Monday, 22 February 2016

Holiday plans

The giralda, Seville, seen from the Real Alcazar
Seville, our favourite city
I'm jolly excited because over the weekend we booked our next holiday, and it's going to be a special one.

I have two goddaughters (no, I'm not religious - I figured I could do the 'be nice to people' bit and leave the religious instruction to people who know about that sort of thing). They're the daughters of one of my oldest schoolfriends, who married an American man, and the family lives in Virginia. I promised both girls that when they turned 18 I'd take them anywhere they wanted to go in Europe. The eldest has been learning Spanish-Spanish in her spare time, and it's now her time to travel, and she picked Spain.

Mr Robot and I LOVE Spain, so it's like she's given us a massive gift in allowing us to show her some of our very favourite places. In recent years we haven't gone every year, but if we leave it too long we do start to miss the place terribly.

As Big Goddaughter is a history buff, we're basing the trip loosely on the life of Queen Isabella, starting in Segovia where she was born, travelling down to Toledo, the old religious capital (Isabella and her husband aren't known as 'the Catholic monarchs' for nothing, and they planned to be buried in a monastery in Toledo), from there on to Seville where she gave birth to her second son and set up systems to administer wealth coming in from the Americas, and finally on to Granada where Isabella is buried. There will be castles, palaces, galleries, gardens and museums galore to explore – and as this is a trip with me and Mr Robot, there will also be restaurants and tapas bars and all sorts of other good things. We're staying mostly in historic buildings too, none of this modern chain hotel malarkey. (I can't abide the sort of four-star hotel where you could be anywhere in the world, give me a three-star with more character even if it has fewer comforts.)

Isabella's birthplace, Segovia castle
I suppose it's going to be a little strange, as we don't all know each other that well, and Mr Robot and I don't have children, so we're going to have an 'Honesty is the Best' policy: if one person doesn't feel like doing something, they can say it. If they'd rather go off alone, or stay in bed, or whatever, that's okay. We're all grownups and no-one has to do anything. Likewise, if someone really wants to go somewhere in particular, they can say so.

I'm already planning what to pack. When we went to Burma, I knew I'd look foreign no matter what, and would be so far from my cultural background it would make no difference what I wore, so all I had to do was dress in a culturally appopriate fashion for the monasteries and temples we'd be visiting (ie, nothing short, tight or low), and make sure I could carry my luggage. Well, there's no way I'm dressing in polyester travelling trousers and T-shirts in Spain! The Spanish always dress very nicely, so I'll be trying to look smart while also wearing things practical enough to do loads of walking and sightseeing. I'm wondering if a pair of Vivien of Holloway capris would fit the bill...

Photos on this page are copyright PP Gettins

19 comments :

  1. How exciting, it sounds like my dream holiday! Spain, history and heritage hotels, wow! I'm already excited about reading your blog posts and drooling over the photos. xxx

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    1. I think Spain is our India! So many people only think of the coastline, but there are so many amazing places inland, and such fantastic history. We're really excited about this trip - we've saved up for several years for it.

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  2. That sounds like a wonderful trip. I've always wanted to visit Toldeo, but it just never worked out.

    That's a good policy being honest about what to see and do-and you're right, by 18 you're really dealing with an adult, godchild or not.

    That is just such a lovely thing to do, and have planned for all these years.

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    1. It's an amazing city - if you ever do get round to it, it's dead easy, just fly into Madrid and get the AVE down. (You can prebook AVE tickets.) Toledo and Seville are the two places we're spending longest as there is so much to do there.

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  3. Oh Mim I am thrilled for you all, what a trip it's going to be!! I would go back to Seville in a heartbeat. VOH capris sound perfect x

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    1. We knew we wanted to make it a good one, so paid into my work's saving scheme for three years towards it. We're staying at a different hotel in Seville this time as the Juderia has over-poshed itself and lost a lot of its charm; the new hotel is in El Arenal, up near the bullring, and looks really lovely. (18th century courtyard houses, old dark wooden furniture - all the traditional trimmings.) I hope all my favourite tapas bars are still there; if El Toboso or El Cordobes are gone I'll be gutted.

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  4. What an amazing sounding holiday, I am positively green! I remember taking Nephew Number One to a gig when he was not yet 18 and having a brief dilemma over buying him a beer, as his aunt no worries, but as his godmother hmm failing the moral welfare vow right there! lol.

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    1. I'm sure it is a good godmother's responsibility to teach sensible drinking. It makes me laugh that her mum is so concerned about me taking her to tapas bars - Big Goddaughter will be nearly 19, and I remember what her mum got up to in high school!

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  5. Now you're talking. Spain is heavenly, so rich in culture and history. I love this post and the idea of doing a tour based around Queen Isabella is just amazing. Being a fan of Tudor history, I've read a bit about Isabella and Ferdinand and they were pretty impressive. Well, their daughter was too. When we stayed in Andalucia a couple of years ago, we got up at 4 in the morning to drive to Granada to see the Alhambra. We couldn't find it!!! I cried. Seville is supposed to be a beautiful city, so please take loads and loads of photos. Xxx

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    1. I'm kind of amazed you missed the Alhambra, it's a great big thing on top of a hill! I've been twice and it's gorgeous, but VERY crowded, which can be a bit much after a while.

      Seville is our favourite city in Spain, we've visited several times in the past. It's just perfect. If you like museums, art galleries and heritage buildings, it's got those. Shops? Brimming with them. Food? Great place to eat out. It's the city that has it all!

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  6. Soooo exciting! I was in Spain briefly (and only near the border with Portugal) as a teenager (age 14) and thought it was stunning. I'd love to get back one day and properly see the country, including through adult eyes.

    Wishing you a safe, fun filled, fabulous trip!
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Oh, I do hope you get to go back. It's such a beautiful country, and because it was neutral during WWII a lot of it historic city centres are still standing.

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  7. Goodness this sounds like a fabulous trip, your Goddaughter is one lucky lady! I totally agree with you about staying in hotels that are not run by a big chain, you miss out on the chance to live a bit more like a local and emerse yourself a little in the culture of the country your visiting. Oh I totally agree capri pants are the way forward!

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    1. Among our rules of travelling are, "Thou shalt not eat hotel breakfast". Going out and seeing a place wake up and eating a local breakfast is a great way to start the day.

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  8. It sounds like a super trip, such interesting places. Your goddaughter is going to have a fabulous time.

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  9. My dear Mim.
    (have I told you that I admire your kind heart?!)
    First of all: HAPPY Birthday. I know it's coming with a delay, I am sorry for that. I will not try to come up with an excuse and I'll stick to your own words "honesty is the best" - my life's going-ons are switching my brain cells on and off, therefore I forget some major and important things, such as to congratulate you.
    I have seen the image of the gifts you've gotten. I can tell you one thing: you are lucky to be loved and cherished by the people who go the extra mile to understand what you like and chose presents with care.
    ..
    Spain.
    Oh, what joy!
    This is yet another year that I'm surely not planning a vacation (I do not regret it, building a house has it's financial consequences) - but, if someone cares to take me along, I'm surely not going to complain. :)
    When it comes to your kind-hearted gift to your goddaughters.. there's nothing to worry about; you may not know them NOW, but I can promise you - you will share some amazing experiences on that trip, and get to know the children (heck, they're 18, no longer children) who are given to you to take care of.
    You and Mr. Robot are going to do great.
    ...because you ARE great!

    Huge Saturday hugs!
    Marija

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    1. Thank you!

      I'm not religious, but I do want to be a good godmother, and give magical experiences, support, advice... Big Goddaughter is currently keen to go into international development, so showing her a little bit of the world might help her in that.

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  10. One day I shall venture out of the UK! Lucky girl your goddaughter! I hope you have oodles of fun xx

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