Today was one of those late spring days that truly felt like summer. It was hot, sunny and gorgeous out – the kind of perfect day that reminded me of my amazing trip to Spain.
There were so many highlights from that vacation, including a visit with my awesome cousin Naomi and her husband Andrea. Sotogrande was everything you could want in a peaceful, serene and restful vacation spot. Completely picturesque, this quiet little enclave was nothing short of luxe.
My cousin Naomi moved there a little while ago after marrying Andrea. Andrea, who works in nearby Gibraltar, fell in love with their picturesque neighbourhood and they both settled comfortably in a luxe condo.
Sotogrande is a seaside town with a sprawling golf course in the centre and flanked by luxurious condos. What I loved about their neighbourhood is that it reminded me of Venice, Italy. There are a series of canals cutting through Sotogrande which allows the residents to sail their yachts from one end to the other. It was surreal! We loved the area so much that Ryan and I thought long and hard about returning the following year and renting a house in Spain for a month.
Dotting each side of the canal are designer boutiques, fine restaurants and a little grocer that put Whole Foods to shame. Each night, we would go for dinner at a new spot and delight in the fresh seafood and fine Spanish wines and cava. I was in seventh heaven. Speaking of food, a favourite spot was Pane & Cioccolato – a great little café that served the best smoothies, cold-pressed juices and avocado toast I had ever had. Andrea’s Rhodesian Ridgeback, Baxter, loved the place too, and angled constantly for smoked salmon.
Back to that weather though…we were in Spain and England for the month of September and I couldn’t think of a better time of year to go! It was hot, but not oppressively so, which made sightseeing a breeze. We took a day trip to Seville, and spent a few hours in Marbella. Marbella was totally my jam too. Huge yachts, Lamborghinis everywhere and some of the best designer shopping I’d ever seen. WOW.
Marbella is also one of those great cities to see and be seen. The people, including the tourists were fabulous! Everyone was stylish, be it out and about shopping, dining or sipping cocktails at Nikki Beach. Those with a budget will want to spend some time in lovely Marbella. I would do it up too and spend a few weeks in one of the many luxe villas up for grabs. You only live once, right?
Ryan and I had hoped to visit Ibiza, especially after hearing Naomi’s countless stories of partying it up in this famous spot (Naomi is a bit of a superstar). I always thought of Ibiza as simply a party city, but it has so much to offer! While we couldn’t squeeze in a visit, I did my research. On top of all of the great beach clubs, miles of gorgeous coastline and beautiful people, there are countless amazing restaurants such as Lio and Blue Marlin.
There are also some of the finest properties in Spain also, from quintessential Spanish villas, sexy modern homes and quiet retreats. These are lovely options for those who don’t want to stay in a hotel or resort, and want more of a luxe, homey feel for their vacation.
And then there was Barcelona…the city that had been on my bucket list for years. When we touched down in this world-class city, we cheered! Ryan chanted “Paëlla! Paëlla!” as we disembarked the plane while I fantasized about cava while simultaneously shushing him.
Barcelona was surreal. We rented a gorgeous condo overlooking the harbour. Each morning, we had breakfast with our friends Jen and Marty while watching yachts dock nearby. After breakfast, we would head out to explore the city. The Gaudi buildings were a sight to behold, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I finally got to the Museu di Picasso.
The Sagrada Familia brought tears to my eyes. The grandeur, the craziness of the architecture and being surrounded by others who were equally taken with the building as I, was completely overwhelming.
Following that visit, we hopped in a taxi and went to Park Güell – a veritable garden wonderland. Park Güell is a sight to behold. This park is quintessentially Gaudi with its trademark Catalan modern elements that are both whimsical and strange at the same time. We took in a flamenco show in the municipal garden and had a traditional lunch of fine cheeses, thinly sliced Iberico ham and of course, a couple bottles of cava.
As a complete shopaholic, it would be very remiss of me to not pass along my favourite shopping haunts in great Barcelona. Zara is one of my favourite stores, so visiting the Zara flagship store on the Passeig de Gràcia was a must. Picture it – three floors rammed with the entire Zara fall collection. The day we visited was a rainy one, so the store was busy with shoppers taking cover from the weather. My bestie Jen and I ran around the store like mad women, grabbing velvet blazers, emerald satin booties and pink blazers like our lives depended on it. This was mainly due to the fact that the boys were running out of patience and were looking like they were about to explode.
After Zara, we hit up the beloved & Other Stories, followed by El Corte Inglès (a department store with a killer shoe section) and the biggest Adidas store I’ve ever seen, where Adidas-loving Marty lost his mind (and found an amazing mustard-coloured track suit). This is on top from the countless chic, independent boutiques Barcelona is known for.
Of course, we worked up quite an appetite, and headed to Sensi Tapas to stuff ourselves with more cheese and Iberico ham, drink endless bottles of cava and eventually stumbled back to our glorious condo.
I really enjoyed that little trip down memory lane and reliving one of the best trips of my life. HAve you been to Spain? What did you love about it?
*This post is sponsored by www.luxuryretreats.com.