Back in May before I lost my job, I had a friend contact me with a super, super cheap airfare option for Madrid. When I say cheap, I mean $380 round trip flight from Chicago. Hard to pass up, right? The only deal was that I had to get from Minneapolis to Chicago, which is super cheap ($84RT) and easy on Southwest Airlines. This cheap airfare had one layover from Chicago, which was in Atlanta. Well if you’ve watched the news at all in the last two weeks, you saw that Irma was posing a real threat to the Florida/Georgia
Line area. We were flying Delta, so when weather poses a threat they allow you to make alternative transportation. Since it appeared that Irma was heading straight for Atlanta (spoiler alert: Irma calmed down way before she hit Georgia), we decided to rebook, which gave us an extra layover.
On Tuesday morning I went from Minneapolis to Chicago. The next morning we flew from Chicago to Detroit, which was not fun. It was a small plane, with odd engine noises, turbulence, and not my favorite landing. From Detroit we had to catch a flight to Amsterdam, which ended up being delayed about an hour. The flight itself was great- smooth, lots of wine, and movie watching. However this hour delay caused us to almost miss our connection to Madrid. Imagine me sprinting through a foreign airport with a heavy backpack, in sandals, sweating, and with a bum foot that has been causing me pain for the last 2 months. After cutting the line in passport control, we made it on our flight with not a minute to spare.
Once we landed we still had to pick up our rental car, and drive the 3 hours to Zaragoza, which is an inland city halfway between Madrid and Barcelona. We were pretty tired at this point, but we made it, debatably in one piece. Our hotel was this cute little place right next to Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. It had a humongous courtyard, and lots of cute little alleyways with shops, and cafes!
After we explored a little, we decided it was time to find something to eat. However this proved to be difficult, it was 4pm, in Spain, a country that embraces the dinner culture of eating at 10pm. Lots of the restaurants close around 4-5pm so that they can get ready for dinner. We found some sandwiches and decided to take them back to the room. The jet lag had finally kicked in, and we were both sleeping by 6pm. The early bed time allowed us to get up early the next morning and tour a little bit before we had to get on the road to Barcelona. Friday morning was cold and rainy, but we borrowed an umbrella and made the best of it!
We ventured to an indoor market with fresh seafood, meat, and fruits and veggies. While walking through the market, I noticed multiple patrons drinking wine, at 9am — I’m really starting to love the culture here in Spain! It was fun to watch the locals come to the market to buy all their fresh produce. While I was waiting in line to buy some fruit, two ladies in front of me had their large roller bags, and both left with full bags! When it was my turn to order I bought some grapes and figs, which rang in under $1!
These onions were the size of grapefruit!
After our fruit run we found a coffee shop with crepes, and gelato– calories don’t count on vacation, right? After breakfast we explored a bit more. Found an old roman theater transformed into an event space. After that we made our way back to the cathedral, but you couldn’t take pictures inside, so you’ll have to go to Zaragoza to see how beautiful it was! Lastly we walked across the river to see the city, and cathedral from another angle. I feel like some of these photos show just how cold we were. It’s odd to think that today I was freezing while wearing long sleeves and jeans, but in a few days I will be wearing a swim suit in Mallorca!
We left Zaragoza a little after noon, to set out on our journey to Barcelona. Renting a car was stressful at times, but also a really awesome way to see parts of Spain that I will probably never see again. Plus it was so nice to set our own travel schedule, and leave when we wanted to.
Favorite Parts of Zaragoza:
- The market! I’m sure I will see a lot more fresh produce markets during my stay here in Spain, but I really loved how cheap and fresh the fruit was.
- It’s a relatively inexpensive city. Our lodging (Hotel Pillar Plaza) was lovely and priced really well. Many food and drink were also priced very well, so you could indulge a little without feeling guilty.
- The relaxed vibe of the city. A lot of the locals looked to be older, which leads me to believe that this may be a retirement destination.
Would I go there again?
- Maybe? I liked the city, but I’m not sure if I would make it a main destination again.