A Girls Trip to Spain

Hola! Cómo Estás? The enchanting melody of this greeting still brings back some amazing memories of the most incredible trip. Last year with the holiday season kicking in full swing, four girl friends embarked on a journey to explore the most beautiful country in the world- Spain! Now you can only imagine the aftermath of this Spanish retreat.

With 12 days of sun, sand and sangria, we didn’t realise we were making memories; we just knew we were having fun.

I have travelled to so many countries around the world but this was one trip I took for the first time in my life- A girls trip! It was everything I had imagined it to be- late night parties followed by morning gossip sessions, wearing matching clothes, silly selfies, laughing endlessly on ridiculous jokes, sharing secrets and most importantly having fun (insert Vicky Cristina Barcelona tune)!

I couldn’t have thought of a better destination to do all this. Known for it’s fantastic beaches, a vibrant nightlife, flamenco dance and folk music, sultry senoritas, bull fighting, delicious paella and a culture so rich, there are a zillion reasons to choose Spain.

Here’s the ultimate itinerary for a girl’s trip to España. I reckon sit with a glass of wine and cosy up in a blanket, this one’s going to make you want to go to take the next flight out with your girls.. Salut (still using my Spanish words)!

Day 1: Fly to Barcelona

Excited to board my first ever flight for a girl’s trip I landed up reaching the airport way in advance. Since I was the only one travelling from Dubai I flew Emirates direct to Barcelona. I reached my hotel and was super excited to see the girls. As we were all exhausted from the travelling that night we just kept it easy, ate dinner at a local restaurant and took a midnight walk on Las Ramblas.

Note:
-Since we wanted to be in the city centre we chose Hotel Serhs Rivoli Ramblas, the rooms were great and the location was perfect. It’s right in the middle of the hustle bustle, close to the beach and all clubs too.

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Day 2: Explore Barcelona

The next day we woke up fresh all ready to explore the amazing Spanish city. We started our day with La Boqueira (a huge food market that throngs with tourist and locals) and then took the hop on hop off bus available at Plaza Catalunya for sightseeing. It’s the best way to explore all famous and historic spots. After being mesmerised by the work of Gaudi, we gallivanted the busy street of Las Ramblas. That evening we headed to Port Olympic, an area with a string of upmarket lounge bars. We started the night at Opium, followed by the Ice Bar and then hopped to the nearby pubs.

Note:
-For sightseeing take the hop on hop off bus. These spots are a must see: Sagrada Familia, FC stadium, Park Guel (we were a little disappointed with this because we were denied entry due to a full park, quite surprising as it was so huge and empty) Do get off the bus depending on which spot you want to explore.
-La Boqueria is a great spot for breakfast, try their fresh fruits and juices (check holidays and timings before hand)
– Most of the bars and clubs on Port Olympic shut at 3am. Opium is a must do!

 La Boqueria

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 La Boqueria

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Park Güell

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A night at Opium

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Day 3: A trip to the Vineyard

A trip to Barcelona would be incomplete without a visit to the Vineyard. That day we treated ourselves to a gastronomic wine experience in a thousand year old castle, Oller del Mas, located at the foot of Montserrat (an hour from Barcelona). Not only did we learn about grape harvesting and maturing in barrels but we also got a chance to taste some of the best wines with local cheeses. Later, we spent that evening exploring the Gothic quarter and of course we had to shop. That night after a quick stop at the W hotel bar (quite disappointing and uptight) we headed back to the vibrant open air pubs at Port Olympic and danced the night away.

Note:
-In the day you could also head to the Barceloneta Beach and relax.
-The vineyard tour can be booked from the Hotel concierge.
– If you want to try the local food, head to Taller de Tapas for paella and Patatas Bravas or to Tapas 24. For a good midnight meal, Wok to Walk is amazing.
-Shopping is incredible and so cheap as compared to Dubai. Brands like Zara, H&M, Stradivarius, Bershka etc are a must visit, also do check out the Spanish departmental store El Corte Ingles.

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Day 4: We’re going to Ibiza

We took an early morning flight to Ibiza so that we don’t waste a single moment on that paradise island. After three amazing nights in Barcelona, we were all charged up for this.

We checked in at the famous Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel on Playa d’en bossa and were so thrilled with the room and the property. Nothing had changed since my last visit here in 2013. After relaxing all the day we started our night by hopping pubs on that street, headed to Bora Bora Beach Club and landed up in Space, quite literally, this is one of my favourite clubs in Ibiza.

Note:
-To stay, I love the street of Playa d’en Bossa, it’s centrally located, has the best clubs around. I just love the vibe and the property of the hotel. But all the other hotels along the street are good too, I’ve heard Hard Rock is equally good. Book it in advance if you don’t want to burn a hole in your pocket.
-We chose Vueling for all our internal flights. The luggage allowance is 23kgs check in and 10kgs in hand.
-Space is a must visit, make sure it’s on your agenda.

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Our room at the Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel

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Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel

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Day 5: Beach Parties

With a mission of EAT-SLEEP-PARTY-REPEAT, our nights were definitely long. That morning we started our usual breakfast session in a local café on Playa d’en Bossa. After recovering from the previous night we got dressed and left to explore the area of Cala Conte beach. Our first stop was Sunset Ashram, a boho hippy cave like structure located on a cliff with the most spectacular view, delicious food and great music by a saxophonist. The place was just so mesmerising with free spirited people capturing the true essence of Ibiza.

After the enthralling sunset watch we headed to Café Mambo in Sant Antoni, which was equally buzzing and so much fun. Post a great meal of steak and chips we bounced back to our hotel to relax. Once the clock struck 12, just like Cinderella, we picked up our heels and headed out to Amnesia.

Note:
-Take a cab for Sunset Ashram to and fro (on the way back ask the staff of Sunset Ashram to order a cab for you).
-You can spend days chilling on the hotel beach, visit Ibiza old town, attend boat parties or beach clubs like Blue Marlin Ibiza, Ocean Beach Ibiza, Amante Beach Club etc.
-During sunset I would highly recommend visiting places like Sunset Ashram, Café Mambo, Bora Bora Beach Club or Blue Marlin.
-For the nights, head to clubs like Space, Amnesia, Pacha, Ushuaia. Remember they don’t pick up before 1am, don’t even bother entering before that.
-You can buy club passes from the stalls on Playa d’en Bossa, sometimes they negotiate too. It’s definitely cheaper than buying it from the club entrance.
-Plan your trip around the parties that happening during that time. Check the party calendar on www.ibiza-spotlight.com

Sunset Ashram

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Cafe Mambo

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Day 6: Hello Hardwell

Hungover mornings call for orange juice on the beach. While my girlfriends were fast asleep I indulged in a hearty breakfast of muffins, cakes and everything made of bread. Post this gluttony I headed to the hotel’s private beach for some me time. Turquoise waters, soft sands, beautiful people, music from neighbouring beach clubs and a chilled glass of orange juice, it was all so surreal.

After a good lunch session, we went shopping in the local boutiques on Playa d’en Bossa. That night was all about Hardwell at Ushuaia. While people struggled to watch it we were enjoying a glorious view from our room balcony.

Note:
-The stores on Playa d’en Bossa sell the best white dresses, beach bags and amazing sunglasses (for 10 euros each).

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The hotel beach

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Day 7: A real taste of Spain

Our morning began with a trip to Ibiza Old Town. Tons of cobbled streets with colourful doors, bougainvillea’s around vintage clothing stores, ancient courtyards, unique craft shops and a dream spot for compulsive instagrammers, that’s what old town was all about and a definitive proof that Ibiza is much more than partying. After the perfect vintage shopping experience we headed to the airport to board our flight to Seville, a capital of Andalusia which is rich in history and culture.

Honestly, we were blown by the first appearance of Seville. Vintage gardens, beautiful neighbourhoods, quaint cafes on cobbled streets, traditional bars, a loud Salut of the wine glasses, couples walking hand in hand, horse carriages wandering near the cathedrals and that crisp Spanish air made a beautiful picture as we headed to our apartment. After checking in our beautiful two bedroom Air BnB home, we freshened up and stepped out for our meal at a local restaurant nearby. A short walk post dinner we called it a night.

Note:
-The link to our Seville Apartment: www.airbnb.com/rooms/865708
-Even though it was amazing, next time I would prefer taking something closer to the centre, maybe around Puerta de Jerez or the Cathedral.

Ibiza Old Town

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The most amazing jewellery stall. I bought so many things from this wonderful lady

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Hello Seville! The view from our apartment

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Seville Apartment

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Seville Apartment

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Day 8: Exploring Seville

After a Spanish breakfast in a local café we headed to explore Seville. The weather was a little too warm so we opted for a horse carriage ride. This fairy tale ride was just perfect as we galloped passed the charming neighbourhoods, the greens of María Luisa Park, the Real Alcázar Palace, Torre del Oro and the majestic Plaza de España. It was such a fun experience and the best possible way to explore the famous architecture of the city.

That evening we had booked ourselves for a flamenco master class, yeah you heard that right. Clad in beautiful skirts and red lipsticks, not only did we see them perform but we also got a special dancing lesson and learnt some Spanish moves. It’s something I highly recommend. Post our dance session we hopped several pubs and bars along the cobbled streets and ended the night at Puerto de Cuba, a cool urban hip pub by the waterside. That night was special, we got the Spanish groove on, the vibe was fun as new friends were made over a glass of wine and we went back home with crazy memories.

Note:
-Horse carriages are found near the circle of Puerta de Jerez. A ride at dusk is something I would recommend.
-The Flamenco master class can be booked here (call and book): www.flamencotickets.com/tablao-alvarez-quintero-seville
-Puerto de Cuba is a must visit, loved the vibe and ambience.

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The Flamenco Show

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Day 9: Shopping in Seville

Our days in Seville started only around 3pm, it was too hot to get out before that. After a delicious oats breakfast made by my darling friend we stepped out to explore the city. A visit to the marvellous Cathedral was followed by a cozy and delicious lunch at Gusto Risto Bar. Post a wholesome meal we got back on the street for an insane shopping session. The streets of Sierpes and Tetuan are a shopping mecca where they have all possible high street brands and the best deals.

On the way out we also checked out Seville’s new landmark, the Metropol Parasol. That night we explored some pubs along the Guadalquivir and as exhaustion hit by 3am we headed home.

Honestly, Seville was a dream. From smashing señors and sultry senoritas to the fragrance of cured ham and fluffy flamenco dresses, this joyous town was every bit of what you could imagine the real Spain to be.

Note:
– Famous sightseeing spots: El Alcazar, Cathedral de Seville, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, Plaza d’Espana, Metropol Parasol
– Gusto RistoBar is behind the cathedral on Calle Allemanes 23
-The heart of Seville’s shopping district is Calle Sierpes and the streets running parallel – Calle Velazquez Tetúan and Calle Cuna
-For partying the streets of Calle betis is home to countless bars while El Arenal is a young hip hang out

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The delicious meal at Gusto Risto Bar

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Metropol Parasol

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Day 10: Hola Marbella!

Oh yes, it was time for the last leg of the trip- Marbella! We boarded an early morning train from Seville to Malaga and a 45min taxi ride later we finally reached the glamour resort town of Marbella.

You can only imagine the delight of four excited girls in a massive three-bedroom sea-facing apartment with spectacular views of all the beach parties in town. Since we love lively spaces we chose to stay in Puerto Banus, a marina commonly known as a playground for the rich and famous.

After countless pictures of the spectacular view and settling in, we headed to the Ocean Beach Club to purchase tickets for the legendary Champagne Spray Party (a soiree held once in a month). That night was dedicated to our dear friend Sonika who was getting married a few months later. Dressed up in matching sequin skirts, we set La Saala on fire. It was one of the best spots to be on a Saturday night for dinner and drinks. Later, we hopped to the pubs on marina stretch of Puerto Banus and ended the night at a club called Aqwa Mist.

Note:
-We stayed at the Park Plaza Suites in Puerto Banus. Book your hotels way in advance or it can get very steep.
-The closest airport or station is Malaga.
-We booked our train tickets in advance from thetrainline-europe.com.. The train was Renfe and the journey was so comfortable.
-La Saala is a must visit especially after 8pm but make sure to reserve a table in advance or else you will have to wait for at least two hours.
-Marbella is more fun on a weekend, all the spots are buzzing and beach clubs are packed during the day. (Friday &Saturday are ideal for a stay)
-The pubs near the Marina are simply amazing. Aqwa Mist can be totally avoided.

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Our Marbella Apartment

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The view from our apartment

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Day 11- The Champagne Party

Marbella was undoubtedly the Spanish equivalent to St.Tropez. Not only does it boast some luxurious celebrity homes but it also hosts the craziest parties in Spain. The Sintillate Champagne Spray Party at Ocean Beach Club was one such event. Donning our best bikinis and cover ups, we excitedly rushed to the Ocean Beach Club, looking more like the Sex and the City squad. Since there is a huge price to pay for the ticket, we were glad that at least a bottle of champagne per person was a part of the deal. When the countdown begins people gather around the pool and get ready to pop the bubbly. Before you can realise anything, you’re drenched in it from head to toe. We saved ours to drink instead of spraying it out.

The whole day we danced, ate, took a dip in the pool and had so much fun, well, it was one of the most luxurious experience after all. After crawling back to our apartment we somehow got dressed in our best outfit to hit the clubs again. But then exhaustion hit us on the way and instead we landed up indulging in a delicious mouth watering meal at Mumtaz, a gourmet Indian restaurant near our hotel. Needless to say, that was the end of the night. This was definitely not on our agenda but we had never been more content.

Note:
-Check Champagne Party details here: www.sintillate.com/marbella
-Some of the clubs that are worth checking out: Pangea, Funky Buddha, Olivia Valere.

 

 

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The best Indian meal ever!

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Day 12: Last Day of the madness!

Since it was the last day of our trip we wanted to make the most of it. After brunching at the famous Pizzeria Picasso we took a cab and headed to Marbella Old Town. Words can’t describe how charming this neighbourhood is. The streets are cobbled with chic boutiques and local cafes, postcard perfect houses that take you back to the 16th century along with some white Andalusian buildings with tons of flower filled walls, open air cafes and colourful structures, beautiful chapels and much more.

We shopped some really unique clutches and dresses, something that I would never get in Dubai. After a few hours of wandering we headed to Nikki Beach. It was a beautiful spot to swim, relax and unwind but just a little too empty on a weekday. On our last night after exploring the entire Puerto Banus, we sat in the sheesha lounge of Park Plaza and cherished the moments we spent in the last few days. The next morning we took a cab back to Malaga airport and headed to Barcelona. With a heavy heart we bid each other goodbye and left with memories that would last us a lifetime.

Note:
-Marbella Old town is a must visit. It is advisable to check timings as most of it is closed during noon. Explore the tiny lanes by foot and spare a whole day for this.
-Valeria Derbais is a great store for bags and dresses.
-Try and go to beach clubs only on weekends.

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Marbella Old Town

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Nikki Beach Marbella

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What to pack:

If you’re travelling in the summer months of June, July, August then these are essential:
For the day time: Casual dresses, floral flowy gowns, off shoulder tops with shorts or skirts, crop tops etc. Since Spain is such a fun place avoid boring denims instead pack all coloured flowy outfits.
Beach wear: Ibiza and Marbella are two places where you can flaunt your best bikinis and swimsuits. Flip flops and beach cover ups are a must have.
Dinner and Partying: For the nights you can opt for long slit skirts, short dresses, sequin skirts, fun tops and shorts.
Accessories: For the day time all you need is a hat and sunglasses. For the beach, carry your beach bag, sunscreen and scarves. For the night you could carry statement earrings or necklaces. Do carry a sling bag for sightseeing and night parties.
Shoes: Since there is a lot of walking involved wear comfortable flats or sneakers in the day, they look super trendy too. For the beach you need flat sandals and for the nights you can either wear flats or wedges. Even though I carried my heels and wedges, I stuck to my flats. The whole idea of a holiday is to be comfortable, especially if you’re talking about long party hours.

Tips:
-Make a whatsapp group so it’s easy to coordinate with everybody.
– Since we wanted to experience everything we opted for hotels in two destinations and apartments in the other two. Needless to say, apartments are way too much fun.
– Buy local SIM cards when travelling everybody should have an activated contact number to avoid any sort of trouble.
– Go crazy but watch out for each other. If you’re having a party night in an unknown country at least have one person who will remain sane that night.
-Don’t let money ever be an issue in this trip. Either pool in and make a bank for everyday expenditure or just keep dividing and sharing bills every single day.
– Be open to trying new things
– Too many girls multiply the chances of drama. So travel in a smaller group, with people whom you love and actually care about. Most importantly, you need to be yourself.
-Be super positive and happy, your mood can rub off on others too
– Pack light as you have to pick your own luggage.

When to go:
The best time to visit Spain is in the Summer. June, July, August are the peak summer months and also the best season for all the parties in Ibiza and Marbella. But if you don’t mind the drab weather then October to May are not bad.

Flight and Travel Details:
Dubai to Barcelona- Emirates (7hrs 10mins non stop)
Barcelona to Ibiza: Vueling, (1 hour direct flight) Baggage allowance is 23kgs main luggage and 10kgs hand luggage
Ibiza to Seville: Vueling (1 hour 20 mins direct flight)
Seville to Malaga: Book it in advance from www.thetrainline-europe.com ( approx. 2 hrs 20 mins direct)
Malaga to Marbella: Cab from the airport (approx. 45 mins drive)
Malaga to Barcelona: Vueling (1 hr 30 mins direct flight)

Don’t leave without:
A visit to the Sunset Ashram
– Trying the local wine
-A horse carriage ride in Seville
– Trying the food at La Saala Marbella
-A visit to Ibiza and Marbella Old Town
– Shopping!
-A visit to the beach clubs

Note:
-The sangria everywhere is not as good as you would expect. Stick to local red wine instead.
– Beware of pickpocketers in Barcelona
– Be prepared to carry your own luggage, everywhere!

Whether it’s checking something off your bucket list or travelling with someone you love, you only get one go at this life. Life may not permit you to do this later so as soon as you get the opportunity just grab it and leave the country with your girls. The best part is, your girls don’t judge you and you can be yourself. Maturity is the price we pay for growing up. The only way to revive old memories is to get away with your old friends. Remember you will be back with tons of stories, some which might ridicule you for years. Life is one big YOLO so make sure it’s worth it. Well for us, the tan has faded but the memories will last forever!

 

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