While living in Valencia, I had a special visitor for a week and we planned a romantic road trip to Barcelona and Madrid. I had previously visited both cities while I was in college and was excited to see how they’ve changed over the last decade.
Month 9 of Remote Year has brought me back to the third biggest city in Spain, Valencia. I visited Valencia when I studied abroad in college and was excited to return to this beautiful seaside city. I love it because the local food is a little bit different than other areas of Spain, the green spaces are big and easily accessible, and the architecture is both weird and majestic. I lived in a prime location right in the city center. And even though I was amidst the hustle and bustle, it still felt unpretentious and quiet. Not to mention, I was right next to Spain’s largest fresh food market, El Mercado Central, that I frequented almost every single day. In fact, my morning routine was a visit to the coffee bar, Retrogusto, for a flat white and to practice my Spanish with Martina, the main barista.
After my week in Dubrovnik, I headed north to Budapest for a week. The Hungarian capital, with its cheap drinks and intricately tiled buildings, has been on my bucket list ever since I ate my first chicken paprikash as a young girl. I took the overnight train from Belgrade which was a bit of a traumatizing experience but was happy that I had a friend with me so we could look out for each other. But also, never again! Budapest is divided into two parts by the Danube River, hilly Buda on one side, and the flat Pest on the other. We booked an adorable Airbnb in the Jewish Quarter, which was my favorite area in the city. Although it is now full of ruin bars, design shops, and trendy cafés, this area is filled with painful memories from WWII.
During month 8 of Remote Year, I divided my time between Dubrovnik and Budapest instead of opting into Belgrade, Serbia on the original RY itinerary. I had to head back to LA for onsite meetings so I wanted to make the most of my remaining time in Eastern Europe and visit bucket list locations. Dubrovnik has been a well-known destination for a while, but due to its fame as the Kings Landing location for HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, it is attracting so many tourists each year. And for good reason, because besides the GOT hype, it is a beautiful walled, orange-roofed old city perched above the Adriatic’s turquoise sea water, and filled with ancient architecture.
While I was living in Prague, I decided to take a short train ride to Germany and spend a weekend in Berlin with my friend on Remote Year, Marion, who lives there. I had never been before and always wanted to visit because of all the creativity I see coming from its tumultuous past. I didn’t have an itinerary besides exploring the city through a local’s eyes so I didn’t do most of the traditional touristy activities, but instead got a local’s perspective.
While I was living in Prague, I took a long weekend getaway to the South of France. I divided my time between Provence to see the lavender blooms and Grasse for perfumes and Cannes for the coastline views. Everyplace I went looked like it was out of a storybook. It really was like living a dream amongst the rolling green hills, luscious lavender fields, and villa after villa climbing with vines.
Month 7 of Remote Year has brought me to Prague, the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic and the 14th largest city in the European Union. Prague is a living and breathing mystery; old and dingy but somehow unimaginably exquisite. It has some of the best-kept architecture in all of Europe, and its charm has lived through aggressive wars, attracting inevitable hoards of tourists each year. Prague is a wonderful city for walking and the public transportation system is excellent. It was so refreshing to come from winter in Argentina to summer in Europe. I feel like my mood instantly changed once I touched down on another continent. It helped to be in the sun, surrounded by colorful buildings, ornate architecture, and green public parks. Also, I made it past the half-year mark on this crazy year-long adventure which deserves a little bit of celebration. It was a busy month for me with side trips to both Berlin and South of France, on top of a few day trips in the Czech Republic.
Month 6 of Remote Year has brought me to Buenos Aires, the capital and most populous city of Argentina. BA is amazing and frustrating all at once. You will find European architecture, fine dining, world-renowned nightlife, and a big emphasis on art and music of all forms. You will also find a ridiculous inflation rate, empty ATM’s, and sidewalks plastered with dog sh*t. Often called “Paris of South America” it seems more of a mixture of Berlin with Paris and then mixed with Madrid. After not loving really loving my first month in Córdoba, I felt much better my second month living in Argentina because Buenos Aires is a city that is full of life! I spent most of my time savoring the local food culture, exploring speakeasies and secret dinner clubs, soaking in street art, and sipping on Malbec all while mastering the two-hour lunch. I lived for the month in Palermo Soho. The barrio was very trendy, with bars, restaurants, and shops at all the doors. There are so many cafes with terraces where you can just sit and observe local culture and Porteños. Since we arrived in June, it was technically their winter but had the atmosphere of autumn. The trees canopied over the streets and shops in blankets of gold making it an idyllic setting.
Uruguay is South America’s best-kept secret, especially the quaint town of Colonia, just an hour ferry ride away from Buenos Aires. As BA can be loud and bustling, I craved an escape, only one hour away is the perfect getaway from city life. Colonia del Sacramento is a city in the southwest part of the country and is renowned for its historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a laid back vibe and buildings from the Portuguese era. You can get there in just under an hour on the ferry, and it’s not too expensive. I still needed to pass immigration and security, so I’m glad I arrived with plenty of time before departure.
You know that famous John Muir quote? The wines are calling and I must go. No? Well, I think if he had said something along those lines, he would have been referring to Mendoza, Argentina. The Mendoza province sits in the western-central region of Argentina in the Andes. It is home to Argentina’s most famous wine, the mouthwatering Malbec, world-class dining, and stunning views. Since I love wine and was going to be living in Argentina for two months, I knew Mendoza was going to be a destination that I couldn’t miss. To add icing to the cake, myself and eight other Remote Year ladies made plans from Córdoba for a lovely girls weekend getaway – making it one of the best sidetrips I’ve had this year!