I love living here- this compact, gritty city. I love my predictable routes and the opportunities I have to run into friends on a regular basis.
I don’t realize just how impulsive I have a tendency to be until, that is, I run into a friend we just had dinner with two weeks ago and realize she has no idea I’m headed to Europe in just about a week. So you decided on all of this over the past… couple of weeks?
The flight is easy- I use Kayak, Priceline, Hotwire, and the companies themselves to find the best fare. This is the first time I’m doing an “open-jaw” flight– into Toulouse, France and out of Bilbao, Spain.
The transportation to and from different cities takes a bit more planning but it’s still fairly straight forward. From my first trip I’ve used a combination of Rick Steves Guidebooks and TripAdvisor to ensure for smooth arrival.
When it comes to accommodation I’m perhaps the easiest person to please. As long as reviews state the room is in a safe location and clean, I’m a happy person. Sure a private bathroom is a perk but quite honestly not a priority for me. I found two seemingly wonderful family run pensions that I reserved with a quick phone call. Let me tell you there is nothing more fun then calling the place you are going to stay versus e-mailing your information (including your credit card number which I just don’t feel comfortable e-mailing). It gets the excitement going and I always end the phone call with a huge grin across my face.
I receive more questions about packing than anything else when it comes to travel. Women are always amazed at the fact that I depart with one small carry-on of clothes. Honestly I love having a finite amount of options. It makes mornings much easier and as long as you’ve packed smart, you won’t regret it. Also, I can’t imagine dragging a huge suitcase up subway steps, onto a train, then onto a bus, then a twenty minute walk through cobblestone streets to my hotel. Absolutely not. I plan on bringing the following on this trip (combination of beach, country, and city):
Wear on the plane: linen pants, tank top, sweater, scarf, sandals
4 tank tops
1 pair shorts
1 long skirt
2 dresses (casual)
1 dress (dressy)
1 bathing suit
1 pair sneakers
Give or take a bit. If it doesn’t fit in the bag, it doesn’t go! Most likely I’ll do a load of laundry while I’m away for the tank tops and “unmentionables”- this way, I’m not going crazy over having 2 changes of shirts a day, or putting myself in “what if” situations.
A quick recipe for you all for now and the coming early Fall months when we’re craving those flavors that are resistant to arrive. I made a variation of this recipe last Thanksgiving using butternut squash. It’s incredibly easy and a perfect compliment to basic roasted meat or even a salad.
Roasted Marsala Yams
2 lbs yams, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch half moons
2 T olive oil
1 c. Marsala wine
Salt/Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Place yams on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400F for about 25 minutes until a fork easily pierces the largest piece.
Meanwhile, put Marsala wine in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and down to a simmer for ~15 minutes until its a bit like a syrup.
Remove potatoes and place in serving dish. Pour Marsala over the potatoes.