Picnic Thwarted: As my friend Peter and I bolted through Andalucía, Spain at 120 kilometers per hour in our rented Peugeot to get to Sevilla—past burgeoning vineyards, lazy cows, and long grasses that swayed in the strong winds—we came up with what we thought would be a brilliant idea: a picnic. So we got off the autopista in search of a market in the small town of Las Cabezas de San Juan. Note to other picnic enthusiasts roaming southern Spain: Don't go ingredient hunting during siesta time. Every storefront we passed was closed. So we plopped ourselves down at the counter of a ramshackle spot called Bar Estadio (one of two restaurants we saw open) and resigned ourselves to picking a cold potato dish (the least scary looking of four available options at the bar). It was supersimple—potatoes and slivers of raw onion tossed lightly with vinegar—yet unexpectedly delicious, and even more perfect paired with ice-cold Cruzcampo, a Spanish beer.

Picnic Accomplished: Three days later, we found ourselves in a predicament. We had driven three hours along the coastal roads of Sardinia—and through the gorgeous, hilly town of Castelsardo—in hopes of catching the ferry to Corsica. But we reached Santa Teresa di Gallura, the island's northern tip, only to find out that the last ferry of the day had just departed. So we walked among the peach-colored houses—picking up fat sardines; a huge hunk of Poppa, a strong, local cheese that resembles Manchego; flat discs of pane carasau, the region's famous unleavened bread—and headed off to an empty beach, finally feasting on a picnic, three feet away from the clear, lulling Mediterranean Sea.