This is segment 3 of the, my husband and I traveled for 18 days through France and Spain, story. Specifically, we flew into Frankfurt, rented a car at the airport and drove to Saint-Avold, France to visit the American Cemetery. There is a very romantic WWII story associated with that stop, which I will go into in another post. After an overnight there, we drove onto Normandy for the weekend. In fact, we were in Normandy on 9/11, which other than NYC, seemed like a great place to be on that day. Both were sites of tragic deaths of heroes who died saving others – very humbling indeed!
After that, we drove to Mont Saint Michel, then down the West Coast of France to the Bordeaux region and the town of St. Emilion. Following an evening of fabulous wine drinking and the very best smoked salmon pizza I ever ate (actually it was the only one I ever ate and I want more!), we went the next day to San Sebastian, Spain where we spent a few days eating pintxos and drinking Rioja wines like it was our job to eat as many different kinds of pintxos, as there were available. Pintxos are the “Basque equivalent to tapas, served in Northern Spain”. The car was returned and we took a train to Madrid to spend a few nights and then took another train to Southern Spain to stay in the Andalucía area for a week.
While in Madrid, we ate our first pan of paella and shared our first pitcher of Sangria while sitting at an outdoor table observing the people strolling by us. It turned out to be the best paella of the trip because it was well-seasoned with enough spices, garlic and salt to make it more flavorful then some of the more bland renditions I have eaten. Importantly, it was packed with seafood. Also, the Sangria was refreshing and full of fruit. In fact, I joke that the only fruits I ate were from the bottom of the Sangria pitchers we drank.
OK, I just rambled through our itinerary without any of the dramatic description that it truly deserves because in this post, I really want to talk about traveling and vacationing in general, not the sites or the food we experienced. If one isn’t traveling well, I believe that they can’t relax enough to enjoy the local cuisine or the attractions. To help with that, I found an excellent article on beinggirl.com, titled Teenage Travel, which provides excellent tips that are beneficial no matter what the age of the traveler. The link is below.
There are so many aspects of the article that are more than helpful, they can be vacation saving. For example, there is a paragraph that offers advise on being a smart packer. It states that fumbling with your luggage can make you a target for pickpockets. VERY TRUE! My experience has been that pickpocketing in Europe has become an art form. Along with the advise given, I will add that you should watch out for diversions, such as street fights, kids running in packs, or someone doing something crazy that you just have to see. In that split second, a wallet can be lifted or a purse taken. I have seen it, been with friends who had that happen and had a wallet lifted from my cross-body handbag after someone pushed me on a subway in Paris.
On this trip, we made a pact (or at least I did since I am the key violator of packing far more than I wear because I like choices) to only pack one medium suitcase each and one small carryon. We knew that we had laundry facilities at our lodging in Southern Spain so we could wash our clothes there. Before that, we hand washed clothes, if needed. Even though we had a car for a lot of the trip, those two train rides meant we were in train stations. I must say though, security at the Madrid train station was almost as rigid as at an airport. That was actually reassuring.
Take a read of the article on beinggirl.com and let me know if you have any added tips to help make someone else’s travel more pleasant.
Since I am about the food, below is a photo of a half-eaten plate of fried sardines from San Sebastian. I ate the rest after the photo because they were fresh and delicious!!