On my nightstand, travel edition
Our big trip is finally here! We've been planning and thinking about it for so long, it almost doesn't seem real. I've collected a few books to help us prepare for our trip that include useful travel tips, interesting cultural tidbits on Spain, and of course, some really pretty pictures. As I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for good old-fashioned books and travel books are no exception. We won't take all of these with us, but a few will be perfect for the long flight.
1. Frommer's Spanish PhraseFinder & Dictionary. This pocket size phrase book is going with us. My high school and college Spanish is very rusty and my Italian will only get us so far. Our emergency back up is the Spanish translator app on our iphone.
2. Fodor's Barcelona's 25 Best. Since the bulk of our time will be spent in Barcelona, I have several books highlighting this amazing city. This one is compact and comes with fold out city and metro maps. We'll see how many of the 25 spots we hit!
3. The New Spaniards by John Hooper. A 2006 update to John Hooper's classic portrait of contemporary Spain. As the back cover states, "It is the essential guide to understanding twenty-first century Spain: a land of paradox, progress and social change." This one is for our long layover in Newark and the plane ride.
4. Lonely Planet Discover Spain. The classic, all encompassing country travel guide book. This book makes it very easy to design an itinerary for various lengths of stays and has great pictures and graphics. We used this book to come up with our very loose itinerary - Barcelona and Costa Brava in 10 days. We're staying here in Barcelona based on a recommendation from a friend. Ryan found this amazing spot in the Costa Brava region - I may not venture out from this cozy farmhouse after busy Barcelona.
5. StyleCity Barcelona. This is an excellent and unique travel guide on loan from a friend. It arranges the city into distinct areas and highlights off-beat and hip restaurants, shops, entertainment and hotels all within walkable distances. It has the most beautiful images of all the books and sometimes I just sit and look at the pictures, imagining us there.
6. Fodor's See it Barcelona. This is a guide book Ryan had from his first trip to Spain about 6 years ago (just after we had our first date, if he would have sent me a postcard from Spain we might have had our second date a lot sooner!). I always hang on to old travel guides, especially ones that are dog-eared and full of scribbles. Traveling with smart phones makes it all so much easier, but I will always love my travel books.
7. A Late Dinner by Paul Richardson. One of the best ways to really experience and understand a country is through food. Though I don't know much about Spanish cuisine, I like what I know. This book explains the traditions and cultures of regional Spanish food and why Spain is the rising star of European cuisine. I think I am as excited about the food we will eat as I am about the places we will see!
Note: This will be my first European trip since having kids and I am amazed at how different it makes me feel. I am so very, very excited (thrilled!) to go on our trip, but the thought of getting on an airplane that will take me an ocean away from my two little ones is hard to face. We've never left them for this long and we've never gone so far away. They will be lovingly cared for by two sets of grandparents, spoiled rotten and with every whim and wish granted. It's not them I'm worried about - it's me. The time will go incredibly fast and we'll be back before I know it. I already know the worst part will be the long flight back when I am so desperate to see their smiling faces and hold them close. God help anyone on our flight if we get delayed coming home.