildings and spent the night wandering round the town centre sampling its array of small Spanish tapas and wine bars.
S e v i l l e
Seville has to be my all-time favourite Spanish city! When I think of Seville, I think of the beautiful Plaza Mayor. The biggest square in the city, lined with market stalls and street performers, with each ornate step around the square dedicated to each city in Spain, with horse and carriages trotting through the middle and a small river running through it where you can rent a rowing boat for the afternoon.
We also watched a bullfight one afternoon at the famous Plaza de Toros. I wasn’t too sure what my opinions were on the tradition, but I did feel bad walking in past a hoard of animal rights activists protesting outside the arena…At the same time, it’s the oldest tradition in the Spanish culture and one which lot of Spanish people are extremely proud of. I had seen the odd bit of bullfighting on TV but it was brutal to watch in real life! Definitely a once in a lifetime experience!
C o r d o b a
I was really pleasantly surprised by this old medieval town! Had a lovely couple of days exploring the chilled and quiet Cordoba with the famous mosque-cathedral Mezquita, a symbol of its Islamic culture, visiting its gardens, enjoying tapas on city side-streets and open courtyards.
G r a n a d a
Granada’s main attraction is the gorgeous Alhambra! You can spend a morning here or you can spend 3 days! There is so much to see – from the ornate ceilings of the churches to the beautiful General gardens with mazes and water features and tree lined walkways above the city with the most amazing panoramic views down over the white rooftops of the Albayzín district.
But if you explore Granada a bit further, you’ll discover the hippy, boho side of the city in the Islamic quarter, with its tapas and street-side café culture. And the nightlife is just what you’d expect from one of Spain’s biggest cities. All in all a fab city to visit for a weekend break or to add a splash of city life to a Spanish beachside holiday.