I decided where we would visit on our trip over Christmas and New Year's based on lists of cities with the best Christmas markets, the dates of said markets, and the proximity of those cities to one another. Since we'd already decided to start in Munich (reasonable airfares from Madrid, lots to see and do, etc), Salzburg seemed like an easy next choice, especially since Danny had been dying to get there so we could do the Sound of Music tour.
Nothing ever goes exactly as planned in life, does it? Nobody's perfect, and the same is true for life. Travel is no exception - plans must change at times, people you meet and travel with won't be perfect, and because you're in new environments and places, extra doses of flexibility, kindness, and the ability to choose laughter over anger are helpful.
Guadalupe was our last stop on our long-weekend road trip through Extremadura this past May. It's a tiny little town of about 2,000 people, and if I'm not mistaken, the primary reason it gets visitors is because of it's UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, or Royal Monastery of Santa María of Guadalupe. The only way to visit the 14th-century monastery is by taking a guided tour (available in Spanish only)...something we weren't necessarily stoked about doing, but we were willing to put our Spanish to the test in order to get farther than the lobby.
Cáceres is kind of a big deal - at least in history and on paper. Its walled city (Ciudad Monumental), which dates from the 16th century, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 and includes remarkably well-preserved homes, churches, and palaces. The various buildings found inside of the historic quarter seemed (at least to us) to all be very similar in style, but in fact Roman, Islamic, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture can all be found in the area.
Inadvertently, we saved one of the most picturesque cities with a fairy-tale like fortification as the final stop on our road trip around southern France. We visited Nîmes in the morning, drove a few hours to Carcassonne, and then drove a couple more to return our trusty rental car and fly from Toulouse back to Madridas we ended what turned out to be a diverse, beautiful, long, and really special trip.
With just 24 hours left in France to go, we checked out the three-tiered aqueduct and UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985, the Pont du Gard. The mighty bridge and aqueduct was built by the Romans in 19BC to carry water 50km from Uzés to Nîmes (we only saw a small portion of that, obviously), and it did so until the 6th century. In the Middle Ages it became a tollgate, and later on a road was added along a lower tier so that it could act as a road bridge as well. Now it welcomes more visitors than any other ancient monument in France, and many consider it the most impressive aqueduct in the world as it stands 50m high and 275m stretches long.
Last month we took advantage of a long weekend off work and headed next door to Portugal for three days. We met at the airport after school on a Thursday evening, flew to Lisbon, and got to our Airbnb at a decent time - the flight from Madrid to Lisbon is only about an hour. We'd been eager to see more of Portugal since our trip to Porto nearly a year and a half ago (it was our first trip after moving to Spain and we were full of wonder and awe - we're taking a weekend trip to Portugal! What is life?!) and while Lisbon had honestly never really been at the top of my list, I figured, well, why not?