“Wake up and live.” -Bob Marley
For those who don’t know, my mom and sister are coming to visit me on June 18th and then the three of us will catch a flight out of Madrid on the 30th. I will be back in the States on July 1. Since my mom is a German teacher, she leads a group of her students on a trip through various (mostly) German speaking countries every two summers. My brother went with her two summers ago and had a blast; my sister gets the opportunity this year. After dropping the students off at the airport and making sure they get safely through security with the other chaperones, they will catch a RyanAir flight to Madrid, where I will meet them. I can’t wait. But in the meantime, I am travel planning…booking flights, trains, hotels, entrance tickets, looking into beach apartments, figuring out an itinerary for our 10 days.
Additionally, my job is done at the end of May, which means I intend to do some traveling in early June before Mom and Kathleen show up. But “Where?” was the real question.
I would have liked to get back to Morocco, since it’s so close and last time I was only there for a long weekend. My friend Rhiannon will be learning German in Berlin this summer, another city that has intrigued me for some time, but it turned out that our schedules don’t mesh. I wanted to go to Greece. And Eastern Europe. And Amsterdam. Plus Northern Spain, which I still don’t know at all, except for Barcelona. But even in my travel plan revery, I knew all of these destinations were unlikely, due to lack of funds, lack of travel partners, and lack of a time machine.
In the end, I chose Portugal–I still haven’t been and am curious about it, especially Porto for some unspecified reason, though I’m also looking forward to seeing Lisbon and Sintra. I am excited to take pictures there, a place that has always seemed especially photogenic to me. I’m looking forward to trying bacalhau in all of its crazy forms, not to mention the famous Portugese pastries. In the end, it came down to what it usually comes down to–I found a flight for 31 euros from Madrid to Lisbon and a 17 euro return trip from Porto, all taxes and random fees included. Hard to turn down travel when it comes at prices like that.
I have long sung the praises of budget airlines like RyanAir, even with their hassles and their often randomly located airports. Sometimes it can be a pain, sure. Sometimes you spend more time getting from the tiny rural airport to your destination than you spend in the air. But RyanAir has taken me to London, to Rome, Germany, Sweden, Dublin, Paris, and now Portugal. Yes, the value of the dollar has started to get close to the value of Monopoly money, but between budget airlines and hostels and free or cheap museums, I still find travel in Europe more doable than people think. More than anything, it’s worth it. It’s always worth it.
I’ll be back, something I’m sure of and wasn’t so sure of a few years ago. But at the same time, I’m here. I’m here and I plan on doing all I can to see and do and taste and discover. Now’s the time, you know?