moscow

My first book [check]

It’s done now, guys. Yes, that Moscow guidebook I’ve been working on for the last 7 months is officially finished. While I had no idea at the time, the final deadline was set just several days after my final departure from Moscow and it turned out to be a perfectly fitting way to finish my time abroad. To be honest, I’m thankful to be done with both the guidebook and the city for 2015. Moscow hasn’t been the biggest bag of fun in recent times and an escape was just what we needed. That being said, creating the guidebook was actually a great way to feel a little bit more love for Moscow in the last months before we left – it forced me to get outside and reexamine the city through a tourist’s non-jaded eyes.

In honor of the momentous (and frankly sigh-of-relief) occasion of finishing the guidebook, here’s a peek into the process thanks to the magic of Twitter:


Bye Moscow (see you soon)

We’re in the last crush of packing, re-packing, and generally freaking out that in less than 24 hours we won’t be in Moscow. With the Russky’s green card (practically) in hand, this departure seems much more real than others; like we actually won’t be coming back within a few months, unable to resist Moscow’s strange allure. That might even be true this time. We probably won’t be coming back anytime soon… but with a city as beguiling, frustrating, and special as Moscow, a return is inevitable. So goodbye for now, Moscow. До скорого.


A few of my favorite posts about Moscow/my life in Russia;

Open Letter to Future Moscow Expats
“You’re Married to a Russian?!”
The High Monastery of Saint Peter
The Real Russia
“Nikolskaya Street”
Why Moving Abroad Was The Best Decision Ever

Finding out the passport was on its way in one of Russia's oldest churches. Khorosho!
Finding out the passport was on its way in one of Russia’s oldest churches. Otlichno! We’ll be back with tales from the New World soon enough.
suzdal travel

The best way to ruin a vacation

The Russky noticed three missed calls on his phone after we dove into a warm cathedral, our teeth stopped chattering quite so loudly, and our fingers worked enough to pull electronics out of our pockets. Because we’re both bums who haven’t paid our phone bill this month, we were forced to find a cafe with some WIFI and call back via Skype. We had a pretty good idea who it was and wanted to be sure to get back to them ASAP.

We called them and realized that we needed to cut my birthday trip short. I cried for a minute in the -25 degree weather at the Vladimir bus stop for the adventures we’d missed but I got over it quickly, if just to stop my face from freezing off. We made a mad dash to catch the last bus to Moscow and waited with bated breath all the next day.

It’s here. It’s good. It’s official.

The Russky is going to America on an immigrant visa on the same flight as me. With less than a week until the flight, the US Embassy here in Moscow came through.

Whew.

travel dreaming spain

Travel Dreaming: Spain

When I posted about all the resources for learning Russian, I felt a little twinge of regret. After traveling through Central America last year, I realized just how terrible my Spanish had gotten. Necesitamos una… um… habitacion was enough of a shameful struggle to me after years of half-heartedly learning Spanish in the less-than-stellar US education system. I’d love to get back into the language, particularly since I’ll be heading back to American, so for this instance of my Travel Dreaming series I’m looking at you, Spain.

Central America was quite fun, but I’d like to visit somewhere new (and not so humid) if I were to travel somewhere for a month or two to really kick my Spanish into high gear. I’ve had the chance to look at the options offered by Saga Travel for my Spanish holiday and done a little Pinterest dreaming. I came up with three perfect places I’d love to visit and, hopefully, rekindle my love of Spanish.

source.
source.

El Capricho de Gaudi

Not far from the beautiful shores of the Bay of Biscay is that wild building above: El Capricho de Gaudi which now functions as a restaurant. It was built by Gaudi in the 19th century as a bizarre mix of Arabic and neo-Gothic architectural elements which leaves it looking decidedly strange. Despite being totally overdone (there is literally nothing on this building without some kind of design overload), I somehow love it and can’t wait to try the restaurant inside.

source.
source.

Alhambra

On Spain’s Costa Tropical in the city of Granada is the glorious Alhambra. How amazing is that view? I’m an intense fan of exploring all the cultural differences a country might have, so I love the idea of this 9th century Moorish fortress sitting amid examples of what we’d consider ‘normal’ Spanish culture. The Alhambra has had multiple additions put onto it over the centuries, but all have been consistent with the theme of “paradise on earth”. Me gusta…

source.
source.

Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park

On the Costa de Almeria is an amazing national park that looks like the perfect place to get lost for a few days, although be sure to bring your water: it’s the only place in Europe dry enough to be considered a subtropical desert. The park is so fantastic that it’s been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – not hard to imagine looking at the blue sea and the volcanic rocks rising majestically out from it. And, if you somehow get bored with nature’s beauty, you can head to the nearby town of Nijar which is allegedly one of Spain’s most beautiful towns.

Which of these would you travel to? Or, if you’ve been to Spain, what can top my picks? The post was produced in collaboration with Saga Travel. All dreaming and wishing is my own.

suzdal

A Quick Escape + Relokate

In the midst of finishing up my Moscow guidebook, finishing other side projects with looming deadlines, and doing magazine stuff, I’ve become a bit of a zombie, sitting in front of a screen 24/7. Countless cups of coffee have gone cold beside me as I write, rewrite, edit, and e-mail until my fingers just might fall off. It’s good to be busy, but also it’s a little terrible.

In an effort to revive myself, celebrate my birthday, and enjoy my last moments before I leave Moscow, the Russky and I are taking a quick trip to Suzdal and Vladimir this weekend. I’ve never been and I’m incredibly excited about it after reading up on them. Both cities are part of Russia’s Golden Ring and have large swaths of land declared UNESCO World Heritage sites, so they should be absolutely beautiful and lots of fun to explore. We’re also planning a side-trip/adventure out to the stunning Muromtsevo Castle (seriously, look at that picture!). I apologize in advance for the huge barrage of photos upon my return.

Unfortunately, I’ll still have my tablet and travel-sized keyboard to use during the downtime on the 4-ish hour ride there, but hopefully I’ll be able to turn off for a while and explore some of Russia’s most important historical sites. And just so you won’t get lonely, I’m leaving you with some extra reading material from last month’s sponsor Kate while I’m gone:

relokate1

Kate’s favorite post of 2014: My First Naked Spa Experience
Kate’s favorite travel tips post: 20 Things to Know Before Moving to England
Her travel plans for 2015: I’m hoping to tick Copenhagen, Krakow and Prague off the list, maybe with a few others sprinkled through there if our schedules will allow it!
Her advice for newbie travelers in 2015: You’ve got to make your own adventure, which means taking risks and not following the masses!

You can find Kate on her website or Twitter. If you’re a blogger in need of any web & blog design services, get in touch with Kate or have a look at her portfolio!