Saturday, August 29, 2009

How and Why I Ended up In Madrid, Spain

A few years ago, my cousin Renee and I had discussed traveling to Spain together. She told me she had always wanted to visit Spain. She loved the music of the Gypsy Kings and wanted to visit Spain's coastline. After I told her about how fabulous my trip to Italy was, she and I decided that in a year and a half, we would travel together to Spain. We figured that would be plenty of time for us to save up enough money and for me to do all the research and planning.

I was eager for us to go to Barcelona and maybe the islands off Spain's coastline. I also wanted us to get down to Madrid and some of the surrounding towns in that area. I also thought about us making a trek to Portugal to visit Fatima. But before our plans could fully form or truly get off the ground, Renee passed away unexpectedly. It was a great loss for her husband and our family. It was a great loss for me too but now, I was more inclined than ever to get to Spain and to take the spirit of Renee with me.

Towards the end of 2008, my young cousin Thomas announced that he would be spending his Spring semester in Madrid, Spain. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to visit Spain and to visit Thomas at the same time. Thomas told me that during his Spring Break, he would not be able to stay at his host home so that would be the perfect time for him to have some family with him. After further discussion, it was decided that his older sister Felicia, my Aunt Cal (who happens to be in her late 70's) and I would make the trip to Madrid, in honor of Renee.

By the time Thomas got definite word about his approval to spend the semester in Madrid, it was early December and his Spring Break would fall early in March so I immediately began to search for the best flight I could find. I found a great flight on Continental (it cost me approximately $730.00 for the flight to Madrid) and I decided that while I was going to be in Europe already, why not take advantage of that and do something I had been thinking about for some time. In the meantime, I was excited, and a little sad, to finally be making my way to Spain in Renee's honor. It was even better to experience it with family who loved her and treasured her spirit the very same way I did.

A family trip to Europe is not out of the question financially even it you think it might be. The bulk of your costs will be transportation (flights) and lodging.

Begin searching for affordable flights as soon as you know where and when you will be traveling. Take advantage of flight searach sites like Booking Buddy, Kayak or AirFare Watchdog. Use Yapta to track the price of the flight you're interested in and watch for it to go to it's most affordable or if you've already purchased your ticket, use Yapta to monitor the price to see if it goes down enough for you to request a refund for the difference (just be sure to take change fees into account). Once your flight is purchased, begin researching places to stay.

I will go into more detail about lodging in upcoming posts. In the meantime, I will be re-posting the blogs I posted while traveling in Spain and Italy and will also be talking more about how a one week trip to Spain ended up being a three week trip to Europe mixing pleasure and business.

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