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year in review: 2018

2018, travel, year in review
● Where was I? Spain & Portugal

Here we go again! As always, I write this for personal reasons, but you’re welcome to revisit the past year with me. Ahhhh, looks can be deceiving. From the above graph, you might think I stayed at home more than last year. Well, kinda but not really…

As promised, I requested a more relaxed tour schedule for 2018: only Spain & Portugal, no Basque Country, no Barcelona-Madrid, no other tours of any kind. In the end I did 4 Portugal & 3 Spain trips, more or less grouped together. But guidebook research threw things off a bit. I usually do research in March or April; however, this year I updated the entire Portugal book during the month of July… ou seja, with hordes of tourists + the beginning of record heat wave. Fun times. While this schedule gave me an unprecedented six months off to work on personal projects (November 2017—April 2018), basically I had to be on duty from April until October, with the exception of August.

In the realm of continuing education, I returned to university for the first time since 1997 & completed an online course about the Alhambra from the Universidad de Granada. Got those 3 credits with a 10.0 on the final! I also helped the office scout out locations in Córdoba & Montilla for an upcoming Andalucía tour. Let’s just say that work kept me really busy again this year.

What’s that?! With an insane amount of travel in 2017, Rafa & I decided that we wouldn’t be taking a major trip this year. But we were able to enjoy time together before or after tours in Portugal (our first time in Porto together) as well as take a few day trips from home (Écija & Osuna). Even though I haven’t explored Sevilla as much as I’d like, Rafa & I have done some nice walks around the city. I’m sure we’ll take more trips next year both near & far.

As one more step in setting up life in Spain, I received a much-treasured health care card ¡Olé! I also spent as much time as I could in the kitchen trying out recipes. Total therapy. I focused on the soup department with sopa de ajo, caldo verde & creme de cenoura. All are now home standards. I also did an entire Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever… a challenge from Rafa! We semi-adopted a calico street cat in August, feeding her twice a day. A neighbor now cares for her, so we still get to visit & often see her wandering around the barrio.

2018 turned out to be super emotional as far as family goes. A small box of items that belonged to my dad arrived after he passed away last year. Turns out I had a step-mom I never knew about! Surprise, surprise. All my mom’s stuff from Iowa arrived in March, & I’ve been slowly going through each card, letter & photo. Seems like it will take forever. Finally, my uncle died in October just as I finished my last tour. That means of all my US family, only my aunt is left. That’s it.

Both blogs—this one & AfterLife—saw a big increase in activity, with 14 posts each. That’s a lot of writing & planning ahead, especially given my hectic work schedule. AfterLife even got a redesign & a new template for the first time in 11 years. I removed the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos Android app from sale because I had no time to learn new code for updates, but I’m thrilled it was out there for awhile. A preliminary version of the Catholic heritage guide to Lisbon was released in January, with the final version just finished last week. 38 more pages of text & about 25 new illustrations… all this year! Whew. I’ll place it for sale next month after a brief trip to Lisboa to check a few details.

Endless Mile, Catholic heritage guide, contact sheet

Fulfilling. I’ve been able to reconnect with old friends, dig into my family’s past, complete several long-term projects, increase my knowledge about Spain & Portugal, almost get the apartment cozy how we want it & consider interesting plans for the future. Being married two years now to a fantastic guy certainly helped. While work got out of control at times this year, in general, things seem to be coming together after so much craziness. Fingers crossed!

Priorities for 2019 are balance & closure. As always, I hope to strike that elusive balance between work & home. I’ve already asked for less tours next year in order to focus on life at home more. Maybe that’s the key. For the first time in 24 years (!) I have all my personal possessions in one spot. In 2019 I’ll be able to finish boxing up the past & put more effort into focusing on the future. I’ve also decided to give printing a go for Endless Mile guides. The process is easier than I’d imagined, & seeing my guides in physical form has been a goal since EM began in 2011. Next year seems like a big turning point, & I’m excited to get started! Have a fantastic new year!

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