Throughout the past 9 months, I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited several cities and beaches in southern Spain and Portugal so I decided to write a little about each of them.
Granada: Of course the Alhambra (a palace and fortress) was amazing to visit being that it’s considered a very famous sight with great historical value. It is the last city that was re-conquered by the Catholic Kings from the Arabs. It has the Sierra Nevada in the background that you can see as you walk around the grounds of the palace and its gardens while learning about the rich history that occurred hundreds of years ago. The Cathedral of the Granada is also very nice and different from others I’ve seen in Spain due to its renaissance art influence. In the royal chapel next to the cathedral the famous Catholic King and Queen have their tombs.
Cordoba: It was a memorable experience walking across the Roman bridge to get to the old Jewish neighborhood of the city to see the famous Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.
Malaga: A beach city located in the Mediterranean’s Costa del Sol. This is also where Picasso was born, so his family has dedicated a museum with his early painting. I have to say what I liked most was exploring the old Arab fortress and Gibralfaro castle on the hill where there is also a beautiful view of the city and coast line.
Cadiz: One of the oldest cities in Europe, it is also known as the little Habana because they say it looks like Cuba. I got to go to Carnival this year there which I’ve heard is similar to the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. I dressed up as a nerd and had a great time with friends as we walked the streets meeting people from all over and seeing all the fun costumes people wore. Another weekend I went back and it was nice to see the historical part of the city and enjoy the beach that is a favorite for many Sevillans.
Rota: We just drove through, but I think it’s interesting to note there is a U.S. naval base there.
Lagos, Portugal: Although it's not part of Spain, I thought I’d include it because it has one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to. With amazing teal-colored water and a coast line with caves that you can explore on a cheap boat tour of from one of the locals, I’d definitely say it was my favorite beach I’ve been to during my time here in Europe.
Merida: Here there are several Roman ruins including a theatre and amphitheatre that were really cool to see along with the museum filled with old artifacts from during this time.
Caceres: My favorite part of this city was the medieval neighborhood where we walked around and really learned about what it would’ve been like to live during that time.
Trujillo: A small city in the countryside located on a hill. I enjoyed walking through the small streets and enjoying the beautiful view from the castle at the top of the hill.
As you can see, there are many exciting places to visit in Southern Spain and Portugal. Overall, I’ve had a great experience abroad and learned a lot about history, the Spanish language and much more.