Images of Girona

Nestled in the upper north east corner of Spain and Catalonia, sandwiched between Barcelona and the French border, is the city and region of Girona.

I spent the winter of 2014-15 living in Girona for three months. I had the pleasure to see much of the province as well as experience Christmas, Three Kings Day, and attend several local festivals.

Girona is one of my favorite places in Europe and I continually tell people about it, as it is often overshadowed by its larger neighbor to the south, Barcelona.

If you want to know why I love Girona, you can probably best understand by seeing it for yourself.


Night time view of the City of Girona

The image of the buildings along the River Onyar is probably the most iconic views of the City of Girona. The Basilica, seen in the background of the photo, was my north star for navigating the city. My apartment was nearby, so if I could see the Basilica, I knew how to get back.
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Day 29-30, West African Cruise – At Sea, Off the Coast of Morocco / Punta del Rosario, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

Latitude: 28° 29.64′ N
Longitude: 013° 51.49′ W

I’ve decided to merge these two days because our visit to Fuerteventura was the shortest of all our ports of call. We had limited time on the island because the ship had to get to Agadir, Morocco the next day at a set time.

I had previously visited the Canary Islands in 2011 and it was a great experience. I visited most of the islands, but never got to El Hiro and Fuerteventura, so our stop on the island was interesting to me in that it was one of the few islands in the Canaries which I hadn’t visited.
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Behind the Lens – The Milky Way over La Palma, Canary Islands

astrophotography la palma canary islands

I am not an expert in Astrophotography. Nonetheless, I had the chance to try my hand at it when I was on the island of La Palma back in 2011.

La Palma, along with Mauna Kea in Hawaii, is one of the most important locations for professional astronomy in the world. It is the location of the world’s largest single mirror telescope as well as many other high end devices. The reason why La Palma is such a great place to do astronomy is because the top of the mountain there is almost always above the clouds which means there a large number of nights each year where you can see the heavens.

I had the opportunity while I was on La Palma to go out one night and shoot the stars with my camera with a local amateur astronomer. I jumped at the chance. Continue reading “Behind the Lens – The Milky Way over La Palma, Canary Islands”

Amy’s First Passport Stamp

With half a decade of non-stop travel under my belt, I can talk about a lot of subjects related to travel. The one thing I cannot talk about, however, is what it feels like to travel for the first time. Recently my assistant Amy made her very first trip outside of US/Canada. I asked her to write about her experience traveling abroad for the first time.

In the comments, feel free to share your first time traveling outside of your home country. Everyone remembers their first time and everyone has a different story.

Here is Amy:

A Cross in the Pyrenees near Vall de Nuria
Growing up, my parents weren’t all that big into travel. While we had family vacations, they were always short road trips. So when I graduated from high school, I had been in only 5 states (all of them bordering my home state of Texas) and had never flown in a plane. When I finally did fly for the first time, I flew Dallas to Lubbock. That short haul flight was not all that impressive, nor was Lubbock, but it did prove to me that I could do it and there was nothing to be afraid of.

In the past ten years or so, I’ve definitely broadened my horizons. I’ve been to 34 US states, including Alaska and Hawaii. I have lived outside of my home region for a significant portion of time, and I definitely love the rush of adventure. That 18 year old that was afraid of flying? She herself grew into a glider pilot, and married an airline pilot. I now easily jump on and off flights, fly standby and can calculate the best routes better than the average gate agent.

However, one thing still eluded me – foreign travel. Continue reading “Amy’s First Passport Stamp”

The Seven Wonders of Spain

Last year I sent out a questionnaire to several travel bloggers I know who wrote about or lived in Spain. I asked them to compile a list of the top must-see attractions in the country. With a country as large and diverse as Spain, this was a very difficult task, but I have finally compiled the results. This list is by no means definitive. It is intended to be a starting point for a discussion of the great places in Spain.

With that, I present to you The Seven Wonders of Spain!
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The Oldest Democratic Body in Europe: The Valencia Water Court

The Valencia Water Court in session
The Valencia Water Court in session
If you should happen to be in Valencia, Spain…in the Plaza de la Virgen….on Thursday…at noon, you will have a chance to glimpse the oldest democratic body in the world in operation: the Tribunal de las Aguas (The Water Court).

Dating back over 1,000 years to the time of the Moorish conquest, the water court was originally set up by farmers to the south of the city to resolve water disputes between them. They delegated certain men to hear disputes between farmers and this tradition continued after Valencia was returned to Christian control.

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8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About the Canary Islands

After driving around the Pyrenees Mountains for a week I’ve changed scenery and have gone to the Canary Islands. I’ve been on the island of Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Graciosa and Tenerife and will be on La Gomera and La Palma next week. So far it has been great with amazing weather.

I realize that many people have no clue where they Canary Islands are or much about them, so I figured it was time for another installment of “8 Facts You Might Not Have Known…”

1) They were not named after canary birds.

Despite the name, the islands were not named after canaries, the cute, chirping birds. It comes from the latin word for dog, “canaria”. One story is that when some of the first Europeans arrived, they found large dogs on the island of Grand Canary. In fact, they might not even even named after dogs at all, but rather after seals which used to inhabit the island, which the Romans called “sea dogs”.
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My multilingual summer in Barcelona

This guest post is written by Benny Lewis who blogs at FluentInThreeMonths.com where he encourages and helps people learn to speak foreign languages. I met Benny earlier this year in Bangkok and again in Las Vegas for BlogWorld Expo, where we took a side trip to visit the Hoover Dam. Benny currently speaks English, Esperanto, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Gaelic, Hungarian and is now is the Philippines to learn Tagalog.


“So, how long have you been speaking Catalan?”

“Actually, this is my first ever conversation in the language…”

It was Susanna, a potential landlady, who had asked me the question. Since the initial Hola, com estàs? the conversation had continued, albeit slowly, just in Catalan. She didn’t realize until this last question that it really was the first time I had ever used the language.

She had already shown me around the beautiful two-bedroom house near downtown Barcelona, but we stopped here in the garden.

“Què?? Parles molt bé el catalá!

…Merci!”

This impressed reaction was something I would see many more times in future when trying to speak a language for the first time. Despite doing poorly in languages in school and only speaking English when I was 21, soon into my travels I had figured out the secret: speak it from day one, no matter what. Study quickly and use the little you know quicker.

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