Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Muchas Gracias España: My initial Post-Trip Thoughts

I'm back after 3 awesome weeks in Spain and I just wanted to say thank you again to all of you for reading my blog and coming along with me on my Spanish adventure.

First, I wanted to say that I also enjoyed my visit to Malaga (my fly out city). Initially, my impression went something like . . . wow there's a lot of buildings, etc. But then after settling down in my beautiful hotel room, I started to walk around and I ended up really enjoying my brief stay in Malaga a lot. I was able to visit: the Alcazaba, Castillo de Gibralfaro and the Picasso Museum.

Views from Castillo de Gibralfaro . . .

Inside the Alcazaba . . .

Recently uncovered Roman theatre and Alcazaba in the background . . .

I'm still trying to catch my breath since returning home yesterday but I can say with great certainty . . . . I absolutely love Spain! Specifically speaking, I love Spain's diversity, history, interesting architecture, art, food and wine (I had to find alternatives to Jamon though) and most espeically I loved all the people that I met.

I'm already starting to write up my reviews and will try to upload some photos to Slow Travel. The one great thing about taking my laptop (besides being able to blog from it) is that all my photos are organized by day and that will make it much easier for me to categorize them. Speaking of Slow Travel . . . I have to say thank you to Shannon and Slow Travel for their awesome Spain/Portual Forum and website, which was a great help along with my blogging pals in the planning and preparations for my wonderful trip.

I did want to comment on a few observations about some practical topics: First, I had no problems using my ATM Debit cards the entire 3 weeks. I had read some comments about how someone had some problems with their Debit cards in Spain, but I had absolutely no problems. Second, I was really impressed with how organized and efficient the trains are in Spain, especially the high speed AVE trains that I took which were direct and non stop between Madrid and Toledo and between Seville and Cordoba. I can't say enough about them. If you ever chose using public transportation on your trip to Spain you will find no problems there. Third, I felt so safe the entire time I was in Spain. I rarely used my security neck pouch and for the first time just carried around my photocopy rather than my original passport around in my handbag. Never felt the need or added security of carrying my original. Lastly, I had no problems with using the Taxi's in Spain in all the cities I visited. Never felt I was being taken for a ride either. I used them getting to and from the airport/train stations and to my hotel/apartment. Very easy. I did make sure before I arrived to write down the name and address to give it to the taxi drivers upon each arrival.

I think I managed to accomplish most of the things I prepared before my trip and if I didn't get to them it was really out of choice or I just simply ran out of time. I also tried to make sure that I had some ample relax time in each city/town that I visited. Something I am trying to learn to do more of. I'm one of those travelers who feels the need to go from A-Z because I feel like I'd be missing something if I didn't. But I am learning...

I can now say that I do love Spain just as much as Italy. Do I love one more than the other? That would be hard to say. I love both of them in their own individual and unique way. I can say that I would totally re-visit Spain over and over again . . . and the only other country I feel that strongly about is Italy!

I also wanted to welcome home Maria (from her trip to Venice, Spain and Morocco) and wish Annie a wonderful trip as she heads to beautiful Venice tomorrow! I can't wait to catch up with all my favorite bloggers (AnnieNC, Maria, Girasoli, Leslie, Sandra, Anne, Marta, Shannon, Deborah, Jane . . . )! I have really missed reading your blogs, luckily I was able to sneak peeks during my time away.

And you know that I had to do it ... my first youtube on Spain! Here is the awesome Flamenco dancer in Seville . . . .


  1. So glad you are back and so looking forwrd to hearing more, reading more posts and seeing your photos unfold. :)

  2. Hi Leslie, thanks so much for your comments. I'm enjoying catching up with all my favorite bloggers again. I've missed you all!

  3. Kathy, I don't really expect to love any place more than Italy -- but you make a compelling argument!

    Your photos (including today's from Malaga) have been fantastic. I even love the name Alcazaba (so lyrical.)

    You've given me so much to think about. And I love your new photo of the month from Ronda, the bridge looks magical by night!

  4. Kathy, I posted my last comment by accident -- I meant to hit "preview" instead of "publish"

    So, I'm sorry if it's garbled or full of typos!

  5. Kathy, I’ve never been to Malaga but it sounds very interesting. And I’d love to visit the Picasso Museum.

    You wrote some great tips and insights for travelers headed to Spain. I also did not encounter any problems using a debit card at the ATM machines. In fact, we also used the card in Morocco without any problems. After reading your glowing comments on the Spanish rail system, I regret not having traveled by train while we were in Spain but next time I want to at least ride the train even if for a short trip. I also felt safe in Spain even when walking around the narrow streets late at night.

    You arrived in Spain with a wealth of knowledge and so well prepared that your trip had all the makings of being a memorable one. I admire your adventurous spirit and your genuine desire to learn as much as you can about the country you are about to visit. I smiled at your comment about feeling the need to see it all. Don’t worry too much about the need to slow down and relax; you’ll find yourself doing just that naturally in your future trips.

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching the amazing flamenco dancer in the video. You are so lucky to have caught a street performance. I have to show it to my son and see his reaction. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Have a pleasant evening, Kathy!

  6. Hi Sandra, thanks so much for your comments. I didn't expect to love Spain as much as I do Italy so it is a surprise to me. I just felt so comfortable there just like I do in Italy. It's a cool feeling. The Puento Nuevo is really striking and I still think about that visual every now and then. I also like the sound of Alcazaba too. And it's an awesome place to visit.

    Even your draft writings are really good Sandra. I didn't see any mistakes at all! :)

  7. Hi Maria, that's cool that you had some of the same feelings. Gives me confidence that I'm not off base on my feelings about my experiences there.

    I didn't really expect to like Malaga for some reason but I really enjoyed myself. And my hotel there was probably my most favorite with the one in Ronda and Cadiz a close second and third. I'm impressed that you alreddy did three reviews. I'm almost done with my first one in Madrid. You're fast.

    Oh yes, you must forward that video to your son. I wonder if his reaction will be to stand, smile and clap . . . :) I was definitely lucky to walk by when they were performing and they were really good too!

    Sometimes when I think of what I did and where I went, even I am surprised at how I actually did it. But after learning all the tips and getting a lot of help from everyone, maybe I should not be so surprised. I am really thankful.

    Have a nice evening too Maria and thanks so much for all of your tips.

  8. Hi Kathy, I watched the Flamenco video last night and could have sworn I commented. I swear if my head was not attached to my neck lately, I would be in deep trouble :) Fun video.

    I don't know why, but I always had the impression that Spain was more dangerous, both on trains and in general. I have always thought about going to Spain but have wanted to find a traveling partner. Of course that would still mean I would have to tear myself away from Italy!

    I am very impressed that both you and Maria are working on your reviews. I have been terrible about this after my last trip. I have not written one yet! I am the queen of procrastination and I keep making excuses. I will have to set it as a goal during my Christmas break. Luckily I took pictures of my rooms to help jog my memory.

  9. Hi Girasoli, thanks so much for your comments. Before I left I read a few comments about problems with using ATM's, concerns over the taxi's, and although I didn't hear anything negative about the trains I'm still not quite as confident and/or skilled as you are using the trains (although I do love riding them). I'm a typical Southern Californian who loves her car and so I have no practice with them here and then to go to somehwere new and different and ride them is intimidating for me. So when I found them so easy to use I wanted to share that info so others will feel comfortable too. Unless I need to see something that requires a car, since I've been traveling solo on my past 3 trips, I do prefer using trains rather than renting. Plus I can enjoy the scenery, take naps so I'm rested for my next destination and also I find it more social. If I can work with the schedules to meet my must see needs it would be my transporation mode of choice. Although, if I return to Siena again I would want to rent a SMART car and drive around the roads in Tuscany just for "fun"! :)

    From a solo female traveler's perspective Spain like Italy is very safe but I would still be on the alert from pick pockets. My hotel in Madrid warned me before I left to catch the metro while I was there so I was careful.

    Don't be that impressed with me on the reviews, Maria has already done three and I'm just finishing up my Madrid review. But I am off next Monday and will have time to hopefully finish them all. I actually jotted done notes while I was there so it's just a matter of writing them out and attaching a photo so I'm hoping I'll get them done.

    I wouldn't mind reading your reviews from your trip last year as that area or maybe where Sandra went could be on my radar!

    Happy TGIF Girasoli!

  10. Hi Kathy, I was so curious to know how Spain compared to Italy for you...how wonderful to now have two countries you love so much and want to return to (although it might make decision making difficult!).

    I didn't have any ATM problems either, thank goodness. I took your advice and took some cold hard US dollars with me, just in case, and I didn't need them. I did meet a couple from Australia who were victims of one of those ATM identity theft things in Rome the week before they arrived in Venice. I felt so sorry for them to have to deal with that mess on their holiday!

    Love the You Tube!

  11. Welcome home Annie!! It's great to hear from you. I really enjoyed reading your blog a lot and I am so looking forward to reading about your new discoveries and looking at your photos! I wanted to ask if you were able to take a photo of the singing group? And also the frescos? I'll stay tuned to your blog...

    I do love both Spain and Italy. Italy sort of has a little edge simply because I fell in love with Italy first before Spain! :) I just think they share one great thing . . . a passion for how to live life well and happily! And I think that's what attracks me so much to both Italy and Spain. I must say though that I like the churches in Italy better than Spain. I visited those amazing Cathedrals which don't get me wrong are incredible, but there is a certain quaintness and charm to the churches in Italy. I think ever since I read your article and have been reading your blog maybe this is why I feel this way about the churches in Italy.

    I'm so glad that you didn't have any ATM problems either. I think it would be a real nightmare (as a solo traveler) to run into such problems. I feel so bad for that nice Australian couple.

    Thanks again for your comments and I hope the fog lifts for you soon. It's kind of nice to have these late vacations when the holidays are here. I think it makes the post trip blues less blue!

    Have a great week Annie!

  12. I'm so happy you loved Spain so much!
    I have often thought about it, but never made the time to go. Food for thought, for sure!
    Thanks so much!

  13. Hi Kathy, I did take a few photos of the Joy Singers, without a flash, and they are pretty blurry. But last night, I found them on You Tube so I'm going to put that on my blog later this week!

    You could not take photos of the frescoes (and had to check your bag before you went into the chapel) but I bought a book and plan to scan in some images and post them. I can't get that amazing place out of mind - this morning, I got out one of my Sister Wendy books to read what she had to say about it!

    I still haven't made the time adjustment so I was awake at 4 AM this morning (which is 10 AM in Venice)!!!

    Hope you are having a good week and getting psyched for the holidays!

  14. Hi Brenda, thanks so much for your comments. I did really enjoy Spain a lot and although I did't get to visit Italy this year I've been lucky to travel vicariously to Italy through everyone else. So it's all good to me! Maybe one day you will find your way there and will hopefully enjoy it just as much as I did!

    Thanks again and have a great week!

  15. Hi Annie, cool! I can't wait to read your posts on the Frescos and the Joy singers. The Frescos sounds like something I would really enjoy seeing too. And I know I would totally enjoy the Joy Singers a lot. I really love Sister Wendy's descriptions, I jotted down notes from her DVD on Velasquez and Goya before I returned the DVD and it really helped when I was in the Prado so I could appreciate the paintings better and know what to look for. I could just hear her voice as I studied them at the Prado. I want to see the rest of her series too!

    I know what you mean about the adjustment. For an entire week I kept waking up at 2:30 am and then forcing myself to go back to sleep. By 1:00 pm I'm almost a zombie. But finally I'm back on track. Hopefully you'll get back on track soon too.

    I'm totally getting psyched and geared up for the holidays! I'm so surprised how fast 2008 flew by! A few parties to attend, one of which is potluck (have to find a simple dish for that one!) and then my sister and her family are visitng and have a couple of road trips which will be fun! And then we all get to do it all over again come January 2009! Whoo hoo.

    Hope you're enjoying and getting all psychoed for the holidays too! I remember that you did a lot of things before you left for your trip which I thought was such a great idea.

    Enjoy the holidays and have a great week too Annie! Great to have you back.


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.