I returned from a 16 day trip to and around Spain about a month ago, and have finally decided I can procrastinate no further! I told myself I would blog about the trip while I was on it, and while I did update my Instagram accordingly, I did no such thing. Like on every trip I take, my grandmother warned me that if I did not write down what I’d done, I would forget the special memories I’d made, so: now is the time. So, briefly, for my own benefit than for those of you that may be reading this (apologies, there will be travel-related tips coming your way soon in future posts.) Here is (the beginning of) a lengthy overview of my 16 day excursion!
Planning the Trip
As a preface, I traveled with a close friend from high school, Remy, who was luck enough to find out in Fall 2016 that she would find herself in Spain in Summer 2017 thanks to some amazing nannying duties. (Remy is a teacher during the school year!) Come Thanksgiving time, she asked if any of our group of friends might have interest or availability to travel with her. Now, most of our group worked full-time and a lengthy trip to Europe was not in the realm of possibilities. I, however, was a contracted/freelance worker, which granted me more flexibility on when I could be where. I told her I’d keep my eyes open for cheap flights and would get back to her.
Nearly a week later I discovered an amazing app called “Hopper” which I used to find amazingly low cost tickets for a very high-quality flight to the Czech Republic with my boyfriend around Christmastime. Using the same App, in January I had a trip to Spain on the App’s radar. The same day that I made a good bit of extra cash by doing a day long lecture on “Producing a Web Series” at my high school alma mater, Hopper informed me that prices on flights to Europe were ridiculously low, so I purchased my round trip flight to Madrid for $500, called Remy that night, and told her “Hey. I’m coming to Spain.”
From there, Remy was the most amazing travel companion ever and took on the responsibilities of planning the logistics. She’s an expert in finding great places to stay and ways to travel at very inexpensive rates, y’all. And so it was that by the time I got to the Atlanta airport to leave for Spain on June 19th, I had paid for all of my travel costs (rental cars & multiple flights between countries/continents) and lodging (Airbnbs all the waaaaay, with the exception of a lovely double hostel room.) And the cost for all of that was about $200 than a round trip flight to Madrid would have been had I bought it just weeks early. So, obvious tip for when traveling: If you can, plan ahead. Also…hire Remy. She knows all.
Remy managed to coordinate the following trip for under $900: THREE nights in Madrid, from which we rented a car and drove to Granada by way of Tuledo. ONE night in Granada, arriving to Seville (rental car) by the next evening. TWO nights in Seville, then onto the airport to fly to a THREE day two night stay in a riad Airbnb in Marrakech, Morocco. From there, another flight to Lisbon, Portugal, where we stayed for THREE nights in a private apartment with LAUNDRY (spending a day in Sintra.) Next, a flight to Barcelona, where we stayed THREE nights and finally returned to Madrid the next night (another private apartment stay right by the airport) for our flight home. *Note: I’m not counting my $500 RT flight here.
Oh, and did I mention? She also managed to, by happenstance, overlap our stays with: the beginning of WorldPride Madrid, and awesome Pride Concert in Granada, two days after the end of Ramadan (hello open restaurants!) in Morocco, and the final big festival night of Festas de Lisboa in Lisbon. What a travel partner!
Packing & Flying
I spent the night before trying to narrow down my luggage to as little as I needed and ended up fitting it all into (and, truthfully, it still ended up being too much!) Prior to leaving I also went to the bank to exchange some American cash for Euros, at my mother’s suggestion. I wish I had waited, however, because the charge to do it at a bank was a good $20 more than I think it would have been had I just done it at an ATM at the Madrid airport. Ah well, you live, you learn.
My “Hopper” flight was super inexpensive at $500 round trip, though it did have a single layover, meaning it maybe added a total of 4 hours to my overall trip time. I didn’t mind though. I had my kindle to keep me entertained. Specifically with Harry Potter. (I’m re-reading the series to celebrate the 20 year anniversary.) My two hour layover was in Miami, and from there it was straight on to Madrid! And that long flight had tons of movies I hadn’t seen yet. I believe on that flight I watched “Passengers” (RECOMMEND), “Lego Batman” (take it or leave it, but it was a nice in between), and the new “Beauty and the Beast” (SO GOOD! Also Emma Watson is a goddess.)
Unfortunately, I did not sleep for my entire red-eye flight, arriving in Madrid at 7:30am. From there I took a taxi to the hostel Remy had been staying the night before, and waited in the lobby for about 2 hours (reading my Harry Potter) for her to wake from her dehydration recovery. She’d been in Majorca the few days prior and had learned a hard lesson for both of us—ALWAYS hydrate with water, especially if Europe is in a crazy heat wave, ESPECIALLY if you’re drinking a lot of Spanish wine.
I did my best not to nap while waiting for Remy—I made the mistake of taking a long nap when I visited Prague last Christmas and my schedule was sadly afternoon-wake up every day of the trip thereafter. When Remy woke, we greeted each other with big hugs (and I greeted her with Afrin nasal spray—she’d picked up some pretty nasty congestion from the kids she’d nannyed the days before, but that stuff works like magic.) And then. We began. Our Epic Trip.
Start the journey with us ! I’m going to try to do a post every other day to cover the trip. If you don’t want to miss a post, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest! CONTINUE READING TO THE NEXT DAY OF THE TRIP by clicking –> HERE!