Travel brings power and love back into your life.
I’ve had a lot of people compare my travel year to Eat-Pray-Love. There are similarities, and since I love that book and Elizabeth Gilbert, I’m cool with the comparison. And after a month in Spain, I’m absolutely Eat-Pray-Loving it. I’m eating everything, praying my pants still fit, and loving everything about this muy deliciosa country.
In all seriousness, this isn’t just a year of playtime. Whenever I leave a country, I take time to reflect on the theme and lessons I learned while I was there. There are many! Some are hilarious, some are poignant, and some aren’t fit for my younger followers. But they’ve all been profoundly important to my grief recovery and the discovery of who I am in this post-Dan reality. Who knows? Maybe someday those lessons will show up in a book of my own. (Names changed, of course.)
I’m in awe of the W’s that can put their lives back together in the same place where it all fell apart. I’m obviously not one of them. But whether you stay at home or choose to roam, I wish you happy trails and the power and love that travel can bring back to our lives. Even if, and maybe most especially, that travel is just taking one step at a time down the road ahead.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.
Click here for my Madrid photo album.
Spain is an endless delight for the five senses. Whether it’s the way food is prepared, art and design, music, even how people dress, everything is the result of thought and love and care. It’s beautiful. The country, the people, the food, the music, the art, all of it. I was swept away. I’d only planned to stay two weeks, and here I am a month later trying to figure out how to delay my departure and get caught up on blog posts.
Since this was my first trip to Spain and mi español no es bueno, I decided to take an organized tour to give me an idea of where I wanted to go back and explore on my own. Plus, after the holidays, I was missing the company of other people, so this was a win-win. Tours can go sideways fast, but I lucked out with a fun group of really interesting people to travel with.
Spain’s capital city, Madrid, is both bustling and laid back. It oozes a refined coolness that I wish I could bottle. It boasts beautiful architecture, impressive art collections, and fantastic food. Social life centers around food and drink and Tapas Bar culture might be my new favorite thing. Nothing against my previous host countries, but hello spices and loads of flavor. I’ve missed you!
Christmas in Spain
Wait. What? Weren’t the holidays well behind me? Silly Lisa! Spain celebrates Christmas on January 6th with the Feast of Epiphany and gift giving for children. That’s right, I thought the coast was clear, only to be blind-sided by a second Christmas complete with parades, shopping, and happy families everywhere I looked. After congratulating myself on doing so well with my international solo Christmas and New Year’s, this surprise knocked me down a bit. But I made it through. I should get extra points for that. Right?
Airbnb isn’t just for finding cool flats to rent. They also have experiences in select cities. I loved them! I got to see and taste a side of Madrid most visitors miss. In addition to getting guided by a local expert, it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet other travelers, including other solo travelers. This was perfect since I’d arrived in Madrid a few days before my tour was to depart. I met some really cool people on my tapas bar crawl and walking photography tour.
BUEN RETIRO PARK
If I had to choose one place as my MUST SEE in Madrid, it would be Buen Retiro Park. Yes, the Prado is lovely. As are the Palace, Plaza Mayor and Plaza del Sol. Visit them all and choose your own. The park is free to visit, and has it’s own museums and the Crystal Palace. There are wild parrots living in the tree tops, and buskers all around. It’s not far from the Prado, so do yourself a favor and allocate an hour or two and check it out.
PRO-TIP: Pick pockets are horrible in the tourist areas, so don’t let your bag out of your sight. Don’t hang it on the back of your chair or leave it at your feet. These people are pros, as one of my new friends learned the hard way. The silver lining for me was hanging out at the police station with the handsome Spanish cops while she filled out her paperwork for the insurance company, but you can find them (both pick pockets and handsome Spanish cops) everywhere, so keep an eye on your stuff.