Expat Travels: Spring Break in Spain

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Hey Peeps!

Barcelona, Spain

I chose to spend my Spring Break in Spain this year. I haven't traveled Europe much, and it was one of the few places that had a decent flight deal outta Doha with this ongoing blockade persisting. 

I decided on Madrid and Barcelona, with planned day trips to Segovia and Montserrat. As a self professed culture junkie, I was excited to check another European country off my list and get some sensory overload.

Anytime I travel I try to make it a point to stay in areas where “people of color” are prevalent. Spain was a reminder that this is a good idea.
In Madrid, I stayed in and immensely enjoyed Lavapiés; Barrí Gothic in Barcelona. 

Beautiful mural in the multicultural Lavapies area of Madrid

But anytime I ventured out of these areas I felt unwelcome. Madrid was the worst.
As I approach 50 countries traveled, my tolerance for intolerance doesn’t get any better. Forget a chip; I have a boulder on my shoulder, and it’s warranted. I tried not to allow this to ruin my trip, but it was difficult.

I kept busy in Spain. In Madrid, I kicked off my trip with a tapas food tour. Despite the cold, rainy weather (and my particular tastebuds) this was a good time.
One of 5 stops on the tour
Spain is the pork capital of the world! Be advised! 😣

To gain further insight into the area, I did a free walking tour of Madrid. We saw lots of remnants of Moorish culture and also learned more about the modern Eurocentric, Andalusian culture.

Part of my visit to Madrid included a day trip to Segovia quite cheaply by train. I'd been curious about this place since hearing about it in Captain America: Civil War (judge me) and it did not disappoint. Segovia was once occupied by the ancient Romans and their influence is still prevalent.

Roman aqueduct in Segovia's town center

Magnifcent cathedral in Segovia

Alcazar castle in Segovia. It's been used as a backdrop for many Disney films.

The architecture in Madrid is phenomenal but the food was also a real winner here. I kept an open mind and completely indulged.

Legit had a sangria every day 😄

This tapas dish is called "ropa viejo", a Cuban influenced shredded beef and potato dish. 

Garlic shrimp dish was one of the best tapas I had

You can take the train from Madrid to Barcelona if time permits but I only had a week in country, so I opted to save time and fly instead. 

Once again I started my journey with food. I joined a paella culinary class along with other tourists from around the world. It was a trip highlight.

Madrid is an architecture powerhouse but Barcelona is not to be slept on. Not when it's home to the world famous Sagrada Familia and other Gaudi creations.

No photos will do it justice. It has to be SEEN, inside and out.

Inside the Sagrada Familia!

I'm a HoHo girl, and Barcelona delivered on the bus routes. For an economical way to see the city, definitely purchase a ticket, which gives you access to all routes. I used Barcelona Bus Turistic and I found it to be reliable and efficient. Be sure to purchase entry into sites like Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and the like in advance to avoid long lines.

No trip to Spain is complete without experiencing Flamenco! There are several places to see a show, but again, I recommend purchasing tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

I rounded out my trip to Spain with a major travel highlight: a visit to Montserrat to see the Black Madonna. The whole of Montserrat is built around facilitating the worship of the Black Madonna in the Basilica. The Black Madonna was believed to have been carved in Jerusalem at the beginning of the religion. You can read more about this Black Madonna here.

The Black Madonna and Black Baby Jesus 💕
Gorgeous Montserrat landscape, just two hours outside of Barcelona by train.

Now Spain isn't a place I'd run back to, but it is beautiful, and definitely worth a visit. I knew it was a place that people either hated or loved, and I'm pretty neutral on it. The architecture is stunning, the landscape is beautiful and there is no shortage of things to do.

You Might Also Like


  1. I also did Madrid and Barcelona on a trip years ago. Took the train from Madrid to Barcelona. Sorry to hear about your negative experiences. It was July when I went and Madrid was sooooo hot and crowded but I enjoyed the architecture and food as well. Had the best Paella there and saw a Flamenco show. Barcelona was so beautiful with cooler temps that I could imagine living there. Montserrat is amazing! I went back to Barcelona 3 years ago and still loved it. I’m looking forward to going to other areas. Segovia looks interesting!

    1. Barcelona was alright. I look forward to visiting other parts of Europe.

  2. We have been to both Madrid and Barcelona a few years ago. We too fell in loved with Paella. Granada was an awesome place to visit as well. Although we didn't experience it in Spain, we know of a person who went to Europe and was followed in the store by the sales clerks. Yes it may run a part of your trip, but not the entire trip. You look back at your pictures years from now and remember the scenery of the architecture and the food.

    1. I certainly hope so. Thanks for reading.