January 4, 2015

Monthly Musings with Marc - January

Feel Free to Move About the Country

My last trip was short and smooth; no hiccups, no changes, and no surprises other than the beautiful new sights. This latest trip, however, was a whirlwind in the most positive way possible. 

Every year Christy and I take a Christmas trip. With our sports schedules, it is the only guaranteed time we will get to travel together other than the summer. We have three criteria for this trip...sun, new location, and more sun. 

Christmas 2012 in Rome!
Years past we have gone on a cruise, explored Rome, driven through the Loire Valley, and lounged in Nice. This year we picked Madrid as our source of entertainment, or so we thought. 

Once we made our choice, Christy went about finding our crash pad and best options for getting down to our destination: train or plane. First step, picking where to stay, and we suggest using AirBnB. (If you have never used this site, click here to sign up and get $25 off your first trip!) She found a great place, owned by a French guy named David. 

But our first hiccup for this trip came here . . . David could only rent us his amazing apartment until December 27 and we wanted to have more than a 5 day vacay! What to do? Swags went into research mode, her best mode after volleyball mode. Where could we go inside our budget? Where was it sunny, historical, and fun? Málaga! Yes. Done. Settled...?

A few weeks after getting things squared away for 5 days in Madrid and 4 days in Málaga we got a curveball . . . but it was hittable. Because of the generosity of AirBnB, we had a coupon to use on our next rental. Should we use this the next time ONE of us goes on a trip or use it now for BOTH of us? Duh! Time for some more Christy research mode! Let's hit Granada, see the Alhambra, and check another city off the list. The trip is set . . . Home Run!

Christmas day at the Palace.
Madrid for Christmas was amazing . . . the sun, the tapas, the history, everything! Pack it up and get ready for our flight to Málaga Airport, metro to the city center, bus to Granada, and taxi to where we will be sleeping in Granada. Nope, changes are coming! 

We had printed off our "tickets" for all three of our flights for this vacation well in advance. Except Iberian Airlines is okay with overbooking their flights and we are put on standby when we show up at the airport two hours before boarding. Hiccup! What are our options? Enter Swag mode number 2 . . . research! 

There are no flights the rest of the day to Málaga, but there is a flight that night to Granada. Eliminate the metro, bus, and taxi and fly straight to our destination? Best hiccup ever! Oh, and Iberia gave us vouchers for future use as an apology . . . yeah, stop making our life easier! 

Granada, Alhambra, cool experiences . . . CHECK. On to Málaga. This ended up being the most normal journey of the trip.

Málaga gave us warm weather and one last chance to relax until heading back to not-so-warm France. Well, that was the plan, then we get an email from EasyJet . . . flight canceled! Wow, not even on standby this time. 

No flights until January 3rd, but here is a free hotel room with meals. Three free days in sunny Southern Spain! However, three changes and Swags is out. My wife really wanted to be in La Fère with her teammates for New Year's Eve, and I don't blame her. Her team and our French friends are a lot of fun and the parties are out of this world! So I had to takeover the research mode for a bit.
Driving through the skinny streets of Córdoba.
Thanks to the La Fèrois Volleyball Club handing me the keys to a large van that is a manual, I have had to get very good at driving a stick-shift. Well, that was a game-changer because manual car rentals in Europe are way cheaper than the automatic cars. Cheap car that gives us the freedom to move about the area? Done. Where to, Swags? She's back in research mode! :) 

Hanging with the monkeys in Gibraltar.
The next two days we spent on the road and it was fabulous. New Year's Eve fireworks from Mijas, visiting Córdoba, Ronda, Gibraltar, and coastal cruising with the windows down. But all good things must come to an end and the next day our flight did actually takeoff without any hiccups, curveballs, or changes. 

When traveling it is important to plan ahead and be organized to maximize time, but if a whirlwind comes . . . jump on and ride it for as long as possible!