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.
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.