Isn’t time and space just so wild? Like, if you really think about it, the passage of seconds into minutes into hours into days into years and all that happens in between is totally cuckoo. It just ticks and tocks and poof! You’re somewhere new or married or single or fat or skinny or broke or rich or… And space? The movement of feet into yards into miles, all done magically via foot, trains, planes and automobiles? Sorry to get all woo-woo on you, but I can’t help but recall that a year ago this month, I was trying very hard to acclimate myself with my home surroundings after having been away for six months. I was refamiliarizing myself with the subways and Sunday brunches and trying to find new office environments that didn’t drastically raise my Con Ed bill. Days turned into weeks, turned into months and here we are a year later. During all that time, I went to Cali and Oregon and even Mexico, but I was also grounded for longer than I anticipated during a very cold, Vortex-y NYC winter due to a few necessary part-time gigs. I settled back in. Fell back in love with New York and enjoyed being so close to my family again. But I also eventually forgot how much things like finding the “perfect” dress and shoes and [insert material item here] didn’t really matter in the long run. And so, as that year mark slowly approached, I knew I needed to hit the road again to regain some perspective. To unacclimate myself again. For work, yes, but also for pleasure. I’d foot the bill (AAadvantage Miles and AirBnB holla!) and see where it all takes me and my byline.
So, by the time many of you read this, I will be in southern Spain. Seat back and tray tables will have been brought to their upright positions, phone switched to airplane mode and up, up, up and away I will have went.
It’s so wild to me that at 9:25a.m. on July 6 when I began composing this post, I was sitting at a desk in my childhood bedroom in Long Island. But all of 7 hours and a time zone later I’ll be waiting on line at customs in Madrid, Spain. Just a quick zip across continents. Ya know. NBD.
OK, so why Southern Spain, you ask? It’s close to Portugal. And why Portugal? Honestly, why not? There are so many places I’d still like to visit, but I have to consider a few factors when choosing my destination:
- Can I go alone? (aka, will I be comfortable/safe traveling as a solo female?)
- Is it the ideal time of year to go to said destination?
- Do I have enough money to visit said destination the way I’d like to?
In considering these components, countries like Colombia and Morocco immediately had to be taken off the list. (For now.) I didn’t feel safe going to either alone, and it’s deathly hot in northern Africa in July.
Other destinations high on the list? Iceland. But my brother and I are talking about going together in the winter. Hawaii. But that seems too honeymoon-y, and I’d like to go with my sister who claims the islands as her second home. Southern Africa. But I can’t afford to go glamping and I know that’s how I want to roll with the giraffes. The Galapagos. But I’m hoping the Lieberman Tribe will get their family cruise on again there some day. The Amazon. I’m off Mosquitos and snakes this summer.
I recalled seeing a segment on my favorite Sunday morning show a few months back about these ceramic tiles in Portugal called Azulejos. Aside from really getting a kick out of how they’re pronounced (ah-zoo-le-jewsh), I found them remarkably beautiful; both the tiles themselves and the history surrounding them. I thought, “Hmm, I’d like to see those tiles.” I’ve also heard great things about Lisbon as a metropolis, and as a lover of cities, I decided it was an urban center worth seeing. I added Southern Spain into the mix because I was giving myself a month away and it was close enough to be able to travel overland via train or bus, keeping the cost of crossing borders fairly low. In booking, American Air wouldn’t let me fly home without stopping over in London—no really, I couldn’t fly direct without touching down in Heathrow—so I decided to make it an actual stopover and stay a few days to see friends and visit my old stomping grounds in weather that doesn’t suck. I’m actually really excited to see the green of Hampstead Heath and get to drink a Shandy outside on the streets of Shoreditch somewhere.
Of course, I also tucked in the book of arrondissements I bought at Gare du Nord in Paris because, let’s be honest, Paris is always a good idea, n’est pas? I even tossed in my notes on Berlin in case I decided to head up north for a few days. Essentially, I’ve got a very loose itinerary, and for the first time since I backpacked 13 years ago, I’m going to try my best at just going with the flow and seeing where a bus, a train and maybe an Easy Jet flight or two will take me.
Now, how does one pack for a month away? It’s not easy. The thing is, I need to be comfortable and practical about the weather (hot) and my age (old-ish). But I also like to dress to impress. There are a lot of potential José’s out there. So, here’s a sampling of what I brought, most of which is being packed into one carry-on size wheelie. (Though, I plan to check it this first flight.)
- One silver slim Club Monaco clutch for evening.
- One messenger-type Kurt Geiger bag for evening.
- One denim carry-on/handbag (aka day bag) from Anthro.
- Four pairs of shoes: One flat high-top sneaker, two comfortable flats, one beach flip-flop and one pair of evening wedges.
- One pair of cropped and torn jeans, one pair of lightweight pants from Israel, one long skirt, one short dress, two long dresses, one lightweight denim romper, two bathing suit cover-ups.
- An assortment of tanks and tees including two yoga, sweat-wicking ones.
- One bathing suit (with two inter-changable tops).
- One white blazer for cool nights or to dress up a day outfit.
- One chambray denim shirt for cool nights and to dress down a night outfit.
- One sweatshirt aka jumper. (London!)
- One squishy, fold up-able pillow. It can make or break a good night’s sleep. I’ll be away for a month, so I’m not taking any chances.
Toiletries-wise, I’ve got my Dermologica face wash, moisturizer and Bobbi Brown eye cream. Extra contact lenses, make-up and favorite Clarins SPF. I didn’t include body SPF, because I’ve found that buying SPF in other countries has randomly become a bit of a thing for me that’s super rewarding. Not so much in the actual moment of shopping for it, because usually I just want to get to the beach at that point already and I belabor over which brand is best (in smell and price) before finally settling on something I hope is worth my pesos (or shekels). But when I get home, I always wish I had bought more. I’ve managed to maintain a collection of SPF’s from all over the world, all of which I hesitate to let others use and squeeze down to the last dollop because I love them so much.
So there you have it. My story for the next month or so, during which I hope to be blogging a whole lot more. Of course, I’m also on the lookout for stories to sell to publications and have a few assignments already in the bag, but I do plan to come back to this space often; this public travel diary of sorts that I’ve created to muse on “self-discovery while discovering the world.”
I do hope you’ll come along with me.
Or, really, by the time you read it, Hola, from Espana!