Semana Santa 2014: A Spanish road trip!

Northern Spain...quite different from Madrid, no? Source

Northern Spain…quite different from Madrid, no?

If you’ve been reading my blog for the past year or so, you know that I love a good old-fashioned road trip.  There’s nothing like the feeling of the steering wheel in my hands and my favorite song on the radio while cruising at 70. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like navigating the rental car process here in Spain (most cars are manual and this girl doesn’t know how to drive a stick), so I’ve had to redefine what “road trip” looks like for me and include “any mode of travel that includes wheels hitting the pavement”. Here’s what I have in store for this week!

In Spain, “Semana Santa” or Holy Week, is a very big deal. Regardless of how religious you are, the entire country celebrates the week before Easter with an entire week off from work and school, and people usually travel to visit their families or kick off the spring/summer season with trips to the coast.  Having a total of eleven days off from work meant only one thing for me: traveling. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to plan my solo Semana Santa trip at the last minute and decided to stay within Spain to keep things from getting really expensive, but I’m so glad with how it turned out!

Where I’m Going

Semana Santa processions in Sevilla

Semana Santa processions in Sevilla Source

No place celebrates Semana Santa like Sevilla, Spain. From Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday there are 24-hour processions of floats depicting scenes from the Passion of Jesus Christ, led by different religious brotherhoods. Honestly, my fear of large crowds mixed with hooded figures makes me think that this is not going to be my kind of party but I thought it would be important to experience a different side of Spanish culture, if only for a little while. Besides, although I’ve never been to Sevilla, I do recall that people from Andalucia are super chill and friendly so I’m hoping to meet some folks! I also plan to do a bit of the tourist thing by checking out the Alcazar, Torre de Oro, Metropol Parasol, the Cathedral of Seville, Plaza de España and of course, see some flamenco! I will try (and I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid) to watch some of the religious procession from a distance sort of as an “I can say I did it while living in Spain” thing to mark off the checklist.

A Coruña Source

A Coruña

After Sevilla I’m heading north for my one part of the trip that does not involve driving. I’ll fly straight into the gorgeous town of La Coruña in the province of Galicia. Excitement is an understatement. I mean LOOK AT THIS PLACE. I am so ashamed to say that since I have been living in Spain I have not seen the ocean once (this is partly true, I saw it from a distance in Barcelona but that doesn’t count), and I’m practically aching to inhale some saltwater air and stare at the ocean for hours.  I’m also super geeked to try out some Galician cuisine, of course with a special focus on seafood. I’ve also heard that the north of Spain is super green because of a rainy climate (here’s hoping I stay dry) and it’s almost like being in another world in comparison to Madrid. Can’t wait!

Cathedral of San Salvador - Oviedo Source

Cathedral of San Salvador – Oviedo

After A Coruña, I’m headed east to Oviedo in the following providence of Asturias. For anyone that happens to be a fan on Vicky Christina Barcelona, Oviedo is the town that Scarlett Johansson’s character and her friend travel to with Javier Bardem for the weekend. Although I hated that movie, the town of Oviedo stuck out in my mind and I’ve never forgotten the name and it was high on my list of places to visit when I moved here. Welp, it’s finally happening! Again, as I am always driven by my stomach when traveling, I’m looking forward to trying Asturian cuisine, particularly Fabada, a bean and sausage casserole dish. I’m going on a guided tour and a gastronomic tour of Oviedo (!!!) so I’ll be sure to recap both of those fun activities here!

Guggenheim museum - Bilbao Source

Guggenheim museum – Bilbao

After Asturias, I’m off to explore Pais Vasco, also known as the Basque Country.  I’m headed to the capital, Bilbao, because it seems like everyone and their mom raves about Bilbao so I figured it was time for me to see what all the hooplah was about.  Unfortunately, I’ll only be able to spend less than 24 hours in Bilbao but I’ll be doing another guided tour and a pintxos tour. I effing LOVE pintxos. Although pinxtos aren’t very different from tapas, they are the characterized by the pinxto of choice (cod, tortilla, roasted meat, etc.) being served as topping to a sliced piece of bread and then being fastened  to it by a skewer or toothpick.  They are the typical snack of the Basque Country and the region of Navarra, also found in the north of Spain.  If I have time (and money) I would like to check out the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao since I’ve been to its sister location in New York City many times.

Santander Source


My last stop on this road trip will be a couple days in Santander because a very nice girl from the Auxiliares program offered to host me and show me around! I didn’t know anything about Santander before she and I started talking, but from the looks of it, it looks like an absolutely gorgeous place.  Port cities are my kind of towns so even if we do nothing but sit in the sun and stare at the water all day, that’s fine with me!

How I’m traveling

As I mentioned before, I had to make this trip as price conscious as possible, hence why I’m mainly hitting the road instead of hitting the skies.  I’m taking the car sharing service Blablacar from Madrid to Sevilla then hopping my one and only flight via Spanish airline Vueling from Sevilla to La Coruña. After that, I’m traveling by the super comfortable ALSA bus service throughout the north of Spain and also using the ALSA bus to get back to Madrid. Voila!

Are you an Auxiliar getting ready to head out for Semana Santa? Where are you going? Not an Auxiliar but headed somewhere for Spring Break? Where to? How do you celebrate Easter? Let me know in the comments below!

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General Conversation

6 Responses

  1. Your Semana Santa plans are really exciting! I’m looking forward to hearing all about them. I’ve never been to Galicia or anywhere up north besides Bilbao. I’m hoping to be in La Rioja next year, so I’ll be up in that general area. Can’t wait to hear how you like it. Safe travel, Shayla!

    • Shayla says:

      Well I’m sure you saw my last post but I never made it to Bilbao! Next time though! Galicia is wonderful and you should definitely make it up there next year!

  2. Rachel says:

    I was an auxiliary in Santander. Eat pinchos and patatas bravas at Dias Desur and enjoy the beach.

    • Shayla says:

      I’m so sad I didn’t make it there! I had to come back to Madrid because I was losing my mind lol. Next time though! I love it up north 🙂

  3. Estrella says:

    I hope you’re enjoying your semana santa roadtrip so far. I hope to do a small road trip around Spain before the summer. If you could, can you do a review of using blabla car (even if just as a reply to this comment)? I’m curious to find out some first hand experience about it.

    • Shayla says:

      Hey! Bla bla car was so great! I lucked out because my driver was a Spanaird but also an English teacher so we spoke a mix of both languages but if you aren’t as lucky, prepare to speak some spanish! Just go with drivers that have reviews is my best advice. It was my first time using bla bla car and I probably should have chosen a shorted trip (Madrid to Sevilla is almost 6 hours) but it was still fun and cost effective. Good luck!

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