As I write this post, Laura and I are on a high speed train from Madrid to Barcelona. And so far, our trip has been going remarkably well considering its improvised nature.

While in Madrid we went to a palace, some museums and ate a bunch of good food.

We also have been trying to overcome some of the challenges of the trip’s lack of planning. Among other things, that includes planning out our time.

When we traveled to Europe last time, we spent months figuring out we wanted to do. We were still winging it a lot of the time, but it was useful to have an informal list of things to see, places to stay, etc.

This time, however, we’re having to try to remember the things we considered visiting two years ago (when we ultimately decided to skip Spain in the interest of time), history we learned in elementary school (Columbus!), and any other random bits of information we might know about this country. Using those limited resources and our guide books, we’ve put together our itinerary.

Another interesting challenge we’re facing is that we packed for Brazil. I literally only brought a messenger bag full of stuff, and Laura has a small backpack. Along those lines, the clothes we brought were chosen specifically for Brazil (casual, for blending in with favela residents, etc).

Spain isn’t so radically different as to render everything we brought useless, but if I had known I was going to Spain, I definitely would have packed differently.

On the other hand, we have been slowly picking things up. I got a new shirt the other day, for example. Also, I got a new backpack at Spanish department store El Corte Ingles. It’s a very small backpacking backpack that was on sale. The store also gives discounts to tourists, so that’s great.

Anyway, the point here is that it’s hard to leave your house thinking you’re going to Brazil and then find out a day later that you’re actually going to Europe.


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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