About six years ago, in June of 2012, I watched "Forks over Knives," a documentary that advocates a whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle, with a friend. The next day, I gave everything in my apartment that wasn't vegan to my parents, and that was that. Danny was in Bangladesh for six weeks at the time, and each week when we Skyped, he asked if I was still eating vegan. I always said yes, and years later, it was still the case.
If I had to think of one word to describe our week in Southend-on-Sea, I might use "quiet." Quiet in the best way possible, though. We came directly from Madrid, where our final days were full of packing, cleaning, and just a pinch of chaos (that any international move can involve).
Hello from Worthing, England! We left Spain two and a half weeks ago and are really excited to be spending this month in southern England, dog sitting, visiting friends, and seeing more of this sometimes-sunny country! We've focused all of our previous visits on London, so it's been great to see some other towns and areas (although we have already snuck in a quick weekend to the capital...it's the greatest city in the world, how could we not?!).
I've been living outside of my 'home' country for two and a half years now and have visited 26 countries - I wouldn't seem like a person who really is afraid to try new things, right? Well, yes and no. Not long ago, Danny and I got talking about the idea that when it comes to life and, well, pretty much everything, most things aren't really that bad when you take the plunge and give them a shot. Whether we're talking about cliff jumping into clear seas in Greece or quitting your job and moving to a new country - it's all much scarier until you just start and get going. Once you start jumping off the cliff, it's not so bad! And once you start telling your boss about your new adventure and they get excited for you too, you realize, why was I freaked out about this? Why did I spend all that time worried and worked up about nothing?
As our remaining time in Spain quickly comes to a close, not only are we working to cross things off our ever-growing to-do list of cleaning and packing tasks, but I've also got a small but (equally?) important list of things I'd like to see and do one last time around Madrid. One of those things was a day trip to Ávila, a small town northwest of Madrid that we visited during our first fall in Spain (November 2015, actually, which sounds like forever ago now!). Three of the best day trips from Madrid are, in our opinion, Segovia, Toledo, and Ávila, and while we've been to the first two multiple times, for one reason or another, we'd never returned to Ávila.
Exactly a year ago, we were in the middle of an 11-day road trip around the South of France. It was an absolutely massive undertaking to plan, inspired by cheap flights from Madrid to Toulouse and Lonely Planet's France's Best Trips book. I pieced together many of the different road trip itineraries in the book and added in some additional stops based on blogs and sites I'd read online. The final plan was very ambitious and had us covering quite a bit of southern France, but the end result was...fabulous (if I do say so myself). Now, when I think about going anywhere in Europe on vacation, a few places come to mind, and the South of France is without a doubt at the top of that list.
As I'm sure you've deduced from the title of the post, this is it! Our "what's next" and "adios to Spain" post that was bound to eventually make it's way to the pages of this blog. Two weeks from today we'll lock our apartment door for the last time, take the bus to the airport, and this (mostly) sunny chapter of our lives will come to an end. I honestly can hardly believe I'm typing this all up (and I'm getting a little choked up right now doing so), but for so many reasons, the time is right for us to start something new.
Like so many Americans, we get excited about a good castle. Sure, there's some in the U.S., but they're pretty different than what you can find in Europe, and they just don't feel like the real deal to me. When we visited Munich, a day trip to arguably the world's most famous castle was a priority for me - after all, it's not all that tricky to reach, and we'd certainly be in good company: 1.4 million people visit a year, so we pretty much just had to follow the crowds.
We began our two-week central European trip in Munich, Germany, and after spending time in Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia, we returned to Germany for a few days before flying back to Madrid. Aside from one day, which we spent celebrating our wedding anniversary (see more here!), we used the other two to take day trips out of the city.
Last summer I did two posts on recipes that we'd tried out and had especially liked over the past school year. I broke it into two parts, breakfast and dinner and dessert, and shared photos, reviews, and links to the recipes. This year we've continued eating those recipes I talked about last summer (in fact, all of the dinner recipes from last July are still in our current rotation!), but I haven't stopped adding new ones to the mix either. Here's a roundup of our latest and greatest (we've tried at least 15+ others that I'm not listing here, although you can find them and a short review I wrote about them on this Pinterest board - it's where I collect every recipe we've tried out - at least if it has an internet home!), grouped by breakfast, dinner, and dessert. Sorry the dessert category is extra light this time - I guess we've really taken it easy in that area, or else we've just been repeating old favorites (probably the latter!).
Visiting Varaždin was never on our itinerary, in fact, I'd never even heard of it until the day before we went. We stopped at the tourist information office inside of the bus station after we arrived in Zagreb and asked for advice on easy day trips from the city, and we were given a great little softcover book full of ideas. My initial thought had been Trakošćan Castle, but after finding out that it was indeed pretty tricky to reach via public transit (I'd heard similar things online, which is why I wanted to check in person), we looked into other options like Plitvice Lakes National Park but nixed that after seeing how limited and pricey transport options were.
We visited Zagreb for two days at the end of our Christmas and New Year's trip around central Europe. Our trip began in Munich, continued on to Salzburg, Ljubljana, and then to Zagreb, and from there we spent another few days in Munich before heading back to Madrid. Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, and it was our first time in both the city and the country, so although we didn't get lots of time in either, we were excited!
If there's one thing I'm not, it's an early adopter. It's not that I think I am, but I'm not, I know I'm not on the edge of all things new, cool, and hip.
When Danny and I first started using Airbnb, I felt like we were among the first of our friends and family to give it a shot, and however true that may be, we certainly weren't among its first users - after all, Airbnb got its start in 2008, but we didn't book our first stay until the summer of 2014.
We stayed in (and spent most of our time in) four different cities while we made a circle around central Europe over Christmas and New Year's, beginning and ending in Munich, Germany. From each of those cities, we took at least one day trip - from Munich we went to Neuschwanstein, from Salzburg we went to Hallstatt, from Ljubljana we went to Lake Bled, and so on.
If you looked at the title of this post and thought, "Huh? Ljub- what?"...you're not alone. Ljubljana (pronounced lyoo-BLYAH-nah) isn't somewhere that was ever on our list of places to visit, or to be really honest, somewhere we even knew existed prior to a few months ago.
Maybe not too unlike yourself, I find myself on the internet for one reason or another...basically all the time. Maybe I'm getting on for one thing, say searching for a particular recipe, but before I know it, I find that I'm reading about North Korea. Or I could be opening up a new tab to start working out in the morning, and remember that I 'need' to check on this, that, or the other, and before you know it, I'm reading about the royals. So here I am to share the latest and greatest I've stumbled upon in the past few weeks - some funny, some interesting, and no politics (although no promises for future posts). ;)
Hallstatt was one of the places that I'd seen photos of online but never really thought we'd ever make it to. It's not a big town by any stretch of the imagination (less than 1,000 people, I think), meaning it wouldn't be a destination for us in and of itself, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's a popular day trip from Salzburg. Thus, when we decided to spend time in Salzburg over Christmas, we built in some time for checking out this tourist mecca.
When I was researching things to see and do in Salzburg, I came across Untersberg mountain and the cable car that carries visitors to the top of it for most of the year. I was almost finished with our itinerary, and it was pretty museum, cathedral, and Christmas market-heavy, so I jumped at the chance to ascend a peak with snowy trails, views, and a restaurant at the top, especially since it was so close to Salzburg.
In November, Danny and I took a (long) walk to another one of Madrid's museums after I read about the Museo del Romanticismo's particularly nice cafe. Perhaps I was feeling inspired by a recent tea-and-treats meeting with a friend at a beautiful pastry shop, but I was hoping to find something not too different from the stunning places to eat at the Victoria & Albert in London, or the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, just on a slightly lower level.
While we were in Salzburg, something that we absolutely "had to do" was a Sound of Music tour of some sort. Now, I have to say, this was also something I really tried to get out of. We read blogs about "Self-Guided Sound of Music Tours," both those by foot and by car, and we poured over reviews about guided tours offered as well. I was skeptical - despite the fact that I was given the Sound of Music one year for Christmas (by Danny, I might add), I'm really not its biggest fan.
Hi! We're Danny and Shannon, and we are the Everetts! A couple years ago, we quit our jobs in the States and moved to Madrid, Spain as English teachers. This blog chronicles some travels, some lessons learned, and some everyday life.