My 2014 Travel Roundup

2014 will be a year that marked just as many beginnings as it did ends. It’s a year that I can’t decide whether or not it goes in the win tally or not, as I just crossed one destination off of my Spain wish list, and a major purchase left me in financial shambles. After a successful 2013, both professionally and in travel, 2014 passed quickly with several small trips in Spain, a life-changing sojourn in India and several personal victories.

sunshine and siestas 2014 Travel

But, ugh, my passport isn’t getting enough exercise lately, thanks to the end of financial whimsy and the beginning of a shared future.


My year in travel started with a huge face palm: After a nine-day Danube cruse with my parents – and stopping in Slovakia, my 31st country – I was looking forward to ringing in 2014 with the Novio and his family in Madrid. Instead, my plane was rerouted to Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

spanish airport departure board

Instead of eating my twelve grapes, I spent hours trying to find a way back to Spain, finally paying a local to drive me over the Romania-Budapest border to catch a plane the next morning. I began 2014 with two freshly minted passport stamps, 300€ less and a story of bad travel luck.

Read More: My Biggest Travel Fiasco


metro of Madrid

Being a short month, I only escaped to Madrid one rainy weekend for a baby shower. I have a deep-rooted love for the Spanish capital, so roaming a new neighborhood while snacking on tortilla is always a good way to spend a weekend.

Plus, there is thai food in Madrid.

Read More: Rainy Days in Madrid


By far the busiest travel month of the year, I spent nearly every weekend away from Seville.

the village of Carmona Spain

I took my friend Phyllis to nearby Carmona, with its beautifully preserved Roman ruins and towering churches, for a day. Carmona makes a perfect little day trip from the capital because of its proximity and the fact that it’s so darn picturesque. We pounded the pavement and visited several small chapels before tucking into local sweets.

The following weekend, I took advantage of a free Vueling flight to visit my friend Julie on Tenerife. Though the island is a haven for sun-seeing Northern Europeans, Julie and her boyfriend have made the less-touristy north their home. They took me all-around the island, from hiking the Teide volcano to eating at local wineries, called guachinches

Tenerife Road Trip - The View from Las Teresitas

And finally, a week later, I cashed in on a contest win in Trujillo, medieval city in Extremadura hat is considered to be the cradle of conquistadors. Using the luxurious Trujillo Villas as our home base, we explored the Yuste and Guadalupe Monasteries, along with the hidden gem of Garganta la Olla

Read more: Carmona, the perfect day trip from Seville | A Tenerife Road Trip | Trujillo Villas


My ten days off for Holy Week is always a welcome respite from work, but especially because it gives me a great window of time to explore Europe. While our plan was to enjoy a Berlin springtime and perhaps jet to Poland for a few days, an internet search yielded reasonable plane tickets a little further afield – Hayley and I headed to India.

Learning by doing in India - Taj Mahal

It took us well over a day to get there – five hours overnight to Madrid, two flights, a bus transfer and another flight up to Delhi – but it was worth it once we’d gotten our sea legs (only to be replaced by Delhi Belly..ugh). We spent eight days between bustling Delhi, smelly and cramped Agra, soulful Jaipur and muggy Mumbai.

In short, I loved it, and can’t way to go back.

driving a tuk tuk in India

I have so many more stories to tell of India – it’s been on my heart and mind since our business class ride back to Europe.

Read more about India: The Dream of India | Learning by Watching and Doing | Should I Ride an Elephant in India? | The Colors of India


sunset over porto montenegro

While my cousin was visiting in late May, we received a phone call from my mother, asking us to say goodbye to our beloved, if slightly mischievous, grandfather. Those were hard days, being so far away from home, but a week home to be with my family after his passing helped me out things into perspective in the face of my 29th birthday – and soon afterwards, wedding planning began.

Another end. Another beginning.

Read more: Grieving as an Expat


new house

Just after returning from the US, the Novio and I signed a mortgage on our new house. This is the ultimate end (of my freedom to travel, to buy clothes and to eat out all the time) and the beginning of a new stage of my life. 


July was a weird month – moving into a cavern of a house, having my bank account frozen for 13 days (if that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is) and having my sister and her now fiancé visit us. We spent a few days around Seville, mostly eating and drinking and eating more.

family travel in Southern Spain

And for the first time in five years, I didn’t head to Galicia for summer camp. Instead, I co-wrote an eBook on Moving to Spain and showed the Novio around the Midwest.

Read more: all of my posts on Galicia and La Coruña | Culture Shock in My Own Country

August – December

When I checked into the Madrid-Barajas airport before Christmas, the warning said it all – It’s been four months since you’ve checked in at an airport. A sad reality when you’re a homeowner struggling to budget after four years of rent-free living.


I have escaped back to Madrid for another soggy weekend, spent some time in Valladolid visiting my host family, and have managed a few small day trips to places like Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas, El Puerto de Santa María, San Nicolás and Ávila, but my browser history shows no travel sites or booking portals. 2015 has me dreaming of a honeymoon, or at least a trip away somewhere with my husband-to-be.

As I write, I’m sitting in our Condo in Copper Mountain, Colorado. Mountains truly feed my soul, and getting back on the slopes after six years has my legs fried but my heart happy. After spending eight Christmases in five countries and seven cities, I’d say we’re leaving behind our childhood traditions for a new one: TRAVEL.

Looking ahead


photo by Chrystl Roberge Photography

I don’t have any big things locked in for 2015, but I am looking forward to a new year and what it will bring: turning 30 and marrying the Novio. I’m a follower of the School of Let’s Have an Adventure, so I’m pretty confident that I won’t need an excuse to jump in Pequeño Monty and chase one down.

What was your most memorable travel memory this year, and what’s on your schedule for 2015? 

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English language academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. I’ve just published one of these too! It’s a great idea to reflect on the year’s travels. Buying a house is a pretty good reason to scale back on travel, and it’s a great long-term investment, but must be frustrating in the short-term. The good thing about living in Spain is that at least plenty of budget day trips & weekend breaks are possible. That said, India looks great as a far-flung destination!
    Kate – Oh hello Spain recently posted..Oh Hello Spain 2014 Travel Roundup: The Take 12 Trips challengeMy Profile

    • Enjoyed yours, as well! I may have to scale back, but it’s making me look at short trips a bit more. I’d love to get back to Málaga and Mérida.

  2. Can’t wait for the big things to come for you in 2015 :)

  3. You missed the pinnacle of the cruise which was meeting us in Vienna.
    Talon recently posted..Uber and a hefty dose of perspectiveMy Profile

  4. Sympathies – like you, we didn’t do nearly enough traveling in 2014. We did make a short trip to Panama and Ecuador (to retrieve the stuff we had to leave behind when Ecuador kicked us out). Our favorite travel memory comes from bonding with our former landlords while we were in Cuenca. We now have an open invitation to stay with them whenever we return. Can’t wait to do that–and show them what we look like, now that we’ve lost all this weight!
    Linda Bibb recently posted..2014 in Review: How We Lost 170 PoundsMy Profile

  5. As a traveler who just got married in September, let me tell you that once you get to married, everything sort of seems to free up again! Just got back from the theater – the first show we’ve seen since we got engaged well over a year ago despite the fact that going to shows is one of our favorite dates! Enjoy the engagement period – congratulations! But know that on the other side some of your “freedom” comes back. :) Our best trip of 2014 was our honeymoon in western Ireland. One trip in 2015 will be 10 days in Spain with my best friend for her birthday!
    Erin recently posted..Race Report: A Christmas Story 10kMy Profile

  6. Excited to follow your adventures in 2015! Maybe one of them will include a side-trip to Úbeda? 😉 Hahahaha no worries, I’m sure you’re gonna be trying to stay as far away as possible from the olive groves this spring. Let me know when you’re swinging by there—I’d love to hear you take on the region 😀
    Trevor Huxham recently posted..Photo Post: Santiago de Compostela’s Belvís ParkMy Profile

    • YES I must! It’s the place I’m most wanting to go, though I just booked a trip to Barcelona later this month to see a friend, and I’m hoping to see my cousin sometime before she leaves. I may have to push the trip back until late summer, but I will go!!

      Where are you headed?

      • Oooh yay so excited that *you’re* excited about Jaén ^_^ But yeah, April through June is a big no-no for us allergic folks. Otherwise it’s great!

        I just booked flights and hostels last night for trips to Avignon, Cologne, and Girona—ending the year with a bang! Are you doing another planned-trips blog post for 2015?
        Trevor Huxham recently posted..The 4 Churches of Santiago de Compostela’s “Skyline”My Profile

      • Sadly, I am having buyer’s remorse on the house when I think about how it will limit my travel! I am in Madrid now, will head to Barcelona later this month, and just signed on to a blog trip over Semana Santa to Romania. No other plans so far!

  7. Mine was probably snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef; and in 2015 I’m looking forward to visiting Japan for the first time!
    NZ Muse recently posted..Street food in Auckland: District FiveMy Profile

  8. “I don’t have any big things locked in for 2015.” Isn’t getting married considered a big thing? I mean, you’ve been planning this for awhile right? I kind of consider that a big thing!

    I feel you with the limited budget. I didn’t buy a house but I am now renting an apartment in Manhattan (still don’t really believe it when I say it). Which I mean, it was high time to move out of my parents’ but it severely limits me doing anything. Then I spent more money than I wanted to at the eye doctor’s replacing my eyeglass frame… Unfortunately real life responsibilities beckon now. We can still travel–it just takes a lot of planning and saving.
    amelie88 recently posted..Living the Life of a Bachelor StallionMy Profile

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