One month paid sabbatical. What to do with my time?
February 7, 2016 6:33 AM   Subscribe

I recently got a great offer from my company for a paid sabbatical of one month. Their conditions are to use it on a personal project of some sort and give a presentation afterwards. I. E. "Don't stay at home and watch TV."

I'm in Germany, gay, single. Love hiking, biking, traveling etc, so my nnitial ideas so far are to do another alp crossing hike (did one last summer) , a bike ride along the Danube as far south as I can go, or a 4 week Spanish crash course in Barcelona.

I'm not rich, so traveling to Australia or new Zealand us probably not an option, but the US would be.
(flights are cheap, and heard some nice things about the Pacific Crest or Appalachian trail.)

What would you do with a month of free time if you were me?
posted by ts;dr to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to suggest AT! It's absolutely beautiful. When you get to Gatlinburg, TN, you can see Dollywood (go in the summer.) Check out the Great Smoky Mountains. Enjoy the craptastic, tourist nightmare.

I always suggest Gatlinburg.

You can talk about the gorgeous scenery, the experiences with people you meet, our absolutely tacky culture (in places.) Keep a journal.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:40 AM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, what is AT?
Edit.: ah sorry, of course the Appalachian trail.
posted by ts;dr at 6:43 AM on February 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

The language course is a great idea, but if you can afford to cross the Atlantic, how about doing it in South America or Cuba? Probably slightly cheaper living expenses and much more sense of adventure (and lots of Spanish rather than the prevalence of Catalan in Barca).

I did a couple of weeks studying Spanish in Santiago de Cuba then travelled around, and it was awesome. The accent is apparently unusual but at a beginner or intermediate level that's not going to have much effect on you (Another advantage - I had already studied with a Chilean teacher for a couple of years before that and was delighted to have learned Spanish without all the lisping that goes with Iberian Spanish but that's just preference!).
posted by penguin pie at 6:46 AM on February 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Cuba. Great idea, thanks!
Have a friend in barca though who round be pissed if I took a Spanish course anywhere else. ;)
posted by ts;dr at 6:53 AM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I bet they'd forgive you if it was Cuba, though - seriously, you won't regret it! I loved it so much I've been back for a second trip since, and would happily go again.
posted by penguin pie at 7:00 AM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I had a two-month unpaid sabbatical this summer. I rode my bicycle from the East Coast to the West Coast.

You could do from the Mississippi to California -- the western half of the U.S. is much more interesting, imo. Most foreigners prefer to see the American West because it's so different from other parts of the world. I met a kid from Germany in Colorado when I was passing through.

Or you could follow any one of the other Adventure Cycling routes.

Once you have the flight and the bike, everything else shouldn't cost very much.
posted by Borborygmus at 7:44 AM on February 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That bike trail network looks interesting too, thanks!

(sorry for all the autocorrect mistakes, on my mobile phone :/ )
posted by ts;dr at 9:24 AM on February 7, 2016

If you planned it just right, you might include Iowa's RAGBRAI into your across the USA bike tour. It involves eating a lot of pie.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:36 AM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, what an amazing, amazing opportunity.

Do you enjoy history? How about grabbing a biography or two of someone whose story grabs you, and retracing their steps and taking a photo essay of what the locations of the interesting events of their life look like now? Could be anyone! George Washington, Cesare Borgia, Junipero Serra, King David, whatever you find interesting.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:57 AM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails are both much longer than a month's travel, just to consider - you'd have to pick a section of either.

Have a friend in barca though who round be pissed if I took a Spanish course anywhere else. ;)

Learning Spanish is a great idea. Barcelona is a great city. Learning Spanish in Barcelona is not; as penguin pie said, you're going to run into a lot of people for whom not speaking Spanish is a political act.
posted by psoas at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you like hiking, may I suggest one or more long-distance hiking trails, like the Rheinsteig or the Schluchtensteig? Or hike the European Green Belt along the former Iron Curtain!
posted by amf at 12:30 PM on February 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Aside from the AT and PCT, there's also the Continental Divide Trail that runs through the middle! It's not quite done yet, but last time I looked they had really cheap hiking/trail building tours you could do and they'd have a pro chef do the camp cooking.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:00 PM on February 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

What kind of company do you work at? It might be cool if you can tie it in somehow with the work you do or your company's values, while obviously not using the time to work.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:27 PM on February 7, 2016

Ride your bike to Greece, then back, along the migrants trail. Interview and photograph some of them, then write a travel journal with insight about the emigration experience.
posted by Kwadeng at 1:13 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

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