If winter has got you a little stir-crazy.
The angle of the sun is just starting to hint at spring again, and terraza life is starting to buzz once more here in Madrid. I personally cannot wait for the end of layering, sleeping with a hot water bottle and returning home after dark every night. If winter has got you a little stir-crazy also, this might just be a great time to shake off the cobwebs (and the extra holiday pounds you planned to lose in January) by getting outside and getting moving. Take advantage of the less frigid temperatures and longer days that this time of year has to offer by checking out one (or more) of these late winter getaways that’s guaranteed to wake up your sluggish body and leave you feeling fit and energized for spring.
For the adrenaline junkies:
Go skiing in the French Alps.
Where: Val Thorens, France (Your best bet is to fly into Geneva and then take a bus to Val Thorens.)
The good: The alps still receive plenty of snow in late winter, and there are lots of advantages to hitting the slopes a bit later in the season. The weather is warmer, the snow is softer (great if you’re not the most graceful on skis), and fewer people means shorter lines for ski lifts.
The bad: If the altitude isn’t enough to make you a bit queazy, the sticker shock might be. It might be a good idea to get a group together for this one. With enough people, renting a chalet (or lodging through Airbnb) can be surprisingly economical. Plus, when it comes to aprés-ski, the old adage ‘the more, the merrier’ applies here.
For those that prefer slow and steady:
Hike the Camino de Santiago.
Where: Sarria to Santiago (Galicia, Spain) (You can fly into Santiago and then reach Sarria by bus or train.)
The good: Again, fewer people means you can have a more meditative experience than would ever be possible in summer. This section is also relatively short (walkable in a week), not overly challenging, and well-serviced.
The bad: Weather in Galicia is unpredictable in the best of times, but fate would truly be on your side if it didn’t rain on you at all. Late winter temperatures should be mild, but be prepared for precipitation with plenty of high-quality lightweight, quick-dry layering pieces. And get a good rain jacket. Ain’t nobody got time for dampness-induced chafing on the Camino.
For the cryophobic:
Unwind and defrost with a yoga and surf break.
Where: Tamraght, Morocco (Fly into Agadir or Marrakech and arrange a transfer.)
The good: Temperatures (both air and water) and swells will be mild in March. Plus, crowds will be smaller than in the summer months, making this an ideal time for surfing newbies to give the sport a whirl. And any aching limbs will recover in no time with daily yoga and maybe a cheeky visit to a local hammam.
The bad: If, like me, the ultimate in vacation relaxation is lying on the beach with a cold beer, this may not be your perfect beach destination. You will not find alcohol sold or served in Tamraght, and, the closest place to get it is a half hour drive away. Even if you’re tenacious enough to seek it out, the prices may put you off. But, hey, why not take this as an opportunity for further detoxification? You’ll return home feeling significantly lighter and more invigorated than if you had spent your vacation guzzling tallboys in the sun.
So has your wanderlust been ignited? Are your fingers already itching to type in your credit card details for an online booking? Let me know which vacation strikes your fancy, and have a happy (and active) end of winter!