“Few things break us out of our routines and awaken us to the living substance of happiness more powerfully than travel” Albert Camus
We were "awakened" recently when we got out of our much loved “Hawaii box” and traveled to Spain for Thanksgiving. We’ve been fortunate to enjoy Hawaii for the past 10 years over Christmas. This year Christian and I were craving a unique and more cultural experience as a family. (This took some convincing for Whitney as Hawaii is like home for him).
Our research into places like Thailand, Peru, and Spain was overwhelming. The goal was to find someplace not too far or too cold in November. After numerous discussions over wine and a few power point presentations from Christian, we had exhausted our options.
Weeks later, we finally decided on Spain. My daughter Christian is quite the world traveler, having visit at least 25 countries including a trek up Mr. Killmanjaro. An event planner by day, she loves to plan the logistics of travel. She convinced Whitney and I to let her make all the arrangements. All we had to do was show up - and bring the checkbook, of course.
We decided to use AirBnB for the first time, which left Whitney and I a bit nervous. It turned out to be a great experience. Christian translated throughout the entire trip, which made things much easier. For example, I am a pescatarian and Spain is known for their meats and cheeses. With Christian's Spanish and Madrid being a cosmopolitan city, we were able to find some delightful organic and vegetarian restaurants.
What follows is our itinerary along with my "Cliff Notes." Hopefully they will inspire you to go somewhere new.
Sunday – Wednesday: Madrid
AirBnB: We stayed here in a two bedroom, fully equipped Penthouse apartment in the heart of Old Madrid, with a beautiful roof top view of the city. (and a yarn shop located just down the street)
Things to do:
Mercado de San Miguel – an amazing smorgasboard of food and wine!
El Rastro – the largest and most popular outdoor flea market in Spain. Only open on Sundays.
The Prado - The Prado Museum is Madrid's top cultural sight, and one of the world's greatest art galleries. It's dazzling display of works by the great European masters such as Velázquez, Goya, Raphael, Rubens, and Bosch, is housed in an 18th-century Neo-Classical building that opened as a museum in 1819.
Reina Sofia - The highlight is the 20th century's most famous painting, Picasso's "Guernica". It was commissioned by the Spanish government for a Paris exhibition as a Civil War protest and hung in a New York gallery until 1981, fulfilling Picasso's wish that it should not be shown in Spain until democracy was established.
My Veg - An amazing organic restaurant near Gran Via.
La Barraca - Famous for their Paelle, a traditional dish from Valencia.
Parque del Buen Retiro - This central and popular park is behind the Prado and was originally built as the gardens for the Palacio del Buen Retiro of Philip IV in the 15th century. It contains a boating lake and many majestic fountains and several cafes. On Sunday’s you’ll also see Punch and Judy shows, musicians and inspiring young poets ready to write you a poem.
Day Trip: to the ancient city of Toledo, the heart and soul of Spain. We over slept (which never happens at home) and missed the 9:30am train to Toledo and came within two minutes of missing the 11:30am train. Walking thru the once capital of Spain we visited the 13 century Gothic Cathedral and were awestruck with it’s rich history and overwhelming beauty. They provide headphones for a self-guided tour, a must!
Wednesday- Saturday: Granada
AirBnB: We stayed here. A little hard to get to and find a place to park due to the steep and narrow cobblestone streets but worth it! We never needed the car again and walked everywhere.
Things to do:
Walk everywhere - We walked all over the town, taking some of the best photos ever. The first restaurant we see upon arrival is the Restaurant Vegano. My family was beginning to think I had planned this all along. The surrounding views, tons of shopping, Morrocan villages, tapas and wine! Photo op after photo op.
Break your routine - Wake up for breakfast at 10am, lunch at 2:30 and finish up dinner at 10pm!
Fajalauza (Fábrica de cerámica y azulejos Fajalauza) - a ceramic tile factory that's designs made Granada one of the tile and pottery capitals of the world.
We met a local named Rosa and picked up loose-leaf tea at here. Of course I teared up thinking about how I wish I could have traveled with my mom and dad more, they would have loved this trip.
Alhambra - A palace and mosque from the 1300's, a must and important to make reservations online prior to visiting.
- Where comfortable shoes. I traded in my daily visit to the gym to experience the city by foot. (Walked over 8 miles the first day).
- Layers for cool morning and warm afternoons.
- Siestas happen still in certain places. Stores close around 2-5pm, take advantage of that nap!
- Late dinner. The earliest you can eat dinner is 8:00pm if you don’t want any nasty looks. This is why a nap is important!
As my dad would say, “stay at home and never remember anything or take a trip and have memories for a lifetime.” I am grateful for the memories we have together and been able to give Christian.