The best things in life are free

Jorge G. Palomo

Write it down and let yourself go… The perfect plan doesn’t have to be expensive. It can even be free. “We all that know that with money it isn’t hard to enjoy leisure time. The challenge was to find a good collection of activities that didn’t mean spending a lot of money,” journalist Edurne Baz tells  Fresh People Mag. And that’s what she did, writing a book for all readers, España gratis. 500 experiencias que puedes disfrutar a 0 euros (“Free Spain: 500 Experiences You Can Enjoy for 0 Euros”). It’s published by geoPlaneta and it’s a declaration of intent: “Plans and ideas for filling your free time without breaking the bank,” it says on the cover. Write it down. For free.

Travelling opens the mind. It sounds like a cliché, but some clichés are infallible. Like ‘perfect settings’. Like Messi’s dribbling. However, we must sharpen the senses if we are to be productive, keep curiosity alive, not be conformist, and discover new cultures enthusiastically, critically and happily. Because, says Edurne Baz, “enjoying the resources within our reach is essential for our development as people who have certain standards. It’s very necessary to have all kinds of experiences.”

Can you imagine watching a genuine Viking landing, enjoying the most varied popular celebrations, or discovering first-hand the work of an artist in his own studio? There are hundreds of sensational activities that don’t cost a thing. And Edurne Baz had described them by subjects, with a geographical index and lots of passion.

They are different creative proposals, “some of them more obvious, such as the hours when museums let you in without having to buy a ticket,” she says, “and others that are more surprising, real discoveries, such as the possibility of enjoying music festivals that are completely free, original guided visits or alternative ways of payment, such as the time banks or barter.” For her, seeing the Guernica in the Reina Sofía museum was a real treat, and she took advantage of the free entry that day to savour this masterpiece by Picasso. Because the best things in life probably don’t have a price.

The reins of our happiness

Without emitting any spoilers, we’ll describe some of the succulent suggestions in Free Spain. Did you know that bellowing is the mating sound among deer? That liturgy for nature lovers takes place in September and October and is a real spectacle. Where? In Andalusia and Extremadura, but also in Asturias or the northern part of the Castilla y León autonomous community, in such peaceful places as the Sierra de Cazorla or the Monfragüe natural park. And the deer don’t charge any admission.

There’s also no fee for La gran marmitada in Santoña (Cantabria), one example among thousands of fabulous popular fiestas where food is shared, in this case the typical seafood delicacy of tuna fish and potatoes with bread, wine, beer and plenty of good fun. And if what you want is to exchange books, an inexhaustible source of pleasure and wisdom? Don’t miss the so-called ‘book crossing’ and register right now at the  www.bookcrossing.com webpage so that your books can take wing and reach people avid for reading and experience. And if you want to exchange some favours, with no money involved, just your dedication and care, then discover the time banks at www.adbdt.org and develop your personal skills to engage in barter.

There’s no lack of ideas in this essential manual. Curious places, suggestions about wheels, plans for nostalgic people, for romantics, for very artistic people, for film buffs, jugglers, hikers, athletes, sportsmen… Naturally there are proposals for all tastes, for people on their own or in families, as a couple or with friends, or for everyone all at once. Because, as one of the chapters in this book by Edurne Baz puts it, “life is a carnival.”

In the prologue the author reveals her philosophy of travel and leisure: “At this point in time, everyone is aware that living without money is mission impossible (with the exception, perhaps, of heroic hermits). But this book doesn’t pursue such a utopian objective.” Because, in effect, it’s a case of having a good time without ruining our micro-economy. “There’s nothing like taking control of your own agenda, your own life, of managing your time and your own happiness, snatching away from money the enormous power that it’s been exerting.”

Legend has it that Coco Chanel used to say that the best things in life are free and that the second best are… too expensive.

PS: España gratis (geoPlaneta) costs 15 euros. A good investment.

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