Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The village time didn’t forget.

That feeling you get when you find yourself in a postcard, that's the feeling when you finally arrive in Manarola, Italy. Located in north west Italy on the Mediterranean coast in Cinque Terre not far from La Spezia.

Cinque Terre literally means ‘Five Lands’ and is made up of five towns each with its own personality and charm. Manarola is the second smallest but perhaps the more well known of the five towns. Chances are that you have seen one of the most famous travel photo in one or more travel advertising; the view of Manarola. Here is my version of the famous shot from the Cimitero di Manarola and it is as spectacular as it looks. This view is not the only view that will take your breath away. No matter where you stand to take a photo in Manarola, it will be one of your most memorable shots.

Manarola shares a unique quality with Venice in that even the rivers of tourists that eb and flow in its streets do not diminish the beauty you see there. Along the main streets leading to the small marina you will find tempting ristorantes and bars that offer open air seating where you can become part of the scenery for an hour or two as the world wanders past you.

Tourist season is, of course, the most crowded time but in early September the crowds thin yet the temperature is still mild enough to even take a dive off the cliffs at the marina or just take a brave dip into the cool Mediterranean water and take some sun on the rocks near the boat ramp.

Manarola and all the other villages in Cinque Terre are accessed best by train from Genoa, Bologna, Pisa or Florence making this an excellent day trip from any of those Italian gems. But it is well worth spending a day or more in a local Airbnb or hotel. From Spezia all five villages are a short 15 minute train ride.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Providence Rhode Island


I did not have much expectations for Providence. I booked a flight with Frontier for $49 US in order to catch a flight to Dublin on Norwegian Air for $99 US. That was the least expensive way to get to Europe but I would have to spend a week in Providence R.I.  

This fit perfectly with my philosophy on travel; the journey is as important as the destination. But I did not expect much, to be honest.

I was able to find three hosts that could host me for my entire stay in Providence. With couchsurfing it is easier to find a host if you only stay one or two nights. So finding three hosts to complete the whole week was a great stroke of luck. I had two hosts in Providence and one in Newport, just down the expressway from Providence. This turned out to be much more than just good luck. As has been my good fortune this entire trip, I met great people who hosted me.

Providence is an unassuming city that claims several universities, The Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson and Wales and Brown University, Brown being the largest. This makes Providence a huge college town complete with trendy eateries and stylish clubs. There are many theaters and performing arts centers as well as modern art galleries and museums. One spectacular place is The Athenaeum. The Athenaeum is a library founded in 1836 and is housed in a classic greek revival building and is located on historic Benefit St. It is well worth checking out. In fact, all of Benefit St. is worth checking out.

The area around Kennedy Plaza is a treasure trove of interesting buildings and monuments. Burnside Park and Kennedy Plaza includes a monument to soldiers and sailors of the civil war that was also dedicated to African American soldiers in the civil war. There are other monuments in the park including a statue of Burnside himself.

The architecture in downtown Providence will surprise you. Dominated by the “Superman Building” it is a typical northern city mixture of colonial and revival classical architecture. It is an urban myth that the ‘Superman building’ was used in the opening scenes of the old 1960’s Superman. The actual building in the show is the Los Angeles City Hall building but when you get a good view of this imposing structure you can easily imagine Superman leaping over it in a single bound.

Just a short walk across the canal you will enter the Brown University campus with its many different styles of architecture. Benefit Street defines the border between Providence and the Brown University campus. This part of the city has a distinct colonial feel. And that's no coincidence. Many of the buildings date back to colonial times. It is indeed a step back in time. There are even two stone end houses which date straight back to the colonial founding of Providence. The area just north of Brown University is a treasure trove of hip nightspots, fusion eateries and eclectic restaurants.

Providence was an important northern port city. Today all the wharfs and railroad yards are gone and in some cases moved a few miles south of downtown.

If for any reason you have the opportunity to visit Providence, you will enjoy your one or two day trip. If you have more than two days be sure to visit Newport just south of Providence.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Air Is Breathable

The air is breathable.

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. My thousand mile journey began with the steps of five very unlikely people.
How I roll

Let me introduce you to Kyo, Guo-Kwan, Kevin and Sevrin and Mathilda. They have never met each other but they each, in turn, affected my life in a very profound way.

Do a google search for budget travel and you will eventually find Couchsurfing. A worldwide community of travelers and hosts that offer accommodations for free with only the reward of experiencing a new culture and making friends, it’s called the ‘sharing economy.’ That's is how I met Kyo, Guo-Kwan, Kevin and Sevrin and then Mathilde.

Curiosity and the desire to meet people from other countries who were doing what I had only dreamed of prompted me to open my small two bedroom apartment to travelers. Couchsurfing allowed me to travel vicariously through the adventures of the many travelers that visited me. Their stories and their undaunting optimism slowly instilled in me this insatiable wanderlust. With each traveler my hope that one day I would set off on an adventure slowly became a not so impossible dream. That is what Couchsurfing did.

Kyo was my first guest. He was traveling after completing a university degree in the states and was returning to South Korea after a tour of America. He was the first step in my journey. He only stayed for two nights but he changed my life completely. He was the first to show me that life is what you make it and that life does not make you. I am not sure how he did that. Perhaps it was something that occured while he was there but I am certain that he spurred the revelation with his unending optimisms and youthful energy. It made me think; is the difference between his outlook and mine, this youthful energy and optimism, a product of our age difference? Is it an aggregate of our life experience? I’m still not sure, but what I do know is that once I began to change my mind set, regardless of my situation, my life began to change.

Kyo planted a seed that grew larger and larger every day. Guo-Kwan, a traveler from Belgium, showed me that Kyo was not alone. Guo, whos western name was Frederic, reaffirmed the excitement of youth that I had forgotten long ago. Frederic had been all over the world. He had been to China and Singapore. He had been all over Europe and had worked as a sous-chef in paris! He was even planning a trip to Nepal. He did not know the concept of impossible. The same mental state that makes you think you are immortal at that age makes you think that you can overcome any obstacle you will face. And that was a view I needed.

When Kevin and Sevrin arrived the energy in my apartment intensified exponentially. They were high school friends from Germany who were on their way to spend 6 months traveling the United States and Canada with only two backpacks and sleeping bags. They were planning their trip as they went. They did not know where they were going tomorrow. They had a map and as soon as they settled in and laid their backpacks down to relax a bit they picked a point on their paper map and discussed, in German, how much money they had and what they would do when they got there. When they had agreed on their next destination they asked me what there was to do there. It filled me with joy as their faces lit up when I told them that they would see and swim with manatees at Crystal River and that I had seen five the last time I was there. I was infected with that wonder.

Then there was Mathilde. A young lady from Sweden whose backpack was almost taller than her and, I would bet, even heavier, She arrived with all the hopefulness and energy of a raiding Viking. She had offered to make Swedish meatballs, everyone’s favorite. I watched as she prepared what to me looked like regular meatballs. When asked what made them Swedish, she very confidently looked up with a half shappen ball of meat cupped in her hands and said, "a Swede is making them.” How can you help but be inspired by people like this?

Mathilde would be the first couchsurfer that would host me at her house in Stockholm when I began my travels.

After just these these few guests I decided that there was no reason why I could not do what they were doing. As I met and hosted more and more travelers, the urge to go, the wanderlust grew from a cute and cuddly idea into an uncontrollable and unyielding beast.

I would go on to host more than 100 travelers in my home for the next year and half. All would continue to show me that travel was as much a state of mind as it was state of being.
A travel plan began germinating in the back of my head. I began to research budget travel sites and blogs. I downloaded travel apps onto my cell phone. I began to read blogs from different kinds of travelers who discovered, invented or hacked the perfect way to travel cheap. All had good ideas and all had developed and explained perfectly legitimate ways to travel with little money. But they all had one thing in common; they were all young and I wasn’t.

Discomfort is easy for the young, they take it in stride. We have all seen scores of young travelers sleeping on the floor of an airport waiting for a delayed flight. It’s practically summer camp to them. And let me tell you, it kind of is.

When we think of traveling with backpacks and on a shoestring budget we think of young and energetic kids trekking through some exotic destinations. You will probably not picture in your mind a 60 year old backpacker. At least I did not. And, besides, I had other, rather serious issues that could have held me back should I have let them.

In the summer of 2016, before I started hosting on couchsurfing, I was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer and colon cancer. I had a particularly advanced and aggressive version of this ugly disease. It changed my life completely. Little-by-little I lost everything, my job, my home, my car and slowly, I was losing my will to live.

Cancer has a strange side effect that I had not been told about but almost all cancer patients experience. A perspective reversal. Your view on life changes 180 degrees. Your life is turned upside down but your view of the world and your place in it does an about-face.

What we used to call “the little things” are now the big things. Simple activities, meaningless gestures or unimportant details become an example of the value of life. When you are face-to-face with the prospect of death, a wilting rose can be a revelation of the magnificence of life. You develop a particularly serious sense of urgency.

I remember watching a 1950’s science fiction movie, one of those with really poor special effects where the astronaut, after stepping out of his spaceship, removes his visor and declares, “the air is breathable!”

September 11, 2017, I stepped out of the 787 Dreamliner at Helsinki airport as if stepping out onto an alien world and paused for a second at the threshold of the aluminum door, took a deep breath and thought with wonderous excitement, “the air is breathable!”

I will be blogging about my experiences, my trials but mostly about my triumphs while traveling through Europe. I hope to inspire those that may think that it is impossible for them to travel. I hope to be an example that you can do such things despite the limitations you THINK you have.

And so, welcome to The Air Is Breathable.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Is it safe

Using couchsurfing safely and successfully.

The most common question when you explain couchsurfing to someone is, “is it safe?”

I have been a host for a little more than 2 years and I have hosted over 100 people in my home. All the surfers that have visited me have been a great influence in my life. I have learned so much from each and everyone of them. So I have become very concerned about safety while using couchsurfing, particularly for women. I have heard stories from some of my female guests ranging from overt sexual misconduct to stalking after the visit. It is unfortunate that these issues exist in what otherwise is a great resource for travelers and hosts.

In this blog I will try to explain how you can get the most out of couchsurfing and how to enjoy it safely. I’ll point out the red flags so you can avoid a bad and unsafe situation. I will show you how to identify the “good hosts” and, finally, offer possible strategies on what to do if you find yourself in a bad situation.

How couchsurfing works.

Couchsurfing relies on members to provide the information needed for surfers to make an informed decision about where to stay and who to select as host. Couchsurfing.com provides three levels of “verification,”
  • Phone
  • Government ID
  • Address

Each level of verification affords a level of security. Check the verifications of the host you are considering. The more verifications the better. But the most important assurance of a good host are the references left by past surfers.

Read the profile of your potential hoat.
The serious host will have filled out every category in their profile and the real awesome hosts make their profiles as interesting as possible. Hosts will describe their interests in music, movies, books as well as thoughts on everything and anything. Connecting on a personal level is what couchsurfing is all about. A proper host will want to describe his many interests so that surfers with like interests or who are interested in learning more can decide to request from that host. Being smart about selecting a host means you need to read the whole profile carefully. Look for hosts that have similar interests as you or whose interests peak yours.

A search for hosts will most likely yield thousands of results, especially if you are going to a popular tourist location.

It is very important to select your host carefully. There are many scams on couchsurfing designed to attract young girls and women.

A popular scam in couchsurfing is a type of bait and switch.

All social media has bad elements. Couchsurfing is no different. all users, male and female, should be very careful of the few rotten apples.

Here is how the ‘bait and switch, scam works.

A profile will be of an attractive young lady and have just enough information to be believable. The profile will have very few actual surfers and only ‘friends’ as references. These “hosts” will only accept young, attractive girls. Indeed, the profile is simply a lure to get a girl to request to stay. When you are accepted everything seems normal. The “host” will probably chat and seem very friendly.

The first flag occurs when the day the you are to meet the "host" you will get a text message saying that the “host” was called out of town suddenly and she will not be able to meet you but she has asked her friend, “a trusted and reliable male friend”, to cover for her until she gets back and that you can trust him. The “host” assures you it's only for a few hours and that “she” will be back later. This, of course, is not a “friend” but actually the “host.”  By making the change at the last minute it ensures that you have no time to make new plans. By this time the fake “host” has earned your trust and since she vouches for her “male friend” you have very little reason to feel anything is wrong.

The second flag is when the fake “host” then says that her stay out of town has suddenly become indefinite but not to worry you can stay with her “male friend, he’s a nice guy.” By this time it is clear that you will never meet the original “host” and you will spend her stay with the “male friend.”

The third flag will be that the home will be nothing at all as the description on the fake profile and the sleeping arrangement requires you to sleep on the same bed as the “male friend.” Needless to say, this is not good at all. By this time it is too late to make different plans as you find yourself late at night in an unfamiliar city with no apparent recourse.

The obvious solution to this is to not allow yourself to be lured into this situation. It is not your fault if you should find yourself caught in this scam. Travelers are by nature trusting people. We go out of our way to trust people first and doubt later. If you do find yourself too far deep in this situation do not hesitate to call the police. The police in any country will respond to a 911 type call but even if they will not do anything when they get there at least you will be able to leave while the police are there.

What to do if you are lured into this scam.
I recommend that you have the Uber app installed in your smartphone. You can easily call an uber without raising suspicion and be able to get somewhere safe with little or no problem. If you feel unsafe just don't unpack, leave your bags handy and order an Uber.

Have enough cash handy or a credit card to make a reservation at a hotel, hostel or other accommodation such as an AirBnB. Have both the Hostelworld and AirBnB app on your phone as well as Google Maps, this will help you know where you are.

If any of these options are unavailable, don't hesitate to call the police.

Strategies that you can use to avoid being lured into this type of scam.
Watching for the first red flag is the best way to avoid this scam entirely. But it is easy to decide to trust a host that you feel you can trust. They design these profiles specifically to play on your sense of trust.

The second red flag, the switch, is when the host tells you they have to go out of town for a last minute emergency or for some other reason. But they will be back soon and a male friend of theirs who you can trust will pick you up and take you to her place. No legit host will ever do that to a surfer. And of course the last red flag is that when she texts you that she will not be able to return and that you can stay with the friend. At this point it should be clear that you have been tricked into staying with a predator.

Try not to allow yourself to be taken to their place. Ask to pull over to go to the bathroom or to buy food. Find a public place and then refuse to return to the car.  

Learn how to find a good host and learn the techniques to use to be accepted by legitimate hosts, click here.

Couchsurfing is a very rewarding resource for travelers but like everything in life, you must be careful and be smart.

Monday, February 5, 2018

5 'absolute' rules to follow when traveling.

Traveling the world can be one of the most satisfying things you do in your life. We have all seen those pictures on Instagram, Tumblr or Facebook of exotic places and smiling friends and family enjoying crystal blue waters or delicious gourmet meals in some European capital. Yes, they make me jealous too!

But the truth can often be very far from what the images tell us. Chances are that those pretty pictures are not the norm. It does not take very much to ruin what would otherwise be a wonderful vacation. Traveling can be very stressful and it can be even more rigorous when its to a foreign country with unfamiliar customs.

So what can we do to maximise our enjoyment when we travel? 

Here are 5 rules to ‘absolutely’ follow that will ensure you make the most of your “summer vacation”.

  1. “When in Rome.” If you travel to a country for its ancient history, incredible ruins or unique culture you will be in a country that has had customs much longer than we have.
    They have found particularly unique ways to live their daily lives that may be very different or even exactly contrary to how we do things. We may think that ‘our’ way is more logical, but they have had much more time to work out a custom or social norm that works for them based on their common background that may extend for many thousands of years. So the rule is; enjoy the differences and celebrate the contrasts and DO NOT COMPARE.
  2. Give yourself time to relax where you are and just take in your surroundings. It’s fine to have a precise schedule of places and things to see, but it can get awfully hectic if you are rushing from one place to another with little time to actually take in the moment. You will miss so much. Our memories of a place should be more than just a photograph. It should be made up of sights and sounds and smells. Sometimes we miss the real ‘sights’ when we are photographing them. So, put down the camera after you get the shot and just sit and relax and contemplate the millenium that have seen people walk those streets. I like to research the history of the place I am in and I am always amazed at the resilience of the people whose ancestors have lived through very difficult times, and that is what I see in their faces as they walk past my table while I sip a hot tea. So, sit, have a cup of tea or espresso at a street cafe and just breath in and contemplate all you are so fortunate to see around you.
  3. Be daring. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, even of random people on the street. Chances are that they are as eager to help as you would be if a foreigner asked you a question at home. If you don’t understand something, ask. Waiters will be hesitant and often annoyed if you ask them questions during busy times but if you wait until they are not so busy you will find that they are more than happy to explain any question. Show up at a restaurant you want to dine later on in the evening during a break between busy times and tell the waiter you are planning to go there later and if he would explain the menu to you so you are prepared for later. You will be surprised how helpful they will be. Don’t be afraid to ask people on the street for directions. Try asking young people, they are the most accepting and curious about Americans. They tend to know the city better and they are most likely to know English. You might even make a friend. Trust me, it happens.
  4. Don’t be afraid to get lost in the old parts of town. Take the long way to your destination. You will discover amazing things that may not be part of your itinerary but will be your favorite discoveries. Give yourself enough time to get lost. Looking for your way back will become an adventure and you will become more familiar with the city. Don’t begrudge having gotten lost. Take it as an opportunity to learn about the city you are in. Make note of places to eat or cafes or bars.
  5. Eat where the locals eat. This is a universally accepted rule. But how do you find those mystical places of legend? Three very simple and easy tell-tale signs are; find places where everyone is speaking the local language, where the menu is not in English and where most of the patrons are older folks. If the menu is in English steer clear. Very simple. When you see older locals at a tapas bar bellying up at the bar chances are that the place is a local favorite, it’s inexpensive and the food is good. It also helps if the place is rated by Trip Advisor. But be aware that if the place is on Trip Advisor then it  will probably be expensive. Be willing to try a few places before you find that wonderful, local restaurant where the food is incredible. You can also ask any locals you meet in rule number 4!

So there you have it. 5 very easy rules that if you follow, even loosely, you will enjoy your trip of a lifetime just a little more. But remember, allow the place to take you. Let the breeze flow and push you in it’s direction. You will be well rewarded.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How to find the cheapest flight fares

While planning a European trip on a budget I quickly discovered that the single most expensive part of the trip was going to be the air fare. You don't have to be a seasoned traveler to know that simple fact. In fact, traveling to, as well as in Europe will be your largest expense.

I began looking for cheap fares using all the "known" search tools that I read about in all the travel blogs I could find. Kayak, Skyscanner, ITA Matrix by Google, Cheapoair are among some of the more popular airfare search engines. Most returned very similar results that were still more expensive than I would like. Then I stumbled on a blog, cannot remember the name, that listed Norwegian Airlines as an inexpensive source for flights to Europe.

Airline fares are all about when you travel and where. The cost to fly to London from Miami can go from $390+ on one day to $2,000+ with the same airline and the same economy seat just one day later.

If you can be flexible with your departure and arrival dates and times you have a much better chance of finding an expensive flight.

Norwegian Air listing for April
Some sites offer a month fare view giving you a wide range of options of days to fly. This kind of flexibility can save you $100 to $200. In the example I found, a one way ticket to Oslo, Norway from New York can range from $278 to over $600 depending on the day you fly. "But," you say; "I don't want to fly to Oslo, I want to fly to London!" Well, Ryanair flies to London from Oslo for $20!
Actual Ryanair fares listed

Making your trip to London just $247 one way. And, you get to spend one day in Oslo!

If you are as flexible and imaginative on the return leg, you may even find lower fares.

Though Kayak and other low fare sites may find you low cost fares to your destinations, if you do a bit more research and consider other non orthodox destinations you may be able to find dirt cheap fares to some pretty interesting places.

Start with Norwegian Airways and find other low 'with-in' Europe carriers like Ryanair. Enter several destination until you find fares that fit closest to your budget.

A flight to Riga Latvia on Norwegian Airline is $329 one way (OW) from New York's Kennedy Airport. AirBaltic, Latvia's airline flies to Paris for $89 only a day later, or stay a couple of days in Latvia, it's the same price! The flight to Paris comes to $418 one way. Kayak's lowest fare for a flight to Paris on the same day was $439. And that is without the added bonus of a day in Latvia. If you are adventurous, a day in Riga, Latvia is an added bonus!

If you are truly adventurous, try flying to Dubrovnik on Norwegian for $298 (OW) and from Dubrovnik on Easyjet to London for $34! Thats $301 to London from New York. And you get 2 days in Dubrovnik, the jewel of the Adriatic. Its a no brainer.

Actual EasyJet fare
(In some cases the return flight might be cheaper.) You can be as imaginative as you want. London by way of Dubrovnik and then New York by way of Bucharest is a real possibility. You just need to be a little creative.

Pay special attention to the dates! Make sure that your secondary airline has flights a day or two after your arrival from the US. This will give you the opportunity to spend a day in a wonderful city you may not have even considered.

When you purchase your tickets from the small regional airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet, make sure you confirm the flight status and reservation by phone with an airline agent. Don't depend on printed boarding passes from your computer. Get any reservation and confirmation numbers by phone. Although you should not have any problems purchasing your fares on their websites, it always pays to confirm.

There is only one thing you must do: Travel light, in both baggage and mind. You will be taking advantage of very low fares which will require you to make several trips to an airport. You must travel like a traveler, not like a tourist. Your attitude should be that you are off to see new, incredible things and places and meet wonderful people. Do this and you will enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

You can price round trip fares this way also but lower fares can be found by looking for one way destinations for each leg of your trip. You only have to take the time to plan. Imagine flying to Glasgow then to central France on your inbound leg and then from Dubrovnik to Oslo and home on your outbound leg for under $600! Its possible. The only critical variables are when you fly and where you are willing to explore. If you are flexible with those aspects of your trip it will be an exciting adventure that wont make you go broke.

Your dream trip does not have to cost you a fortune, just a little time planning. 

You can find a list of European airlines here as well as lesser known destination

Just another teaser; Condor flies to Glasgow from Orlando for $204 on May 3rd and 10th, Ryanair then flies to Carcassonne, France 2 days later for $56. You get to France for $262. Once in France you have all of Europe on rails.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Travel young: an old guy traveling young.

I was bitten by the travel bug when I was 25. I loved everything French so I made plans and went to France for 3 weeks. I learned a lot during my trip. I learned not to see the world as a tourist or as an American (Americans have a tendency to compare too much), but instead, to just see the world. I was never able to travel again after that. Life happened and I never gave myself the opportunity to travel once more. I have all my pictures in a plastic box and I take them out every so often and dream.
Walking to Avranche
Now I want to travel again, this time to Spain. But unlike 30 years ago today I have the Internet.

I found dozens of sites and blogs dedicated to travel. From the aggregate flight search engines that can find you the cheapest air fare, to blogs and travel journals dedicated to traveling young. They range in topics from how to pack for a budget trip to how to order tapas or pintxos to how to avoid the latest scams and pick pockets. I know now from my research to pack light. I know how to avoid scams and pick pockets on the Rambla in Barcelona. And I am anxious to practice what I have learned so I can order pintxos and wine in Pamplona. Just a cursory Google search for “travel blogs” will earn you hundreds of excellent web sites. Even if you aren’t traveling you can visit almost every country on earth virtually. 

To get this shot
I noticed that many blogs today are by young people who have decided to pack up and take off. They decided to seek life on their own terms. Many stay abroad for periods of time ranging from several months to a year, or even years. They post beautiful pictures and glamorous descriptions of adventures that I’ve only dreamt about. Well, I want to do that too! But, alas, I am not young any more. My trip to France was almost three decades ago in 1987! But this has not stopped me from dreaming and planning and then dreaming some more. With every blog and vlog (that’s a video blog) I see my wanderlust just keeps growing and I get a little younger. 

I have grappled with the question of my age. Am I too old to travel like I am 25? Should I stick to a tour group and just sit comfortably on the tour bus and watch the scenery roll by like a movie backdrop? 

I think not. 

I started with Google Earth. It was my virtual desk top globe. I planned my route by adding paths and yellow pins. Google earth is an excellent tool for planning a trip. I check the Euro exchange rate several times a day to compare the dollar and cheering every decimal downturn and bemoaning every up turn. I used great online resources to find the cheapest air and train fares. I even found a great resource for very inexpensive accommodations. This I will also document.
The trip is now planned out from where I stay every night to where I eat, in micro detail. I have a spreadsheet with dates and locations and train connections; obsessed? Perhaps I am. But, what I am counting on is the unplanned surprises; the ones that will change everything. The ones I will write about and be the better for. 

I am going strap on a back pack, get a pair of comfortable shoes, pack that back pack as little as possible and maybe even get a selfie stick and a GoPro. Nothing says young like selfie stick and a GoPro!  I am going to head out with train tickets in hand and discover the small, out-of-the-way, hidden gems of small villages in Spain’s Galician, Basque region, and Andalusian country side. But first, of course, I will visit the big cities like Madrid and Barcelona and pay homage to El Greco and Antonio Gaudi. 

I will write about my journey and take as many pictures as I can. I will prove to myself that I can travel on my own terms while still enjoying being an observer. I want to be surprised at every turn, excited by every discovery, and amazed by every beautiful thing I discover. In short, I want to travel young again.