So it's Spain!
If you would have told me earlier this year I would be spending time in Spain this winter I'd have said you were crazy. My heart was set on a two week adventure tour in Sri Lanka with a stop over in Dubai on the way with maybe just maybe a side trip over to Malaysia for a couple of weeks. Then reality set in..I decided to wait until after my orthopedic surgeons appointment and see what he told me. And as my knee got worse I decided that being on a tour and doing lots of walking and stairs and having to keep up with people was probably not the best thing for my body or my confidence. I would rather wait until after knee surgery when hopefully I will be back to where I was a couple of years ago and can handle it. I know I will never be able to climb Adams Peak or do the steep stairs at Sigiriya Rock nor do I even want to. I just did not want the pressure of "keeping up" and wanted a trip where I could do things at my own pace.
I had all sorts of ideas rolling around...just go to Malaysia (I fell in love with Penang in 1990 and have been promising myself a trip back since then...a long time!) with that stop over in Dubai but then I decided I'd rather wait until I feel more confident. Not mentally but physically.
I booked my one way ticket to London for late November to take advantage of a seat sale ($326 one way including taxes - I haven't paid anything that low in years - thank you West Jet!) but wasn't sure when I would be coming back. I have never booked a one way ticket to London before and it was quite a thrill actually! I dithered and changed my mind constantly. And in the end I decided on the south of Spain. My friend Pat had been there in the winter and said it is quite pleasant. I had been to Madrid for a few days in 1980 on my way to Athens but that has been my only experience in Spain. I decided to stay in the untouristy city of Malaga because it is central and I don't want to stay with a bunch of British or European tourists. (because as we know I'm not a "tourist" - ha!!) I love staying in "regular" neighbourhoods. Then more dithering..do I keep trying to get a pet sitting job over Xmas and New Years in Britain or Europe and go to Spain in January or do I have a Spanish Christmas. After countless applications for petsitting and not even hearing back except from one or two people saying sorry they've found someone I was getting very frustrated. And I kept thinking maybe I don't want to be responsible for a pet or pets and just be free to do my own thing. I didn't want a big dog nor multiple dogs because of the knee issue and that is what a lot of these petsitting jobs are for. (or else they would get their families to look after the pets!) Being as I enjoy seeing different Christmas customs I thought why not Spain at Christmas. So on December 20th I board an Easy Jet flight to Malaga and fly back to London on the 8th of January. Of course things couldn't go smoothly and despite checking the dates with her before I booked the host for my airbnb did not get back to me within 24 hours thereby canceling the booking. I was disheartened as I had my heart set on staying at her place but I tried again (thanks for the encouragement Pat!) and she said of course you can stay and finalized the booking. So this is where I will be for three weeks...
The room is small but has a desk so I can blog and there is a wardrobe for my clothes. I mean look at that view! I know it won't look like that every day...there will probably be rainy days but it's still the sea! There is a walking path right by the sea across the road from the flat. I have access to the rest of the flat which has a small balcony where I can have my morning coffee. Cooking in the kitchen is not a problem (I should say "heat up" - I don't cook on holidays) and Pilar the host sounds wonderful. She is a super host (as is my London host) which means five stars for everything. I could have rented an apartment of my own but for three weeks that would just be too lonely. To me the best part (besides the cheaper price) of airbnb is getting to stay with local people.
While in Malaga I am planning to take a one or two night trip to Seville and perhaps an overnight trip to Granada. I can happily cram what I need into my day pack and off I go leaving my suitcase behind in Malaga. Also on the agenda at some point is a day trip to Gibralter and other places like Ronda. There is a commuter train that will take me to the touristy spots along the Costa del Sol. Three weeks should give me the time to do all this yet relax as well.
My other base is of course London. I will be staying at my favourite airbnb in Streatham (south London) and looking forward to chatting with my host (now a friend) over morning coffee while feeding the friendly squirrel that comes to beg for peanuts. I've got just over five weeks in London this time however I do plan a couple of overnight or two night get aways there as well - yet to be determined! I will hopefully get to meet up with friends over there and well..to me it's like a second home. I've already booked a ticket to see "The Nutcracker" at the Royal Opera House and a Norwegian Christmas concert at St Martins in the Fields by Trafalgar Square. I will get to see the Norwegian Christmas tree (sent over annually from Norway as thanks for Britain's help during the Second World War) lit up for the first time in early December (the reason for going so early), go to a Christmas concert at the Royal Albert Hall, go to a pantomime and more. That is what I like to spend my money on...not on accommodation and not food (within reason - I do like a splurge now and again) but experiences. Five weeks gives me time to have rest days when if it's a crappy day (after all it IS winter) or I am tired. I can have a stay at home day and visit with my host and her son, blog, watch Netflix and throw a ready meal nto the microwave. I love those kind of days too! Being as it's winter there will be a lot of museum visits, exhibitions, bookshop browsing but NO long walks along my friend the Thames! (that's for next time!)
Every night in December up until Christmas groups of carolers sing in front of the Norwegian Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square and I plan to be there once again!
My flight home was booked...for January 25th. I was teary eyed as I booked it - I wasn't sure if it was leaving London (sicko that I am) or coming back to a prairie winter (predicted to be the "winter from hell") or a combination of both. Another seat sale price but a bit pricier as I had to pay in pounds - still a return flight to London for less than $800 is something I haven't experienced in quite a while. So there are just two bases for this trip which saves me hauling heavy luggage all over the place. This time I am taking care of myself. My heart still says (with a little sob...) Sri Lanka....and I didn't dance around the room when I hit the "book" button for Spain but I know I will enjoy it and Sri Lanka will still be there waiting for me and all the more enjoyable for the waiting.
Lots more blog posts coming about my most recent trips this summer, visiting Rudyard Kipling's home in Sussex, another day out in Jersey and more. Stay tuned!!!