Year in Europe (location advice)

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JGM1965
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Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by JGM1965 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:01 am

Here’s a fun one. DW and I have been dedicated Bogleheads for years and consequently with our indexes portfolios and pension coming are looking forward to early (mid/late 50’s) retirement. Once we take that step in 3-4 years we would like to celebrate by spending 6 months to a year in Europe exploring and traveling. Any input on a good, affordable city to use a home base while on this adventure?

Options so far are:
1) Dublin Ireland- The good=no language barriers, lots of golf courses for me, easy access to the continent as it’s a Ryanair hub, people seem really friendly. The bad=rents seem kinda pricey, weather is iffy.

2) Barcelona Spain- The good=seems relatively affordable outside the city, as I am asian American the city also has some food dining options aside from Spanish food, golf courses, weather is nice. The bad-some language (we both speak bad Spanish) and cultural barriers. People don’t seem as engaging to Americans.

3) Havent checked out Portugal or Italy yet, but plan to do so next year.

Any other ideas?

UpperNwGuy
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by UpperNwGuy » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:19 am

The people in Madrid are more friendly to outsiders than are the people in Barcelona. Rents are also a bit cheaper. Lots of daily flights to all over Europe. Many Asian restaurants.

renue74
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by renue74 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:25 am

You'll need to parse your time in and out of EU countries if you plan to stay longer than 90 days.

https://www.google.com/search?q=how+lon ... e&ie=UTF-8

I'm only 45 and have sorta planned to do something similar. Find a central european home base and travel from there. We visited Italy a couple years ago and loved Lake Como. I would love to rent a small apartment in that area and then use it as a base to travel to other locations.

But...only do it in the summers and for only 90 days or less. :happy

livesoft
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by livesoft » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:26 am

The bigger the language better, then the better the opportunity to learn a new language. I suggest Paris, France because inexpensive VBRO / airbnb are available within the metro / train system. And many greats have preceded you in your footsteps.

Full disclosure: I lived in Europe for a few years.
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Shallowpockets
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by Shallowpockets » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:27 am

You are setting aside enough time to try many places. Do your Dublin and Barcelona thing. Why not? If you base in one city you are essentially the same as if you stayed in the US and went to these other destinations. Only difference is the cost of airfare.
Doesn’t make sense to establish a base home that you pay for and then jet around for 6-12 months from that base. The cost of the base will add up over time. Change your bases to be your actual travel and try out different cities as you go.

Elena
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by Elena » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:40 am

Madrid. Connected to everywhere (Spain, Portugal, rest of Europe and the Americas).

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FlyAF
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by FlyAF » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:50 am

I lived in Barcelona for a year and didn't find the locals unwilling to engage with me, in fact, quite the opposite. [OT comment removed by moderator oldcomputerguy] I'd choose Spain LONG before Ireland purely for the better weather. It is like tourist mecca though which can be a pain at times.

neilpilot
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by neilpilot » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:53 am

Consider using a web site that offers free accommodations for 2-6 months, so long as your are able to also care for the owner's pet. I've used one site for 9 pet & house sits, including homes in France and the UK. Sometime the homeowner even includes use of their car.

The site I use shows listings throughout the EU, including Spain and Ireland. While I never consider listings longer than 3 weeks, there are always several that run a month or more, sometimes as long as 6 months. You might be able to put 2 or 3 together and go from one location to the next.

koryg75
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by koryg75 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:57 am

At one point I was considering the same plan as you and your wife. But lately I’ve moved to the camp of having different home bases. If your goal is to explore all of Europe in a year it seems like the way to do it. Both from a simplicity and cost perspective.

jebmke
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by jebmke » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:01 am

Brussels and Paris are fairly centrally located. Both are hubs for high speed rail service to many parts of Europe, including London.

Brussels has a main airport and also a nearby low-end airport (Charlerois). Both are quite accessible.

I lived in Brussels for 4+ years and had little issue with language. I learned enough French to get by in French speaking areas but English and other languages are quite pervasive.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by JupiterJones » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:27 am

What about something more central/eastern? A little further out of the standard "comfort zone", but worth a look.

I'd imagine you could stay pretty cheaply long-term in Slovenia, which has some wonderful countryside (alps! lakes!) and a very cool capital city (with an airport and a train station). Easy to rent a car for road trips down the Adriatic coast or over to Italy, etc. And pretty much everyone there under 50 seems to speak English. Cuisine is an interesting hodgepodge of Italian, Austrian/German, Hungarian, etc.

Places like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary would probably be good bargains too.
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Jeff Albertson
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by Jeff Albertson » Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:09 am

renue74 wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:25 am
You'll need to parse your time in and out of EU countries if you plan to stay longer than 90 days.

https://www.google.com/search?q=how+lon ... e&ie=UTF-8
+1
Incorporate the Schengen requirements into your early planning/dreaming.

rich126
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by rich126 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:11 am

As others have mentioned, an American with a US passport can only stay 90 days out of 180 days in Schengen countries. Notably, the UK isn't one of them and they have different rules. And there are other countries nearby you could stay in, such as Bulgaria, which have their own rules. This blog did a decent job of explaining it. https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blog ... n-90-days/

Just from my traveling experience I always thought the Munich area was great. Great train access to much of Europe, good food, safe, clean.

The UK seems less ideal as a base since it is further away from places I would want to visit in Europe. I could see doing 90 days in a Schengen country, then 90-180 days in the UK exploring England, Ireland, etc.

I'm terribly with languages.

Good luck and have fun.

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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by ChinchillaWhiplash » Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:21 am

I love Portugal. People are friendly. Most speak some English, especially in Lisbon. The cost of living is low. Money goes a long way there. Weather is nice but can be hot in the summer. Lots of beaches. Fantastic seafood for low price. Political climate seems pretty stable compared to Spain. Also ranked as 3rd safest country in the world. Healthcare services ranked 12th in the world. Not much negative to speak of.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by adamthesmythe » Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:23 am

The Netherlands.

Central. Excellent train connections to everywhere. English spoken by almost everyone. Plentiful Indonesian food in addition to many other options.

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Watty
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by Watty » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:02 pm

I agree with the prior comments about looking into the Visa situation and planning your trip around that.

I have not done it but I have heard of people buying a camper van or small RV and traveling around Europe and that might be something you would want to look into.
JGM1965 wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:01 am
Any other ideas?
You could spend 6 months in Europe and then when winter starts you could go to New Zealand and Australia where spring would just be starting and spend six months there.
JGM1965 wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:01 am
Options so far are:
1) Dublin Ireland- The good=no language barriers, lots of golf courses for me, easy access to the continent as it’s a Ryanair hub, people seem really friendly. The bad=rents seem kinda pricey, weather is iffy.
Europe is a lot farther north than many people realize which affects how long the days are. Be sure to check this for wherever you decide to go.

For example in Dublin on the shortest day of the year the day is only 7.5 hours long and the sun does not rise until after 8:30 AM and sets just after 4:00 PM.

https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/ireland ... &year=2019

The twilight is also very short especially if it is overcast.

The opposite is true in the summer when the days are long with a long twilight and it might not get reasonably dark until around 11:00 PM.
Last edited by Watty on Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

EddyB
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by EddyB » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:10 pm

Jeff Albertson wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:09 am
renue74 wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:25 am
You'll need to parse your time in and out of EU countries if you plan to stay longer than 90 days.

https://www.google.com/search?q=how+lon ... e&ie=UTF-8
+1
Incorporate the Schengen requirements into your early planning/dreaming.
Better yet, consider the long-term visas that are available. Italy, for example, has an elective residence visa that may work for the OP. I suspect other EU countries do as well.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by WhiteMaxima » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:18 pm

istanbul. it is a euroasia capital. use to be called est roma capital constantinnople. deep in history and culture. food is amazing. very affordable. 4 hr drive to turkey agean sea coast. very safe. people are very warm.

02nz
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by 02nz » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:20 pm

WhiteMaxima wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:18 pm
istanbul. it is a euroasia capital. use to be called est roma capital constantinnople. deep in history and culture. food is amazing. very affordable. 4 hr drive to turkey agean sea coast. very safe. people are very warm.
I agree Istanbul is a wonderful city. But "very safe"? Not exactly. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terror_at ... n_Istanbul

Of course the likelihood of being a victim of a terrorist attack is very very low in Istanbul or pretty much anywhere else. But there have been a lot more terrorist attacks in Istanbul than in many other large European cities.

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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by WhiteMaxima » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:45 pm

02nz wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:20 pm
WhiteMaxima wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:18 pm
istanbul. it is a euroasia capital. use to be called est roma capital constantinnople. deep in history and culture. food is amazing. very affordable. 4 hr drive to turkey agean sea coast. very safe. people are very warm.
I agree Istanbul is a wonderful city. But "very safe"? Not exactly. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terror_at ... n_Istanbul

Of course the likelihood of being a victim of a terrorist attack is very very low in Istanbul or pretty much anywhere else. But there have been a lot more terrorist attacks in Istanbul than in many other large European cities.
I just complete a tour in europe. Frankfurt->Istanbul->Izmir->Fetaye->Antalia -> Budpest-Wien->Sltzburg->Sisly->Vennice-> Munich

Wien is very nice and clean and beer and schnizel are good
Budapest is beautiful and farmer's market has a lot of sausage to offer, thermal bath is good
Istanbul is very beautiful and food is amazing. Bosbrose cruise beytween asia and europa
Izmir is an Aegean sea coast town, swim in the medterrian sea is very nice
Antalia is a south coast resort town
Sisily is nice but the mafia is replaced by migrant from other side of pond
Salzburg is very nice and just 1hr train ride from Wien
Munich is good as usual

Among these cities, I would chose istanbul for it's rich culture (Greek, Bazantein, Osman and modern Euro-Asia history). Due to USD-TR lira. The cost of Turkey is about 1/3 - 1/2 of Eurpean cities. illegal immigrant will not chose Turkey to stay (no social welfare, harsh toward crime). Europe is not the Europe use to be. I would avoid Paris, Roma and all these popular cities. I like Prague, Lisbon, Budapest and thoese second tier cities.

GT99
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by GT99 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:29 pm

You really can't go wrong there are so many wonderful places, and travel around the continent is so easy once you're there. In Western Europe, most people under about 40-45 speak at least some English, especially in more urban areas, so I wouldn't consider that too much of a barrier (and don't discount the value of learning a new language).

I love both Dublin and Edinburgh - beautiful places and the people are incredibly friendly. Outside of the UK/Ireland, I've spent the most time in Germany. I love the country, but I'm not sure it's where I'd choose to make my home-base. Frankly, I'm having a hard time picking out top places myself, so I appreciate your question!

dcabler
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by dcabler » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:36 pm

We did an 18 month expat assignment in Dresden, Germany. Wonderful experience I'll never forget. We were there in the late 1990's, less than a decade after the wall fell. At that time if somebody was >30 years old, their second language was Russian. If <30 then the second language was English. By now, that bar has probably been moved up about 20 years to 50 or so. You'd be fine!

Cheers

Starfish
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by Starfish » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:58 pm

From those options, Dublin would be by far the last one. It's an ugly city - one of the ugliest major city in Europe - with bad weather and kinda boring. Barcelona probably is the best for me. Portugal and Italy are not bad either.
Generally speaking:
1. South: fun, good weather, good food.
2. North: opposite :)

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kramer
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by kramer » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:34 pm

One thing to consider is using AirBnb in several cities (I agree with other posters that I wouldn't base myself in one place all that time). You get more of an immersion experience than a hotel and it is generally much less expensive and higher quality. I am doing this right now in a foreign country and it has worked fantastic when combined with Uber type ride sharing services for residential addresses.

Ztx
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by Ztx » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:54 pm

I'd probably go with:
Paris - good food, direct flights to almost anywhere in Europe, good train connections.
or
Munich - close to Alps, great biking infrastructure (if that matter to you)

both are reasonably centrally located.

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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by Lazareth » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:55 pm

If value is a priority, consider several weeks in Croatia...along the beautiful Adriatic coast and islands, and inland to Zagreb. Reasonable prices, clean, safe, language not a problem. Crystal clear ocean water, beautiful beaches especially on the islands, and ancient historic sights. If you can look past the less than esthetic post-WWII urban development, you can enjoy authentic European charm without the crowds or expense of more traditional European destinations. The economy is still struggling and tourism is the main source of income so the locals are accommodating and offer a wide range of island and inland tours, activities, accommodations and restaurants. Wife and I had an enjoyable relaxing vacation there in August (2019).
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LilyFleur
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by LilyFleur » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:39 am

FlyAF wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:50 am
I lived in Barcelona for a year and didn't find the locals unwilling to engage with me, in fact, quite the opposite. Granted this was before the current administration. I'd choose Spain LONG before Ireland purely for the better weather. It is like tourist mecca though which can be a pain at times.
I found the people in Barcelona to be delightful, but I also really liked the people in Paris, in Normandy, and in the Loire Valley as well as London and Oxford. Well, I guess I pretty much enjoy the people wherever I am. :mrgreen:

Be sure to visit the American Visitors Center in Omaha Beach, Normandy. I have never felt prouder to be an American than when on French soil and hearing the stories of our heroes from D-Day. It was fascinating to hear our French Airbnb host talk about what the Americans did there.

likegarden
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by likegarden » Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:40 am

As others mentioned, Istanbul and Turkey are wonderful. I was German once and in college vacations in 1962 traveled to Istanbul, Bursa, Konya, Ankara, Eskishehir, Antalya and Izmir. Those 3 months were wonderful. Another time I vacationed in Greece and its islands and saw many ancient sites. It all depends on what you like to see and immerse yourself in.

spitty
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by spitty » Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:02 am

If Spain, consider Seville; it's farther South so a better winter climate than Barc. It's a beautiful, clean city with amazing history--and less populated. We met an American lady there who winters in Faro, Portugal, saying it has a significant USA population and of course right on the ocean.

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JGM1965
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by JGM1965 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:34 am

Wow, so many good responses and great advice. Have discussed with my wife just now and the opinions expressed are leaning us towards multiple “home bases” maybe taking a month at a time at each location before moving to the next country, stay north during the late spring/summer and in southern clines in the cooler months. Great advice too on the visa requirements, gotta factor that in. Thank you all!

halfnine
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by halfnine » Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:36 am

JGM1965 wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:01 am
.... Once we take that step in 3-4 years we would like to celebrate by spending 6 months to a year in Europe exploring and traveling. Any input on a good, affordable city to use a home base while on this adventure...
With a 6 month or 1 year agenda having a home base in Europe to travel around Europe is a poor plan. A better plan might be to spend 4-6 weeks traveling broadly followed by 8-12 weeks in a dedicated location living amongst the locals, enjoying the local life and traveling locally. Continue the cycle until the 6 month to 1 year period is up. For a more enjoyable experience make sure the extended stay periods are beyond the tourist zone and the accommodation is more appropriate to living in than traveling through (kitchen, washing machine, living room, etc.).

edit: Looks like we posted about the same time. I think a 1 month stay is a bit short for a 1 year time frame and you'd find more enjoyment with having a base for a longer time.

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JupiterJones
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by JupiterJones » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:37 pm

JGM1965 wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:34 am
Wow, so many good responses and great advice. Have discussed with my wife just now and the opinions expressed are leaning us towards multiple “home bases” maybe taking a month at a time at each location before moving to the next country, stay north during the late spring/summer and in southern clines in the cooler months. Great advice too on the visa requirements, gotta factor that in. Thank you all!
Then again, maybe you could do the "buffet" trick. Your first trip puts tastes of a just about everything on your plate. Shorter stays is many places, in other words. That gives you a sense of what you like and don't like.

Then for your second trip to the buffet you load your plate up with the few items you really liked best. That is, you wait to plan your longer stays as a "second round", going back and spending longer in the places you enjoyed best from your first round.
Stay on target...

FireProof
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by FireProof » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:20 pm

spitty wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:02 am
If Spain, consider Seville; it's farther South so a better winter climate than Barc. It's a beautiful, clean city with amazing history--and less populated. We met an American lady there who winters in Faro, Portugal, saying it has a significant USA population and of course right on the ocean.
Seville is a beautiful and lively city, and not as touristy as Barcelona (although far less cosmopolitan), and living in Andalusia is a very good value option, but I would say the climate of Barcelona is quite a bit better than in Seville. It's on the ocean, so much more temperate. Seville has 4 months with average highs over 89 degrees, and it will have periods of weeks where it may be around 100 degrees every day. If you are staying less than a year, you may be able to avoid the summer completely, though.

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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by cinghiale » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:45 pm

I would be careful of dominant dialects and languages. Unless you make a commitment to speak Catalan, Barcelona may not be your best choice.

You may want to look three hours south of Barcelona along the coast to Valencia, Spain’s third largest city. A still-as-yet-to-be-fully-discovered gem. Boston’s Berklee College of Music has its satellite campus there. It’s using Copenhagen as a model city, and is moving toward more green spaces, more bike lanes, and more public access. Excellent cuisine and it’s in the heart of the vegetable and citrus growing region of Spain. Yes, Valencian is spoken by many residents, but it does not dominate. And, lots of inexpensive flights (RyanAir, Vueling, Air Europa, etc.) to all the great places that other posters have suggested.
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Re: Year in Europe (location advice)

Post by bagle » Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:53 pm

I´d also recommend Spain for many reasons: overall quality of life, cost, generally friendly natives, excellent food, history, culture, infrastructure, access to other European countries and nature.

I´ll second Valencia as undervalued. mild climate, beaches, and of course paella.

Personally, I´d avoid Barcelona due to ongoing unrest and its effect on daily logistics.

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