top of page

Spain: Paella, Tapas, and a Wonderful Adventure

Hello friends and thank you so much for following along on my adventures.

As promised, this blog encapsulates my adventures through Spain over the last 2 months. I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona, Granada, Sevilla, Toledo, Valencia, and Segovia as well as show Sam, Sam, and my mom around Madrid while they were here. My Madrid adventures are detailed in a different post, however this blog will include the addition of some restaurants that I've found since that blog was written.

I have absolutely fallen in love with Spain throughout this trip and will certainly be back. So without further ado, here's a recap of my adventures in Spain!

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona began with a long-awaited meet up with Sam Freed, who decided to join me during his spring break and I am so grateful that he took the jump across the pond! After meeting up at the airport, we headed to the hotel, settled in, got some tapas at the rooftop bar and headed to bed. A side note, while enjoying tapas, Sam and I both realized that coming from a land-locked state, we had no idea how to peel and eat a full shrimp. This was a consistent theme throughout our time in Barcelona and I will say that I for one am still not great at it. On Sunday, we woke up to a beautiful, sunny day, and headed out. Our first stop was the Monastery of Pedralbes, however on the way, we ended up doing a quick stroll through Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta, a which had a gorgeous view of the entire city, which would have been even better without the slight haze. The Monastery itself was also really pretty.

Monastery of Pedralbes

Inside the Monastery of Pedralbes

One of my favorite things about Spain (and Europe in general) has been just meandering through cities and Barcelona was no different. We happened upon Parc de Cervantes and Parc de Pedralbes, both of which were really nice. The latter had a small palace called Palau Reial de Pedralbes (Catalan translation: Pedralbes Royal Palace) and a couple of pieces of art from famous Architect Antoni Gaudi.

Palau Reial de Pedralbes

Architecture seen wandering around Barcelona

Next, we stopped for a bite at the famous Spotify Camp Nou, the home stadium of FC Barcelona. The stadium is currently under construction for a renovation, so we were unable to actually visit it, but it was still interesting to see where the stadium was. We then walked past the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to explore the museum, but it was pretty stunning from the outside). Next up was the Olympic Village from the Barcelona Games in 1992. It was absolutely stunning and such a surreal feeling to be standing in a place where so much history was made.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

TV Tower, Barcelona Olympic Village

The last stop of the day was Montjuïc. We took the cable car to the top of the hill, taking in the spectacular views. There was also a fort at the top which had some interesting history about the Spanish Civil War, which I would recommend researching but here is a link to a timeline: On the way down, I rode my first funicular which was super fun to nerd out about with my fellow engineer.

Montjuïc Fort

The Barcelona Futbol team was playing (ironically in Madrid) on Sunday night so we asked the hotel for bar recommendations to watch the game. They said the best one was called "Sports Bar Italian Food". A little skeptical, we headed there and actually had some really good food and watched the game in a fun environment. Fed and tired we headed to bed.

Renewed, we awoke and set out for La Sargada Familia (Spanish Translation: Sacred Family), a basilica designed by Antoni Guadi. Construction on the cathedral began in 1882 and is still ongoing. It is set to be finished around 2026. Coming up from the metro, we were taken aback by the sheer magnitude of the building and its incredible detail. We were awestruck during our entire visit and the picture here simply doesn't do it justice.

La Sagrada Familia

Next up was L'arc de Triomf (Catalan trans: Arc de Triomphe) which is fairly similar to the one in Paris (not that I've seen that one yet). This was followed by Parque de la Ciutadella, a beautiful cathedral with an incredible view of the city: St. Mary of the Sea, and the Port Cable Car (which I will say I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would). We finished the day with a stroll along Las Ramblas, which, like Gran Via in Madrid, was just packed with people and honestly not my thing. Our final meal, of course, was paella. By this point, Sam and I had sort of figured out how to peel and eat full shrimp but by no means are we experts. We took a high-speed train (I LOVE the trains in Europe and miss them dearly) back to Madrid, ready for another could days of adventure!

L'arc de Triomf

View from the Port Cable Car


Back in Madrid, Sam had the opportunity to explore some of the places I'd already been, but unfortunately I had to attend some classes so he was on his own for a bit. We did get to visit CaixaForum, the modern art museum together which I really enjoyed. We had a wonderful meal at Beata Pasta (one of my new favorite restaurants) and of course, we had tapas! I'm so grateful to Sam for coming over and exploring Spain with me!

Dinner at Beata Pasta

After a wonderful time in Portugal, Sam Feig and I were able to spend some great time exploring Madrid and the South of Spain. (Another huge thanks to Sam for some of these pictures!)

We had a couple days in Madrid where I was able to show Sam the Royal Palace, Parque de El Retiro, and some great restaurants. We had a lovely dinner of Georgian food at Nunuka with Zoe and lunch at Tresde, a cute restaurant in the La Latina neighborhood. We had one more dinner in Madrid after our trip through Andalusia before Sam headed home at a Michelin Star restaurant called El Invernadero. It was a great way to say goodbye to Sam.

Tapas at Casa Gonzales

Granada, Spain:

We took the train from Madrid to Granada and checked into the hotel, which overlooked one of the cathedrals. Granada felt like we walked into an entirely different country. The Moorish influence was super interesting and it was fascinating to learn about the history of such a storied place. The first thing on the agenda was the famous Alhambra. The Nasarid Palaces were stunning and incredibly well preserved. We also visited the Granada Cathedral, the Royal Chapel, the San Jerónimo Monastery, and the Basilica de San Juan de Dios. The cathedrals were absolutely stunning. We had a couple wonderful meals including kebabs and sushi.

Nasarid Palaces (Alhambra)

Ruins near the Alhambra

Altar at the Basilica de San Juan de Dios

Sevilla, Spain:

Sevilla, like Granada has a lot of Moorish influence, but the city feels slightly more modern. We got to explore the incredible Real Alcázar (translation: Royal Alcazar) which had a stunning garden and did a lovely walk to the stunning Plaza de España. The square has a tiled representation of each of the different provinces of Spain as of 1928 when it was constructed. All of the provinces I visited in Spain are shown at the end of this post. That night, we had a wonderful dinner at Tradevo Centro. The next day we got to tour the spectacular Sevilla Cathedral whose organ is the largest in Spain with over 7000 pipes. We got some delicious paella and toured the storied Plaza de Toros, Sevilla's bullfighting arena. The audioguided tour puts you in the shoes of a matador on fight day. We did not see a fight for a couple reasons, but the traditions and storied history of the arena were really interesting to witness firsthand. On our last day, we had one last meal of tapas at PETRA and headed back to Madrid.

Downtown Sevilla

Real Alcázar de Sevilla

Plaza de España

Plaza de Toros

Sevilla Cathedral

My next visitor was my amazing mom! It was amazing to show her around Madrid and eat at some more of my favorite places. We returned to Beata Pasta, Tresde, and La Casa del Abuelo (twice). We also stumbled across a cute café in Lavapiés called Caravan where we had a lovely breakfast.

Breakfast at Caravan Cafe

Toledo, Spain:

Our big adventure was to the old Spanish capital of Toledo. The city had a lot of the Moorish architecture that I have grown to love. After walking from the train station, we approached the old city walls and one of the gates. We had a lovely breakfast at a cute local café, then we headed to the Alcázar de Toledo and saw some amazing ruins at the preserved archeological site. Unfortunately, much of the museum at the Alcázar was closed due to a recent fire, but the building itself was stunning and the tower provided a great view of the entire city. Next up was the Toledo Cathedral and the Old Synagogue. The Synagogue was built in the 12th century. While not as visually stunning as the cathedral, I enjoyed seeing this part of history preserved as it is the only synagogue of this type that I’ve had the opportunity to see on this trip. We then walked around the outskirts of the city, taking in the gorgeous views.

Toledo City Gate

Inside the Old Synagogue

Valencia, Spain:

Zoe and I set out on an adventure to Eastern Spain and the city of Valencia. We had breakfast at a cute café near the city center and visited a museum and the cathedral. At this point in the trip, I was fairly museumed- and cathedraled-out, but the view from the top of the cathedral was spectacular.

Museum in Valencia

Valencia City Center

Next up was the entire reason for the trip to Valencia: paella. The rice dish that can be found all over Spain originated here. A restaurant called Pelayo Gastro Trinquet was recommended to us and it lived up to the hype. Pelayo Trinquet is a Valencian sport, which from my understanding is a combination of tennis and handball and racquetball. Traditional Valencian paella usually has chicken and rabbit. The one we had also had some type of white bean and green beans. It was definitely the best paella I’d had, however, I will say that I much prefer paella with seafood.

Valencian Paella

We spent the afternoon at Oceanografic, Valencia’s aquarium. It is one of the most impressive aquariums I’ve ever been to. There was incredible diversity of animals from penguins to dolphins to seals. It was really cool to learn about the amazing conservation work that the aquarium is doing.

Segovia, Spain:

My last trip was to the small town of Segovia. Zoe and I arrived to the train station and took a bus to the city center. Before us stood the incredible aqueduct. Built around 50 A.D., the aqueduct runs for 17 km. Breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe it. To enter the city, we had to walk underneath it. We then set out towards the cathedral. It was fairly impressive, but again there are so many cathedrals to compare it to that sadly, I think it lost a bit of its magic for me. Next up was walking through the Jewish Quarter and seeing the stumbling stones present here (for more info on these stones read my blog about Berlin). We made our way to the stunning Alcázar and did an audio-guided tour of that. The audio helped to set the stage and explain the history which otherwise would have been missed. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking. Our final stops in Segovia both involved food. We had some lovely tapas at Restaurante El Sitio. Finally we stopped at a bakery called Limón y Menta (trans: Lemon and Mint) for traditional Ponche Segoviano, a sponge cake covered with an egg yolk pastry and marzipan. This is personally one of my favorite sweet treats (except for the Pasteles de Nata I had in Portugal).

Segovia Aqueduct

Segovia Cathedral

Zoe and I in Segovia

Our final adventure was a cooking class in Madrid. We returned to the same cooking school that my dad and I had done the tapas class: Cooking Point. I cannot recommend them highly enough. This time we were learning to make paella!! I was so excited to finally learn to make the dish I'd had so many times. It was a very involved process and I'm so glad I had someone walking me through it! But the food turned out amazing (and it was one of the first things I made when I returned home)!

Paella made at Cooking Point

Barcelona Granada Madrid Toledo Valencia

Representations of Places I Visited at Plaza de España

I'm so incredibly grateful to Madrid and Spain for the best semester of my life, for getting the opportunity to reconnect with an old friend and find a new bestie for life. Thank you for making me a better learner, leader, adventurer, and traveler. Te amaré siempre ❤️🇪🇸

Thank you so much for following along on this adventure.

Con mucho amor,


Hotel Recommendations:

Hotel Palacio De Santa Paula (Granda)

Querencia de Sevilla (Sevilla)

Restaurant Recommendations:


Beata Pasta


Casa Gonzales

La Casa del Abuelo

El Invernadero


Tradevo Centro



Pelayo Gastro Trinquet

Activity Recommendations:


1992 Olympic Village

La Sagrada Familia

Port Cable Car


Cooking Point Cooking Classes



Basilica de San Juan de Dios


Plaza de Toros

Plaza de España

Real Alcázar de Sevilla

Sevilla Cathedral






Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page