Saturday, March 05, 2016

Just Pack Up and Go......

...... Well, maybe some people can do it, but for us, it takes a few months of preparation. Let me explain. My husband is easing into retirement by trying to - travel a bit more, see his extended family a bit more and generally have more purposeful "time off." This all takes a bit of thought, so as not to waste those precious minutes of "free" time.

1. First he had to negotiate a month off, over and above his usual vacation time. This meant, of course, a drop in salary, a reworking of timetables and various other odds and sods. Fortunately management agreed!! I know that many people create time off by just booking a day or so off every week. However, a chunk of time, we felt, could be put to better use.

2. We then had to fill that time. Winter has never been a "fun" season for us. Yes, we ski and get out and about regularly, but struggling against the cold, the many layers of necessary clothing, the extra mess of ice, snow and slush has never been rewarding.

3. A month somewhere warm in winter seemed like a good idea. Now, where to go? In addition to dealing with Canadian winters, we have also struggled with finding time to see extended family. My husband's brother and sister live in Scotland. Their "free" time has rarely coincided with our "free" time and so we have gone years without seeing them. This February, however, my brother-in-law was taking a course in Spain and my sister-in-law had a week off in February for my niece's mid-term break.

4. Eureka!! Maybe we could all meet up in Spain!! Could we find a spot, though, in Spain, that would suit everyone? It would have to be in the south, have character, have enough interest to sustain us for a month, and fit the budget!!

5. After several weeks of searching through reams of information online, we decided on Seville. It was quite far south, but not the "hotels on the beach" boredom of places, such as, Malaga. It had character - lots of sights to see, a bustling city life, train connections to other parts of the country and enough reasonable apartments to rent!

6. We now had to book the apartment we had finally identified as "perfect." This took some time - almost two weeks, in fact, of frustration - missed or unanswered emails, hurried phone calls, more emails, etc. before it all suddenly "came together."

7. Next we had to find reasonable flights, plan an itinerary, get travel insurance and coordinate all the various comings and goings of guests. Fortunately, we have a great travel agent. Carl books the flights, we have identified, tweaks our itinerary to maximize our time and covers us with insurance. He would often book a hotel or two for us en route, however, this time, we booked our own for 3 nights in Madrid, before taking the fast train, which we also booked online, to Seville.

More next post on settling in, in Seville.

The pictures? Snippets of Madrid, our first stop.

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