Spain: Gastronomic and Cultural Summer Vacation 2009


Or more correctly put ¡Hola!

I had been flip-flopping about our summer vacation this year right up to the last moment.  Suanne and I had three weeks to ourselves in July when both Arkensen and Nanzaro were away at their summer camps.  We know we wanted to go somewhere … originally thought of Spain (Barcelona-Seville-Madrid) and then China (Beijing-Xian-Shanghai).

I was unbelievably busy at work leading up to the date.  I was putting in 12 hrs a day at work which left me with no energy at the end of the day other than to sleep!  It was just two working days before the trip that I finally decided to go to Spain and put in my paperwork for staff travel.

The tipping point on the decision between Spain and China was safety.  Especially with zero planning, I thought I better not risk ruining my vacation.  You see, my friends at work scared me by saying that crime is common and told me about horror stories where taxi drivers take their foreign passengers to a remote highway, rob them and left them there.  THAT does it — Spain it is.


It was really a hit and miss with just two days to go.  At my company, we had travel arrangements between airlines for staff travel privileges.  These privileges is generally referred to as Interlining and is available only to employees.  So, I booked with Open Skies Online ( and went with the $470 return flight to Spain which includes a 3-night accommodation to Spain.  This is quite a steal, right?  The only caveat is that we get to travel only on space-available basis.  The sector is not a problem as the planes do not normally fly full.

The only plan we had made prior to travelling is the flight from Seattle to Barcelona, return from Madrid to Seattle and the initial nights of hotel in Barcelona and Madrid.  Nothing else was planned — I don’t even know how to get from the airport to the hotel.  We just had to wing it (again!) this time.  Suanne amazing managed to project calmness over my procrastination … I knew she was anxious that we might not make it out of Vancouver!


We got booked on US Airways … flying from Seattle to Barcelona with a brief stopover in Philadelphia.  The return flight was from Madrid to Seattle, again with a brief stopover in Philadelphia.


We had earlier wanted to also do Morocco too … well, just to be able to step onto African soil and say that we had been there before. That whole idea was kiboshed … again due to the lack of planning and the fears of safety. We were warned even when we were in Spain that we should NOT travel alone to Morocco and should go with a tour instead.

So we ended up spending 6 nights in Barcelona. We then flew to Seville and stayed for 4 nights before taking the high speed train to Madrid.  We stayed 5 nights in the capital. All in, we had 18 days (yeah the math does not sound quite right because of time zone difference and my accounting for nights stayed, instead of days).

What we wanted to do in Spain is two things … Gastronomy and Culture.  And boy(!), despite the lack of planning, we had a great time and did everything we wanted and more.

This will be a long series.  Some days I will post twice or more.  I will break up this series with some Vancouver area dine out experiences.

¡España, aquí venimos!

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  1. Nobu

    So Open Skies Online is only available for airline employees? The price is awesome.

    Where could I get a decent deal to Europe? I certainly don’t expect it to be as cheap as Open Skies Online. That’s impossible. How can I get a good deal traveling to Europe? Does anyone know?

    1. Ben

      Hi Nobu:
      It is almost always cheaper flying from US airports. If you sign up for newsletters from sites like Expedia, Orbitz and such, they often have great deals. However, often you need to be flexible in terms of travel dates. Yes, Open Skies is one of the many Interlining companies which serves airline employees only and offer staff travel discounts.

  2. nova

    looking forward these next blogs!

  3. kaylee

    😀 😀 😀 x 345,509

    yes, i’m definitely looking forward to reading the upcoming blogs!!

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