The hills and mountains surrounding the valley have suddenly turned a brighter and deeper shade of green. The sky has also shifted, from muted greys with subtle blue hues, to a spectacular baby blue scattered with pillows of bright white clouds. The green fields are now strewn with the reds and yellows of wildflowers that have shot up from the fertile ground below. Spring came with a force in Lucca, our home of just six months, and after two months in quarantine we’re reminded of the multitude of reasons we chose to settle down in this little city in the northwest corner of Tuscany.
It was early February. We were sitting in a bar in Hoi An, Vietnam, sipping a bloody mary, watching the superbowl without a care in the world, other than the 49ers defense. It was mid-way through our five week trip through Southeast Asia, where we were meeting activity partners and visiting boutique hotels to include in our Custom and Designed Trips. We were gearing up for a very busy 2020 - travel felt accessible and adventure was calling.
It’s hard to believe, but we’re coming up on three years living in Spain. In some ways, it feels like just yesterday that we landed in Valencia, excited and eager to give this expat thing a try, only to have our life flipped upside-down for the six months following. But in other ways, when we think back to all the experiences we’ve had in Valencia and across the Iberian Peninsula, we’re reminded of how well we’ve come to know this amazing country that we call home.
Many people visit Spain and hightail it straight to Barcelona or Madrid. While both are great destinations, Spain has so much more to offer than its two largest cities. Choose to visit smaller towns to experience everyday Spanish life, medium sized cities for incredible architecture and mind-blowing food, or if you’re really itching for a big city experience, do something different and visit Valencia instead. Here are our top 7 spots beyond boring Barcelona (yeah, we said it)...
At the beginning of each year, we sit down together and start planning our travels for the next 12 months. It's become somewhat of a ritual for us - discussing our trips from the previous year, dreaming up vacations for the year to come, and deciding how exactly we'll make these adventures happen.
Our European road trip continues! We're driving from Lake Como, through Barolo, to a tiny town called Mombasiglio in Italy's Piedmont Region. It's the prefect peaceful retreat to take a travel time out, drink a healthy amount of wine and discuss the alleged "Road of Love."
Next up, Provence, France and back to our home country of Spain. If you haven't subscribed to our YouTube Channel for updates on all our latest videos, now's the time (just click "subscribe")!
On the second episode of our new Vlog, we drive north to Strasbourg, France in the Alsace Region along the German border. Known for its quaint architecture, beautiful countryside, cobbled streets and canals, it was well worth the (very long) drive:
Here's the thing - since our appearance on House Hunters International, we've gotten a bundle of questions about life in Spain and travel in Europe. So, rather than writing everything in our ongoing Cohica blog, we decided to flip on the camera and record our first Vlog.
It'll have travel tips, highlight our favorite travel destinations, and provide an overview of expat life in Spain. We'll even take the vlog on the road as we adventure around Europe.
Please like, comment and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notified every time we post a new episode.
Check out our very first vlog below!
We’ve always been fascinated by olive oil. By the beautiful silvery-green trees, the delicious olives themselves, and the fruity, peppery, healthy oil they produce. We’ve also been curious about the influence this ever important ingredient has on the overall health benefits and life expectancy associated with the Mediterranean diet. And since we moved to Spain, visiting an olive farm and learning about the production process has been at the top of our foodie experience wishlist.
Less than an hour’s drive northwest of Valencia, toward the province of Castellon and then straight inland and up nearly 2,000 feet, is the small pueblo of Viver. Tucked between the Sierra Calderona Mountain Range and San Roque Mountain and crossed by the Palancia river, it’s an agricultural community whose history dates back all the way to the Paleolithic era. And while the town’s roots have always been in agriculture, it wasn’t until 1990 that a collective of farmers and residents formed the Cooperativa de Viver in an effort to produce high quality olive oil, develop a more diverse range of products, and create a more professional operation to achieve greater success for its members who, today, total 500 (Viver’s population is just north of 1,500).
We’ve been super busy over the last few weeks designing some amazing trips for clients and planning our own summer road trip along the coasts of Spain and Portugal. The fact that we can hop in the car and drive to the Douro Valley to sip port is still 100% mind blowing. Moments like these, along with our second Spanniversary last month, naturally result in some reflection. So, to kick off year #3 in Spain, we’ve come up with our second list of things we love and things we miss. (See Year 1, Part 1 here).
It’s been two years since we got off the plane, lugged our three giant suitcases to the curb of Valencia’s little airport and butchered the pronunciation of our AirBnB address to the cab driver. Two years since we searched for part time jobs, only to land a 4-week gig at an English summer camp earning less money than we did when we were 16, and yearning for the security that came with the salaries we left behind. Two years since we searched for an apartment and had three legitimately fall through before emptying our savings account to pay the entire year’s rent up-front because we didn’t have a Spanish job contract. Two years since we walked through the park every day making up songs to memorize basic Spanish verb conjugations in present tense, only to freeze in terror the moment someone spoke to us. And two years since we relished in the everyday excitement of life abroad - fully embracing the Spanish siesta, afternoons at the beach, warm late nights spent on streetside patios, and the beautiful and unapologetic focus on family and time together over money, status and things.
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