Seville, Spain- June 2017

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Oh the joys of travel.  I sometimes wonder what I am I thinking when I look at my schedule. Then I remember life is meant to be lived and for me that means traveling the world.
My friends, Lesley and Jon, had booked their bi-annual vacation to Spain. My cousin was getting married in Brussels around the same time. So when they asked if I would be interested in meeting them, it was not really a question.
Jon and I were texting trying to work out the details. What a mess, I was planning on being in the wrong cities on the wrong days. I highly recommend picking up the phone and having an actual conversation when travel plans are involved.

When the dust settled my itinerary would, Seville, Spain for 4 nights, Brussels, Belgium for 3 nights and London for 4 nights. I have to be honest this trip was a bear to book. In part because of the different cities, and transport between them.  Waiting for the last minute to book a trip to Europe during high season, proved to not be the best idea.  My outbound flights were Chicago to Boston to Madrid to Seville. Which would have been fine, but my ankle was still broken.

My trip started out with drama. I had requested a wheelchair in Chicago. I waited 30 minutes and it never showed up. I finally was told to walk because my flight was about to board.  Luckily the flight was delayed and I was able to make it on time. Then I arrive in Boston, more wheelchair drama. And yet another flight delay. Upon arrival in Madrid, gold star if you guess wheelchair drama. I had to wait an hour, because it was a 20 minute walk and I was in pain.  I should have walked. Upon arrival in Seville. I have no bags. Apparently they did not think I was on the flight due to the wheelchair drama.

I arrive at my hotel only to be told that of course my room is not ready.  Perhaps I want to out by the pool?  It was 105 outside!  IMG_1198

I had traveled in pants and I wanted to change. So  I hit the local department store, El Cortes Ingles.  I also remember that my credit card (Citibank Prestige) has a baggage delay insurance that cover me purchasing any necessities.  2 new dresses and some really expensive sunscreen later, I got my cocktail on. Promptly followed by a very serious nap.

Jon and Lesley arrived early the next day and off we went sightseeing.

Seville is quite compact and easily walkable.  We started by heading over to Plaza de Espansa. Followed by Plaza de Museo where a weekly art market is held.  We also checked the Seville Cathedral.  As previously mentioned it was insanely hot. I was still rocking a compression sock and a ankle brace. I was melting. Jon and Lesley stood in a line for about 10 minutes and realized that there was a handicap entrance. No shame, if meant I did not have to stand in that heat.  My polka dot sock meant we got to skip the line!  And then we did what the Spaniards are famous for, we took a siesta. Well we went swimming. Honestly it was so hot, there was really nothing more to do.

More sightseeing the next day, including an early morning tour of Real Alcazar de Sevilla, a tour in horse drawn carriage and a boat tour. Followed by afternoon siesta in the pool. And a lot of Tinto de Verano’s.

Seville is great town. I would visit again, but probably not in the height of summer, or with a broken ankle. I am not a fan of high heat. And a broken ankle is not ideal for buying shoes. I would also have liked to see more in the nearby towns.

Stay tuned for more…. until next time safe travels!

 

 

Portugal and Spain- December 2016

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I’ve been wanting to visit Portugal for years! It was on the top of the list of places that I wanted to visit but for some reason, it never made it into my travel plans.I had planned on being in the States for holidays, but my plans changed and I ended up coming in a week earlier then planned. I love my family, but 3 weeks, especially at the holidays was just not going to happen.

As much as I love European Christmas Markets, I was not willing to bear the cold weather. And the best ones, in my opinion,close on December 24th. I had fun trying to find a location that would not be too cold and that I could also get a decent flight. Oh and I need to fly on American Airlines or at least a One World partner because I need to the miles to keep my status. Madrid and Barcelona, ticked each box. I had been to Barcelona a few years, so I opted for Madrid. But then I realized I was so close to Portugal. I decided to just book another ticket, wise use of my British Airways Miles, and headed straight to Lisbon.

Best idea, ever!  Here is the part that I should say it was awful, that I had a horrible time and I would not recommend it at all.  I would say this so it stays amazing and does not become over run with tourists.  I just felt relaxed. Not paranoid about pickpockets like I was in Spain,  or ring scams in Paris. The skies were blue, albeit a little chilly. The streets were clean and while there were tourist there were not everywhere. They had the fun pedestrian paths in the middle of the busy streets, like in Barcelona.

I made an interesting hotel choice. I did not, gasp, stay at a Hilton or Hyatt. I stayed at a Marriott property, Fontecruz Lisboa.  It’s more boutique then large chain hotel. The location was great, located on one of the major streets. I  headed out to take in the sights. I opted for the Hop on Hop off bus. I find they are a great way to orient yourself in a new city. I tend to do the loop first and then hop off.

Lisbon is quite walk-able, if you can handle the cobble streets and some hills. Ladies, bring your sensible shoes. In fact, just bring an old ugly pair so you have an excuse to go shop. I did… at Moskkito. It was quite an adventure trying to get my stuff home.

I took sidetrips to Sintra and Fatima.  I booked the tours last minute and ended up on a big bus one. I wish I had done better research and gone with a smaller tour company.  I probably could have done them on my own. Something to redo on the next trip.

There was situation with a nutella crepe in Sintra. Let’s just say I learned my lesson about trying to eat messy street food. I am still finding nutella on stuff.

I headed back to Madrid for New Year’s Eve. I had high hopes of doing all this sightseeing, specially checking out the Prado Museum.  All those plans changed drastically when I arrived and it was freezing.  I was tired and cold and so basically I did nothing in Madrid. Well nothing that I am willing to admit doing on this public blog. There may or may not have been a potential meal at a American chain restaurant.

I really enjoyed this trip, I just wish I had more time. And I probably go back when the weather is warmer. I also think if I had to do it again, I would suggest doing Madrid first, then Lisbon. Two totally different cities with different energies.

Until next time, safe travels!