My Travel Round Up from the First Six Months of 2013

My parents, upon my high school graduation (10 years ago…thank you, Atlantic Ocean, for existing and putting distance between me and my fellow Tigers just this once!) gave me a heartfelt speech about how I was always the child who never learned how to walk. I went from spitting up on myself to running, just like I went from college to globetrotter four years later.

There was no better way to start my year than ringing in 2013 with my familia and cousin Christyn in Puerta del Sol. The first six months of the year have been busy (but the good kind), fruitful and happy. I’ve been able to sneak in some travel, my 30th country and finish a master’s in the process.


After a trip to Barcelona with my parents and taking various day trips around Catalonia, I returned to work absolutely pooped and with zero ganas to move forward. The chilly weather and the extra responsibility of becoming a training Director of Studies was a lot of work, but the great people at Almohalla 51, Myles and David, allowed Hayley and I to come stay with them at their newly-opened boutique hotel in Archidona.

I also looked forward to having the Novio home from his duty abroad. As a late anniversary present, I took him to eat our way through Florence and Bologna. In between bites, we checked out the sites along the Arno, drank copious amounts of espresso and Moretti beer and befriended a Venetian named Peppino. Buona manggia, sí señor!


February was quiet, though Angela and Ryan of Jets Like Taxis joined me on a colorful trip to Cordoba. I chalk it up to being a short month.


As the trimester wound down, I began to get geared up for my Semana Santa trip to Dubrovnik and Montenegro. Hayley, my Spanish media naranja, and I walked the impressive city walls in Dubrovnik while refueling on cevapi, a spiced sausage sandwich and drinking in the views and local beers at Buza Bar (despite its obnoxious advertising).

After a few days in the Pearl of the Adriatic, we took a bus across the border to Montenegro, which was my 30th country. While  the weather wasn’t stellar, we were charmed by Europe’s youngest country. The friendly people, the free wi-fi and the views of our roadtrip around the Bay of Kotor made for a rejuvenating week.


April showers seemed to have brought Feria heat – we sweated right through our flamenco dresses, and I think my right bicep is now twice as large as its twin from all of that fan flicking. I even broke some of my own rules when it came to stalking around the Real!

Just the week before, I had gone up to Madrid (if only I had a euro for every maldito trip I’ve made to la Capital…) to visit my sister-in-law, Nathàlia, and pick up my new car, Pequeño Monty. Nath is Brasilian but did her degree in Alcalá de Henares, city of Miguel de Cervantes fame, so she showed me around her town known for its university and free tapas.


Luckily for this guiri, the usual May weather was nowhere to be found, so we got some respite from the heat. Meg and I drank rebujito at the Feria de Jerez, a lite version of Sevile’s famous fête where you don’t get trampled by horses, and we bounced between a Mexican-themed caseta and a biker bar. Toto, We’re not in Sevilla anymore. The following day, I continued the fiesta in the Novio’s village at their Romeria de San Diego, a booze-soaked picnic in the middle of the dehesa.

A week later, I attended my first blog trip to Calpe, a small fishing village that has capitalized on the tourism boom from nearby Benidorm. Despite the hotels popping up along the beach, Calpe is laid-back yet bursting with energy. We were treated to tons of water-related activities, including paddle surfing and betting on our lunch at the Lonja de Pescado.


During the first weekend of June, I had to make a trip to Madrid for mandatory camp meetings and Camino dealings. I met with Pablo, Fernando and Alex of Caser Expat Insurance, who are helping me make my Camino For the Kids a reality. I even got my feet checked out by the team at Podoactiva, the same people who outfit professional athletes with their shoes.

The Novio and I snuck in a day at the beach, and my mom came to stay for a week in the last sweltering week of June. I was extremely busy with my master’s and preparing for summer camp. Apart from showing her my favorite restaurants and rincones of Seville, we also made it to Jerez to see the horse show, to Doñana for a horse ride through Mazagón, and San Nicolás del Puerto, where she got to meet the Novio’s mother and ride their prized mare, Orgiva.

I am happy to say that I have very few travel plans at the moment for the second half of the year, save slinging tomatoes at the Tomatina with Kelly in August and Oktoberfest with my cousins in late September – I need a break after a year of turning my blog into a business, completing a master’s in a second language and starting a new job. Sunshine? Yes. Siesta? POR FAVOR. 

Don’t forget that I’ll be back at camp in July, and then walking close to 320km to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer patients back home on the Camino de Santiago. Please follow #CaminoFTK on twitter or instagram for more information. Sunshine and Siestas is also accepting guest posts during this time, so please send your stories and photos from Spain!

What were your travel highlights of the first six months of the year?

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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 works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. No wonder you’re tired!

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I’ve found time to sneak in naps these last two days – finally feeling normal again, and as soon as the camp is set up and ready to go, I’ll be able to snooze at the playa!

  2. Next up, Oktoberfest!!
    Alex @ ifs ands & butts recently posted..keep dreamin’: cyprus.My Profile

  3. Woo! That’s a lot of traveling!

    I miiiight be at the Tomatina this year too. Have you gone before?
    Jessica of HolaYessica recently posted..Why Do I Always Get Sick After Traveling?My Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I haven’t been before, though I have been in several food fights before! Let me know if you’re going, for sure! We’re staying in Valencia and have both been, so we’ll be doing some terrace hopping, eating and little else!

  4. Still don’t know how you managed to do it all and have a bit of social life on top of your Master’s and work!
    You must be so happy the Master’s is done! woo!
    Lauren @ roamingtheworld recently posted..Thank youMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Your guess is as good as mine, even though I’m feeling the strain! Just one more month and a few scattered days until I’m on summer break for real!

  5. Are you still thinking about coming to Puerto Rico?!
    Ashlee D. [Polyglottony] recently posted..My 3rd Blogoversary, question mark?My Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Not sure…my dad changes his mind daily! We may do a Danube cruise, though I’m more inclined for beaches and a few beers than my winter jacket! I’ll let you know!

  6. Wow, I got tired from reading all the traveling in this post! I hope you get a break sometime this summer between camp directing and the Camino.
    amelie88 recently posted..Welcome to Quintessential New England: NewburyportMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I have a few days, yes, and I feel that it will be split between the beach and blogging – with a few glasses of sidra to wash it all down!

  7. Wow, you’ve done more travelling in your last six months than most people do in a lifetime! I have done a nice bit of travelling myself over the years. Checking out the beautiful photos throughout your blog makes me wish I had done a lot more though. Really nice blog.


  8. I like how you did this summary of the year to date. It really made me think about my year so far. I’d say one of the highlights happened just a few weeks ago when we met former US President Jimmy Carter in Georgia. At 88 he and Rosalynn are active globetrotters still doing good deeds around the world.
    Michael @ Changes in Longitude recently posted..Your Independence Day: How to live a nomadic lifeMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I saw the photos, I think on Larissa’s FB page or instagram – that’s DEFINITELY a highlight, and I hope to be active late into my life, too. Thanks for visiting, Michael!

  9. How nice to be able to take a deep breath and look back over six months of travel — complete with photos!
    Terry at Overnight New York recently posted..ONE UN New York: Beach BreakMy Profile

  10. Oh wow, you’ve been busy! Sounds like you’ve had a wonderful six months. I’ll definitely be following along as you walk the Camino de Santiago.
    Micki recently posted..This Should Be On Your Bucket List: A Hot Air Balloon Ride Over The Cave Houses Of CappadociaMy Profile

  11. congrats on finishing your masters!!! and what fun, all these travels…
    wanderingeducators recently posted..Travel Inspiration: MigrationologyMy Profile

  12. A great 6 months, Cat! Makes me want to plan even more travels. . .
    Larissa recently posted..Visiting Tana Toraja, a hideaway in IndonesiaMy Profile

  13. Wow, you have travelled A LOT!! I’ve barely been anyway this year… looks like I have some catching up to do 😉

    LOVE all your photos!
    bevchen recently posted..Friday lettersMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Thank you! My mom asked me why I no longer had hobbies, and I told her my hobby is now travel.

  14. Wow, you have been really busy! Our first-6-months highlights included a 3-week trip to Israel in March, moving from Panama to Ecuador, and now a trip back to the US to see family (where we currently are). We’ll be back in Ecuador by the end of July. If you ever find the energy and time to visit, your bed is waiting!
    Linda Bibb recently posted..UNESCO World Heritage Site: Cuenca, EcuadorMy Profile

  15. How fun to see your year in photos, especially such gorgeous photos!
    Sandra Foyt recently posted..Family Travel On InstagramMy Profile

  16. Sounds like you had a busy few months!!!!
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted..“Sell your crap. Pay off your debt. Do what you love.”My Profile

  17. Look at you go girl! What a whirlwind! I hope your thesis defense went well and that you’re journey on the camino goes smoothly so you can get some well-deserved rest! xx
    Julia recently of lateMy Profile

  18. What a full six months!
    I love the flowerpot covered walls of the villages in Andalusia. So cheerful. And, in my opinion, the only thing better than eating one’s way across Spain, would be eating one’s way across Italy. Florence and Bologna, great places to start 😉

  19. WoW very impressive, combining all those trips with getting a master. You have been very busy and definitely deserve a little siesta.
    Freya recently posted..The Quintessential Guide to New DelhiMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Thanks, Freya! I’ve been spending the last few weeks doing little more than watching TV and sleeping late, and it’s been great! Since writing the article, I’ve done loads more traveling, and have a few more trips planned for the rest of the year. Whereabouts are you headed next?

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