Our NYE Celebration in Rome to ring in 2019!
2018. Wow. What a wild and unforgettable year. Not to go all waxing poetic on you, but at times, I feel like I just watched the year go by as a bystander. Not in the "I wasn't present" sense, but in the "Holy shit, this is my life" sense. It took off like a plane, almost as if it were slow motion and before you know it, you're hauling ass at 200 miles an hour on tarmac and holding on for dear life while your new adventure awaits somewhere far, far away. And just like that, in what seems like only a few minutes, an entire year has passed and our 2018 is fading away into the sky.
Ideally, I wanted to have this post done and posted on the first but hey, part of my New Year resolution is to stop being so hard on myself and slow down a little.
The last few months of 2018 were particularly a whirlwind so I thought I'd give you a quick update on what we have been up to lately. I haven't been posting regularly because time has seemed to disappear from underneath me! In late October/early November only a few weeks after being back from Germany/Austria/Italy, we headed to Scotland. Once we got back, we had Thanksgiving then Brett headed off to Turkey and Ukraine because I was meeting a girlfriend from the States. Once he got back, I flew to Barcelona to met my friend Malorie from the States and her cousin, Ali. Then, we went to Portugal. I flew home to Valencia a few days later. The next day was Christmas Eve, so we three relished our time together around our little tree and got ready for Christmas. A few days later, on the 28th, we left for Rome to celebrate New Year's Eve with my cousins for a week of grand Italian proportion. What I'm getting at is that it has been go-go-go since October and I couldn't be happier! However, we are packing up and getting ready to move again this weekend and I am also looking forward to slower living. We are moving to a small town called Las Gabias just outside Granada where we will be until May. It's a much smaller town than we are used to and is nestled in the mountains. We are looking forward to taking things day by day and being out in the mountains at least weekly with Oliver!
After that, we are thinking Cadiz. But que sera, sera ;) Here are some highlights of what was easily the most unforgettable year for us to-date! January In January, we took our first ever trip to Washington DC. We had a great time! But more importantly, we headed to NOLA to tell my parents we were moving abroad. We had a great time with them and partied in the Big Easy. How cute is the New Orleans themed basket my mom set up for us? My parents and my brother are three of our best friends and being away from them has been hard, especially my brother Duncan. But I will say it has brought us closer in a strange way, too. For example, my mom and I video chat close to EVERY day for at least an hour. My brother and I keep tabs on each other and I chat with my Dad to catch up on how things are going stateside.
Partying with mom and Dad to watch my brother in a local parade! Cajuns know how to have a good time!
February Checked a big one off my hiking bucket list! We headed to Norway for an epic hiking adventure!! We trekked our way through Lyngen, a tiny town about an hour east of Tromsø with no light pollution and lots of beauty. I had what was easily the most magical experience and that was the Northern lights! We hiked every day from before sunset to sundown and spent our evenings in a sauna recovering then cooked our meals in the communal kitchen. It was one of my favorite trips we've ever gone on.
March Whew, March was crazy. It was my last month at Capital One. Getting ready to leave, selling close to all we own and wrapping up my job to be taken over was hectic, to say the least. I miss my Capital One family so much sometimes! Especially these two gals. My team threw me an epic going away party, too! Most of Brett's days consisted of moving and selling things while I got ready to leave Capital One!
Ashley and Lucy @ Two Brothers in Plano where I spent my last evening with my Cap1 fam!
The last bit of 5217 Ragan Drive
April At this point, both of us are technically unemployed. We are so excited but also scared that chasing our dreams was biting off more than we can chew. We had our entire home packed and stored away. We actually wound up narrowing down even more than is in the photo above! Our last month stateside would be spent saying goodbye to family and traveling. We had planned a trip to Colombia, specifically Bogota and Medellin. Then, our going away party at a Spanish Tapas bar in Plano, then we would hit French Polynesia before coming BACK to Texas for one day and starting our journey overseas. It was a whirlwind!
Headed to Parque Arvi!
Hiking through Parque Arvi was a dream!
Relaxed and indulged in French Polynesia's best kept secret, Mo'orea! We spent a day trekking through the lush jungle and lounged around in our bungalow celebrating our new life and our anniversary! The last picture is the sunrise from our deck. It immediately made us "morning people"
May Now, it's go-time. Technically, this was April 30th but lasted into May. We loaded up our rental to start the 30+ hour journey to Newark, NJ. We needed one more thing cleared for Ollie from Austin, TX from the USDA. We drove from Dallas to Austin to New Jersey. We stopped overnight in Virginia and continued on to New Jersey. Honestly, with the right snacks and scenery, road trips are great! And this one was no exception. I remember looking out the window several times and thinking "what the hell are we doing?" Once we boarded our flight to Lisbon, the butterflies set in. I want to say I was crying because I was nervous or because I'd had some giant revelation, but I was actually crying because I was worried Ollie was alone under the plane and scared. If you've read my previous posts on this, then you know that once we made it to Lisbon, we drove to Barcelona! A memorable Portuguese/Spanish road trip for the books. Finally, we made it to our first home abroad, in Barcelona. Sheesh, I love that city.
Our life in bags @ Newark Airport
Ollie getting acquainted with Lisbon after a long plane ride!
Exploring Lisbon with my boys before we set off for Barcelona!
Pic we stopped for somewhere outside the Portuguese border in Badajoz, Spain!
June June was all about settling in. About blending in. About getting to know our new home and it's people. Ollie and I settled into a great morning run routine, and I made it a point to write every day. All in all, I'd say this was the most organized and goal driven I've ever been in my life, haha. When I wasn't writing, I was organizing my portfolio for prints and working on creating a shop for From Texas With Love along with a hire page for writing copy, etc. We made new friends and celebrated Summer Solstice on Barceloneta beach which was an experience I'll never forget! It was an exciting and scary time, but we loved it. Barcelona, so far, is my favorite place in Spain. If I could settle down and raise a family there five years from now, I so would. It's got everything, the scenery just outside the city, it's got the beach, and it's got the core family values that Spain seems to cling so tight to. And more importantly, it's a major European city, so getting back home to family in the states is a breeze.
Our studio flat in Ciutat Vella Barcelona
Ringing in St. Joan/Midsummer/Summer Solstice (top and bottom)
July In July, the highlight was Asturias. We hiked all through Picos de Europa; weather be damned. We drove from Barcelona, stayed in and hiked Andorra for a bit and then headed to Asturias for Picos de Europa. It was one of best hiking trips we've ever taken. Mainly because Ollie was there, too, and mainly because it was just too damn beautiful.
August August was when we decided to move. We loved Barcelona, but figured, hey, we've got this visa for all of Spain, so why not hop around a bit? This was when we decided on Moncofa, then Valencia after that. In August we spent almost every day like a tourist, so sad to leave our Catalan paradise but excited for a new adventure. We enjoyed more (and more) of the cultural sights around the city and got to experience Festa Major de Gracia!
September Moncofa! A sweet little town of only 6,000 people. This was where my Spanish vocab grew the most. I made friends with some folks that spoke three words of English. This was a great catalyst. If you saw my recap post on Moncofa, you saw that we made some fantastic friends there! Yolanda, Luis, Angel, and Carlos are still the center of our circle of friends! Aside from moving to a new city, we met our friends from back home in Amsterdam! Paige has a great blog all about mental health and perfectionism called therecoveringperfectionistblog.com
The beach that was just 100 ft from our home in Moncofa!
Brett, myself, Colin and Paige after a day of exploring Alkmaar! A small town that's just a train ride away from Amsterdam!
October We crushed Oktoberfest in Munich with an awesome road trip from Bologna, Italy to Munich! Once we got back, we rented another car, and headed to Valencia where we would have another new home! A few weeks into our new home in Valencia, there was the fire I mentioned in my last posts. At the end of October, we headed north to Edinburgh, Scotland to experience the Pagan Fire Festival for Halloween and to hike throughout Glen Coe! We also got to experience a celebration of Fallas that celebrates the halfway point to the Fallas celebration. Yes, it's a party to celebrate being half way to the actual date of the annual party haha. Some new friends of our invited us to their local Fallas chapter to enjoy the fun.
Exploring the beautiful parks in Valencia!
Us with our friends, Vicente and Loraine at their local Fallas chapter!
November November was pretty wild! Aside from a totally homesick and delicious vegan Thanksgiving, we got some traveling in! We didn't make it back from Scotland until about a week into November. We had Thanksgiving and celebrated how thankful we are for our lives and for each other. We put together a tree that all together weighs less than two pounds! Easy to take between places since we move around so much. The tree skirt is my scarf :) A few days later, Brett left for Turkey. He was in Istanbul and then went to Ukraine where he explored Kiev and Chernobyl! Post coming from him soon. We spent alot of time with our friends from Moncofa, too! We had dinner with them in Valencia and also strolled around an age old Christmas market in Castellon!
A grateful and thankful Thanksgiving in Spain
Southwest quesadillas, vegan chili (Brett's fave), cauliflower bites, mashed potatoes, & PB cookies!
Ollie with our homely Christmas tree!
Brett exploring Ukraine! Ollie and I sure missed him.
Enjoying a night out with friends! They came to visit us for dinner and a night out at our new home in Valencia!
Brett, Yolanda, Carlos and Angel! This was at the Feria de Navidad en Castillon
December I kicked off December with my friend Malorie and her cousin, Ali in Barcelona! I was so excited to be back in Barcelona. I truly love that city and getting to go back and revisit some of my favorite places was a real treat. In particular, I love Parc Guell. It's the best place for a sunset in all of Barcelona! After Barcelona, we headed for Porto, Portugal where we had an awesome time! I will do an individual post on these ladies because it was seriously a trip to remember! Once I got back, Brett and I did Christmas together before we left Ollie with his sitter and headed for Rome for the New Year! We spent a week there with my cousins from Texas and made so many great memories! It was so good to see them over here. It was also the first of many international trips for them! John and Paige, we love you!
My friend and fellow world traveller, Malorie! Below, we are pictured with her cousin, Ali at the Sagrada Familia. A recent cancer survivor and new friend of mine!
John and Paige after a day of exploring The Vatican City!
2018, we loved you so, SO much.
Here's to an even better (if that's possible) 2019 filled with even more memories that we will cherish for a lifetime!
In 2018, I took much more time out to cook good, wholesome, plant based meals, look at myself a little better, talk to myself a little nicer and go on crazy adventures with my husband and our Oliver. I wouldn't have had it any other way.