My final week in Spain was an insane mix of emotions. I was thrilled to see my parents again, but I also knew that their arrival meant my Spanish adventure was coming to a close.
In mid December, I finished final exams in Toledo and made my first solo journey to Madrid to meet my parents. It was such a strange and exciting feeling to walk into the hotel and knock on the room door, knowing my parents would be behind it.
One of our first stops was to Parque Retiro, the Central Park of Madrid. We lucked out with great weather, temperatures mostly in the 60s and 70s. It was fun to explore the city again with my parents and act as a tour guide.
That night, we had a great dinner at a restaurant my friends and I had stumbled upon during our first visit to the city in September. I introduced my parents to the glories of sangria and tapas. They struggled to understand that eating before 9pm wasn’t culturally acceptable.
The next morning, we ate breakfast before heading out to explore the city. One highlight of the day was visiting the Prado Museum.
I stayed in Madrid one night and then returned to Toledo the next. Honestly, I was having Toledo withdrawals and the thought of missing one minute there was torturous.
The final days in Toledo were filled with lots of mini adventures, including visits to the cat pile, our favorite coffee shop “La Boveda”, and of course visits to our favorite bar “Dragos”.
After spending one final evening in Madrid, my parents took the train to Toledo to meet me. I waited at the train station, excited to show them around. They checked into their hotel, La Posada de Manolo, an adorable place right in the center of the city. If you visit Toledo, we highly recommend it!
That day, I was able to show them my school and introduce them to some of my friends. It was great for them to see where I had been living and studying for the past few months. One of my professors even spoke English to them. At sunset, we made the trek to the other side of the river to take in the city views.
We ate a fabulous dinner at Alqahira Rincon de Oriente, a Middle Eastern restaurant. We were the only ones there and got to chat with the owner. Definitely one of the best meals I had in Spain.
The next day, we visited two museums, one just a small church that holds Greco’s famous painting The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. We also stumbled upon an amazing pottery shop in the Jewish neighborhood of Toledo. and bought some great souvenirs.
I unfortunately didn’t spend a lot of time with my parents in Toledo. It was really hard for me to be apart from my friends, who were all finished with finals and spending the last days together. I tried to balance both groups. My parents managed to explore a lot of Toledo on their own and get around without a translator. Buen trabajo, padres.
On the second to last night in Toledo, my friends and I made the familiar walk down to street to Dragos. After the 30 second walk there (it was just steps from the front door of my school and dorm), I panicked as I looked through the window and noticed my parents sitting there. The bar was just steps from their hotel too. I initially felt horrified, but eventually was happy they were there to experience Dragos too. They were able to meet most of my friends. The owner and our favorite bartender, Jesus, showed them photos of my friends and I that were framed on the wall. My mom explained “Mi hija es Allison” (my daughter is Allison), and the non-English speaking Jesus made the connection.
After a sad “adios” to Jesus, our favorite bartender at our favorite bar, we decided to take one last walk around the city. That night was one of the best nights, despite it being incredibly sad. The streets were still wet from the rain earlier in the day and the darkness made it seem like Toledo was sad to see us go too.
I woke up early to say goodbye to my friends as they boarded a bus to the airport. It was weird to be left behind, just my friend Alec & I, in the Fund, knowing we would never be in the building with everyone all together again. For the last time, I packed up and headed out the door.
I put a smile on and met my parents at their hotel before heading off to Sevilla.
After a pleasant 3 hour train ride, we arrived in Sevilla and checked into our hotel. It was in an area of Sevilla known as Barrio Santa Cruz. It was so nice to stay in a private hotel room and not a hostel. We checked in, ate lunch in the plaza below our hotel, then headed off exploring.
One highlight of Sevilla was visiting the Alcazar and the Catedral. Both are beautiful complexes filled with history, including Christopher Columbus’ tomb. The top of the cathedral has amazing views of the city.
My mom and I were lucky enough to visit a spa in Sevilla, in the original location of Arab baths. We had massages and lounged in the salt baths. It was so relaxing and fun. Other highlights of Toledo including befriending a little dog we named Hector, eating amazing pasta at an Italian restaurant, and admiring the Christmas lights.
My mom had fun taking a picture in front of every sign that had her name, which was a lot.
To me, Sevilla felt like the most “authentic” Spanish experience. It’s where the stereotypes of Spain come to life; experiencing flamenco in the region it was born, the smell of fresh oranges everywhere you go, and extravagant cathedrals and bull rings. If you go to Spain, go to Sevilla (in addition to Toledo obviously!), and be sure to check out a flamenco show. We went to La Carboneria, a bar with free flamenco at night. The show was incredible. We should have gone more than once.
Note to future Sevilla visitors: Don’t eat the oranges. They look like they would be delicious, but they’re not. We wondered why no one was helping themselves. There are trees on every block, loaded with them. My mom and I thought we were being smart and took a ripe and perfect one that had fallen off a tree. We peeled and took our first bite, thinking it might be our last. It was so horribly sour, we thought we had been poisoned. Here we are, sitting in the beautiful Plaza de España, horrified with our decision to take a bite. Click on the picture and zoom in. I’m walking to the trash and my mom is still disgusted.
Overall, it was a great trip with my parents. I am so glad they were able to experience Spain with me.
Thanks for reading, and sorry for the year long delay 🙂