“When I plan a vacation, the first thing I look for is a hospital,” a friend told me last night at dinner.
Yikes, I thought! That’s not even in my top ten criteria. But her remark got me thinking about the different ways we all structure our journeys — a topic much on my mind lately, as Rich and I are about to embark on the most unplanned, disorganized, haphazard trip we’ve ever taken.
It all started when Rich discovered an irresistibly low air fare from Barcelona to Naples, Italy. That’s when our vague intention to leave Seville and take some sort of trip this spring suddenly leapt off the back burner and onto the top of our agenda.
“What if we fly to Naples and just … decide from there?” I said. “Meander around southern Italy. Maybe take a ferry over to Greece. Play it totally by ear.”
“I love this non-plan!” said Rich. And flipped open his laptop to book the tickets. “How about next week?”
If you’re going to embrace the chaos of traveling without a plan, Naples is the perfect jumping-off place. In case you’re not familiar with that city’s mad reputation, here’s an excerpt from my post about our previous visit:
My post goes on to describe some of our adventures, from the terror of being driven up sidewalks at breakneck speeds to the shocking spectacle of graffiti spray-painted on a church by local lovebirds.
I doubt that Rich and I will ever be able to achieve that level of sublime insouciance, but we felt landing in Napoli would set a certain devil-may-care tone for the trip.
We’ve embarked on many journeys with fairly loose itineraries, such as our railway adventure from the Baltics to the Balkans and the Eastern European train trip that took us through 13 countries and 5983 miles over 83 days. And we’ve occasionally experimented with alternative travel styles, such as our luggage-free trip to southern France. But this will the first time we’ve ever landed somewhere with absolutely no idea what we’ll do next.
We may not have a fixed plan, but we do have a goal: to find the colorful dive bars and the kind of cafés that are equivalent to the old-school diners we frequent in the USA.
Here are some of the dive bars we discovered on our last trip to Northern Italy.
I hope you’ll join us on the journey. In a few days we’ll walk out of our front door in Seville, stroll to the train station with our roll-aboard bags, head to Barcelona, fly to Naples, and see what adventures unfold.
Yes, I’ll be posting along the way. Stay tuned for updates!
Do you know any great dive bars or cafés in Italy or — in case we happen to get that far — western Greece? We'd love to hear about your experiences and any suggestions you may have for us!
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I'm an American travel writer currently living in California.
My weekly updates contain tips for keeping our mental equilibrium and living more authentically during these turbulent times.