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.
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.
Are we the only ones who spend a ridiculous amount of time every January brainstorming and researching all of the places we want to visit in the year ahead? Travel, afterall, does take planning… oh and saving, and discipline too.
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…
We’d read about its hilly neighborhoods and red-roofed buildings covered in colorful tiles; its lively bars full of aged port, solemn songs and whole fish dinners. We’d seen photos of its breathtaking river and mini-golden gate. Its many similarities to San Francisco made it all the more intriguing. When did this previous non-destination become such a major European destination? With a smidge of homesickness and a giant dose of pure curiosity, we had to find out what all the hype was about.
“Whether experiential travel is a term you’ve heard before or not, the phenomenon is redefining where we go and how. As more and more travelers crave immersive itineraries, hospitality and tourism companies are working overtime to design specialized activities that meet this demand….”
Travel + Leisure, December 2017
In the 2.5 years since we left our jobs to travel the world, we’ve visited nearly 30 new countries, wandered through countless new cities, moved to Europe and planned a wedding in Tuscany. When we think back about the most life-changing, awe-inspiring moments, they can nearly always be attributed to the people we’ve met along the way.
The excitement for our trip to the Azores had been building for months, if not years. Ever since we’d first heard about these mysterious Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic, our interest had been piqued. Maybe it was the geographical, topographical and cultural similarity to Hawaii. Or maybe it was because of all the places we’ve traveled, this was somewhere no one (that we knew, at least) had been. Or maybe it was the realization that, in many ways, we had no idea what to expect.
The idea of quitting a job to travel the world might seem far-fetched. Maybe even scary. We’re sure you can think of plenty of reasons not to. But if you’ve been struck by the same urge to travel as we have, we’re here to tell you that it’s not as hard as you may think. And that taking a risk now, rather than putting it off and telling yourself you’ll do it someday, is totally and completely so, so, so worth it. Because at the end of the day, you’ll probably regret the things you didn’t do. Not the ones you did.
So here it is. Nine tips to make a trip around the world a reality.
A travel design agency.
Follow us on Instagram @CohicaTravel