one step at a time…

personal: places lived 1

Places lived, 1970-1975, USA

Scrolling through Twitter not long ago, I found an account by a Canadian guy who lives in Japan. He’s celebrating turning 50 by going through boxes of his possessions that have just arrived by boat & posting the contents online… an interesting way to look back before reaching a milestone. I’ll turn 50 this year as well! The exciting combo of lockdown + unemployment gave me time to organize all my photos by year. Task complete, so I thought of this series: a look back at all the places I’ve lived. This will take several posts because I’ve moved around a lot, but feel free to come along…

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guidebook research 2020

atención, coronavirus, Sevilla

Oh, what could have been. After the Rick Steves reunion in January, the book department & I began working on my research schedule for this year. I’d expressed a desire to do more book work in 2020… although not as well paid as guiding tours, I love the flexibility + the opportunity to add my own text (when approved!). Rick has the final say in all his guidebooks, but the collaborative publishing effort every year is great fun. COVID-19 put an end to those plans. However, I’m not one to break tradition, so I thought I’d share what might have been an incredible research year.

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recipe: gazpacho

recipe, gazpacho, Spain

After spending so much time cooking during quarantine, I’ve decided to post more recipes. Usually I’m on the road so I post about those experiences but this year has been, well, different. And every attempt to reproduce Spanish & Portuguese recipes gives me that much more insight into Iberian culture. Note: Every recipe I post works. I often try a few times to get flavors exactly how I like them. So consider these posts as a base to start exploring Iberian cooking… then you do you.

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lisboa: as varinas

Portugal, Lisboa, Lisbon, varinas, poster

As a tour guide, I’m interested in how the destinations I teach others about were marketed or imagined before I came around. What identifies these places to locals as well as to visitors? Travel posters from Argentina, Spain & Portugal during the mid-20th century revealed part of the story; however, one particular image stands out because of its absence today… the women who sold fish in Lisbon: as varinas.

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portugal: tile reproductions

Azulejos, tiles, vector

The estado de alarma & subsequent quarantine due to COVID-19 gave me time to return to an old hobby: making vector reproductions of Portuguese tile panels. While I’ve never been much of an artist, copying has always come easy… perhaps a result of how I visualize the world & see detail. Whatever the reason, immersing myself in azulejos for a few hours each week gave me some much-needed distraction from what was happening in the world.

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personal: becoming a tour guide

Robert Wright, Rick Steves, tour, Portugal, 2018
• Telling the tragic love story of Pedro & Inês inside the monastery complex of Alcobaça, Portugal · 2018

Help me celebrate a very special anniversary: my first tour as lead guide with Rick Steves twenty years ago. I’d hoped to invite tour members to a surprise party right now, but coronavirus has us in quarantine around the world. At least we can raise a toast together online! To commemorate these past two decades, I thought I’d answer in detail one of the most-asked questions for every guide: how did you get started with Rick? Get comfy cuz this is the long version…

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sevilla: semana santa, favorite moments

Andalucía, Sevilla, Semana Santa, Holy Week

With Holy Week on hold due to coronavirus, there’s no better time to relive some of my favorite moments from previous years. Sure, the Vatican may allow a grand procession after quarantine is over & there’s even talk of celebrating Semana Santa in September. Whatever. Festivities should have begun today. It’s a moment many sevillanos look forward to all year long, including me. Although I’m not Catholic & was raised in an agnostic home, Semana Santa transcends religion. This week also celebrates a sense of community, an end of the winter blues & of course, rebirth. We can all relate to that. A couple years ago after the Christmas season ended on Epiphany, I told my husband, “We’ve got to start getting ready for Holy Week!” He laughed & joked, “That’s the most sevillano thing you’ve ever said.” Tag along with us during a normal year…

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lisboa: cais das colunas

Casi das Colunas, 1950s

One of Lisbon’s most iconic viewpoints, not even the 1755 earthquake could destroy this majestic point of entry into the capital of Portugal. The royal palace disappeared forever, but the public square retained its shape during reconstruction… although sporting a new name. Recently the columns returned with “Salazar” cleaned up for all to see. That polemic decision allows visitors & residents alike to engage in a dialogue with Portugal’s recent history.

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sevilla: monumento al sagrado corazón de jesús

España, Spain, Andalucía, Sevilla, San Juan de Aznalfarache, Sagrado Corazón, monumento

Perched on a hilltop with commanding views over the Guadalquivir Valley, the Monumento al Sagrado Corazón de Jesús reigns over Sevilla’s suburbs. Its tall tower in San Juan de Aznalfarache forms part of a larger complex & is often visible on the way to either IKEA, El Corte Inglés or Leroy Merlin… all those special trips. Obviously from the Franco era due to its scale & size, the monument followed part of a worldwide Catholic trend of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus & was sponsored by the cardinal-archbishop of Sevilla, Pedro Segura y Sáez.

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year in review: 2019

2019, travel, year in review
● Where was I? Spain, Portugal, USA, & Italy

Here we go again! As always, I write this for personal reasons but you’re welcome to revisit the past year with me. Full of new destinations, new challenges & very little free time. Par for the course.

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