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My Summer Travel Manifesto ~ Dreams of Surf, Sun and Gluttony in Spain and Beyond

Last updated on June 1, 2016

My hope is that this little “travel manifesto” will act as a sort of self fulfilling prophecy and help me turn my dreams into reality. Here’s to the summer and getting away from it all!

Asturias Picos de Europa
Kisses during our mini-hike through Asturias’ Picos de Europa last summer. Will I make it a full hike this summer?

I spend my working days eating and drinking my way through Barcelona, jetting off to festivals in Valencia and getting lost in Medieval cities like Girona, so it feels rather absurd saying this… but I need to get away from it all. I need a holiday.

There are so many places I want to visit and so many things I want to do and see and eat and drink. And as time goes by, I realise that, even with my job as a travel writer, I probably won’t get to see and do all of it. Like anything, we need to make travel happen, and with that in mind these are the places I’m hoping to make happen this summer.

Asturias ~ In-Laws, Cider and Surf in Northern Spain

Playa Llanes in Asturias
The beaches of Asturias – I’ve been a few times now, but there’s still loads more to see!

My girlfriend Rosana is from the northern Spanish region of Asturias, so this verdant stretch of Spain will definitely feature somewhere in my travels this summer. The in-laws feed me up well, so it’s always a real treat. Gijón is probably my favourite city in Asturias, with its beachfront charms and excellent surf conditions – surfing features heavily in this list because suddenly I am aware that my body is ageing and I want to stop taking my physical health and strength for granted.

Asturias is also known for its excellent (and very affordable) gastronomy, with lots of tapas and seafood, and, of course, proper Spanish cider! 

I’ve been a few times now and have already seen many of the amazing beach towns, like Llanes, where Rosana’s sister has a house. I’ve also walked a somewhat easy section of the The Picos de Europa National Park, but Id like to do a more extensive version of it whilst I still can. I’d also like to see Oviedo, the capital, as well as the little fishing village of Cudillero and the renowned surf at Playa de Rodiles.

Expect to see plenty of fresh and exciting content about my travels in the relatively unknown region of Asturias over the following months. Its nickname is “A Natural Paradise”, and it’s almost entirely untouched by international tourists.

San Sebastien ~ Surf and Gluttony in Northern Spain

san-sebastian Northern Spain - Surf and Great Food
Sun, surf and serious gastronomy, San Sebastien sounds like paradise to me.

It’s been on my radar for as long as I can remember. Located in the north of Spain, close to the French border, it boasts excellent surf conditions – yes, I really am desperate to get in the water! – and a world-renowned dining scene. You may have heard about its famous “pintxos” (a type of tapas). My dream here is to spend my days in a wetsuit, riding waves, and my nights in a gluttonous, wine-enhanced frenzy.

Biarritz ~ Camping and Surfing in France

Biarritz France Vintage Travel Poster
I’m sold.

If I’m going to make it this far north, I may as well hop over the border and head to Biarritz. I love France (I’ve always dreamed of living there) and its cuisine, and the surf at Biarritz is world-class. My dream would be to stay at a campsite by the beach and get up early to surf at dawn, and spend the nights with my toes in the sand and a bottle of French red between my knees.

Though, if I’m honest, I know full well that bottles of French red wine at night and surfing at dawn are two things that are unlikely to co-exist within my world.

South of France ~ Rural Living… by the Sea

Me enjoying a picnic in Cannes during my first trip to the south of France
Me enjoying a picnic in Cannes during my first trip to the south of France

Everything you’ve heard about the south of France is true: it’s probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. There’s the lavender fields and market cuisine of Provence and the pristine coast line and seaside towns of the French Riviera and Côte d’Azur – it’s just perfect. All you need is a car, a tent and a sense of adventure and you can see most of it in a week. I just want/need to do it all over again!

South of England ~ To Relive Old Memories

Me back in the day, before surfing at Newquay beach, Cornwall
Me surfing at Newquay beach, Cornwall – I need to relive this day!

When I was a a teenager I used drive down to Cornwall (from Wales) every summer. I remember once my mum packed a big box full of tinned food – beans and sausages and soups and sardines – and I took off on an adventure with the objective of staying “for as long as the food lasts”.

I lived in my tent and went surfing all day, alone mostly but sometimes with friends that came to visit. It turned out that that big box of tinned food lasted for almost two months. Those were the days!

I still try to go back whenever I can and, inspired by this infographic made by Bluechip Holidays, which compares the English Riviera to my beloved French Riviera, I would very much like to get more familiar with the other beautiful parts of the region.

Wales ~ Heaven at Home

Home and the most beautiful of them all... Oxwich Bay, Gower, Wales
Home and the most beautiful of them all… Oxwich Bay, Gower, Wales

And, naturally, I’m most definitely going to spend a good chunk of time at home in Wales, on the Gower Peninsular, where my surfing obsession began. I’d also like to go to the Dylan Thomas museum and find out more about my favourite writer of all time.

South of Spain ~ Sunshine and Siestas in Spain’s Quintessential Cities

Me circa 2010 when all I could think about was getting on my motorbike and getting the hell out of London.
Me circa 2010 when all I could think about was getting on my motorbike and getting the hell out of London. The South of Spain was always (and still is) my dream riding destination! Maybe it’ll happen this summer?

I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but in all of the years I’ve been living in Barcelona, I’ve never made it down south. Seville, Granada, Cádiz… these are the cities that I dream of , that stir my imagination and fill me with a sense of wonder. I’ve often talked about how I’d like to cycle there from Barcelona, stopping off at campsites on the way and really soaking it all up at as slow a pace as possible. Or maybe if not on a bicycle, how about on a motorcycle? Manifest, please make this possible.

Menorca ~ Island Life

Me on my trip to Mallorca last summer... Menorca must be nex
Me on my trip to Mallorca last summer… Menorca must be next

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to Mallorca, but there’s so much more to the Balearic Islands that I need to explore. Ibiza has its obvious draws, but it’s Menorca that enraptures me. Minuscule in size and existing on its own terms, it’s the epitome of what an “island escape” is all about.  And it’s less than an hour away from Barcelona!

Italy ~ More Food and More Inspiration

The trip that made me decide to move abroad... Lake Como, Italy, Circa 2008/9
The trip that made me decide to move abroad… Lake Como, Italy, Circa 2008/9 (Before I started getting paid to eat!)
The trip that started everything ~ Me and Ed, somewhere in Italy... enjoy cumquats for the first time ever
Me and Ed, “somewhere in Italy”… enjoying cumquats for the first time ever. Not quite what we were expecting!

It was a trip to Italy that inspired me to finally take the plunge and move abroad. I was visiting Ed, my best friend, in Florence (he was studying there) and the trip completely expanded my mind. We hopped on a train and went to Milan, then out to Lake Como and the Cinque Terre. No plan, just good friends, backpacks and a sense of abandon.

In fact, my original plan was to move to Italy, but Barcelona got in the way somehow. I would love to get back there to see it all again and reinvigorate that sense of wanderlust.

And just in case this manifesto actually works, I’d also like to mention how absolutely desperate I am to make it to Cuba, Peru, New Zealand, Canada, New York City, and to see my oldest friend Edward in North Carolina.

Have you been to ay of these destinations? What was your experience? Do you have any travel tips for me? And what’s in your travel manifesto?

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