1. Dinner at El Viajero in Madrid
    • For our second night in Madrid, we spent FOREVER trying to collectively agree on a restaurant to try for dinner. It is virtually impossible to find somewhere interesting and unique that won’t charge a million dollars for a plate of fries, so you can imagine this was quite the ordeal. Finally, we left our hotel and began walking to… somewhere? Morale was low for the 20-minute walk (for me, anyway – my back was beginning to disintegrate from all the walking we had done that day!) but we arrived at our destination and came upon a new challenge, which was that we weren’t sure if this tiny restaurant could fit our 16-person group. A few of us branched off to check out a neighboring place, but received the tourist treatment and quickly returned back to the group. Surprisingly, we then were approached by a staff member who, after hearing how many people we had, immediately began assembling a table in the outdoor dining area. Imagine the Last Supper painting… that’s how this looked! Within 10 minutes we were seated and served by the most incredible waiter, Michael (who was loving every minute of serving us)! Sangria was had, burgers were demolished, and we left with full bellies and sore faces from laughing and smiling so much. It was truly a night of great food and even better fellowship!
  2. Farm Visits
    • Okay, this is technically more than one thing, but all of the farms we visited were fantastic. Our first visit was to a pork farm in Villanueva de Cordoba, where they raise Iberian pigs, process them, then sell the meat to local families and people throughout the region. We were given a wonderful tour of the facilities by Juan and his sister-in-law who doubled as our translator (she teaches English nearby). They also fed us ham from their facility as well as other traditional Spanish dishes for lunch! Next, we visited Almazara Quaryat Dillar, an olive farm and olive oil production facility outside of Granada. Our guide, Jose, was so fun and we were able to taste different types of olive oil they produce. And, thanks to our trip coordinator Yvan, we were all able to take home a bottle of olive oil! The next farm was one of my favorite experiences overall – a dairy farm! Literally right outside of Granada, they had a herd of Holstein cows and calves that they use to produce cheese onsite. After a tour of the operation, we were able to taste some of their cheese at different stages (semi-cured, fully cured, etc) – delish! Our final farm tour was probably my favorite. We visited a goat farm north of Malaga, and it was just the most unreal experience. Something about watching the farmer lead his goats over a bridge with a beautiful view of the hills of southern Spain just took my breath away! We even were able to milk a goat and hold kids (baby goats… not human children)!! Afterward we got to taste the cheese they produce as well as some Malaga wine! SO FUN!
  3. Cooking Class
    • THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN! In Malaga, we visited Cooking Malaga, which was in a cute little house near the coast. We split into groups and learned how to make paella with rabbit and chicken, cheesy bread, and sangria! It was surprisingly very easy and we had a blast. I’m totally not biased when I say my group had the best paella!!
  4. The Architecture
    • I had heard that Spain was a beautiful country, but I was not prepared for just how immaculate the architecture is. I was completely blown away multiple times, and truthfully teared up in the Cathedral of Toledo because of how absolutely gorgeous everything was. The attention to detail was insane! Another honorable mention is the Alhambra, which is essentially the remnants of an old Islamic city within the city of Granada! The Islamic influence on the architecture made it one-of-a-kind and it just blew me away! I kind of wish places in America were more like that instead of cookie-cutter houses and basic structures. This isn’t necessarily something that “happened” in Spain but it is for sure worth mentioning!
  5. The Unplanned
    • While everything that was on the itinerary was so much fun and provided great experiences, I think the most memorable things happened unplanned! Some of my favorite unexpected memories include: showing up to a (VERY tiny) Japanese restaurant in Granada with no reservation; walking 40 minutes to the aquarium in Malaga and then being told they are out of tickets, then walking 40 minutes back…; sunset cruise (and the proposal, IYKYK); having dinner on the rooftop of a restaurant and then getting rained on but refusing to move tables (one of the best nights!); and going to an Irish pub that played Spanish covers of American music after eating Japanese (I felt like Mr. Worldwide)!! Overall, this trip was the best experience of my college career so far and I wish I could do it all again!


Cooking class in Malaga!
Cupola in Cathedral of Toledo
The goat farm in Malaga! SO PRETTY!
Some of the Islamic-style architecture in the Alhambra made with lapis lazuli