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Cal Llop hotel

“How long have you been here?” Magellan asked a couple at the adjacent table at dinner during our second night at a small hotel in Spain.

“We arrived mid-afternoon,” said Marc.

“How did you get in?” Magellan asked.

“We’ve been coming here for years and we’re in the system. Cristina programs our arrival and I just touch my finger to the scanner.”

With the New Year, our thoughts turn toward the future—and to people who have a finger on how jubilados (us anyway) like to travel. Like Cristina and Waldo in the hilltop village of Gratallops (population: 250) in the Priorate region of Spain.

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“I was wondering if you two would be interested in going on some sort of small getaway—maybe two nights on a gulf island, or Salt Spring? Just something small where we could go to a café/do a little hike/play Scrabble/I could have a West Coast experience before heading East,” read Clare’s email late last August.

Faster than you can say “Yeah!” Magellan and I started looking for a place to spend a few nights with our granddaughter Clare before she flew off to King’s College in Halifax. It was Clare who found La Peetch, a two-bedroom cottage on Salt Spring with “a modest ‘Julia Child’-style kitchen” available for the two nights she had in mind.

La Peetch?

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George

When will we be too old to travel independently? Who knows?

Take our friend George. He had a knee replacement last year, cataract surgery this April and was waiting for open-heart surgery for a valve replacement and a bypass on an artery that was 60% blocked. We didn’t expect to be travelling with him this year.

His call surprised us: “Ron’s offered us his condo again. Would you guys like to join us?” For being such a good neighbor, the affable George was getting free accommodation in the South Okanagan, in June before temperatures soar and holidaymakers crowd the wine-tasting rooms.

How could Magellan and I say anything but “YES,” to what we dubbed “The Wine Country Workout.”

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Asador Etxebarri

“Mom, when you die I’m not going through all those file cabinets of travel articles in your garage,” Lynn (an “only”) told me one day years ago when we were sorting through stuff before moving.

Fair enough.

But consider two articles, “The Grilling Genius of Spain” and “Smoke and Miracles.”

Without them, how would Magellan and I have tasted the fire-smoked food, delicious and unique, at Bittor Arguinzoniz’s restaurant, Asador Etxebarri? (Isn’t that a mouthful to pronounce?)

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