Spain is one of the liveliest countries I have visited yet. It is rich in history and always providing you with new adventures, from trying the most bizarre foods and feeling like you are Anthony Bourdain himself, to seeing Christopher Columbus’s resting place in Seville. Spain has a delectable attack on your senses. Colors, smells, and sounds bring the streets of any city to life, and your soul is overwhelmed with the culture and beauty of this amazing country. I never wanted my adventure in the Andalusian region of Spain to end, and here are my top four experiences of my study abroad program that I will forever hold close to my heart.
1. Flamenco Show, Sacromonte, Granada
Starting off strong, my most beloved experience during my time in Spain was enjoying an authentic Flamenco Show in the village of Sacromonte, Granada. I was in absolute awe during the performance. It has been two weeks since I watched the show with my ISA group, and I cannot stop relishing in the videos and looking at the pictures I took, reliving the moment every day. The whole experience was overflowing with authentic Spanish culture, and it felt as if you were a flamenco dancer yourself! The culture behind flamenco dancing is truly an art. The way the dancers move their feet with speed I could not even imagine doing, and the extravagant clapping, singing, and music that makes the whole performance one to never forget. To top off the night, the show was in an original Sacromonte cave! Sacromonte is one of the main cradles of flamenco in the Andalusia region in Spain. It was the perfect spot for early gypsy settlements, where they coexisted with the Arabs and Jews that already lived in the area. The residents of Sacromonte built distinctive types of homes; caves, which have now been transformed into tablaos for flamenco shows. The dedication and skill that these artists pour into their passion of dancing is truly marvelous, and the art of flamenco dancing and watching an original performance is the highlight of my study abroad experience in Granada.
2. Los Cahorros
To take a break from city life for the day, a couple of my friends and I decided to explore a part of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in Granada, Spain. Los Cahorros is a hiking trail at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is located in a small city called Monachil, just outside the Granada city center. It completely fascinates me just how fast the environment and terrain can change by driving a short distance. Hiking the Los Cahorros trails felt like an Indiana Jones adventure. We bear crawled under overhanging rocks and crossed hanging bridges that were 15 meters above valleys. Exploring the beauty of our world and everything the earth supplies for us can help you find your true identity; soaking up the sun and spending time outside is refreshing for the soul.
3. Weekend trip to Seville, Spain
After exploring the beauty of Granada during the week, my friends and I like to travel to other cities in the Andalusia region. We have been to Almuñécar, Nerja, and my favorite, Seville. We took a three-hour bus from Granada to Seville, ready to explore all it has to offer. I was shocked at just how easy the bus system (and all other forms of transportation within the city and to other cities) in Spain is, and it allows us to affordably and efficiently explore more of our host country. We stayed in an Airbnb in the heart of the city, with about a five-minute walk to the Catedral de Sevilla, which is the fourth-largest church in the world, and where Christopher Columbus is supposedly buried. The main plaza where the cathedral is located is where I have eaten some of my favorite tapas. A tapa is an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine. Instead of eating dinner one night, my friends and I decided to sit around the cathedral plaza and try every. single. tapa that the restaurant had to offer. This was my favorite meal in Spain because it allowed me to expand my taste buds and try some “out of the box” foods like fresh octopus and bull tails. One of my passions when I travel is to eat the local cuisine, and Spain has not disappointed with all its amazing breads, seafood, and gelato :)
4. Art in Spain
There is no doubt that the country of Spain is overflowing with charming art, and it can be found on every corner. Because Spain is influenced by many cultures, religions, and diverse groups of people, there are bountiful styles and forms of art in Spain. I visited the Alhambra the first day I was in Granada, and I became infatuated by the architecture and intricate details of the 9th century, as well as designs from Muslim and Christian religions. The Alhambra is filled with mosaics, beautiful hues of blue, and careful carvings in stone and wood. Walking through the Albaicín Quarter, the multicolored textiles, Moroccan mosaic lamps, and the fragrant aroma of tea fully encapsulate your senses. I have always had a passion for art, and visiting Spain has exposed me to new and vibrant styles of art.
My study abroad experience in Spain has been nothing short of incredible. Spain’s elegance continues to amaze me in unimaginable ways. The country is spirited with life and enthusiasm, and there is always an adventure to challenge yourself. My month in Spain will never be forgotten: meeting the most amazing people, learning Spanish, having a special curiosity for food, and exploring the historical and charming country of Spain. If I ever get lost, don’t be shocked if you find me walking the streets of Spain.