3 Must-Have Spanish travel experiences

After a looong hiatus, I’ve decided to start blogging again! So why not start with some summer vacation stories!

For fellow travelers thinking about hitting the south of Spain (Andalucía), I’ve got some suggestions for a unique experience!

1) Sleep in a Cave Cuevas el Abanico, Granada, Spain

I’m not a huge fan of experimentation when it comes to sleeping arrangements. My entire day can be ruined by a lack of sleep, and I am slightly murderous before my morning coffee, but this is something I highly recommend to everyone! Not only does it have a natural cool temperature (no air conditioning required!) but the bed is comfortable and the cave comes with a kitchen and living room area as well! I wouldn’t recommend a visit in the middle of winter, as it might get too cold inside, but it’s a perfect resting place for a summer visit to Granada!

Avg price/night – 60€ for two people. Reserve here.

  

2) Sleep in a castle – Hotel Castillo Santa Catalina, Malaga, Spain

Who doesn’t want to feel like royalty for a night? You can have a temporary fairy tale and prance around the beautiful gardens of this spectacular hotel. It is a REAL castle, mostly used as a wedding venue nowadays. Make sure to book ahead of time, as they only have 8 bedrooms available! My iPhone pictures don’t do it justice. 

Avg price/night – 140€ for two people. Reserve here.

  (source)

3) Eat deliciously fresh seafood – Pedregalejo, Malaga, Spain

Pedregalejo is a small fishing village outside of Malaga city. It features a series of restaurants right next to the water, where you can enjoy a romantic evening on the beach while the chef cooks your meal right in front you!

Avg price -dinner for two 30-40€

  
   
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What Happened When I Stopped Watching T.V

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I’m just like everyone else. After a long day at work, my favorite thing to do on a weeknight was to pass out in front of the television. Most of the time, it didn’t even matter what I was watching, I just needed something to lull me into my zombie-like sleep.

This past summer, I decided to move to a different city here in Italy. After having lived in Milan for several months, I decided that I hated the city. It was too grey, too expensive, the people are always pissed off, and most importantly, it was full of litter with few green spaces (a big deal for a Canadian). So I headed off in search for a new apartment in my new city of residence, Bologna, Italy.
After having found a temporary apartment, I met with the landlord.
“You know there’s no television at the moment, right? We can look into getting one though, if you’d like?”
WHAT?! You mean no re-run marathons of my love-to-hate reality shows?!
“Nope, it’s no problem for me, I don’t want one.

Now don’t get my wrong. I love films and t.v series (Big Bang Theory and How I met Your Mother in particular), but I felt that the 2-3 hours of “couch potato time” per night was taking away from self-improvement and productivity.
So what did I do with the free time I was suddenly given?

1. I started my blog. I forgot how much I loved to write. It would be a waste not to write something down in my situation. I’m living abroad and moving from place to place, yet I didn’t even have a journal! Even if nobody reads what I write, I’ll have something to look back on after my 20s are over.

2. I started taking classes at the gym – I love the gym, but it’s hard to commit to going regularly, especially during the winter months when you want to curl up in front of the television. Since I didn’t have the t.v option, I forced myself to look at the classes offered at my local gym in the evenings. I signed up for body pump, among others, and made this a regular habit before bedtime.

3. I started reading regularly – I’ve loved reading since I was a child. It’s a habit I’ve carried with me throughout high school and university, but it died down a bit once I began working full time. I replaced the t.v stand with a bookshelf, and I choose something to read before I curl up on the couch and fall asleep. Reading makes me feel positive. Each time you read a new book, you open yourself to a new world of imagination, something that’s obviously missing from many television shows.

4. I made things – A travel box (see post), scrapbooks, photo albums, etc. making things makes you feel better, especially when you feel down. It’s really great to see a finished project that you designed yourself. The feeling of fulfillment that used to come from coloring books and crafts as a child has followed me into adulthood.

5. I stayed informed on my own – The news programs we see are biased. If you don’t make an effort to look for a second opinion, you don’t see both sides of the story. The internet has a mass amount of information from different countries with different political and social opinions. It was great to see how Italian television, BBC news, and CNN, all morphed the same news stories for their own benefit.

6. I had a drink with friends – When you’re exhausted on a Monday evening, the last thing you want to do is get dressed and go out. Actually, don’t even need to get dressed, just go out. Having a drink with friends after work was surprisingly therapeutic. Laughing about my current frustrations allowed me to sleep better, and I found myself walking home smiling after catching up with some friends.

The purpose of this post is to remind you that you’re full of ideas and creativity. Routine has a way of draining us of our imagination, but we don’t have to let this happen. Staying informed is easy with the internet, so you won’t be missing out on anything, but discovering a new sense of self that you thought disappeared a long time ago.

Tip 1: Save for A Dream Vacation

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Maybe you’ve stumbled across a beautiful destination in a magazine, or read one of those “Places You Must Visit Before You Die” lists, and thought, “Wow! I have to go there!”
But the same old always happens. You get caught up in paying the bills, student loans, or whatever, and your ideas get tossed on the back burner.
It’s hard to save for a romantic escape to Venice or a bike tour in Amsterdam, but it’s very do-able.
My advice? Visual stimulation. Many people will tell you to open up a travel savings account. That didn’t work for me. When I was running low on cash, I took it out of my savings fund. However, last year (and this month) I’ve made a travel box. Since it’s both my boyfriend and I who are planning on travelling together, we are going to add the same amount of money to the box each month. If someone does something unproductive (ie. starting a fight about which movie to watch) we add 2 euros to the box.
What makes the difference for me are the pictures. Last year, I had a visual board of Spanish beaches that were on my desk next to my bed. I would see these every morning and was reminded that it was something I really wanted to do.
This year, the pictures of my s.o and I will do the trick. It’s much more personal than a savings account and a daily reminder. We decided to put around 50€/person a month in the box. That’s 1000€ by next summer. It will give us more than enough for a trip to Santorini, Greece. Even if you’re traveling alone and put less in your own box, you will still have a substantial amount by the time you reach the intended travel dates.
For those of you that think saving a little cash is impossible, it’s really not. Cook dinner at home once in a while instead of going out. Have 1 beer rather than 2 or 3. Make a coffee at home rather than spending money at a Starbucks or cafe. Don’t buy another pair of shoes. After all, a dream vacation is worth suppressing temporary temptations.