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.
The 2018 recap
We covered a lot of ground in 2018. From a weekend getaway to Budapest, to a group running adventure in Ibiza, to two trips to jolly ‘ol England. There was a summer road trip to Strasbourg, France, south through Switzerland, Lake Como and Piedmont in Italy, and with a relaxing stop in Provence before our long drive home to Spain. A surprise birthday trip to Mallorca, family travels to Granada and Costa Blanca here in Spain, a two-night friendo vacay in Porto, Portugal, and back home to San Francisco for the holidays.
We made it to seven countries in all last year, getting to know our new continent on the eastern side of the Atlantic just a little bit better. But we missed out on a few 2018 goal destinations, including Galicia and Basque Country here in Spain, and Sardinia, Italy. (Guess you just can’t have it all…). All three have been added to either this year’s travel wish list or our long-term goals list, so alas, we’ll make it there in time.
2019: Sure things, hopefuls, & long-shots
We’ve barely made it to February and our 2019 travels are off to a roarin’ start. A week visiting friends and hanging on the beach in Maui at the beginning of January and two quick excursions to Italy (Lucca and Rome) over the past few weeks, and we already have the itch again.
So, what’s next for 2019? Here are our sure things, hopefuls, and long shots for the rest of the year:
Mallorca (sure thing) - We’re barely off the runway in Valencia before the flight starts descending onto this incredible island. It’ll be a late June trip this year, before the July and August tourist throngs envelop the island.
San Sebastian or Sevilla (sure thing) - Fallas in Valencia is truly an amazing spectacle. It’s also amazingly loud. And long. This March, instead of submitting our pup Mac to a week’s worth of torture, we’ll hit the road for San Sebastian (the front runner) or Sevilla for the first time since moving to Spain.
Scotland (sure thing) - When your friends are expats and they get married, you get to go places for their wedding. So it’s Scotland in July for us. Kicking it at a castle and celebrating two wonderful people. Hopefully to be followed with some Northern Scotland exploration.
Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and… (hopeful) - Our travels through Southeast Asia in 2015 were some of the best months of our lives. We often dream about the fresh spring rolls, tasty pho and banh mi of Vietnam, and the khao soy, pad thai, and tom yum in Thailand. And not only is the food in this region unbeatable, the people and landscapes are incredible as well. This time around, we’re looking forward to exploring Laos and possibly another nearby destination too...
Canary Islands (hopeful) - Set off the coast of Morocco, smack in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, these volcanic islands are packed full of amazing beaches and beautiful scenery. We aren’t sure whether we’ll go to Gran Canaria, Tenerife, or Lanzarote, yet, but the possibility of an early Spring beach vacation may be just too tempting to pass up.
Amsterdam, Prague, Krakow (hopeful) - Megan hasn’t been to Amsterdam or Prague yet, so these two incredible European cities are high on our list. Poland has been tempting us both for years now, and we’ve heard Krakow’s historic architecture and food scene give it the leg up on Warsaw. A visit to one, if not two or three of these cities will definitely happen this year.
Greece (hopeful) - We want to go to Greece with plenty of time (at least a week, hopefully two) to explore the islands. We still need to figure out whether we’ll go to the Ionian Islands, Cyclades, or even further east, to Rhodes...
South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Rwanda (longshot) - An African safari is finally in the works. If we don’t make it back to Southeast Asia in 2019, we’ll head to Africa instead. With a visit to Cape Town a definite, we’re still looking into the myriad of southern African countries for a semi-independent safari, then hopefully swing east to Tanzania and the amazing beaches of Zanzibar, and again further northwest to resurgent Rwanda, gathering insight and making contacts along the way for future Cohica Africa safaris.
Sri Lanka (longshot) - Sri Lanka seems to be on every travel website’s “Best country’s to visit” or “Off the radar places to visit” lists, and we’re pretty sure it’s for good reason. Boasting an insane combination of natural beauty, wildlife, beaches, food and culture, it’s easily made it’s way onto our list as well.
Estonia (longshot) - We think Estonia is a hidden gem in northern Europe, sharing much of the gorgeous landscapes of the Scandinavian countries just across the Baltic, yet with Eastern European prices. Full of old castles, hilltop fortresses, and with a coastline dotted with over 1500 islands, we’re definitely headed there soon.
New Zealand (longshot) - A campervan road trip around New Zealand will happen for us one day. Whether it’s this year, next, or the one after, we’re not sure.
Sardinia (longshot) - We didn’t get to Italy’s second largest island last year, but hopefully this will be the year. If not, we will 100% be there next year. Why? Towering cliffs, beautiful beaches, and crystal clear Mediterranean sea.
With new travel experiences come new Cohica Designed Trips, and new contacts to make our Custom Designed Trips even more culturally-rich and locally-inspired. Here's to another amazing year of exploration!
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).
Do you ever fall in love with a place then, when it comes to planning your next trip, struggle with the decision of returning or exploring somewhere new? This is a constant conversation in our house. We always want to explore the world and experience new cultures, but then there are those memories - sharing a bottle of red wine on warm stone steps overlooking ancient Rome; jumping off a 20-foot cliff into the clear water and swimming to the next cove to do it all over again; hiking along the narrow ridge of a volcanic crater surrounded by wild hydrangeas with the ocean on one side and a lake on the other - that we just want to go back and do all over again.
It's 2018, and we’re reflecting on the best parts of last year as we adjusted to our life as expats in Spain and explored new travel destinations throughout Europe.
In 2017 we finally started to get the hang of life in Spain and are wrapping up the year feeling more at home in Valencia than ever before. Afterall, in the last year we…
Living less than 200 miles away in Valencia, it’s hard to understand why it took us so long to go to Mallorca. The largest of the Balearic Islands archipelago, Mallorca (also spelled Majorca) is home to some of the most absolutely epic beaches we’ve ever seen.
Happy Spanniversary to us! We’ve officially survived year number one of expat life (undoubtedly the hardest one, right? Wait, right!?). In some ways it’s hard to believe– we’re just now starting to feel more settled, more secure and more at home. But in other ways, so much has happened over the past twelve months.
Oh hey. It’s been awhile. The past two months have been a whirlwind of long weekends, exploration, visitors, Spanish classes and, well, “real” life in Spain. We’ve both been working 25-32 hours and taking 4 hours of Spanish each week. Taking advantage of Spain’s generous holiday calendar (five paid holidays over the last two months), we’ve managed to squeeze in two trips to Barcelona and long weekends in both Ibiza and Scotland. Although we very consciously manage our budget and time to include travel, we're still pinching ourselves that we've been "weekending" in these types of places.
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