There’s never enough time and we went vegan in Spain!
November 16 we set off on a whirlwind through Spain and Portugal.
November 16-18 – We took off late on the 16th for a long flight to Madrid with what was supposed to be a short layover in Lisbon. It wasn’t short, we missed the connecting flight and were stuck for about 8 hours. That meant we lost 8 hours in Madrid which was already going to be a short one. So the moment we landed and checked into our hotel we headed out to wander the streets and see as much as we could.
We stopped by Palacio Real de Madrid and Plaza Mayor and then the rain came… So we grabbed something to eat and headed back to the hotel. That is about all we got done in Madrid and bright and early we headed off to the train station because it was time to move on!
November 18 – Córdoba is a cute little town just a quick train ride from Madrid and we spent a few hours taking in it’s wild history. Right across from the train station there is a bus station where you can store your bags in lockers for the day, but get there quick as there is very limited space.
Once we were bagless and oriented we headed to brunch at Maddow, an adorable cafe with awesome vegan friendly treats. We just chilled here for a while and watched the sleepy street.
Around one o’clock we had a guided tour of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, it’s the thing to do and the history of it is unreal.
After our tour we walked around Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and then it was back on the train to head to Granada.
Ohhhhh Granada, this would be our longest stop and it was a wondrous place to linger.
We first stopped off at this little flamenco bar/restaurant, Le Chien Andalou, to pick up the keys to our Airbnb. The Airbnb was perfection, just off the Paseo de los Tristes–Granada’s most romantic street–with unbelievable views of the Alhambra from the roof-top terrace we couldn’t have picked a better spot. Even the little courtyard was something out of a fairytale.
After getting checked in and cleaned up we headed back to Le Chien Andalou to get some food, drinks, and authentic flamenco entertainment. This little hole in the wall was literally a hole in the wall, it’s a cave. It’s quite busy and small so you need to make advance reservations (ask for the front seats) but it’s such a good show.
November 19 – Alhambra day! This palace is just beautiful and historic. We didn’t do a guided tour but probably should have, there is so much information about how this place was built and I’m sure we missed things. It’s important to get tickets well in advance and be on time to your scheduled entry as they only let a certain amount of people in at a time. A very sad woman in front of us missed her entry time and was denied access she had come from Russia to see it.
It takes a good 4 hours to wander through the Alhambra so we spent most of the day getting lost in all the rooms and buildings of this fortress.
November 20 – Favorite of all the days. We had always planned to do a full day of hiking in Granada, we originally considered renting a car and finding some trails in Sierra Nevada but the weather was a bit against us and they were covered in snow while we were there. So we decided to not to rent a car and it was kind of awesome.
We walked quite a few miles just to get to the trail but we got to see so many small towns and just daily life along the way and it was totally worth it. The actual trail is Los Cahorros de Monachil and it is so cool. Loads of hanging bridges and interesting terrain. In all we walked a bit over 21 miles that day and by the end of it I was exhausted.
November 21 – Best laid plans, like getting up to watch the sunrise over Mirador de San Nicolas, go down the drain when you walk 21+ miles the day before. So we didn’t see the sunrise but we did see the view, the sunrise over the Alhambra would have been unreal so if you can get your lazy butt out of bed, do it. Our last day was spent wandering through markets, visiting the Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte (Cave Museum), and drifting around several historic bathhouses.
The end of the day was spent being pampered at the local Hammam. These Arab baths also include a massage and and special surprises that were perfect for our sore bones. It was a relaxing end to our beautiful adventure in Granada.
November 22 – Adiós Granada, hola, Sevilla. The trip between Granada and Sevilla is…interesting. We bought train tickets but it turns out that the train lines haven’t been built yet, so we ending up riding bus after bus after bus and then finally a train. We also had some trouble with our hotel reservation but after a bit of a rough start Sevilla became my favorite stop.
Once settled in our sweet, suite we headed out into the rain to do a quick stop at the Plaza de España, the best time to go is in the rain because no one else was there! The evening was spent eating and drinking and once night arrived we popped over to Metropol Parasol (heart eyes!)
November 23 – Back to the Plaza de España all morning. This city is just a fantasy, I mean look at that tree, and the dirt is mustard yellow (the color of my soul). We spent our last day getting lost in all the parks and touring the Alcazar of Seville. By evening it was time to say goodbye. Note: the airport in Sevilla took about a minute to get through so no need to arrive super early.
Hit the ground running in Lisbon. We walked up to Parque Eduardo VII to watch the sunset and along the way spotted the best little trolleys. We also stopped to watch the Elevador de Santa Justa and . This city is so interesting and built on hill after hill so there’s not just trains to carry you there’s an outdoor elevator.
November 24 – First stop! Healthy breakfast at 8 Health Lounge. Amazing vegan options here. I will say that of all the cities we visited Lisbon was by far the easiest to navigate for vegan food. We grabbed tickets to Castelo de São Jorge and ventured around the castle with its sweeping views of Lisbon.
We decided to walk the length of the riverwalk to the LX Factory, a series of shops, restaurants, bars, and basically a 24 hour arts fest. This would have been the perfect time to rent a bicycle but we didn’t think of it until we were nearly there. At the LX Factory I purchased a yellow bike bell from Happy Bicycle and it’s now one of my most prized possessions.
We continued down the riverwalk to Padrão dos Descobrimentos where we took the elevator to the top for more awe-inspiring views of the city. At the top it started to rain a bit so we took an Uber back to our hotel to rest a bit before taking an evening stroll around the streets of Lisbon and picking up a too pretty to eat gelato (my one non-vegan moment on this trip).
November 25 – Our last day and so sad to leave we said tchau to our hotel, grabbed a breakfast crêpe and did as much more exploring as we dared before getting an Uber to the airport. The airport in Lisbon is kind of crazy and you need to get there early as boarding begins well in advance due to the way it’s set up; you’ll likely board a bus to get to your gate.
Chicago greeted us with a warm and beautiful sunset but even still Spain and Portugal left us wanting to return and spend much more time basking in their rich cultures.