6 Keys To Merging Travel Styles… How To Handle The Rain In Spain
“How wonderful to travel the world and enjoy the beauty that lay beyond our shores.”
At least that was the conversation going on in my head.
As a traveler, one who’s lived long overseas (and survived!), I enjoy global travel and the tricky details don’t faze me much. Sure, I plan, but not in the group tour kind of way.
But, as many of you know, I recently married a “tourist,” he of the safe and sanitized travel. It makes for interesting holidays, to be sure!
So, how do we merge travel styles? One fearless, another focused; one inquisitive, the other easily irritated- what kind of travel can satisfy both?
To be fair, NH (“New Hubby”) has traveled (more than average for an American tourist), with a dozen or more countries under his belt. He obviously has a well used passport. In addition, he can add to that list most states at home here in the U.S. He has flown, cruised, traveled by rail and by car.
But ask him what he remembers about each of those destinations and he will likely tell you about the hotel they stayed in, or the beach across from the hotel. Scuba diving and parasailing, tour buses and gondola rides; he’s the perfect “tourist” all the way.
Asking him to move outside that comfort zone and be a little offbeat is like asking him to eat olives or mushrooms- he’ll tell you it’s poisonous in all its known forms.
He wants things planned, but he is not a planner.
I’m a planner, but I don’t want things planned.
Here’s how we managed to travel together on this latest international trip, which, by the way, we also decided would include his son and family (read, two teen granddaughters…smile). That’s a tall order for merging of so many interests and travel styles.
These kids are not travelers- unless you count Disney World 10 times. The teenagers… well, they’re teens, meaning that if it isn’t electronic and moving at a fast pace, it isn’t interesting. Add in a limited world awareness and you’ve just about got the full picture.
We organized the trip in sections, like the old wedding saying, something borrowed, something blue: We borrowed a friend’s villa, which has a sparkling blue pool overlooking the Mediterranean, as if we needed it with the coves and beaches that abound on the Costa Brava.
That’s a plan everyone can enjoy!
NH and I arrived first, got the villa opened up and quickly settled into our routine of day trips, exploring and getting the lay of the land. We found a great little internet café that served pizza and other casual meals.
We decided this would be our backup plan in case of rain as they had pool tables, wi-fi, and a whole cast of characters who were excited to practice speaking English with the kids.
The kids arrived later that week and were curious for us to fill them in. We had found some fun options.
Barcelona, of course has tons of offbeat and quirky places to see and things to do, plus world-class food.
But further north from our Villa “Amanda”, which is located just outside the village of Tamariu (Begur), we found a karting track in L’Estartit that we could all challenge each other on a multi-lap race. I couldn’t believe how competitive grandpa could be… Let them win? Who are you kidding? He drove like he was back in the police cruiser chasing bad guys!
Next up, we headed inland to Figueres to visit the Salvador Dali museum. Kids today may not know Dali by name, but they readily recognize his work.
The old theater Dali himself transformed into his museum is a gem of oddities, beginning with the décor of the building inside and out. Mad genius!
This was a big hit with something for everyone.
From the outside in, the quirky nature of Dali prevailed. The tricks to the success if this venture were:
- Pre-planned distance: No long or arduous trek to get there.
- Pace: Each one could tour or linger at leisure, reading more or less as they were interested.
- Participation: This museum was hands on, indoor/outdoor, and pure imagination. It challenged the sense of size, scale, creative genius, and “what the heck is this?”- not your average museum.
Tip: when you look at this photo of Dali’s Lincoln with Gala, step back from your computer if you don’t see Lincoln right away!
To get a sense of the scale of this painting, notice the person in the bottom of the frame. I was standing across the gallery on a staircase to get this in.
We spent a full day in this museum and exploring the town as well.
On a down day for the kids, I arranged a day out for Joe and me at the Empordá Golf Club, located about 45 minutes from the villa. Joe and I spent part of the day trying to convert yardages to meters to get our club distances dialed in right and had a fun lunch at the club when we were done.
It didn’t matter that we weren’t fluent in Spanish. In fact, I used more of my high school French in the Catalan region than anything else.
Later in the week we took a drive to Perpignan, France, just to show the teens that we could. They had never driven country to country so fast or so easily! Way cool! The suspension bridge we had to cross in the wind and fog didn’t please the drivers, but the girls pronounced it awesome! And it was that.
So for us, the plan worked. Here’s why:
- No one was on a schedule. We recognized morning people don’t function well with late night fancy dinners, and that night owls wouldn’t be happy getting dragged out at the crack of dawn for a three-hour drive to look at nature. We allowed for an opt-in plan.
- We didn’t “require” that everyone participate in everyday’s activity. We laid out the plan the evening before and those who wanted to join were ready at the departure time- no hassling the rest. (Of course, tweaks to this plan would have been made had we had toddlers to think about, but the idea still works as long as someone spells the caregivers for days off too.)
- And we allowed for fast days and slow days; we made sure to get outside time on the beaches, balanced with indoor chill days.
So these are our Keys to merging multi-generational travel wants and needs. This is how I brought expat-style adventure to a new generation of travelers.
Do you have tips of your own that work for your family? I’d love to be able to share new ideas and learn some tips and tricks to use on our next adventure abroad! What say you?