Traveling to Spain had been a goal of ours for some time, particularly for Robert, who has been improving his Spanish via nearly weekly conversations via Skype with a woman in Valencia, Spain, and a man in Corrientes, Argentina.


We decided to see if we could use frequent flyer miles to upgrade a seat to business class for the trip over, and much to our pleasant surprise, by booking early (about 9 months in advance), we scored a fabulous deal: Business Class seats on Air France to Paris cost only 75,000 miles apiece, rather than the usual 280,000 miles each! We then used frequent flier miles to return coach class on Lufthansa.


We spent three nights in Paris, deliberately planning a low-key visit, so we could get used to the time zone shift. We then flew to Barcelona, where we stayed for four nights. From Barcelona we flew to Granada, for a two-night stay. We picked up a rental car in Granada and drove across Andalucia, stopping first in Ronda for two nights, and returned the car in Sevilla, where we also spent two nights. From Sevilla we took an AVE (high speed, about 200mph) train to Córdoba for a two-night stay. From Córdoba another AVE train took us to Madrid, where we spent six nights. While we were in Madrid we took two day trips (via AVE train), to Segovia and Toledo.


We enjoyed our trip a great deal, but we found it more physically challenging than our 2018 trip to Amsterdam, Germany, and the cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. Both Sharon and Robert were hobbled somewhat by physical issues limiting our ability to walk as much as we would have wanted, though we had ten days with over 12,000 steps each – the highest (for Sharon) being 16,526. This was a new experience for us, but one that is not entirely surprising, given that we are in our mid-to-late 60s. But, we took the attitude that we would do what we could, without pushing ourselves too hard, and that approach helped a great deal.


As Spain doesn't seem to have B&Bs, we decided to use AirBnb and VRBO to rent apartments. That worked out well, because we could easily eat breakfast in the apartments, and we often found ourselves preferring to eat dinner in the apartment rather than at a restaurant. For Spain, the mid-day (which means "after 2 pm") meal is typically the largest meal of the day, so cooking a light evening meal was perfect.


Robert's Spanish was more than up to handling our needs. Although Spaniards speak much more quickly than Latinamericans, he was able understand enough to get help when we needed. It was particularly valuable in the Barcelona and Madrid metros, as well as to ask for directions from time to time. In addition, not all the apartment hosts spoke English well, so Robert's Spanish came in handy then, too.

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