If I had to think of one word to describe our week in Southend-on-Sea, I might use "quiet." Quiet in the best way possible, though. We came directly from Madrid, where our final days were full of packing, cleaning, and just a pinch of chaos (that any international move can involve).
Hello from Worthing, England! We left Spain two and a half weeks ago and are really excited to be spending this month in southern England, dog sitting, visiting friends, and seeing more of this sometimes-sunny country! We've focused all of our previous visits on London, so it's been great to see some other towns and areas (although we have already snuck in a quick weekend to the capital...it's the greatest city in the world, how could we not?!).
I've been living outside of my 'home' country for two and a half years now and have visited 26 countries - I wouldn't seem like a person who really is afraid to try new things, right? Well, yes and no. Not long ago, Danny and I got talking about the idea that when it comes to life and, well, pretty much everything, most things aren't really that bad when you take the plunge and give them a shot. Whether we're talking about cliff jumping into clear seas in Greece or quitting your job and moving to a new country - it's all much scarier until you just start and get going. Once you start jumping off the cliff, it's not so bad! And once you start telling your boss about your new adventure and they get excited for you too, you realize, why was I freaked out about this? Why did I spend all that time worried and worked up about nothing?
As our remaining time in Spain quickly comes to a close, not only are we working to cross things off our ever-growing to-do list of cleaning and packing tasks, but I've also got a small but (equally?) important list of things I'd like to see and do one last time around Madrid. One of those things was a day trip to Ávila, a small town northwest of Madrid that we visited during our first fall in Spain (November 2015, actually, which sounds like forever ago now!). Three of the best day trips from Madrid are, in our opinion, Segovia, Toledo, and Ávila, and while we've been to the first two multiple times, for one reason or another, we'd never returned to Ávila.
Exactly a year ago, we were in the middle of an 11-day road trip around the South of France. It was an absolutely massive undertaking to plan, inspired by cheap flights from Madrid to Toulouse and Lonely Planet's France's Best Trips book. I pieced together many of the different road trip itineraries in the book and added in some additional stops based on blogs and sites I'd read online. The final plan was very ambitious and had us covering quite a bit of southern France, but the end result was...fabulous (if I do say so myself). Now, when I think about going anywhere in Europe on vacation, a few places come to mind, and the South of France is without a doubt at the top of that list.
As I'm sure you've deduced from the title of the post, this is it! Our "what's next" and "adios to Spain" post that was bound to eventually make it's way to the pages of this blog. Two weeks from today we'll lock our apartment door for the last time, take the bus to the airport, and this (mostly) sunny chapter of our lives will come to an end. I honestly can hardly believe I'm typing this all up (and I'm getting a little choked up right now doing so), but for so many reasons, the time is right for us to start something new.
Like so many Americans, we get excited about a good castle. Sure, there's some in the U.S., but they're pretty different than what you can find in Europe, and they just don't feel like the real deal to me. When we visited Munich, a day trip to arguably the world's most famous castle was a priority for me - after all, it's not all that tricky to reach, and we'd certainly be in good company: 1.4 million people visit a year, so we pretty much just had to follow the crowds.
We began our two-week central European trip in Munich, Germany, and after spending time in Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia, we returned to Germany for a few days before flying back to Madrid. Aside from one day, which we spent celebrating our wedding anniversary (see more here!), we used the other two to take day trips out of the city.