Monday, July 16, 2012

Viva España

I may have physically returned to South Africa, but I left my heart and mind in Spain. Never before have I felt more 'at home' in a country and moreover, a city like Madrid. The Spanish way of life and joie de vivre is intoxicating - with all the sidewalk cafés, old-fashioned buildings with modern-sided façades, tree-lined streets, Chocolaté and Churros, languid 10pm sunsets and dinners that last through the night, impeccably dressed city dwellers and a Zara (literally) on every corner, what's not to love? It's a place that I could never tire of, there is so much to see and experience and Spain's eminent character and intrinsic sense of hospitality made my stay there even more memorable. These are some of the cities and sights I was lucky to visit while there last month.

The Plaza Mayor in Madrid is a popular city square where locals and tourists come to experience the contemporary culture that this engaging city has to offer. I sampled tapas for the very first time at one of the authentic Spanish bistros here. An eclectic array of artists, painters, dancers, buskers and street performers make their living in and around this 16th century 'rectangular' plaza. 


We took a coastal drive down the spectacular Costa del Sol, where the sun kissed beaches and turquoise waters make it the perfect playground for holiday makers. We spent a night in the luxurious resort town of Marbella, which is a favourite suntanning spot of the rich and famous.

The enchanting town of Avila, a sanctuary built inside Romanesque medieval walls, it is known for their very many Renaissance Palaces and churches, as well as an assortment of sweet treats made by the local nuns, with marzipan being at the top of the dessert pile.

One of the most spirited and energetic cities I visited was Salamanca. It's a charming fusion of young student culture, ancient architecture, foreign photo-happy tourists, Castilian heritage, serene landscapes and a leisurely atmosphere. Salamanca also houses the oldest university in Spain, imagine soaking up your education amidst these beautiful historic surroundings.



A view of the La Giralda, a minaret-turned-bell-tower that forms part of the remarkable Cathedral of Seville. This Roman Catholic cathedral happens to be the third largest church in the world, built upon 23 500 square meters of Sevillian soil. It flaunts magnificent Gothic architecture and vivid stained-glass art from the 15th century.


1. We booked a night out at a vintage theatre, where I was entranced by the incredibly talented, rhythmically stamping, castanet-clicking Flamenco dancers.
2. The striking black and red fringed Flamenco costumes on sale on the sidewalks of Seville.
3. A shady courtyard in the centre of Seville.
4. The Cervantes Monument and bronzed statue of Don Quixote in Plaza de España, Madrid.
5. You can't leave Spain until you've had Paella. I am now hooked.
6. The statue of famous matador Curro Romero outside the Plaza de Toros in Seville.

The picturebook town of Toledo, it's narrow winding streets and diverse archaic buildings tells a tale of three different religions and cultures that all resided harmoniously within ancient city walls during the 13th century. The town is connected by the Middle Ages-built Alcantara bridge that crosses over the tranquil river Tagus.


*All photographs by me.


45 comments:

Rahul Bhatia said...

Lovely, Sam

Rahul Bhatia said...

Came back once more to admire the lovely writing and pictures which brought back my memories of Madrid a city bubbling with excitement!I missed watching Flamenco:(

trishie said...

Looks so beautiful, no wonder you've left your heart there!

Serena said...

That looks absolutely amazing!
I was in Spain years ago on a family holiday, unfortunately it consisted solely of going to the beach and nightclubs and we barely got any sightseeing in! If I were to go back now I'd take full advantage of all of these beautiful sights!

x

hope in high heels said...

I'm not surprised your heart didn't make it back with you... These shots are stunning! One of the things I most appreciated about Spanish culture was the joyful outlook on life, long dinners in the town squares that started late at night and went to the early morning. I only went to Madrid, Barcelona and Granada when we were in spain but a road trip needs to be on my future travel wish list after these gorgeous photos. Did you make it to the Alhambra while you were there?

The Chic Sheet said...

Such beautiful photos!


XX,
Miranda

Vanisha @ Vanishas Life In...Australia said...

What dreamy photos Sam. It isn't surprising at all that part of you is still in Spain. I hope you get to make another trip back soon, see this one as a scoping mission ;) And I'm with you - a Zara on every corner? I'm sold! xoxox

Ember Drake said...

Gorgeous photos! They make me want to book a holiday right now - especially the gorgeous blue sea and beaches! I haven't been to Spain before and never realised how pretty and historical it was - I'll have to add it to my Places to Visit list!

Em
x

http://emberdrake.blogspot.co.uk

Anna said...

Sam, we might be oceans apart but I have always felt the same way about Spain!! And I havent even been there....yet! I have always said since I was young that I was sure I was spanish in my past life. I LOVE everything about it - the music, the culture, the food. My dream is coming true this year as we are going to be in Spain for 2 weeks in September...We have skipped Madrid though (which I hope I don't regret)..we chose Barcelona, Mallorca and San Sebastian as our towns to visit, did you get to any of those??

Anna xo
http://www.lifesshinyprettythings.blogspot.com.au/

fluff and fripperies said...

What a great post! I'll be in Madrid in October so read this with extra special interest xo

Melissah from Scrapbook said...

Great photos - I have very fond memories of Spain, it's such a vibrant & happy country!

Melissah

indie by heart said...

Again, so beautiful photos.. I'd love to visit Spain, at least Barcelona ..and now that I see pictures from Madrid, I dream of it too. :) Lovely post!

Satu
Indie by heart

Alice Oliveira said...

Really beautiful pics!

http://rebucomcafe.blogspot.com

Fashion-Bridge said...

Spain is truly an amazing country! I'm in love with it as well. Your post made me miss it. Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia are my fav cities there!

Xx

Alexandra

www.fashion-bridge.blogspot.com

Nicole said...

Oh how wonderful Sam! I want to go there now. The architecture/culture looks amazing! :)

Miška said...

Oh, it looks so beautiful

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

Lucky thing! I loved the vibe in Spain (would love some jam on iberico now too!)

xoxo,
Chic 'n Cheap Living

Jessica said...

oh my gosh these are so beautiful! i can see why you left your hear there :D i loove the architecture in particular

Jessica
http://runninginsideus.blogspot.com/

Punctuation Mark said...

I loved Toledo when I was there... Such a beautiful city!

Adeola Naomi said...

Great pictures!
Spain is amazing, I had the same feeling when I was in Barcelona, the Spanish way of life is just wonderful!

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

So beautiful! I love their cobblestone streets and outside cafes. The architecture of that church is exquisite!!! So glad you visited and shared these with us.
http://www.averysweetblog.com/

MagicMagpie said...

I can completely understand why you left a piece of your heart in Madrid, its vibrancy and sense of life is intoxicating. Such a beautiful place, thank you for sharing these beautiful photos

http://monstermagpie.blogspot.com/

Lilli said...

Hi Sam! You made me want to be there! What a beautiful place it is!! Great photos, congrats dear!:) Kisses and have a nice week!:*

Rusia i Lusia said...

I love spain ♥

Audrey Allure said...

Gorgeous photos!

Oh to Be a Muse said...

Churros, beaches and sightseeing...yes, please! I can see why you left your heart and mind in Madrid!

GLAMOURMOES said...

Amazing pictures darling! I really hope you had a great time in Spain, the pictures don't lie!

Elisabeth said...

Hi dearest Sam! For some reason my blog showed your comment only now - how strange! Welcome back! :) Thank you for your kind compliment! These photos are amazing, I'm so happy that you had a good time in Spain! It must have been crazy there after they won the European football championship!?

xxx
E from Helsinki
http://dragonflyelisabeth.blogspot.fi/

Elle Sees said...

I want to visit one day. Love your pictures

Zoe Concepción said...

Hello Sam!!!!!Beautiful pictures!Here there are great places......
The nex time you have to visit Bilbao!:)
xoxo

Filipa said...

fantastic post Sam!!! it really shows you had an amazing time...
For me in Spain the queen city is Barcelona...
XOXO

By Larissa said...

Great photos!
xo.
http://fromhatstoheels.blogspot.nl/

Jenna Hughes said...

beautiful!

http://underthefluorescents.blogspot.com/

Josie said...

I've only ever been to the beachy parts of Spain, I'm desperate to visit Barcelona! These photos are gorgeous Sam, I'm so jealous! xxx

Paris said...

Oh Sam,
Spain is on my dream list of places to visit and now so is the city of Marabella! The beaches look fabulous- a true paradise!!
So glad you had an amazing vacation, and thank you so much for your sweet words as well. They mean so very much. ♥

xoxo,
Paris

glitteratiandglamour.blogspot.com

BROKEN.WHIMSY said...

Ahhhhhh! It seems like EVERYONES been (or are going) on holidays! lol. Whilst Im stuck in my dingy (but VERY beautiful) little city =) I love looking at these photos because they are so beautiful and images that seem lifted straight out of your dreams! Welcome back home hun ^_^

Eeli x

aki! said...

I have always wanted to go to Spain... how different was it from South Africa?

Rikki said...

i love the historic buildings and narrow winding streets of the spanish cities!! the beach looks so exotic! what a nice vacation you must've had, how many countries did you visit?:) x

Sada said...

I cannot believe how jealous I am right now!! What an amazing trip. The photos are beautiful and really capture the flavour of Spain! Great post....GREAT post! Thank you so much for sharing. You know what is most notable? So clean! Not one piece of trash or graffiti or anything out of place!! Perfect.
xo
Sada
Dressology HQ

Sydney H. said...

These are beautiful photos!! I want to go hereee

-Sydney xo

Lolita in the Mix said...

Great pictures dear! Can totally relate with you! Miss spain always when I'm not there!! Hope you'll visit barcelona next time, sure you're gonna love it!! Take care!

xoxo lorena

http://www.lolitainthemix.blogspot.com

Indira said...

Beautiful pictures, sweetie. Nice to hear you enjoyed your holiday in Spain!! Besos ^_^

Jan said...

Wow looks amazing, definitely wanna go on vacation again haha!

Chloé said...

I´m so happy you liked my country. Besitos

bridechic said...

I have friends that go to Spain every couple years and stay for 6-9 months at a time they love it so much. Glad you enjoyed yourself there