Luis and I got married on May 28, 2016, instead of going on a honeymoon immediately after, we decided to wait a couple of months, regroup, sleep and then go on an adventure. Luis and I decided on Spain. We agreed that I would concentrate on getting our wedding together and that Luis would plan our honeymoon. When it comes to transportation and logistics, Luis is so much better at that stuff. I’m better at DIY, decorating, creating and operations.
Luis planned an awesome honeymoon. We had to get passports, as my name had changed and we were told to go to the UT at their International Office to obtain our passports. Y’all… we received our passports in 10 days! So for anyone looking to renew or obtain a passport, go to UT International Office. Before we left, Luis printed all sorts of information. Each of us had a fold full of itineraries, bus/train tickets, museum, food TOUR, soccer tickets… EVERYTHING.
We left Austin about 6 pm and flew straight to London, which was perfect because it was night time for us and I slept most of the flight. We then flew from London to Barcelona. Instead of staying at hotels, we decided we really wanted to live like Spaniards, so we booked Airbnb’s so we could meet locals… well except for one place (that will come later). Reality quickly hit that we were no longer in the US when we got to our first Airbnb in Barcelona and had to go to the 9th floor, without an elevator. We then discovered that there wasn’t any air conditioning AND the toilet was located outside of the apartment in this modern outhouse structure. We found out later this building was built in the 1700s… of course, there wasn’t air conditioning or an elevator! The coolest thing about the apartment was that you could lean outside the bedroom window and y could see the Barcelona Cathedral.
Water fountain at the Cathedral de Barcelona
On our first day, we spent the afternoon at the Barcelona Cathedral and went to the Mercado Boqueria. There were tonnnnnns of different foods. We walked around Barcelona and tried to get acquainted with the time change. The next morning we got up early and had tickets to go to La Sagrada Familia, the worlds largest unfinished Roman Catholic church. The construction of this church started in 1882, and it is still not complete. If you took Spanish in middle or high school, chances are you saw a photo of this church. It was very moving to be here. We chose the tower tour option where we could tour one of the bell towers. We took an elevator up and then we walked the stairs down. These hallways/stairs were tiny but so cool. The stained glass in the church was so gorgeous, and we went at the right time because as we were finishing our tour, the sunlight was bursting through the windows and lit up the church in all these pretty rainbow colors. We did a little more exploring before jet lag set in, and we took a nap… well I ended up taking almost a 4-hour nap. I was SO tired.
That afternoon we had tickets to go to a soccer match, which happened to be Luis’ favorite team: Barcelona. Luis loves soccer, and he got me interested as well. We were so happy that they were playing at home while we were there. It was so surreal. First off, you can smoke in the stadium. People were smoking everywhere. Also, when you bought your drinks at the concession stand, the cashiers kept the lids on the bottles because people would throw them on the field. Also, you can bring your own snacks into the stadium… America needs to wise up on this. During halftime, everyone was chowing down on their bocadillos (sandwiches). Barca won the match, 5-0. Luis was like a kid in a candy store at the stadium. The next day we explored more of the city, as it was our last day in Barcelona. We spent time at Barceloneta, the beach that everyone hangs out at. I didn’t bring my camera to a lot of places in Barcelona because of the crime rate. I didn’t want my bag, wallet, passport, or camera stolen, so I left most of those things at the Airbnb while we explored.
Sun glowing through the stained glass at La Sagrada Familia
Our next destination was Bilbao, where we spent a day there. We had tickets to go to the Guggenheim Museum. We were supposed to stay at an Airbnb, but it fell through, and we were able to get a hotel right by. I was actually kind of excited about this. I was having a rough time, and I enjoyed one night in a hotel bed…. with air conditioning. We happened to be visiting during their Semana Grande de Bilbao where they have a huge festival with music, art, theater, fireworks. We found this out while we were in the hotel and saw/heard the fireworks from our hotel window. Luis also had the best pizza of his life in Bilbao, called Coppola Bilbao. I remember they had this focaccia type bread that I ate 10 pieces of. Bilbao was a beautiful city.
The next morning we took a bus from Bilbao to San Sebastian. The bus ride was one of the highlights of my trip. We got to see the Spanish countryside, and it was a very windy road. Luis didn’t like it and was on the verge of car sickness the entire time. Part of the road reminded me of my time in California because you had the mountains on one side and the beach on the other. I seriously contemplated asking Luis if we wanted to sell all of our belongings and move to one of these tiny towns in Spain. San Sebastian was probably my favorite place in Spain. We were three blocks from the Bay of Biscay/Beach of La Concha. We took a ferry to Santa Clara Island. The water and air were so refreshing and crisp. We spent some time at the beach and in the water. The sand was really smooth as well. It was spectacular. We were only in San Sebastian for a night, and we took a train the next morning to Madrid.
In Madrid, we did A LOT of exploring. It was also Luis’ birthday, and we had his birthday dinner at Restaurante Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world. What a cool way to celebrate a birthday? We also did a food tour of Madrid where we got to try Jamon Iberico. It’s ham where the pigs only eat acorns. It tastes so buttery, and it is costly. My absolute favorite thing about Spain was going to Chocolateria San Gines for churros. Like, my life. Our Airbnb was 4 blocks from this place. I visited every day, most days twice a day. Typically, the churros are for breakfast for Spaniards, but in America, they are more of a dessert. They.are.life. The chocolate was so smooth, and the churros were crunchy and not heavy. I may have shed a tear or two after leaving on our last day in Madrid.
During our stay in Madrid, we took a day trip to Segovia. We walked through the town, and I absolutely loved the scenery. Segovia is well known for Alcazar de Segovia, or the Segovia Castle. It was built in the 1100’s… that’s right, ELEVEN hundred. It also inspired Cinderella’s Castle. I really enjoyed exploring this castle. We also spent some time looking at the Segovia Aqueduct, which was built during the second half of the 1st century. Luis and I said over and over while visiting historical places in Spain that it’s insane to think about these buildings being built centuries ago and we are used to American history only starting in 1776. We definitely took a step back and appreciated all the architecture and historical places we got to see in Spain.
Alcazar de Segovia
On one of our last days in Madrid, we went to watch Real Madrid play at Santiago Bernabeu stadium. I love Real Madrid (#halamadrid), my favorite soccer player is Sergio Ramos. Real won the match and so we were happy both of our teams won when we watched them in person. Funny story, the lady behind us smoked at least a pack and a half of cigarettes during the game. We found that super funny because the game was pretty stressful.
We left Madrid and took a train to Sevilla. Sevilla is a gorgeous city. It is super chill, clean and really laid back. We walked around the Metropol Parasol. It’s this massive structure that is completely made out of wood. It is inspired by the Cathedral de Seville. The next morning we woke up super early and traveled to Granada to spend the day touring Alhambra and the city of Granada. Alhambra was constructed in 889 AD, then renovated by the mid 13th century. The gorgeous grounds were mesmerizing, and I got a little distracted by the cats that were roaming around! We were on a guided tour, and it was fascinating hearing about the history of Granada and the churches that used to be mosques. The trip took most of the day, but that night after we got back, we went to a flamenco show. I LOVED the flamenco show, the dancing, snapping, stomping, everything about it! It was such a cool experience.
The next morning was spent walking around Seville and exploring. I had the best gelato for breakfast.. yup breakfast. DID.NOT.CARE. Haha. It came on a waffle so totally makes sense. We toured the Cathedral de Seville and saw the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Regardless of your stance on Christopher Columbus and his “founding of America,” I found it extremely intriguing and I got a little emotional while there. I’m a West Texas kid from a no-name town, never in a million years did I ever think I would ever be in Spain seeing the tomb that contains the remains of a person that had a significant impact on the country I live in. It was a really cool experience I’ll never forget. Also, the sangria we had in Seville was my favorite, I haven’t had anything come close since Spain. I crave it often.
That afternoon we took a train to Valencia, as it was our last stop before we traveled back to Barcelona to come back to Texas. When Luis originally started researching Spain, he came across an event called La Tomatina. It takes place the last Wednesday in August in this tiny town outside of Valencia called Bunol. It is the world’s largest tomato fight. We had to get to the buses at 6 am, and people were already partying and having a good time. The buses drove us from Valencia to Bunol. We got there around 730-8ish, and they had trash cans full of Sangria. Madness before it even began. There were 20,000 people attending this festival. You walked down into this tiny downtown area, and people lined the streets.
Then the madness started. Garbage trucks came down the street and threw thousands of pounds of tomatoes for people to throw at each other. It was the most chaotic thing I’ve ever done in my life. I had tomato juice in every nook and cranny of my body. This lasted for about an hour. Again, I’ve never experienced anything so chaotic in my life. There were nearby houses where you paid them a couple of euros, and they took their water hose and washed as much of the tomato gunk out as they could. My clothes were ruined, I couldn’t stand the smell of tomatoes for months. I have serious PTSD thinking about that experience. Luis wants to go back and do it again. I have zero interest, I would have loved to be on the rooftop taking photos. Maybe I’ll become cool enough to be a travel photographer.
After we survived and took hour-long showers to get the tomato seeds out of our hair, Luis made a reservation at a local eatery that specialized in paella. Man, it was delicious! The rice was so crispy, and the flavor was perfect. We ordered the chicken and rabbit paella. So good! What I loved about most of our time in Spain is that we walked almost everywhere. We didn’t spend a lot of time in taxi’s or cars.
The next morning we had breakfast at this cute little pastry shop, I wish I could remember the name, they had the best croissants. I had the Nutella croissant. It was so good I ordered another one. It was so buttery and flaky. Their orange juice was killer! They also had coffee that Luis said was really good. After breakfast, we headed to the City of Arts and Sciences Museum. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore because we needed to catch our train back to Barcelona. I wish we had more time here as well. Our last stop was at the city center, and we ate lunch at this little bistro across the plaza from Cathedral de Valencia. After lunch, we made our way to the train station and headed to Barcelona.
Valencia City Centre
We got to Barcelona late that night and basically slept for a couple of hours and then we had to head to the airport to catch our flight to London. We then flew London to Austin and arrived back to Texas around 6 pm. What was the first thing that we did? We ate tacos. I missed Mexican food so much! Our trip to Spain was everything. We have so many memories and stories for the rest of our lives. I hope you enjoyed reading about our honeymoon and enjoy the photos below!