The Itinerant Itinerary: Spanish Steps


Like travel, these mudejar style tiles surprise and delight me. Capilla de San Bartolome, Cordoba—C.Helbig

Mike and I just returned from four weeks in Spain. This destination has been high on our list of places to go, and with our son, Alex, studying in Sevilla this semester, the time was right. Sort of. Shortly after we made our flight reservations, my mother became seriously ill. We put all other pre-bookings on hold fearing we might have to cancel. As it turns out, the trip went ahead, albeit, last minute. My wonderful sister stepped in as Florence Nightingale. We left with only our first few nights booked in Barcelona. The rest was a clear slate. I hadn’t done this “on the fly” traveling since backpacking in the early 90’s. Ironically, my mom’s unfortunate state led to a refreshingly different travel experience.

I must confess, I’m known to spend hundreds, no, thousands of hours, on the Internet researching and pre-booking our travel. I’m a tripadviser and Lonely Planet forum junkie.  When circumstance and lack of time conspired to kibosh my meticulous planning, part of me was a tad nervous.

While some might call me a travel planning fanatic, my efforts have served us well while traveling with our son since he was a wee tot. It helped ensure we ended up in places that we’d all enjoy. It minimized “wasted time” of not knowing what to do and see once we landed in a new spot. Most of the time, it kept us happy and avoided frustration and grumpiness. Pre-booking was indispensable on our shorter trips and during the school holiday high season, which we’ve been held hostage by. Until now…

We had the perfect conditions to test out this new “old” kind of travel: low season, a reasonable amount of time covering a small area (primarily Andalucia province), and just the two of us. I was excited about the prospect of deviating from our not-cast-in-stone itinerary (how radical!). I felt titillated about breaking my addiction to tripadvisor. Don’t get me wrong. TA was, and will always be a travel companion. But this time, it complemented our journey along the way, over a glass of wine, in a quirky hotel, in a town that we had not planned on visiting.


Enjoying sunset in Arcos de la Frontera. So glad this hotel with a killer rooftop was recommended to us along the way. Notice the Lonely Planet on the table (I can’t help myself)!

It’s the element of surprise, of not exactly knowing where I’d be or what I’d see in a few days time that has been missing in my travels for a long time. Of course, the days of total surprise are mostly gone. Our 18 year old son is booking his hostels on line; he uses his phone to pinpoint our Airbnb. And that’s all OK. This trip proved that we could use travel planning and booking technology, but happily take things day by day, letting our itinerary morph based on how we felt and what we learned along the way.

My posts over the next weeks/months will be about our travels to Barcelona, and then on to southern Spain: exploring magical cities like Granada, hiking in Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema, biking on the Via Verde, beach walking on the Costa de la Luz, driving through the narrow streets of the pueblo blancos, and hanging out in enchanting plazas. I’ve included a few photos of things to come. The gorgeous fountain that I have used as my feature image is at the  Alcazar in Sevilla.


The Alhambra in Granada is the single most impressive monument I have ever visited—C.Helbig


Unexpectedly beautiful and unspoiled beaches on the Costa de la Luz—M.Sharp


Arcos de la Frontera: One of the many incredible pueblo blancos—C.Helbig


The postcard perfect village of Grazalema—C.Helbig


Exotic, alluring Cadiz—C.Helbig


Discovering a bird’s eye view hike at the top of the Puerta de las Palomas pass—C.Helbig

Categories: Spain | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “The Itinerant Itinerary: Spanish Steps

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  2. I saw the Alambra so many years ago now and still remember how beautiful it was!


  3. Pit

    Hi Caroline, schöne Bilder …Spanien ist toll. Die Alhambra steht auch noch auf meiner Liste, aber zuerst ist Neuseeland dran ;o). Melde mich die Tage mal via Mail. Grüße an die Gang. Cheers Pit


  4. Nicole

    Memories of a wonderful trip to those same beautiful places I visited!!


  5. Anonymous

    Very cool. Now that we’ve retired, we travel somewhat this way too. A little planning mixed in with “go with the flow” in between major destination target times and places. We (I’m) getting much better with doing only one of the three or so planned daily events if that’s how it feels. Sure is a fantastic part of the world. Remains one of them that we’d return too instead of venturing anew.


    • Brian Foster

      Anonomous was Brian & Barb


    • Hi Brian, ya it was great and it sure was nice having the flexibility. Going with the flow might be a bit more challenging in Barcelona, Granada and the like during high season or with limited time. Spain is awesome and we look forward to exploring more of this country (I almost wish Alex was staying for another term!). Cheers!


  6. It sounds very much like the way we travel – book the first few nights and then make it up as we go along. Isn’t Alhambra fabulous?! And we loved the pueblos blancos too. Looking forward to your posts about Spain.


    • I’m hoping this will be the start of more traveling that is made up along the way. The Alhambra left me speechless and the Pueblos Blancos are definitely places I could hang out in for a long time. Cheers Alison.

      Liked by 1 person

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