After a week in Morocco, I was ready to travel Europe. The week had been intense; full of long bus journeys, chaotic streets, loud markets, haggling voices and an indescribable hectic business. It was hot and dry and incredibly beautiful. I left with a list of more places I wanted to explore next time: the desert, the coast, the capital. I wanted to return one day and collect enough colorful, dazzling and artisan souvenirs to decorate an entire house. I wanted to dive into the language and learn the artwork of the writing. Morocco was an exceptional country. At least for me, who has never been beyond Europe and North America. A new country, a continent, a new culture.
It was an exciting but draining start. But I think traveling is usually a slow start – before you gain momentum. It’s like you’re collecting something; moments or memories, stressful situations and points of relief or wonder or joy. Once you have a few behind you, a couple of bizarre experiences and good anecdotes, you feel ready to collect some more.
It felt like I’d been in Morocco for a month, not a week and after a windy, beautiful ferry ride from Tangier to Tarifa, I was excited to be back in Spain; happy to relax with a cold caña and some bravas
Fiestas and Siestas of Spanish Travel
Originally from England, I’d lived in Cordoba for the past eight months. And after eight months of spontaneous flamenco performances, guitar playing in squares, tapas, late nights, constant blue skies, local beer, small streets, flowered patios, historic surroundings, random fiestas and daily siestas, I’d fallen in love with Andalucía. When traveling this summer, I knew I wanted to explore more of Spain and embrace this country that had already got me hooked.
The general idea was to start in the south, travel over to Portugal and follow the coastline. Up through Lisbon and Porto and slowly crossing through the north of Spain until Barcelona. Then journeying up through France, east to Switzerland and into Germany. North to Amsterdam and a ferry back to England. A focused, wide and ambitious road that was sure to change route along the way.
This route was exciting to me and included all the things I wanted most: coastlines, Lisbon, the Camino de Santiago, mountains, Barcelona, Swiss lakes, a small German town, never-before-experienced Amsterdam and a ferry ride home. But the route was also a faint, dotted line in my mind; one that could easily be erased and adjusted.
Step 1: Buying an Interrail Ticket
I wanted to travel cheap but still, have freedom. So I bought a global month-long pass from Interrail. 30 countries and 30 days were available to me. I had already planned a route, and although I wanted Spain as the bulk of my travels, I wanted to journey slowly back to England. No quick flights. No soul destroying night buses. Just slow travel on trains, enjoying the stops along the way and writing down the stories that come from 30 days of movement.
I had tried to pack light and planned to work along the way, writing and editing through freelance jobs online. It was the first time I would work and travel together, instead of saving in advance. I knew I’d have less spontaneity, less movement and less money in the light of looming deadlines. But I also knew I’d have more freedom, with no budget to stick to, not set time frame and a flexible schedule. I was diving into the deep end of the world of digital nomads, who raved about their liberated lifestyles. And I wanted to find out for myself. An exceptional, stressful, freeing, pressured, tedious and incredible time of good and bad; I knew it would be a challenge.
My ticket was safely tucked into my backpack as I got my first train. With a quick stopover in the coastal town of Algeciras and a pass through a blazing 44 degree Seville, I arrived at my first stop: Lagos in the south of Portugal.
Savage Travels follows my journey through Europe this summer and my attempts to travel in a slow, simple and mindful way. I will write about every place I end up and post here on The Best Travel Places. Let me know your thoughts!