#My7Links: A look at the archives

Fellow Hispanophile and Sevilla resident Kim of Becoming Sevillana nominated me to take part in the My 7 Links project from Tripbase that has been sweeping the blogging community. Kudos to the Tripbase group for such an awesome idea! Thanks to this phenomenon I’ve had the chance to read some excellent excerpts from some of my favorite bloggers, highlighting everything from the most beautiful to the most controversial. As for me, it’s an unexpected way to unearth some old posts and see what I’ve been sounding off about since May 2009.

Edinburgh, Scotland


My most beautiful post

Walking in a Winter (Scot)land

This was my first CouchSurfing endeavor, and also my first time in Scotland. At the time I was jonesing really hard for some old -fashioned Christmas and Spain was just not doing the trick. There was no snow. There were no decorations. And where the hell is the eggnog? When my friend Brett and I chose to go to Scotland for a quick weekend, we were taking advantage of a cheap flight and a free couch. We were rewarded with crisp, clean air and a snow-covered holiday paradise. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was beautiful.


My most popular post

Immigration Office: Part One

Written in October 2010 this post is all about my battle with Spanish bureaucracy and an attractive immigration officer who takes pity on me. I spent a day and a half completing the application process required for my NIE (numero de identificación). It’s not every day you can write about a tall, dark & handsome man who buys you ice cream when the internet goes bust. I will never forget this one!

Although I can’t take credit for this visual recreation, this YouTube video does a great job showcasing the red-tape scenario in Spain.


My most controversial post

I don’t do fútbol

As an American expat on Spanish soil, I was in the wrong place to declare that I don’t give a fig about fútbol. That is to say, soccer. I will watch a 14-inning baseball game (if my team is playing). I will coach loudly from the couch during March Madness. I will play volleyball until I collapse on the gym floor. But soccer? I’m busy. This? Este es controversia.

Pack it up, pack it in


My most helpful post

Conspiracy Theory

PACKING. Antoine de Saint Exupéry said “He who would travel happily must travel light.” Only a man could say this. A man with very few material possessions and a tiny closet. I try to be helpful in all of my posts, commenting on restaurants and hotels – the good, the bad and the epic. But here the problem was packing. Packing for a year abroad, to be specific. I talked about my own trials and decisions and praised several online resources that begged me to reconsider that pile of jeans. In the days leading up to my departure I followed up with Pack it Up, Pack it In and quoted the blogging maven behind Twenty Something Travel: “I’d rather go naked than make another change.”


A post whose success surprised me

On being a tourist in my own country

Truth be told, I needed to write this post. I had just come home from a year abroad in Europe and all things familiar were feeling foreign and confusing. When your native language doesn’t slip off your tongue like it should and your house may not in fact be your true home, it can be a startling experience. Turns out a lot of you have felt the same way when returning from various ports of call. What a great response.. thank you.


A post I feel didn’t get the attention it deserved

Sustainable Study Abroad


This is about how studying abroad rocked my world. Rocked my world so thoroughly that I switched gears from international business to international education and plowed full speed ahead into a graduate program, a travel agenda and a lifelong pursuit of education outside of the comfort zone. It also talks about how I made the move ALONE – a big deal for a 20 year old American female. As SoloTraveler can tell you, it can be one of the most profound experiences of your life.

With Love from Pennsylvania

The post that I am proudest of

With Love from Pennsylvania

This post did not break any records or blaze any trails. It is probably not my best writing or even my most creative. So what gives? I’m proud of this project, and the post is just a by-product. This past school year I worked with a friend in Pennsylvania to match up approx 250 high school students to launch a Transatlantic pen pal project. This post is about my Spanish students’ first reactions to receiving mail from their American pen pals. Our practiced their second language on pen and paper, writing hard copy letters to their overseas pen pals. Jess and I recently sat down over tapas and compared notes on the experience. Our students gained so much from the project, and forged friendships over distance and time. This, to me, is incredible. Thank you, Jess – desde mis alumnos y yo!

Now I’ll pass the torch to a few of my favorites. Here are my nominations:

  • Sevilla-based American expat Cat of Sunshine & Siestas .. currently working in northern Spain
  • Native Californian Natalie of The Rain in Spain .. recovering and reflecting from a year in Galicia
  • A Midwesterner gone Hungary, Jessica from Budajest .. my travel savior in Eastern Europe
  • My new tweeting friend Marco from 25dollartravel .. traveling like a rock star on the cheap
  • Canadian journalist, traveler, and author Caitlin from Broadside Blog .. writing about everything under the sun

to pack [or] not to pack?

Destination: Costa Rica
Duration: 10 days

Antoine de Saint Exupéry: He who would travel happily must travel light.

Once upon a time in Valencia, Spain – I learned the necessity of packing light. I had been sick as a dog the previous month and my ribs ached from coughing repeatedly. Ironically, the trip was one of my favorites, but I believe I’ve blocked out the first 6 hours of the day where my friend Thao and I walked around with backpacks on, without rest. You see we did not have a car, or a hotel, because there was a huge festival going on and we were, as the Spanish sometimes do, flying by the seat of our pants. Despite the adrenaline rush and the amazingness of the day – I cannot forget that beast of a backpack. What a burden! My back hurt, my legs ached, my ribs screamed. Rest assured that the next weekend found me with a far lighter bag, having left the majority of my material possessions safely at my señoras home, back in Granada.

Now when I travel for long weekends, I typically plan on taking a carry-on. Yes, this is a pain with the 3 oz liquid rules, but after an argument in Chicago O’Hare, I’m not likely to make the mistake of trying to transport anything larger. On domestic trips, my Vera Bradley weekender makes sense: a beautifully crafted duffel bag that I don’t mind schlepping around. Granted, I have no intention of moving that bag further than overhead-airport-destination-repeat. In the case of my trip to Costa Rica, I set out to find a backpack that suited my needs. I ended up with the Kelty Redwing 2650 – a sizable investment that I hope will serve me well. The selling point for me was that the Kelty specs outshone the competitors – where most others had only 8-10″ depth, this model is 22 x 16 x 14.

In my quest for the perfect bag – I stumbled on OneBag.com: The Art & Science of Travelling Light. The author has been dubbed a “Carry-on maven” (WSJ) and the “go-light guru” (Times). She has some really insightful tips on packing that go above and beyond a simple packing list. If you’re wondering how to survive a vacation without checking a bag, give this site a look. As Microsoft Money says .. “save money– and your back”.

More on the contents later … light enough to survive the in-country flights that boast a 30 lb carry-on limit per passenger :)