I had never been to Europe before my trip to Spain, and I never imagined Spain would be the first European country I’d visit. The reason behind my trip to Spain was a neuroscience research conference that I was presenting at, but of course I was going to make a vacation out of it. I was so lucky that the conference dates aligned with my spring break. I had also been looking for a reason to visit my friends studying abroad in Spain, and this was it.

MONDAY-WEDNESDAY //  I spent the first few days of my trip in Córdoba. I happened to stay with my friend Nancy’s host family, making my stay in Córdoba feel like a mini-study abroad experience. (My friends even brought me to class with them haha). My friends were so excited to show me the place they had called home for the last few months, and I was equally excited to share my first European experience with people so near and dear to my heart.

On Tuesday my friend Ivette took me to the famous Calleja de las Flores in Córdoba. It was a miracle we were able to capture this picture without any tourists in the shot. (Peep the top of the Mezquita in the back.)

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I loved walking through the stone roads in Córdoba. There were handmade goods for sale everywhere!

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Here’s a photo of Ivette and I at the Roman Bridge of Córdoba. The bridge was originally built by the Romans in early 1st century BC.

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More shots near the Roman Bridge. The Moorish architecture is really a sight to see.

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A few beers and tapas later, Ivette took me to the famous Mezquita, or Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. This UNESCO World Heritage Site now serves as a Catholic Cathedral, but was once also a Moorish place of worship as well. It’s safe to say this mosque-cathedral is home to the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen in my life.

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I kept snapping photos left and right. It was like all of my art history classes had come to life.

That night, a large group of us went out to dinner to celebrate Nancy’s birthday. I had the most delicious pizza and sangria I had ever had in my life, and laughed all night with my friends. Both my heart and stomach were very happy.

THURSDAY-SATURDAY // After a 45-minute train ride and several pages of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, I arrived in Seville/Sevilla. I arrived to the hotel and immediately crashed. I was supposed to go to a mixer for all the students presenting research at the conference, but I was still so jet lagged. I chose to nap until Sarah (my co-presenter and great friend) got there later that evening.

Sarah and I had breakfast at the hotel while we planned how to spend our free time. To our surprise, La Plaza de España was across the street from our hotel. We could actually see it from our fifth floor window! We decided to head there after breakfast.

Entering La Plaza is free, so the place is full of tourists. The Plaza was built in 1928 for a World’s Fair exposition, and it’s often recognized as the set from famous movies, like Star Wars: Ep II. 

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Here are some of the photos I took at the Plaza.

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People were on little boats in the moat, street performers played instruments under the arches, children ran around enjoying the fountain (which changes colors at dusk!) It was such a busy but beautiful site.

I even got to see some some Sevillanas, a traditional folk dance of Seville.

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When I wasn’t attending lectures at the convention, I also made sure to visit downtown Sevilla to get some gelato. Walking through the busy streets enjoying gelato and the jazzy music playing felt like a dream.

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I couldn’t leave Seville without visiting the famous Alcázar. The line to enter was long, but so worth the wait. The Alcázar is a famous royal palace created by the Ancient Moorish Kings. It was only 2 euros to enter with a student discount!

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The palace featured stunning mosaic tiled walls and lavish gardens. The palace’s beauty is so captivating; it makes you feel like you’ve time-traveled. I literally felt like a princess walking through the palace.

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Even the palace’s ceilings had such incredible detail, like this golden rotunda that took my breath away.

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My favorite part about Sevilla was that everything was within walking distance of each other. The Plaza and Alcázar were both within walking distance of downtown, making it incredibly easy to visit multiple destinations within the city. That’s how I ended up going to the Plaza twice during my few days in Southern Spain.

I still have so much to talk about that I didn’t include in this post–like spending St. Patrick’s Day in a bar full of Spaniards or trying fried squid for the first time, but I think this post is already long enough.

Spain was the perfect country to begin my European experience with. Now that I’m more familiar with the train system in Europe, I’m excited to see where my next European adventure will be.

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