Friday, November 13, 2009

Getting settled in Cali and off to Spain/Portugal!

It's been a while since I've written. Things have been crazy with the move from my home state of New Jersey to Southern California. It's been almost two months to the day and I know my Jersey buds will be sad to hear this, but I love it here! South Orange County is so clean and pretty. There are no pot holes, highway traffic is actually pretty manageable, local traffic is very quiet, streets are well paved with no pot holes, the weather is gorgeous, and I live 5 miles from the beach! There is very little to complain about other than the sales tax!

I've been having a surprisingly good time decorating my new home to make it my own. This coming from someone who has zero decorating experience and without any idea what I wanted. It's been a fun learning experience After two months, I'm finally done painting for the most part. Almost every room has been painted, all doors, and all doorways. I never want to see another paintbrush again! Next painting project is to take down two sets of plantation shutters, repair a few of the panels, spray paint them, then paint and seal the window frames for the mild winter. We'll see when I get to that project...

So I booked a trip to Spain/Portugal back in March 2009 for Nov 19-28. This was before I planned to move to Cali. So with all the changes I wasn't sure if I would go through with the trip. I had a conversation with Judy, my second cousin, and decided to go through with it. For those that don't know, Europe has a very special place in my heart. I'm obsessed with the architecture, culture, food, and sites. I've been to Spain twice, but have been wanting to go to Portugal since 2006. It never worked out in the past, but with a cheap ticket to Sevilla, Spain I seized my opportunity!

I typically plan and research a few months in advance for any trip. I simply enjoy the process of online research, talking with fellow backpackers, and reading and highlighting my Lonely Planet guide book. However, this summer and fall were excruciatingly busy with everything that came with moving to Cali. I never got a chance to sit down and sift through the emails and links I collected on Western Spain/Southern Portugal, the LP Spain book I had from my last Spain trip, or to go out and purchase LP Portugal. I took the day off work yesterday to get cracking. Armed with my Mac, LP books, and a handful of highlighters I got cracking. After 5 hours I was basically done. I have two highlighted LP books, 2 word docs with info on each city I want to hit, and 2 nights of accommodation booked.

The planning process always brings me back to the realization that I love backpacking. Not just traveling, but backpacking. It speaks to my soul. Everything from researching for the trip, packing my pack, passport in hand, finding my way in a foreign country, checking into my hostel, making new friends (and adding new fb friends!), seeing the sites, local wines, etc. It's been two years since I've truly been backpacking (vagabonding!). I've done some great road trips, but there's nothing like backpacking in a country where you don't speak the language. Where you need to rely on your own wits to get around and create your own experience.

I'm off in one week. Below is the general plan. We'll see if I stick to this. I have the first two nights booked in a hostel and will do the rest on the whim! Part of the fun!

Sevilla, Spain: 2 nights
Granada, Spain: 1 night
Lisbon, Portugal: 2 nights
Sintra, Portugal: 1 night
Lagos, Portugal: 1 night

That only adds up to 7 nights and I'm there for 8 nights and 9 days. I'll figure something out ;)

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