City Breaks, Featured

Spain: The Best Things I Didn’t Do


Spain was fucking awesome.

How’s that for not burying the lede? (And pissing off my mom for using the f-word. Sorry mom. It’s just a word. A strong one. And I need a strong word to express how fucking awesome Spain is.)

When one returns from a trip of such graphic awesomeness, one must immediately ask one’s self: why, exactly, was the trip so graphically awesome? The reason is three-fold:

1. Both Madrid and Barcelona are fabulous destinations.  More on this later.

2. I lucked out and had absolutely fabulous weather for six out of seven days. This was much-needed after a winter mostly spent in Chicago (and the northeast, which actually fared worse than Chicago this year).

3. I didn’t do a whole lot. As in: I did and saw and ate many things. But I also didn’t do, didn’t see, and didn’t…ok no. I can’t say ‘didn’t’ with ‘eat’ on this trip. I ate all of the things. But I didn’t do or see a great number of things. And for this reason alone, I credit most of the awesomeness.

The Things I Didn’t Do in Spain


Do or do not. There is no try. –Yoda

Yes, I’m quoting Yoda. But I’m reinterpreting his message. You see, what Yoda is doing here is giving us a choice. We can either do or not do. Trying implies an attempt and then a failure. Most people take this to mean: one must always do. But if I know Yoda (and I think I know Yoda), what I really believe he’s saying here is: to not do is an equally valid option. So on this trip, I didn’t do a great many things, including but not limited to:

I did not set an early alarm. And when I did, I wisely turned it off, rolled over, and went back to sleep until 8am. Or, ok, 9am. Because in my regular life, I sometimes get up at 3am. And this was a vacation. So I slept in. And it was fabulous. This tactic not only helped with jet lag, but with the adjustment to mealtimes in Spain. If you get up at 6am, dinner at 10pm seems ridiculous. Not so if you don’t even leave the hotel until almost 11.

I did not go to Toledo. Or to Montserrat. Having only 2.5 days in Madrid and 3.5 days in Barcelona, I chose to forego all side trips. Could I have added a half day in one of these likely stunning destinations? Sure. But then I’d have had to get up earlier. And generally be in a hurry.

I did did not persevere when faced with obstacles. This sounds like a super-lazy approach to travel (and it may well be) as well as a kind-of-crappy way to approach life in general, but I assure you that in every instance it worked out for the best. Take, for example, my last day in Barcelona. Having already checked out Parc Guell, La Sagrida Familia, and La Pedrera on previous days, I set out for Casa Batllo at around 3pm on my final day in the city–a Saturday. I was met with a ridiculously long line. So I just…didn’t. And instead I strolled back towards Las Ramblas and stopped in Plaza Catalunya to take some photos of ominous storm clouds and the resulting fleeing pigeons. And then when it started to pour (which it would have done while I was in the line for tickets had I elected to get in line for tickets) I escaped to a tapas bar and got two of the last seats at the bar before the crowds of people feeling said rain (much like the pigeons) descended upon said bar. It was a great way to end a trip filled with not-doing.

I suppose I could sum all of this up by saying: I didn’t put any pressure on myself during this trip. I maintained the belief that if something didn’t work out, something else would work out. And something else always did.

So–what, exactly, did I do in Madrid and Barcelona? And which city do I prefer? Stay tuned to find out.

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