“There is no nightlife in Spain. They stay up late but they get up late. That is not nightlife. That is delaying the day.” – Ernest Hemingway
Our trip to Spain, la Madre Patria as some call it, was the first trip in which we created an itinerary and followed our instincts. It was a 15-day trip (2 of them were flying, of course). Our itinerary included various towns beginning with Madrid, Segovia, La Rioja (Logroño), Zaragoza, Barcelona, Valencia, Cáceres and back to Madrid. We visited wineries, famous landmarks, parks and whatever else crossed our path.
We arrived at Madrid through Barajas Airport – very nice and modern airport, by the way. It is fully equipped with the latest technology and bamboo ceiling making it the largest bamboo project in the world. It has a huge underground tunnel. I don’t know if it was the many hours on the flight or what, but we walked down so many flights of stairs, three or four floors, it seemed as if it would never end. It’s like a labyrinth of a tunnel after tunnel. It is a huge airport, but we were able to get around.
We reached the vehicle rental kiosk (very difficult to find) and proceeded to pick up our vehicle – a Fiat 500 – quite small but easy to get around in. Our itinerary included a 3000+ mile adventure stopping in different cities. We began in Madrid and visited Segovia, Logroño (La Rioja region), Zaragoza, Barcelona, Valencia, Cáceres and back to Madrid. While visiting the different city’s we parked the vehicle in one of many underground parking garages available and continued by foot. Those parking garages were quite expensive though, as much as 20€ for a few hours. And again, some were so deep underground that it made you think, “Where the heck is this taking me?” I get claustrophobic just thinking about it.
Since this was an independent trip we rented a portable Wi-Fi for about $70 for the 13 days that we’d be there. It was great to have a portable Wi-Fi. We used it for everything – finding our way around, placing FaceTime calls without using our data plan, and for all our devices including tablets. Great idea if you are traveling independently and don’t want to incur in roaming charges. We used the WAZE navigation app on my iPad to get around. Good thing we speak the language because the street names are so long and difficult to understand in English that we had to change the WAZE language to Spanish which made it easier.
When we arrived I was not feeling too well, probably because of the long flight. We stopped at a local pharmacy for some over the counter headache relief medication. They had the equivalent of our common Tylenol which is Panadol. It was a box of 24 at a price of .69€, that was less than $1.00US! Traveling independently was wonderful. Being able to stop anywhere for photos or a bite to eat made the trip so much better. While driving to one of our destinations, in one of our many stops at a gas station for fuel, we purchased snacks for the ride – two loaves of bread, goat cheese, “jamón Iberico” (Iberian ham), coffee and water bottles – all for less than 10€!
We stopped at old castles in non-tourist areas, in different wineries, olive tree plantations, and we even took photos of a huge display of a bull that seemed to pop up in different areas. We were just curious to find out what it was about. It turns out it was a billboard for Toro Osbourne brandy.
Our Spain trip was a great one – so much to see and so little time. It is a beautiful country with its many great architectural buildings, monuments, easy access to the metro train and bus. Its laid-back lifestyle entices us to take a look at our hectic lives and realize that there’s more to life than just working. People in Spain still take their siesta from around 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. It has a very vibrant and bustling nightlife great for everyone – especially for young adults. Their foods (tapas) are spectacular and their wine exquisite! I encourage everyone to include Spain in their bucket list. It is a country worth visiting.
We have decided that when we retire we’ll move to Spain. Have you envisioned yourself living in a different country If so, what country, other than yours, would you live in?