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Spain - A 10 Day Itinerary

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

It is hard not to love Spain. Beautiful and evocative, Spain awakens your imagination and captures your heart. It is a nation thats not afraid of innovation and progress, yet is passionately protective and proud of its culture. It is the second most visited country in Europe, and for good reason too. With its warm climate year round, fascinating multi-cultural history, beautiful coastal towns and charming ancient cities, Spain is on top of everyones list of must visit places in the world.

On our first trip to Spain, we instantly fell in love. It quickly climbed the ranks as one of our favorite countries. I hold close many fond memories of travelling in that country and hope that one day I will return to experience more of her. But until then, I have shared my experiences and travel tips, in the hopes that others will find them useful and fall in love with Spain, like I did. Below is a 10 day itinerary we followed to see many of the top sights and cities in the country.


>> Got a question about this itinerary that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.


When To Go

Although famous for its warm weather, the temperatures soar into the 100s (in Fahrenheit) during the summer, which is also peak tourist season. The sweltering heat will only make many of the overcrowded tourist attractions unbearable during those hot summer months. The temperature is milder during the fall and winter months between October to December, which is when I would recommend visiting Spain.

Transportation Within Spain

We were very impressed by the ease of transportation throughout Spain. We used a cab (Uber is not as popular in Spain) to and from the airport, on the first and last day of our trip. We used the Metro or the local bus within the big cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, and Renfe train to travel between cities. We did book our inter-city train rides months before our trip, due to which we got some really good deals, as opposed to booking them in the last minute. Both in Madrid and Barcelona, we bought a multi-person travel pass, which we could use both on the Metro as well as on the local buses. With the help of Google Maps, we had absolutely no issues navigating our way around Spain. Another point to note here is that all cities in Spain are walking friendly. No tourist sight is more than 2km apart. During our trip, we were averaged around 25k steps a day.

Day 1


Where To Stay

We stayed at Occidental Diagonal 414 in L'Eixample area of the city. The hotel has beautifully appointed rooms overlooking Diagonal Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares in Barcelona. Centrally located, it is about 10 mins walk to Sagrada Familia, 5 minutes walk to Gaudi's Casa Mila and Casa Batlo and 1.5 Km from La Rambla, the main tourist drag. Also, the closest Metro is steps away from the hotel. Offering a full breakfast buffet and cava and wine in the evenings, I highly recommend this hotel during your stay in Barcelona.

View of Diagonal Avenue from our hotel room

What To Buy

The region of Catalunya, of which Barcelona is the capital, is famous for its red and white wine. Spanish wine, sangrias and cava (sparkling wine) are great souvenirs to take home from Barcelona. Also famous here are Gaudi artwork replicas like Toro (bull) or a flemenco girl covered in mosaic art, representative of Gaudi's style.

After checking into your hotel, spend your first day in Barcelona getting your bearings straight and get oriented with the city and the Metro. Barcelona is a walking-friendly city. All the major sights are with 2-3kms from each other and all tourist spots are well connected via Metro. We bought the T-Familiar multi-person metro card which allows 8 rides in 30 days.

La Ramblas : La Ramblas may be the most famous tourist landmark in the city. It is a large tree-lined boulevard with souvenir shops and restaurants flanking the sides as well as on the middle pedestrian walkway. Since it is in the center of the city, it is within walking distance to most tourist hotels. It is a great spot to spend your first evening watching street performers while eating warm, roasted chestnuts from the roadside vendors, and having your first of many paellas and sangrias on this trip.

Where To Eat: On our very first day in Spain, we were very thrilled that we got to eat the best paella we had had so far (and since), at La Lolita on Rambla De Catalunya. What drew us to the restaurant was, obviously, the name. But the veggie paella truly made its namesake (ie. yours truly) happy and satisfied. We also liked the tapas we ordered - the most famous tapa the nation is famous for, potato bravas, and fried eggplant with honey.

Fried eggplant drizzled with honey and veggie paella for two at La Lolita restaurant

Day 2

Spend your first full day in Barcelona checking out what the city is most famous for - Gaudi architecture.

Sagrada Familia: Sagrada Familia cathedral is the most famous of Anton Gaudi's works. It far exceed my expectations with its immensity and simplicity. Here are a few tips to make your visit enjoyable.

👉Buy your ticket atleast a week in advance. Buy from the Sagrada Familia website instead of some third party company.

👉If possible, time your visit for the 9am slot, and during midweek, to avoid the crowds.

👉Arrive half hour early, so you have plenty of time to take pictures outside. The area is practically empty between 8 and 8.30am for the best pictures.

👉The best panaromic view is from the pond behind Sagrada Familia.

👉Skip adding the towers visit to your ticket. The views are not worth the time or money.

Sagrada Familia and its impressive stainglass windows and the steep stairs leading down from the Nativity Tower.

Casa Mila : Also referred to as La Pedrera, it is one of the most well known apartment building of architect Anton Gaudi. You can see his unique style throughout the building which is now on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. The house is a couple of metro stops away from the Sagrada Familia, and also requires advance reservations. Compared to the majesty of Sagrada Familia and the whimsical nature of Casa Batlo, I found Casa Mila to be simple, yet functional. The audio tour (there is one for all sights in Barcelona) did a great job highlighting how Gaudi was ahead of his times with his innovative ideas and creative spirit. The Warrior Rooftop is quite interesting and makes for great photos.

Two famous views from Casa Mila : the apartment view from the courtyard below, and the warriors terrace.

Casa Batllo: Just around the corner from Casa Mila, on the fashionable Paseo de Garcia, is Casa Batllo, a quirky, colorful Gaudi creation which is also a UNESCO Word Heritage Site. The whole building is built with a marine/underwater theme in mind. The colorful mosaic adoring all the walls, along with its irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work makes the entire building remarkable and a must visit. Visit the interiors of Casa Batllo during the daytime to see how he used light in designing the building. But do pass by the building at night to see it all lit up in various colors. Advance reservations are recommend here as well.

Casa Batllo at night.

Park Guell : Another Gaudi creation, this is outdoors in the form of an expansive park towards the west of the city. If going by metro, it is a steep walk uphill from the metro station to reach the gates, but the park is well worth the effort. There are many viewpoints that provide sweeping views of the city, along with many quirky columns and passageways designed throughout the park. But the piece de resistance in the entire park, where all the people flock to are the serpentine mosaic Gaudi benches. Highly recommend going here around sunset, just before the park closes, to catch the golden hour illuminating the entire city of Barcelona. Advance reservations recommended.

On Gaudi's famous mosaic tile bench at Park Guell

Barceloneta : Barceloneta is the beach district of Barcelona. Although the beach itself is small, there is a great promanade along the beach, perfect for a stroll or run or just for people watching. The entire place comes alive in the evenings with street fairs, performers and locals hanging out at the numerous tapas bars and restaurants that line the oceanfront.

Barceloneta beach, with the W hotel in the distance.

Where To Eat: Close to Barceloneta is Bubita Sangria Bar, a lovely plant-based tapas and sangria bar set in a quaint little square in a quiet neighborhood. I highly recommend this restaurant, if you are into vegetarian/vegan food. Everything we ordered, including their non-alcoholic sangria, was lip-smacking good.

A colorful plate of hummus and bread, accompanied by a non-alcoholic sangria at Bubitas

Day 3

Walking Tour of Old Town/Barri Gothic : Whenever we visit a new city, we sign up for a free walking tour with guides who are locals and who do a great job providing a history lesson about the city and we tip them based on our comfort level. We did a similar one in Barcelona for the Gothic Quarters and learnt so much about the past and present day Barcelona. I highly recommend this tour. It is offered in the morning and evening, so you can sign up for one based on your convenience.

Boqueria Market: Once your walking tour is over, head to Boqueria Market which is close to the Gothic Quarters and Las Ramblas, for lunch. One of Europes largest markets, it is a feast for all the senses. There are a number of food, drink and fruit stalls, offering tapas, sangrias, seafood and a variety of paellas.

Palau de la Musica Catalana : In the Gothic Quarter is this hidden gem of a place, which is the most ornate concert hall I have ever seen. Most tourists skip visiting this place, as it is not on the main tourist drag. The Palau de la Música Catalana is an architectural jewel of Catalan Art Nouveau, and is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site. The audio tour which is included in the entry fee provides a great description of the building, its history and architecture. The inverted stain glass dome which also serves as the central skylight for the music hall is breathtakingly beautiful, along with the beautiful mosaic pillars in the balcony and mosaic designs throughout the interior and exterior of the music hall. Once again, advance reservations are highly recommended for your visit.

The grand interiors of Palau de la Musica Catalana

Where To Eat : Sesamo is a vegetarian tapas bar set in the heart of El Raval district, not far from Las Ramblas. It is a small space located on a narrow street, and can easily be missed, if not for the raving reviews online and recommendation from friends. Along with an ala carte menu, the restaurant also offers a prix-fixe menu which includes 2 drinks for a cool 29 euros per person (at the time of this writing). The menu changes everyday based on the ingredients available and the creativity of the young chef. It was a fun food experience set in a romantic, cozy setting, and the staff was attentive to all our needs. Due to its popularity, I made dinner reservations for this place a week ahead of time.

L to R : Red cabbage, bread with tomatoes, Pardon Peppers, pumpkin soup and Manchego cheese ravioli at Sesamos.

Day 4

Girona, Pals, Costa Brava

We wanted to explore the medieval Spanish villages in the Catalunya region before we traveled to Southern Spain. Given the limited time we had, we booked a day trip through to the towns of Girona, Pals and the seaside region of Costa Brava. It was a good decision, as the guide, Daniel, covered a lot of ground in 10 hours. With hotel pickup and dropoff, and a small tour size, Daniel gave us individual attention throughout the trip and along with being knowledgeable, he was extremely polite and friendly. If you do decide to book this tour, make sure you ask for Daniel to be your guide!

The town of Girona in Northern Spain was made popular by Game Of Thrones series, in which a number of scenes were shot at various locations in Girona. This town is also a photographers delight, with its colorful houses along the River Onyar and medieval architecture.

The colorful houses of Girona

Pals is yet another rural Spanish town which was completely deserted when we went in November, as the tourist season had already ended. We had the entire town and its maze like cobblestone streets to ourself to explore.

Our final stop was at a small fishing village of Calella de Palafurgell in Costa Brava. This town was also deserted when we visited, leaving the dramatic Mediterranean landscape for us to enjoy in its entirety. The quietness of the town against the crashing sound of the waves from the emerald green Mediterranean Sea was surreal!

A sleepy Costa Brava fishing village located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea

Day 5


No visit to Barcelona is complete without making a day trip to Montserrat. This Benedictine monastery sits atop a mountain and is one of the most visited sites from Barcelona. I especially loved the rugged scenery around the monastery and the Boys Choir which starts at 1pm everyday. I found this website useful to figure out transportation to Montserrat from Barcelona. Here are a few tips to make your day trip memorable!

👉Montserrat is easy to get to from Barcelona! You dont need to book it through a travel company.

👉 Plan to arrive at the monastery around noon. Most folks leave the monastery by 2 pm after which you will have the entire place to yourself.

👉 There are two ways to reach the monastery from the train station below - via cable car or via cogsrail. The cable car is the most scenic option.

👉Once at the monastery, head to the information office to get free tickets to the Boys Choir which starts at 1pm everyday. Most folks are unaware of this requirement.

👉 There is usually a long line forming in front of the Basilica to see the Black Mary. If this is not of interest for you, you can skip the line and directly enter the Basilica.

👉 There are two funiculars, each going in opposite directions. I highly recommend the Sant Jovan funicular which gives great views of the monastery from the top of the mountain. Buy a one way ticket to the funicular and hike down.

The grand interiors of the Abbey of Montserrat

View of the monastery from the funicular

Another view of the imposing rocks behind the monastery

Montjuic Cable Car: Yet another gem that many tourists overlook is the cable car ride which transports people from the bottom of Montjuic mountain, all the way to the top, to Montjuic castle, and offers stunning views along the way. Access to the start of the cable car ride is equally fun, as it requires riding a modern funicular from the Parallel metro stop (funicular ride included in the metro ticket) to the bottom of Montjuic mountain where the cable car ride starts. Although you can buy a round trip ticket for the cable car, I would suggest buying one way, as once you reach the top, you can walk back down to the funicular station, while taking your time enjoying the birds eye views from the various vista points on the mountain. We timed this trip for sunset, and the view of the entire city of Barcelona and the Barcelona harbor was breathtaking during the golden hour.

Birds eye view of the city of Barcelona and its port at sunset.

Where To Eat : As you walk down Montjuic mountain, you will walk by El Xalet de Montjuic, a restaurant perched atop a 1992 Olympic Games swimming pool. Its a great place to stop for dinner before catching the funicular to head back to town (the funicular station is right next to the restaurant). The restaurant offers the usual tapas and Spanish fare, but what sets it apart is the spectacular view of the city from its terrace. We didnt need a reservation and were able to walk in on a weekday night.


>> Got a question about this itinerary that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.


Day 6


Madrid, the cultural and geographical capital of Spain, is often overshadowed by its flamboyant northern neighbor, Barcelona. However, Madrid stands out on its own with an amazing fusion of tradition and history, with a modern, urban lifestyle.

Where To Stay

Having arrived in Madrid early in the morning after a 2.5 hr train ride from Barcelona, we opted to find accommodations close to the main train station, Atocha, so we could dump our luggage and head out to explore the city as soon as possible. Uma Suites Atocha was an excellent option for our stay. Just 5 minutes from Atocha station, and a few hundred feet from the Metro station, the suites were situated in a Spanish style apartment building, with balconies overlooking the avenues below. The rooms were spacious (for European standards) with updated/modern bathrooms. Highly recommend!

View from our hotel room

Old Town Walking Tour : We started our day with a pay-as-you-go historic walking tour from our go-to company : freetoursbyfoot We got a 2 hour history lesson of the city and highlights on the top sights, which helped us decide on what to do next. Always love this company and the tours they offer in all major cities across the world, and how passionate the guides are in sharing interesting tidbits about their beloved city with us. We always walk away feeling glad they deserved the much needed tips they work towards.

Mercado de San Miguel : This is Madrid's most famous food market and a great spot for a quick lunch. It is similar to Barcelona's Boqueria Market, but Mercado de San Miguel is smaller, cleaner and definitely more upscale. It is the perfect place to experiment on all the various taps and drinks Spain has to offer, although the price is slightly steep.

L to R : Iberian Ham with mozzarella; Spanish omelette with Brie and chorizo

Gran Via : Gran Via is one of the most vibrant areas of Madrid, full of people, every day at almost any time, perfect for people watching! It is New York answer to Fifth Avenue, Broadway and Times Square, all rolled up into one. Spend the afternoon browsing through the upscale shops and boutiques on Gran Via. Our family loves shopping at Primark and we were thrilled that there was one on Gran Via. There are a number of interesting buildings with amazing architecture to gawk at as you stroll down the street.

Temple Of Debod: This is an Egyptian temple which was moved from Egypt and rebuilt in Madrid. The temple is situated up a small hill, which is easily walkable from Gran Via. Being at a height, it offers amazing views of the city of Madrid, especially of the Basilica at a distance. It is especially romantic at sunset with street performers trying to compete with the setting sun to catch your attention. I was looking forward to catch some good pictures of the temple columns reflected in the pond, but unfortunately, when we went, they had dried up the pond. So I had to be satisfied with the golden hour views over the city, which was also equally stunning.

View of The Cathedral de Almudena at sunset from Temple of Debod viewpoint

Where To Eat : Madrid has some great tapas restaurant around Plaza Mayor, which is a square completely enclosed by red brick buildings and is the central hub of the city. Meson Del Champignons near Mercado de San Miguel is famous for their fried mushroom tapas. You cannot leave Madrid without trying their famous chocolate churros at San Gines in Old Town.

Yummy and hot chocolate dipped churros at San Gines in Old Town

Day 7

Retiro Park : Start your day by taking a stroll in beautiful Retiro Park in the heart of the city, which was recently declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is where the locals go for a jog, a morning walk or for a picnic with their family. Within the park you will find all kinds of interesting monuments and gardens, a glass palace, and a beautiful artificial lake where you can rent a boat.

The beautiful lakes at Retiro Park

Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande: Entrance to the Basilica is free and it is one of the grandest in all of Spain. Dont let its unassuming facade on the outside fool you. Its enormity and grandeur on the inside will leave you astounded. There are a number of internal rooms behind the alter which are open to the public and which display ornately carved furniture and doors. This Basilica is off the main tourist trail, so it is very peaceful inside.

The ornate interiors of Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande

The Cathedral de Almudena : The Cathedral de Almudena is yet another grand church of Madrid, located in front of the Royal Palace of Madrid. The interior of the church is designed in Neo-Gothic style and below it lies the largest crypt in the country where many of Spain's kings and nobilities are buried. Entrance into the cathedral and crypt are free, although a donation is expected for the crypt. An audio guide explains to the listener the various highlights and tombs within the crypt.

Left : The well preserved crpty; Right : The exterior of The Cathedral de Almudena

Madrid's Royal Palace: Saving the best for the last, Madrid's Royal Palace is spellbinding with its grandeur and majesty. Home to many of Spain's Kings, the audio tour that comes with the ticket, guides you from room to room, taking you on a journey through Spain's history. The palace, inspired by sketches made by Bernini for the construction of the Louvre in Paris, is built in the form of a square and looks out over a large courtyard with galleries and a parade ground. We took close to 2 hours gawking at all the rooms in the tour and were thoroughly impressed. Knowing that this was the most popular tourist sight in Madrid, we booked our tickets online more than a month in advance.

The grand stairway leading to the palace rooms

Day 8 Toledo

This monumental ancient city is a captivating UNESCO World Heritage Site. Behind its daunting medieval walls, in a labyrinth of winding pedestrian streets, Magnificent old stone buildings and quiet cobblestone streets. Known as the "City of three cultures", Christians, Muslims and Jews have flourished here for centuries. This charming walled town is an easy and quick daytrip from Madrid. All it takes is a 30 minutes train ride from Madrid's Atocha station. However, the frequency of the trains is once every hour, so your day needs to be planned accordingly, so you dont miss the last train back to Madrid.

What To Buy : 90% of Spanish Saffron is cultivated in Toledo, in the province of La Mancha. So it is ideal to buy saffron while you are here in Toledo. Toledo is also renowned for its damasquinados, or damascene handicrafts and costume jewelry, which is a Moorish art of inlaying gold or silver threads into black steel in a decorative pattern to decorate plates, earrings, bracelets and large pendants. Although expensive, they are quite eye catching and make for great souvenirs to bring home.

Old Town Walking Tour: We, once again, took the aid of a free walking tour to get an introduction of this fascinating town. The professional guide helped us navigate through the most attractive and interesting spots of Toledo while at the same time, narrating stories and anecdotes of what was once the capital of Spain, until the 15th century.

Scenes from Old Town Toledo

Zocotren : Zocotren is yet another way to experience this amazing city. It is a tourist "toy train" that starts from the main square, Zocodover Square, at the top of the hour, and takes its passengers on a 45 minutes ride around the outer loop of the town. The price per ticket is $7 and comes with an audio guide. However, most of the earphones provided on the train do not work. Nonetheless, it is still worth the ride, as the train takes you to vista points which cannot be accessed on foot.

View of the walled city from across the Tagus river, as seen from the Zocotren

Day 9


Seville is the capital of the Andalusia region of Spain, and has become my favorite city in all of Europe. This stunning historic city has every attraction you would expect of Spain from orange trees to traditional tapas bars and Flamenco at every square corner. It is a quick 2.5hr train ride from Madrid, and a must visit destination in Spain.

Where To Stay : With a late night arrival from Madrid, we decided to stay at Cantalonia Santa Justa, which was minutes walk from the main Seville train station, Santa Justa. Our triple room was huge, with a very spacious and modern bathroom, with views of the city. We really loved this hotel, and wished we could have stayed longer, just like we felt about the city.

What To Buy: Seville is famous for its oranges. Every which way you turn, you will find orange trees, be it in a courtyard in the middle of the square, or along the pavements on city streets. No wonder oranges are one of the top agricultural products in this region. You will find oranges in all forms - orange scented bath soaps, orange candles, orange and orange blossom perfumes, orange shaped jewelry, orange flavored artisan chocolates, dried orange peels - all of them make great gifts to bring home.

I had my share of oranges in every form - this delicious one was sun-dried and sweetened!

Old Town Walking Tour - As with all the other cities, we started our day in Seville with an introduction from a local guide from GuruWalk. Through the walk, we were able to relive the history and discover the origins of the city through the peoples who settled there such as the Romans, Visigoths and Arabs. This two and a half hour walk took us through all the important places in the historic center and ended in the stunning and awe-inspiring Plaza de Espana.

The cathedral of Saint Mary of the See is the most iconic landmark in Old Town

Plaza de Espana: It is hard to describe the beauty of this plaza in words. It needs to be seen to be believed. This plaza was one of the reasons Seville is now my most favorite city in Europe. The entire square was designed in Spanish Renaissance style architecture and was built for the Iberian-American Exhibition of 1929. The entire "square" is actually built in the form of a semi-circle, with many government buildings flanking it on either side. Of note are the 52 benches and mosaics of tiles located at the foot of the building on the Spanish square. These 52 frescos depict all 52 Spanish provinces. The tiles are typical of Andalusia, the so-called azulejos. A majestic fountain in the middle of the "square" and a man made moat which goes around the square and offers boat rides adds additional charm to the entire setting. I could spend the whole day in this square, just people watching and photographing the beautiful mosaic designs. At any given time of the day, there will be atleast one flamenco dancer showing off her dancing skills.

One of the many beautiful mosaic bridges at Plaza Espana

Royal Alcazar: If your mind was blown by Plaza de Espana, wait until you see the Royal Alcazar, or the Royal Palace of Spain. The palace was the setting for many scenes for the Kingdom of Dorne, House of Martell in The Game Of Throne series. Built in the 10th century, this palace is a great example of Moorish architecture and is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its lush gardens, its intricately carved archway, imposing dome shaped roof, it is one site that needs advance booking online. We were not happy with the free audio guide that came with the ticket, as it was very confusing to follow. I highly recommend hiring a guide, or signing up for a guided tour online.

The lush gardens, courtyards and columns of Real Alcazar

Setas de Seville: Not far from the main tourist area is a very unique art installation called Setas de Seville, or Mushroom of Seville. It is a gigantic overhead wooden structure which reminded me of honeycomb in a beehive, rather than mushrooms. There is a fee to go to the top of the structure. It is especially popular at sunset and at night when it is lit up in various colors. After a long day of sightseeing, the steps under the Setas is a perfect spot to unwind, munching on some roasted chestnuts, while people watching.

The sign says it all! Under the Setas de Seville

Day 10


We spent our last day in Spain by taking a bus tour to another jewel of Spain, the stunning Moorish palace of Alhambra, in Granada. The tour of Alhambra itself takes about half a day, and the rest of the time can be spent walking around the quaint cobblestone streets of Granada and the Albaicin neighborhood with the beautiful white houses and red rooftops and doorways with pots of flowers. We opted for a Viator Bus tour that picked us up at our hotel early in the morning at 6.15am and dropped us back 12 hours later. I am glad I booked this tour weeks ahead, as the bus was completely full on the day of our trip.

Alhambra palace itself is the absolute gem of Granada. Built in the 1200s by a Muslim king, the architecture is predominantly Muslim, with the palace built entirely in red stone (Alhambra means red in Arabic). This is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site (I lost count on how many such sites we visited on this trip) due to its unique history, its incredible tilework throughout the palace, its magical gardens and beautiful courtyards with orange trees. The views of the town of Granada from these courtyards and gardens are spectacular.

Scenes from the Alhambra

What To Buy:

Throughout Andulucia, the main agriculture product is olives. So olive oil is a must buy in this region. Along with filtered/unfilterd/extra virgin varieties, you will also find olive oils of different flavors - caliente and orange were my favorite!

On your return to Seville, end your 10-day trip across Spain by taking a train to Madrid or Lisbon, to board your flight back home. Or stay longer (I wish we had!) to explore southern Spain even further.


>> Got a question about this itinerary that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.



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