Spain, in reality, was probably a bad idea. Mostly because of timing – since I was watching a little girl and would have to pawn her off to someone else for a couple of days – and because I was in the final stretch of completing my Master’s degree. It would’ve been far more responsible to not take a spontaneous vacation.
Plus, we don’t have a vacation budget (unless we want to rename our System Bolaget budget…in which case, we have some expendable income).
But then one day I came across a blog post about Costa Brava…and I Google-mapped it…and I checked out some Ryanair tickets…and then I compiled a sloppy/excited email to Matt revealing to him a plan for a quickie beach vacation. Plus, it was to Spain, and a beach, both of which he’d been wanting to go badly.
Let’s take a moment to be thankful for Ryanair. Flights for a cost lower than most IKEA trips. Can I get an Amen?!
So, we decided on a whim to go. Totally selfish, and I feel a bit guilty, but luckily in retrospect everything worked out OK.
The one thing we promised ourselves while we have this opportunity to live in Europe was to travel as much as possible, and before we start a family. I mean, without kids, our biggest sacrifices are not buying as much wine/beer and forgoing one or two IKEA trips in order to take a vacation. It also helps that working as a contractor overseas, lots of stuff is paid for…like our apartment and car. This affords us an insane quality of life – “us” meaning “me” and “quality of life” meaning “no commute, no crappy job, lots of puppy snuggles”. It’s nice to know I don’t have to work…to make money…to go to work (coughDCcough).
Seeing as how I don’t know anything about Costa Brava, I just googled towns in the region, and compared the cost of hotels vs. the length of the drive from the Barcelona airport. We landed on Tossa de Mar.
Plan: Fly to Barcelona, rent a car and drive to Tossa de Mar, camp on the beach for a couple of days, drink our body weight in sangria, and make a point to check out a bit of Barcelona – mainly La Sagrada Familia, then fly back home.
Plan successful! We arrived in Barcelona in the afternoon and had some trouble finding the bag carousel due to “Stockholm” being spelled/abbreviated “Estoco”. We just followed the blonde people wearing Converse and then found it, no problem. When we went outside to find our rental car, my knees started sweating and I knew it: “Matty, we’re not in Sweden anymore.” First beach vacation has arrived!
Traffic through Barcelona at rush hour wasn’t so bad. Tolls, although, almost bankrupted us before our trip really began. But we arrived in Tossa de Mar, found our hotel, and promptly set off on foot to find some food. It was late so we quickly decided to eat at Anna’s Pizza and it was our best meal the entire trip. Bottle of wine, great pizza, warm air, lovely!
Our first day in Tossa de Mar we got all dressed up (by that I mean Matt wore a button up shirt and I wore wedge sandals), had a couple Americanos on the beach, and we walked all over the little town. It was a stunning, sunny day and the beach filled up by mid-morning. I’ve never seen such a picturesque scene nor water so beautiful.
Tossa de Mar is an awesome little town with roots going back farther than I can even fathom. There is a medieval section located next to the beach, with crenulated rampart walls, church ruins, and a towering old lighthouse from the 12th century. Oh yeah, and amazing views.
The town has narrow streets lined with apartments where people grow the pretty little plants and flowers.
There are tourists all over the place, but you can still get lost and wander around without running into anybody.
After our little trek up and around the medieval city, we stopped for a paella and sangria lunch. I think we’re basically a senior citizen couple because we always show up to eat sooner than anyone else.
After lunch, we moseyed back to the hotel, changed into bathing suits and set off to swim in the Mediterranean. Also known as: The First Time Matt and Katie Have Ever Swam Together. Ever. In, like, 5 years of knowing each other. Something is wrong with that. No pictures of this event for 2 reasons: 1. We’re impenetrably white, and 2. this vacation was not planned, ergo, our bodies are more built for Arctic temps and not minimal lycra fabric.
Now, the Mediterranean Sea, this is the luxury. Cheap flights, cheap hotels, cheap food – we’re stingy. Enjoying what nature offers is our game, and good lord did this water make us feel like a million bucks.
The salty water, shockingly cold upon entering, felt amazing within minutes. The waves rolling in, gently rocking you up and down, back and forth. The sun, glaring down on you, providing the Vitamin D your poor little Scandinavian heart has gone without for a bit too long. It was life changing.
During our trip the Euro cup was also taking place. Each night we decided where to eat dinner based on who was showing a better “soccer game”. We ate at a British/Welsh pub one night while England played, a Spanish place with locals while Spain played the next, and then a “German” place with a bunch of French, Swedish, and British people the last night while Sweden played.
What I missed each night was: stronger sangria, and vegetables. The touristy offerings of fried tapas got old after a couple days…for me at least. Matt was in heaven with the cured meats and cheese.
Our last day we woke up early to walk around while the sun was coming up.
The rest of the day was spent on the beach for a few hours, swimming, laying out, swimming again, people watching, drying off in the sun, which was peeking out behind clouds every once in a while. Both of us on our one beach towel, we fell asleep with the hot sand underneath. It was SO lovely and peaceful. We are so lucky. I hope everyone who takes vacations like this feels that same way: how did we get so lucky?!
The souvenirs we brought home consisted of olive oil and a few cured meats (for Matt) and one pair of cheap flip-flops (for me). Plus a bunch of pictures where I was (still) learning with my new camera. It’s really hard having to practice your photography skills on the Med. So hard, guys. Rough life…
But wait! There’s more! We also hit up Barcelona for a chaotic half-day trip, which I will add in an upcoming post!