Thursday, March 24, 2011

Plans are Shaping Up

Last night I couldn't sleep. I figured since my parents are coming at the break of dawn tomorrow morning, I might as well wear myself out today so I can sleep soundly tonight. That was my justification for hopping on my computer and digging into all kinds of crazy plans instead of lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling in the dead of the night, mind racing but trying to force sleep. It was a great decision, because now my plans are shaping up and my mind is swirling with an exciting next several months.

I lost sight momentarily of why I came all the way out here. It was not a meaningful goal of mine to become an experienced teacher, or even to learn Spanish. There are beneficial perks, but I came here to soak up all of the goodness that Spain and Europe have to offer while I have the freedom and flexibility to be here. As my fellow expats and I have numerous chats about our mysterious futures, the end of this experience is beginning to feel as though it is rapidly approaching. So now, I have made it my mission to maximize my time here by seeing and doing all of those things I've dreamt about doing, that seem amazing but that I've only considered in passing. There are so many famous festivals here in Spain and around Europe that I feel almost an obligation to see. Going back to Amsterdam has been tempting me since the last time I visited a year ago (a year ago today, actually!) and Queen's Day at the end of April seems like an ideal time to get back. Denmark is one country I am still yet to visit, so what better way to check it out than with one of Europe's most epic music festivals? Rockslide takes place at the end of June and seems like a perfect way to celebrate the end of the teaching season and my belated birthday. A week later is the kick off of Running with the Bulls in Pamplona. With friends coming in from the States already, this is one festival I will definitely not be missing. Other small festivals will be springing up all throughout the summer months in Spain, Italy, and Greece, just to name a few I intend to get to. Suddenly I realize that there is so much to see and so little time!

Beyond festival hopping, there are certain cities I needed to omit during my trudge through Europe last year. Six stick out in my mind the most: Lisbon, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Istanbul, and the Greek islands. I wouldn't mind revisiting Prague and Florence as well because they were spoiled by unfortunate weather. So I have quite the itinerary lined up for the next several months to make it out to the sunny islands in Greece, stopping through Italy on the way, and heading north for a pricy, yet pleasant visit in Northern Germany, Denmark, and Sweden (maybe even Norway and Finland if it's possible). Now it's just a matter of timing and budgeting it out to make it as economical as possible, but with Ryanair and couchsurfing, I don't see that being too big of a problem.

Beyond hopping from one city to the next in search of a good time, sites, and festivals, there is one other thing I must do before I leave that is increasing in importance to me: The Camino de Santiago. This four week "pilgrimage" attracts people from around the world who are searching for peace, a sense of accomplishment, an outdoor adventure, and many other motivations, I'm sure. Much like the Appalachian Trail, hikers with backpacks make their way through the mountains and towns, living off the land, their pack, and the humble offerings in the small villages, in an effort to complete a famous walk that stretches the length of Northern Spain. After reading through information on planning, it appears that October would be the ideal month.

So my dates are coming together: For the next three months, I will commit to teaching my students, taking Spanish courses, and popping around Spain for weekend excursions. Then July will be divided between exciting festivals and big trips to finally see the countries I missed. In August and September the heat is unbearable, so I have big hopes to find a cheap little place by the sea, hopefully finding some laidback bar or tourism work. I'll be sure to make my way to more festivals (especially Oktoberfest) and then in October, I'll hand my bags over to a friend in Madrid to hang on to as I walk the Camino. I'll at last head home in the fall to be with family and visit loved ones around the states. I can't imagine I'll be sitting still long with a South Pacific adventure seeming more and more possible and calling my name. Life is an adventure...

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's a lot of stuff to pack into such a short time! Sounds like you'll be having fun. You definitely should go to San Fermin in Pamplona, it's impressive the first time you see a whole city full of people all dressed in white and red, all out to have a good time. Well, good luck on your travels.