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Planning for Spain & Portugal, 2007 Archives

November 14, 2006

No More Checking For Airfare Deals!

I finally booked the flights.

We backed the trip up a week for departure on May 25th. That cut the price of the tickets in HALF.

So we arrive in Madrid on Saturday morning, 26May and we depart Lisbon on Thursday afternoon, 21June.

Four nights in Madrid (leave on the morning of 30May)

Three nights in Castilla y Leon as we drive between Madrid and Galacia.
We plan to find ourselves for the first night somewhere around Tordesillas/Valladolid. Then for the second night, it will depend on if we take the westerly route to Vigo or swing north and then west through Leon and Ponferrada.
Seven nights self-catered in Galacia (02June-08June = Leaning toward area around Noai and Outes as a base)
Seven nights self-catered in Minho (09June-15June = Leaning toward area between Braga and Guimaraes)
Five nights in Lisbon (16June-20June = Fly out on 21June)

My next task is to book the self-catered weeks, and then I will begin to search for apartment rentals in Madrid and Lisbon that will accept us for less than a full week each.

In Madrid, I want to be somewhere between Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.

In Lisbon, I want to be in the Bairro Alto area.

Planning is such great fun.

December 1, 2006

The Trouble With Tribbles

Planning resources aren’t hard to come by. Internet sites abound. They multiply like those furry little creatures on Star Trek. What were they called? Oh wait! I’ll just do a search.

Search string: Star Trek episode furry animal. Voila! TRIBBLES.

Travel planning resource sites are Tribbles. As in the title of the Star Trek episode, they are sometimes troublesome. Right now, I am struggling with an over abundance of vacation rental options for Madrid and Lisbon.

As an American, I use the word “vacation”. That gives me a lot of hits. But when I add in the British word “holiday” to my search string, I hit the mother lode.

So many choices, I can’t choose.

There is the added problem of rental properties with multiple listings. Several agencies represent the same apartment – for a fee. Each of them posts different pictures and descriptions. I may not realize at first that it is the same apartment.

If this were a trip to Italy, or England, or France it would be simple. I’d go to the trip reports and rental reviews on SlowTrav, then I’d post a few questions on SlowTalk, and my decision would be easy. But, Spain and Portugal are at the moment underrepresented. They are still lumped in with The Rest of Europe. Spain only has a few resident experts on SlowTalk, and Portugal hasn’t any. (However, I’m trying to remedy this. With every contact I make in my planning, I tell them about SlowTrav.)

I have to step outside my comfort zone on this one; do my own research; make my own mistakes.

To get control of my options, I’m about ready to set up a spread sheet. Then the obvious slaps me alongside the head. “Why don’t I ask some locals for recommendations?” I’m likely to find more interesting, locations. They will possibly be less expensive because agency fees aren’t involved. And along with the apartment, may come a few new friends to visit with while in their city.

No, I don’t personally know anyone living in either Madrid or Lisbon. My Spanish is limited to the words you learn in the first day of high school Spanish. My Portuguese is nonexistent. How am I to find locals to ask?

Hospitality Club. We’ve been members for four years. We’ve yet to be a host, and we aren’t young, or Bohemian enough any longer to throw our sleeping bags down in someone’s garden. But, I love the concept, of the organization.

We were host members of Servas before that, but found the organization to be too self-important and political for our taste. Hospitality Club is also all about brotherhood and cross cultural understanding and acceptance. But, it has fun with it, and realizes that hosting someone who is backpacking through your town doesn’t have to turn into an international summit. As a member, you aren’t required to host, you can offer a level of hospitality that fits your lifestyle. Some people only want to provide local information. Some will offer a place to pitch a tent. Some, like us, have the space to offer a guest room.

Demographically, the organization is very, very young. In fact, we belong to a small sub-group called “Seniors”. The requirement for being a Senior is over 30.

I’ve sent messages to about 20 members of Hospitality Club scattered throughout Spain and Portugal. Most of them are in Madrid or Lisbon. Some of them are in the two rural areas we plan to stay for our two middle weeks. I didn’t ask for hosting, rather I asked for recommendations.

I’ve heard back from a few. I’m excited. I’m still collecting data.

I still may need that spread sheet.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Old Shoes - New Trip in the Planning for Spain & Portugal, 2007 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Planning for Scotland 2009 is the previous category.

Potential Future Trips is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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