In 2019 I began a dream of traveling to Spain and Portugal for the first time. I’ve been fortunate to travel to Europe several times in the past but have never journeyed to either of those countries. I did my research, planned my itinerary, made all my plane and train reservations, and carefully selected all the places we would be staying. Then one month before we were set to leave, COVID hit. Fortunately, every single one of my reservations were refunded. Then as 2022 approached my dream began to return—but this time the plan is for an even longer trip. After all, if 2020 taught us nothing else, it was that time is precious and that it is SMART to seize every opportunity to do those things we have always longed to do.
I say that, but at the same time I also recognize that COVID took an exacting cost on millions of people around the world. It is a terrible disease and it’s not over yet—and we’re not sure it will ever completely be gone. At the same time there is a war in Eastern Europe and people are dying. Plus, millions at home are struggling just to pay their bills, let alone travel the world. Being aware of all of this while celebrating my ability to travel again is the paradox that I live with every day.
With brand new plans made and our Booster #2, we boarded a plane on May 1. I learned several years ago that I am not cut out to be a travel blogger. While I admire how others do it, it doesn’t suit my temperament. But if you are my “friend” on Facebook you know that I LOVE to take photos (Thom too) and then share them with others. At the same time, I’m also aware that some of you are off Social Media, so I came up with the idea to do a different kind of blog post than my usual commentary. I’m calling it “Travels With Kathy & Thom.” My new approach while we are traveling will be to do each post with three elements:
#1 Three of my favorite photos from the last week (or so.)
#2. A photo of the food or dining experience I enjoyed the most.
#3 A photo of my most enjoyable experience in the last week (or so.)
Of course, if you’re not into travel and/or travel blogs, feel free to ignore any of my “Travels With Kathy & Thom” posts this summer. I’m hoping you’ll stick around and I see you again in September.
Meanwhile, here are my three highlights for this week.
Barcelona, Spain has been on my short list for years and with good connecting flights into the city it seemed like a great place to start our trip. Three of my favorite photos taken since we landed (and recovered from jet lag) are:
- Thom and I outside the amazing Sagrada Familia Cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi.
2) We spent five days in Barcelona and only scratched the surface of this huge city. While there was a lot to see and experience, some of the best times were just wandering the streets the Born and Gothic Quarter (near our apartment).
3) Next, we headed to Southern Spain on the high-speed AVE train to Cordoba. An equally impressive city with intriguing history, we toured the Cordoba Mezquita. This Mosque-Cathedral is a stunning monument to the two religions and cultures that have shaped Andalusia: Islam and Christianity.
While we’ve been fortunate to have several interesting and tasty food experiences, I think our favorite dinner was at Restaurante Blavis in Barcelona. Recommended on TripAdvisor, this tiny (16 seat) bistro requires reservations far in advance. I should probably have taken photos of the food, but we were so busy eating and enjoying ourselves that I got distracted. Afterwards we asked the co-owners for a photo.
Finally, is one of the highlights of our trip so far. The day was warm. We were hungry. When we entered small plaza surrounded by buildings, a restaurant was just opening so we were able to grab a patio table. Nearby two men began playing music. While we ate a simple lunch, the men played most of the surrounding crowd sang along, clapped and many of the women got up and danced. The joy was evident and it was such a pleasure to watch the local people enjoying themselves on a lovely Sunday afternoon. This memory will be with me for years to come. (See very short video below.)
So that’s it. This first post is longer than those others I hope to include. Meanwhile, stay SMART and hasta luego.