So, the story goes… I was working on a freelance job that was due to finish in October so I was looking for a trip in November. Simple.
Most of my friends have settled down with kids so I’m used to travelling alone and, because of my job, my time off is usually fairly short notice. Cue Flash Pack. They had a group adventure to Jordan in November and I thought ‘perfect’. I’ve always wanted to go to Jordan but on this occasion, I felt a little nervous of going there alone.
But Jordan is not where I went. Jordan is where I’m going next year.
Long story short: I quit my job.
It wasn’t stimulating. It wasn’t making me happy, quite the opposite in fact. So I needed a break. I needed to escape. And I needed to do it before November. Back to the drawing board. Back to Flash Pack. ‘What have they got?’ I thought. ‘Now.’
And low and behold, there it was. A long weekend in Spain, careering around the mountains above Madrid on a Vespa. Yes. A VESPA! So what that I’ve never driven one? So what that I’ve never even been on the back of a two-wheeled motorised vehicle? This is exactly what I need in my life.
Four days later I was on a plane heading for 37°C!
As soon as we boarded the minibus, I knew this was going to be a good few days. It turned out that none of the ten of us had ridden a Vespa before so we were all in the same boat – excited and nervous – and hoping not to fall off. We arrived in Tamajon and I was introduced to my trusty steed. It took a couple of goes around the village square to get the hang of it, then we were let loose to cause havoc in this quiet, sleepy community.
Our first jaunt en mass was a 5km ride to a lovely little bar where we were allowed one non-alcoholic beer each. By the time we returned I felt like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. I had overcome my fears and mastered these shiny yellow wheels.
That evening was spent in our beautiful little guesthouse where our host Elena provided an exquisite meal. Long after she’d gone to bed, we made the most of the delicious local wine and continued putting the world to rights well into the night.
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Day two and we zoomed off into the mountains on a 100km expedition. The roads twisted and turned, getting increasingly higher and cooler. Smells of the surrounding forest and wildflowers filled the air as I cruised along, dust in my wake, wind in my hair (well, whistling through my helmet).
The following days just got better from there on.
I could go on for pages about the fun, laughter, shenanigans, side stories, history, castles, scenery, food, secret natural swimming pools… but in the end, it was the people that made this trip. You know when you just click? There’s no false pretences, no airs and graces. Just genuine, great people that mean the next four days is only the beginning of our friendship.
We had come from all different walks of life, from all across the globe, but for these few days we came together as a pack. We even changed travel plans to extend our adventures together and are still sharing travel advice and planning reunions in various different continents.
I have been on so many solo holidays – and I mean solo – that it was such a revelation to go solo and come back with so many friends.
Since returning, I’m now not the only one of us to have quit their job… let’s just say your perspective is that bit clearer up in the Spanish mountains!
Emily is a London-based home chef and loves food, travel, spontaneity and randomness. Find her delicious Sunday Lunch Club here
Need a Vespa getaway of your own? Plot your Spanish escape here
Photos: Flash Pack and Emily Woodburn