2012: My Year in Travel

This year was all about staying local. I ventured out of Spain a few times; once to make my yearly trans-atlantic trip home, and once to explore Lisbon, Portugal. In between those trips, I explored more of my adopted country, and consequently fell more in love with it. Though I have a long way to go before seeing the whole world, it’s hard to imagine many countries with the same diversity as Spain. I’m always impressed by how much there is to see and do–and I still have so much left!

Jimena de la Frontera, Andalucía, Spain

Jimena de la Frontera, Spain

Jimena de la Frontera, Spain

This year I really got into hiking and took advantage of the mild Andalusian winter to fit some in. In doing so, I took the train to Jimena de la Frontera and explored this pueblo blanco, as well as some of the surrounding trails. The white towns of Andalusia are something I will miss while being up north!

Madrid, Spain

Rooftop view of Madrid

Rooftop view of Madrid

I made a few different stops in the Spanish capital this year; to see the Copy Del Rey Final, to take care of some bureaucratic headaches and as a pit stop while passing through. It’s sprawling, bustling and has that big-city energy that I love.

Conil de la Frontera, Spain

Conil de la Frontera, Spain

Conil de la Frontera, Spain

Andalucía is the place to be in the summer. Blazing heat, countless beaches and that famous Spanish nightlife we’ve all heard of. Conil de la Frontera offers the perfect formula of sun, sand and fiesta and is a town I’d go back to in a heartbeat in the summer months.

Lisbon, Portugal

A street-car in Lisbon, Portugal

A street-car in Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon was my travel let-down of the year. After I fell for the pristine coastlines and laid-back feel of Portugal’s Algarve, Lisbon  and I just didn’t connect. Maybe it was because I had high hopes for a city everyone seemed to love, or maybe it just lacked that special something, but it definitely wasn’t for me.

Leavenworth, WA, U.S.A.

Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth, WA

There’s really nothing like doing a bit of globe-trotting to make you see your home with new eyes. While I was back visiting, I went to the Bavarian-style town of Leavenworth in the Cascade Mountains. Fall has never looked prettier!

Mt. Rainier, WA, U.S.A.

Mt. Rainier, WA

Mt. Rainier, WA

With my new-found love of hiking, I knew I had to hit some trails in my gorgeous home of Washington State. A trip to Mt. Rainier more than sufficed.

Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain

Santillana del Mar, Cantabria

Santillana del Mar, Cantabria

I recently went to a medieval town I’ve been dreaming of visiting: Santillana del Mar in Cantabria. Stay tuned for a post recapping my visit!

Santander, Cantabria, Spain

Santander, Cantabria

Santander, Cantabria

Santander was another recent trip. Think rolling, green hills, an elegant downtown and more parks than time to explore them! Coming soon to the blog!

Where did you go in 2012?

 

Autumnal Paradise in Leavenworth

 

In southern Spain, you knew it was autumn when the trees were full of green leaves one day, and none the next. The sun would slowly transition from its unbearable summer state, and suddenly you could begin sleeping under the blankets again.

Autumn in Andalucía wasn’t celebrated with the onslaught of pumpkin patches, haunted houses, and the ever-coveted pumpkin spice lattes. Instead it was just those few cooler months before Christmas—without Halloween or Thanksgiving to look forward to.

When I was back home for a visit, I got to experience an incredible September and October in Washington State. A long “Indian summer” with sunshine-filled days and vibrant autumn colors that I didn’t realize I missed as much as I did. Naturally, I snapped photos like I’ve never seen an autumn before:

Want an autumn escape? You can find Jetblue flights on flights24.com.

You can’t get much more fall-ish than that!

What’s your favorite thing about the fall?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by a third party.

Leavenworth, Washington: A German Village in the USA

 

Nestled in the Cascade mountains of Washington State is a bit of Bavaria called Leavenworth. The land is about as idyllic as it gets: a vibrant autumn palette spilling out onto the leaves and bushes, babbling creeks and thick forests all surrounded by jagged peaks waiting to be dusted with snow.

The present-day town is small, but inviting—main street makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a German town in the Alps rather than Washington State. Beer halls and German eateries are full of tourists visiting on weekend trips. Boutiques are making sale after sale. It’s only October, but once the town turns on its impressive Christmas lights at the start of December, the town is standing room only—nearly impossible to maneuver through without waiting in a line of some sort for your currywurst and Hefeweizen.

However, Leavenworth wasn’t always so busy—or so German. Historically, the town was on the land of the Yakama, Chinook and Wenatchi tribes, where they were said to have co-existed peacefully. Later, pioneers came to settle what is now Leavenworth in search of gold, bringing in even more settlers, and by the end of the 1800’s a rail line.

With the arrival of the rail line, job opportunities popped up and the local economy flourished. Leavenworth became a hub of logging and the town was thriving…until the Great Northern Railway Company decided to re-route and pulled the rail line out of Leavenworth. This caused the local logging and sawmill industries to collapse, and Leavenworth was dangerously close to becoming a ghost town for many years after.

The great thing about small towns is that there is often a tight-knit community at its backbone. Thankfully, Leavenworth was no exception, and the townspeople rallied together to think of inventive ways to keep their secluded, mountain village from falling by the way-side.

In the 1960’s, more than 30 years after Leavenworth saw its darkest times, the town leaders proposed a unique idea to revive their beloved home: they wanted to give Leavenworth an extreme makeover. With the surrounding mountains as inspiration, the townspeople decided they’d model Leavenworth after a Bavarian village.

The entire downtown area was remodeled in a Bavarian-style, and several festivals were implemented into the town’s calendar. Soon after, tourists began showing up in search of this odd village, and now Leavenworth boasts more than 1 million visitors annually.

Though the main attraction of Leavenworth is its very Bavarian downtown area, I was equally impressed by the natural beauty of the area. Autumn has never looked so good.

Gorgeous, isn’t it?