Having planned my most recent trip well over 10 months ago, I had no idea I would be travelling pregnant. Since my pregnancy was relatively easy in my first trimester, I thought the travels would be a breeze.
The initial decision to visit Spain was made in October of last year. My longtime friend, Jason, had invited me to his wedding near Madrid in August 2018. Since Beto and I had already been discussing the possibility of travelling to Spain in the fall, we decided to push it back a few months and make it happen.
We booked our flights in March, and then in May, I discovered I was pregnant. The pregnancy was not unplanned, but I hadn’t thought much about travelling while pregnant and didn’t bother to research ahead of time. I figured, each pregnancy is so different, and one woman’s experience may not be mine, so what was the point? I wish I had, looking back now.
Hot Diggity Heat Wave
Because I was travelling for a specific purpose, I couldn’t really be too flexible on the dates of travel. If you are pregnant or planning to be, and have some flexibility around when you travel, I would take careful consideration of where and what time of year you are travelling. Heat waves, off-season weather, humidity, all make travelling while pregnant a little more difficult.
Arriving in Madrid, Europe had been experiencing a heat wave. We arrived in 38 degrees Celcius heat and having not felt that kind of heat for a hot minute (pun intended), it hit me like a brick wall. I was nearly 14 weeks pregnant and had just gotten over the extreme exhaustion that took over the first 13 weeks, but the first couple of days required quite a bit of adjusting.
We only had a couple of days in Madrid before heading out to the location of the wedding, so we took those days and tried to pack in as much sightseeing as we could. To maximize our time, we opted in on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour ticket for a day, which allowed us to see most of the historical sites and take in a lot of the city. We visited the Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, Puerta del Sol, Gran Via, the Market of San Miguel, Almudena Cathedral, and various other places around the city. Beto ate loads of jamon, we walked a bunch, and I drank litres and litres of water.
Where we stayed:
AirBnB in El Rastro neighbourhood. Good location, clean, very small, but comfortable. The host left cookies, milk, and coffee, as well as loads of information about surrounding restaurants and things to see & do.
After exploring Madrid, we rented a car and drove to the location of the wedding, a small town called La Alberca in the province of Salamanca. I had never heard of this town, never seen it on a map, but if you’re looking for a place that screams typical old Spanish town, this is what you’re seeking.
The winding cobblestone streets, the old houses, the main plaza, terraces, cafes, it all just summed up Spanish charm. It’s the type of town you simply need to explore on foot, poking your head in little shops and restaurants, to absorb all of its magic.
Where we stayed:
Hotel Doña Teresa – This is a reasonably priced hotel, a short 5 or 6-minute walk to the town’s Plaza Mayor. The beds are very firm, but it’s a clean and comfortable hotel.
Córdoba was hands-down, my favourite place to visit. It reminded me of Egypt in a lot of ways with its palm trees, orange trees, and architecture. Most of it remains so typically Spanish, but with hints here and there of its Islamic history, namely the Great Mosque (Mezquita).
The city has a vast history, which you can explore by simply walking around. You’ll see the Roman influence, Islamic history, as well as, Jewish & Christian roots. Delicious food, picture-perfect cobblestone streets, friendly people. I wish we had stayed more time here; one night just was not enough.
Where we stayed:
5-Star AirBnB VERY close to the Mezquita. This host is amazing, and the space is spotless. It is 2 minutes away from the Mezquita, in the cutest neighbourhood. The host left a ton of info, fresh fruit, bread, jam, and coffee for us to enjoy, and it was SO appreciated. I cannot recommend this listing enough!
By the time we arrived in Granada, we had already been travelling for 10 days, and it was starting to catch up with us. I was tired, really tired. We’d driven nearly 1500 kilometres all over Spain and Portugal (I’ll write about Portugal another time). We still had another 850 km to go before we reached our final destination, Barcelona, and Granada was a two night stop in an effort to relax a bit.
I’d heard so many great things about Granada and was looking forward to visiting. It was a pretty city, but I was missing some of that Spanish charm I’d seen in Córdoba. We visited Alhambra, which was gorgeous, but I highly recommend booking tickets ahead of time. Same day tickets, especially in August, are hard to come by. The views from Alhambra are incredible, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The heat ramped up during our stay, so I found myself not feeling my best. That said, I still was able to enjoy a few sites, and sought out gazpacho as it was one of the few foods I could stomach.
Where we stayed:
AirBnb in a good location. It was small, somewhat comfortable, but lacked the details of the other AirBnbs we stayed. The price was reasonable, but it is relatively bare bones. I’d give it 3 stars.
We planned to have a 4-day stay in Barcelona so we could finish off our trip with some relaxation. I’d planned on visiting a beach or something, but we never ended up doing that. We dropped the car off after over 2000km of driving and were happy for that. Not having to worry about parking, gas, tolls, was a welcome relief.
Barcelona is maybe the best big city I’ve ever visited. The architecture is wonderful; the sites are lovely to see, it is easy to get around, very walkable. We were happy to have a bit of a break in the heat wave here, and mostly saw temperatures around 28-30 degrees Celcius.
While in Barcelona we saw Casa Mila, Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, and much more. We were able to get our hands on a couple of tickets to see FC Barcelona in a friendly tournament final against Argentina’s Boca Juniors. We saw Messi score a goal (a bucket list item for Beto) and enjoyed the vibe of seeing a world-class team.
Initially, we did not plan on being too touristy at this stop, but our last day we ended up jumping on a tour bus and taking it all over the city. We were able to see the few things we missed, and others we didn’t know about.
August is vacation time for locals, so expect to see many businesses closed for much of the month. Barcelona is unlike anywhere else in the world. It is rich in history, culture, Catalonian pride, and is somewhere everyone should travel at least once.
Where we stayed:
AirBnB in the Eixample Quarter. This is a fantastic space in a 19th-century building. Very comfortable, wonderful host. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here and found it a super convenient location to get around.
Overall, the trip was great! If I had to do it again, I probably would not have travelled so much, and opted to stay in places for 3 or more days. If you’re planning to travel pregnant, take into consideration you’ll want a comfortable place to lay your head at the end (and even in the middle) of the day. My biggest note of advice is to be kind to yourself. Do not be afraid to say when you are tired, hungry, or when you need a break or some space. If you are travelling with your partner or with others, your best bet is to communicate your needs clearly, because if they aren’t pregnant, they have no idea what your body is going through.
Pack a water bottle, comfortable shoes, snacks in your carry-on and in your purse, and sit in an aisle seat. Having the ability to get up and walk around and stretch made all the difference in my air travel.
Do you have any recommendations for travelling pregnant? I’d love to hear them and share them in an upcoming blog.
Thanks for reading, friends. As always, seize the world.