Cuenca is a charming town surrounded by lush trees, fields of sunflowers, and peculiar mountain landscapes. As a UNESCO site, it’s known for a number of historic landmarks, including Las Casas Colgadas (The Hanging Houses), the remaining example of homes that were once common along the Huécar river.
I love a good myth, and Cuenca is steeped in old legends. My favorite is that of “La Cruz del Diablo“, or “The Cross of the Devil”. In short, it’s the tale of a handsome Lothario who falls in love with a stunning, new woman in town. She plays coy with him for a while, before inviting him to join her at Las Angustias at night. They meet and canoodle, but surprise! She’s actually the devil and scares the pants off of our Lothario, although, the legend is unclear if he has pants on at this point. Lothario runs to el Convento de los Franciscanos Descalzos, and clings tightly to the stone cross. The devil strikes a blow that leaves a mark (still visible to this day!) on the stone cross. The man, whose name is actually Diego, renounces his womanizing ways by entering the Convent and never leaving it again.
In a year where everything feels abnormal, it was refreshing to do something as normal as celebrate our anniversary. We marked the occasion with a long weekend to Cádiz, a gorgeous port city in southwest Spain. It was a joy spend that time together and to go on a vacation, and a relief to escape the Madrid heat.
I’d like to amend the adage “Time flies when you are having fun” to simply:
– Many people, everywhere
In the two years that we’ve been married, we’ve circumnavigated the world, on top of numerous trips for business and pleasure. We each picked up a significant promotion, and each made a major job change. We undertook a move from one hemisphere to the other. And those are just the big things.
Each moment felt forever, but when I look back, it feels like no time at all.
It feels silly to have a hard time summarizing two years of marriage. After all, it’s only been two years. In trying to do so, what bubbles to the surface is all the feelings around all the attempts to move life forward.
I suppose it could be surmised as a potent cocktail of elation and stress, with a grenadine-sweet layer of love that oddly brings it all together. Not typically my cocktail of choice, but I suppose that the chaos of life can only aspire to be as complexly cohesive as good whisky.
I love to travel. Whether it is for vacation or for work, the thrill of visiting a place I don’t call home excites me every single time. It is particularly energizing if I am visiting a new place, because I truly love exploring the unfamiliar.
As I travel more and more, I increasingly keep an eye out for travel tips. There are a lot of tips out there. Having spent years researching and soliciting tips, and after a fair amount of personal experimentation, I wanted to share what has worked best for me when I travel.
Stay hydrated during your flight. I love coffee and bourbon, but generally avoid drinking either before or during my flight. Instead, I opt for lots of water and electrolytes, and I feel noticeably better if I am thoroughly hydrated. I carry a 9 oz. Swell water bottle with me, which is the perfect size for slipping in a purse, and I often ask flight attendants to fill up my bottle during flights (some are more willing to do so than others). Related to this, don’t wear jumpsuits on planes, even if they are in fashion at this point in time.
Noise cancelling headphones. Dane is particularly tech savvy, and with the amount I fly, he very kindly gifted me a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 II noise canceling headphones. And they changed my life. I never realized just how noisy a plane is until I used these on a 13.5 hour flight to Helsinki.
Load up on all the entertainment. It is hard to remember this when you’re constantly on the move and have a Todoist list like no other, but I am always grateful to past Angela when she remembers to download podcasts, sync music, and get a range of books on the Kindle. I have a broad range of interests, so I have a really difficult time predicting what future, on-the-plane Angela is going to want to do. So, I download everything in advance: serious to frivolous podcasts. New music that I haven’t listened to yet and old favorites. Business and nonfiction to mythology (a standard favorite of mine) and fiction. As I regularly do this, I find that I always have content when I want it.
Pack light and avoid checking bags. If I can avoid waiting for luggage, it gets me out of the airport faster. I’m also more likely to take public transit if I am not carrying too much, which often gives me a better feel for the city I’m visiting. Dane and I went on our around the world, three week honeymoon (shout out to Kimberly for donating all those miles and to our wedding guests for funding our dream honeymoon!) without checking bags. Having done that, I feel like it would take a very special case to bother checking a bag.
Try to leave a little room in your luggage. And I say this as someone who generally isn’t interested in bringing tchotchkes, souvenirs, swag, etc. home. But when I do, having this little extra space gives me that option. I also don’t want to put as much care into packing for the return home. I don’t want to neatly fold dirty laundry, so it is going to take up more space. Prepping with a little extra space makes me feel less guilty about squishing my bag on the way home.
KonMari it. This is a recent discovery and I will never look back. Here’s a video that describes the concept, and what I particularly loved about this is that I could easily see everything I packed and it saved space. Absolutely brilliant, and I’ve taken to arranging my closet at home this way too.
Pack some staple medications. I always have Advil, NyQuil, DayQuil, Sudafed, Benadryl, and Pepto. These are broad blast pills that even if I rarely use them, when I do need them, I am thoroughly relieved that I have them.
Don’t get cheap/flimsy bottles for your liquids. Nothing is worse than a shampoo explosion, so investing in the right bottles does make a difference, and they last longer. I bought some at a Walgreens that leaked everywhere. Now I use some heavy duty ones from Sephora.
Sign up for the travel programs. There are many free versions, and while they do add to your email inbox, it streamlines communication between you and the service, you often get some extra bonus items.
Keep healthy and listen to your body. I often hear statements like “I’m traveling so I can not exercise or indulge in xyz foods”. I’m not saying don’t do that, but if you travel frequently, the exception quickly becomes the rule. I want you to be healthy! Consume all the tasties in moderation, and find opportunities to squeeze in exercise. For instance, when I’m going through the airport for any flight, I walk around the terminal before my flight and take stairs instead of escalators.
It was a trip in which I rediscover just how stunningly wonderful good friends are and the importance of quality time. It’s a truth I’ve always known, but one that I delight in recognizing time and time again.
I visited Denver this past weekend to meet some wonderful ladies who have, in recent years, moved out of the Pacific Northwest in the grand pursuit of education, career, and love. It had been too long since I saw their lovely, smiling faces.
Oh yes, Denver itself was fantastic, and certainly a haven for outdoor recreation. Here are some photos.
But the essence of this trip, and what made it a source of energy and good feels, were the girls I spent time with, each of whom are beautiful souls, not without conflict or the burdens of life, but who forge forward each and every day with confidence, grace, and spirit. They are true to themselves, and make my world a brighter place. I love you ladies dearly; this weekend was too soon gone. Let’s do it again soon.