Can you believe that there are only 2 weeks left of the auxiliar program!!?? Unless you’re in Madrid chances are you finish May 31st which is quickly approaching. Even though I cringe every time they call me teacher/profe, shake my head in disappointment when they behave badly, and keep turning down social media requests I will undoubtedly miss these kids. I liked these guys so much that I asked to be placed in the same school. I took a trip to Galicia shortly after submitting my renewal and fell in love with the region so much that I eventually got my region changed to Galicia for the 2016-2017 year so my students here in Burgos jokingly call me traidora (traitor).
Anyway, since the year is coming to an end I’ll bet that you are thinking that you haven’t seen as much of Spain as you wanted to. Don’t worry! I’m sure most of you are going to stay until at least June so that gives you plenty of time to take weekend adventures. I’ll highlight a few of my favorite hot spots for summer fun that I think are worth getting to before you head back home but hopefully you’re sticking around another year. So, let’s get exploring.
For the adventurous:
Hiking in the Picos de Europa
This mountain range is in the regions of Asturias, Cantabria, and Castilla y Leon. You can go hiking, bear watching, bird watching, camping, and more so it’s perfect for the outdoor lovin’ type. Here’s the official English website for more information.
Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago (way of St. James) is a pilgrimage route that runs across Spain ending in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia. The route from St Jean Pied de Port, France is deemed the “official” route and it’s about 780km but you can start from many more places. The key is that you have to start 100km from Santiago for it to count valid. A lot of people start in Sarria; a city that is 112km from Santiago, which you could probably conquer in less than a day. You can find hundreds of guidebooks and blog posts about the camino so I’d do a lot of research before deciding to complete all or part of this walk. My favorite camino blogger is Gabriel Schirm.
Caminito del Rey, Malaga
The Caminito del Rey (King’s little pathway) is a narrow walkway perched up in a gorge near Malaga, Spain. Originally used as a means for construction workers to walk in between the power plants; today it used by hikers who want to test their bravery and cojones. It was closed for a decade after a section collapsed and has been named “world’s most dangerous walkway.” Don’t worry though, you’re offered a helmet and you have a rope attached to the stone wall…..
Participate in the running of the bulls
I think it’s safe to say that this is probably the number one Spanish festival we think of. Even though we might not know that this festival is a celebration of San Fermin the patron saint of the city. This festival lasts a full week from July 7th-14th and millions of people from all over the world come to celebrate. One of the events is the running of the bulls. Each morning of the festival when the clock strikes 8:00 hundreds of people begin a run from the block on Santo Domingo street to the bullring 825 meters away. Shortly after the humans begin a gun fires signaling that the bulls have been let out of their pens and run behind (or next to..or on top of) the runners until they reach the bullring. Each year people (usually Amerians and Brits) get gored but the tradition keeps on going year after year. After the run comes bullfighting and never ending amounts of alcohol.
For the history buffs and art lovers:
La Alhambra, Granada
La Alhambra is probably my absolute favorite building in Spain. When I was here I think I ditched my group and guide and just sat in the garden trying to picture the historic events that occurred here and the incredible people that have walked where I was walking. It originally started out as a small fortress in 889 and it was the Moorish kingdom’s last stronghold in Spain. It’s big, beautiful, and you’ll find yourself speechless. Even if you don’t really care about Spanish history you’ll appreciate this incredible palace. You can find information about tours and prices on the official website. Be sure to take your time looking at everything and don’t forget to look up!
Royal Palace, Madrid
This palace was built in the 18th century and it currently holds the record as being Europe’s largest palace! The current royal family however does not reside here and it is only used for state ceremonies. Inside you’ll find a grand staircase, a royal library, some of the riches from the “new world,” a royal armory, and many paintings from various artists. When you go into the throne room look up and check out the fresco painting on the ceiling. It depicts the Spanish empire when it ruled both hemispheres and it’s really detailed. More information, schedules, and tickets can be found on the official website.
Reina Sofia and El Prado museums, Madrid
These two art museums house some of the most prized art in the world. They are both relatively close and they are easy to get to when you’re in Madrid. They each have set pieces but also hold certain exhibitions throughout the year so it’s good to check the website before visiting if you are looking for something in particular. It’s also a good idea to buy your tickets online prior to your visit so you can skip the long line and trust me there will probably be a line. Information for the two museums: Reina Sofia and Museo del Prado. “Las Meninas” can be found in El Prado and “Guernica” is located in the Reina Sofia both of which are highly sought after paintings.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Undoubtedly this is the most recognizable icon in Spain. Construction on this basilica began in 1882 and it is still being built! It is famous for its Gothic and Art Nouveau blend and when completed it will be the tallest religious building in Europe. La Sagrada Familia (The Sacred Family) is scheduled to be completed by 2026 which happens to be the 100 year anniversary of the death of the mastermind behind it Antoni Gaudi. Tickets come at different price points and there is sure to be a massive line when you want to go in so I suggest buying a ticket online. The internet can be so dang handy sometimes. Click here for that information.
If you just want to party
I don’t need to write much about this place. You’ve all heard the songs and the stories so you know the drill. Drink on the beach, eat some food, drink on the beach again, eat some more food, drink some more, go clubbing and the rest we don’t know. Somehow we just can’t remember what we did after taking that fatal shot of something or another. Basically you just need to know that the time-frame for fun in Ibiza is May-September and there are three main spots on the island for clubbing. You can check out this website for tips and guides.
Haro wine festival, La Rioja
Who doesn’t like a good old fashioned water war? You don’t? Well do you like wine? I mean you’re in Spain you probably should. How about if we replaced the water with …wine? You heard me right! In the town of Haro in the wine producing region of La Rioja there is a festival that happens the 28th-30th of June where everyone dresses up in white and partakes in hours of dancing, eating, and spraying each other with vino. Everyone starts in the main square and then hikes 5 km (3 something miles) up on the mountain to get a shower of wine. Squirt guns, hoses on the backs of trucks, buckets, and more are filled with the red wine and for hours people just drink and throw wine at each other. Sounds like my kind of fiesta.
Gay Pride Parade, Madrid
Hopefully we are all adults here and I won’t get hate-mail because of this but have you ever been to a gay pride parade? Even if you are straight you can still have fun and come enjoy the party! I for the record am straight (as if I needed to clarify that or something) but I attended the gay pride parade in Minneapolis, Minnesota a few years back and it was honestly one of the most fun days/nights of my life. The energy that everyone brings on this day is incredible and if you are open minded it’s such a fun time. The one in Madrid is one of the largest in the world with over 2 million people in attendance. There are parades, concerts, dancing in the streets, a stiletto race, swimsuit competition, and more events during this festival and you’ll be talking about it for weeks. The festival beings June 19th and goes until July 2nd and you can find more information on the Madrid Orgullo (Madrid Pride) website.
I think if I keep rambling on this post will last your entire summer annnnd “aint’ nobody got time for that.” So I’ll stop it here but just know that the list for festivals and things to do in Spain definitely does not stop here. Do a Google search of things going on in your area and enjoy your last few months here and if you’re here next year with me…