Over the course of late July through mid-August, I decided that I was going to visit a few places that I somehow surprisingly hadn’t made it to yet in Europe. I go to Europe quite often and have made it to an overwhelming majority of big-name European cities. To be quite honest, 2 places have been on my radar for so long and I started to feel like someone was playing a rude prank on me when each previous plan just seemed to keep falling through. The cities are Madrid and Lisbon. (just saying that has me thinking of the hit show Casa Del Papel aka Money Heist on Netflix).

Well, the issues, the canceled plans, the not getting time out the office, that was then and this is now and nothing was getting in the way. On the itinerary, I had the following breakdown. I would fly to Madrid (hopefully with a First-class upgrade as a result of all my points acquired by me finally showing some brand loyalty and sticking with Delta and the Sky Alliance family). I would lock down a solid 2.5 days by getting in early and 3 superb nights. This trip was to be my taster, a teaser, a sampling of Madrid- to decide if it belongs in the so worth it, I must go back – or the goodness me that was overhyped. Nothing I had read, made me think it would be the latter- but you never know.

Planning my Escape- by car, plane, train, bike

From Madrid, the plan was to EasyJet my way to Lisbon, a short hour and change flight (if that). But there was a twist, to make it even more interesting, I had read about this little town called Comporta , a mere 90minute drive from Lisbon- that was to be my little unknown element, a little surprise, the arugula on my prosciutto pizza- at first seemingly unnecessary and then all of a sudden, the true highlight that you can’t do without.

Then to wrap up the trifecta, I would finally make it to Lisbon (by uber or rental car), ready to match Madrid with a very similar 3-night stay. Funny enough, I can quite accurately remember the first time I heard about Lisbon. I was watching a Bollywood movie, I must have been quite young, don’t remember the name, but I remember it starred Amitabh Bachchan. Actually, strike that, I do remember the name, it was the movie Don. It was more recently remade with the super charming Shahrukh Khan, but I hate to say, the remake was in my opinion unfortunately underwhelming and overdone.

Anyways, I digress, I was watching the movie Don, and the hero (Don) was some kind of jet-setting criminal and there’s a scene where he is in Lisbon or talks of going to Lisbon. To my under 10-year-old ears and eyes, that sounded like the most exotic place in the world. So how is it, that a place so seared in my memory took me this long to visit, I will never know.

So destinations selected, routes planned- All I needed were places to stay. I get so many questions about hotels and I have to admit, there are no big secrets- there’s just the world wide web- vast as it is, and just a little time and planning. Every single hotel search for me begins the exact same way- TRIPADVISOR. I need real people pictures and reviews, I never – never ever go to a hotel’s website for any information- that is unless they opened in the prior 6months. New hotels have fewer reviews and it’s not always clear about amenities and they sometimes run specials on their sites cos they’re new and still trying to get your business.

BOOKING is another fave and while I love it, it is not my starting point cos I love the price comparison that TripAdvisor offers. P.S. On the TripAdvisor note- If you’re a lover of travel, do create a profile and if you’re so inclined, FOLLOW ME– as I share stuff on there, that I don’t elsewhere.

Where was I? Oh, hotels. Because travel isn’t just fun for me, it’s also what I do, newer hotels- younger than 1.5 yrs are important to me. I like to get in early, see how they’re doing and tell people about them. So I usually have a side tab opened with search words like ” New Hotel Madrid” or “Hotel Opening Madrid 2019”. That’s the trick that led me to pretty much every place I stayed at on this trip. Individual reviews and pictures coming for each.

Just as I have a starting point with hotels, my starting point with flights is inevitable Google flights. Skyscanner is another great option with similar features, but I’ve just gotten used to using Google. And while sites that share flash deals are amazing (e.g. The Points guy, Travel Noire), they don’t always work if you have a specific destination in mind. You should still check them out though- just a quick skim to make sure Emirates didn’t have a computer glitch and sending people all over the world for $5.

So back to my larger point: Google flights will show you the calendar and the different price points, which makes locking down specific dates that much easier. I also often use the multi-city option. As you see below, a flight on the same route can be as high as $629 and as low as $320 – almost half off.

So somewhere between dreaming of a place, looking at hotel rates, looking for new hotels, looking for flights, it all comes together. I think the entire process averages a solid 2 hours of time for research, going back and forth, figuring out hotel locations, making sure it’s not just a great space but that it works for getting to sights, to airport, etc.

So thee, you have it- pretty much. Now it’s your turn. What are you waiting for? If there’s something specific you need help with- that I didn’t cover, Please ASK away in the comments. Trip recaps coming soon!!!


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