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.
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.
It was mid April. We were cruising along an uninspiring stretch of the I-5, on our way home from an impromptu trip to Santa Barbara and Palm Springs where we escaped for sun, wine, and as it turns out, a surprise marriage proposal. As official new “fiances,” we were doing what most couples do: talking about our life together (which included a move to Spain four weeks later), and, naturally, a wedding. As firm believers in the importance of experiences over things, there was never a question that we wanted to gather our family and friends together for a kickass party. It was just a matter of where, when, and how it would all come together. Below are the details of how we pulled off our wedding (and the most amazing week of our lives) in a 17th century Italian villa.
Ah, Belgium. The tiny country, somewhere beside, above and between France, Germany, and the Netherlands. But when measuring awesomeness, size doesn’t matter. Texas is nearly 23 times bigger than Belgium, but it ain’t got nothing on the history, food, and BEER from this quirky little place.
Divided into two distinctly different regions, Belgium feels like a mish mash of Northern France and The Netherlands. And that’s probably because it is. The southern region of Wallonia is home to adorable little French-speaking towns scattered across the hilly Ardennes with the flat plains, with the more urbanized, and Dutch-speaking Flanders to the north.
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