Jan 4, 2019 @

Castel San Angelo with angel on bridge

I can’t even begin to tell you how fast l felt 2018 flew by. It’s not just me either, I hear the same things from friends across all age groups. Our grades for last year seems so fresh in mind, like l just wrote that post a few days ago. Reading that post, I’m glad that we improved on a couple of things. Our report is a bit better than the last year. Here is the next bite of life review for 2018.

Year End Next Bite of Life Review for 2018:

London's Westminister Abbey

London will always be a good idea! :-)

Travel in 2018: Grade A-

I was surprised that we traveled to 7 countries (10 cities) in 2018 which was the same as in 2017. I thought it was much less to be honest, so it was a pleasant surprise as l rarely do much planning. Here are the places we visited during the year:

England: (Leicester and London)

Leicester market England

Every day life in Leicester. Amazing that l had never visited Leicester before. Quite nice, next time l will try and catch a football game.

London is a place l never get tired of visiting. This was a solo trip for me. Federico stayed behind to watch the dogs. I spent two weeks visiting with one of my older sisters and her kids. We were joined by some of my other sisters visiting from Nigeria and really had a great time celebrating her 60th birthday in Leicester while l was able to sneak a couple of days in London.

Portugal: (Porto Rocked!)

Porto Portugal scene with church

Porto was just as dreamy as l imagine. One of my favorite destinations ever.

Our first visit to Porto will surely not be our last. Having previously been in Lisbon and Lagos, we both agree our favorite place in Portugal so far is Porto. It was just the right size and the food was amazing. Sure there are a lot of hills, a lot :-), but it’s really gorgeous..and of course, lots of port wine. I still have to write about our awesome day in the Douro Valley doing some wine and olive oil tasting. I think Porto is in my top 3 of destinations that l love.

Italy: (Rome)

notte bianca Rome Italy with white balloons

An old photo l found of days past. This was on Notte Bianco (White Night). A lovely tradition where the stores stayed open all night, as did restaurants, museums, public transports etc and the white balloons were planted all over the ground in the center. Sadly, it is no longer done and l think we took this the last year it was ever done. Too bad as l used to enjoy it. It was so cool to see.

Another place l never get tired of visiting. I love spending time with Federico’s mom. She spoils me rotten, even more than her son l think, and l lap it up with gusto. It’s getting a bit hard to find new things to do, but it was fun heading out to Tivoli for the day and visiting a new palazzo. We are headed back next month and he has promised to take me to other new to me places. Food is always good too!

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Czechia: (Prague and Cesky Krumlov)

Prague market in Prague people and stalls

We had a chance to visit the Prague market and sample some Asian street food like the locals.

Our visit to Prague was half successful. I wasn’t much of a fan, but Federico liked it. We both absolutely loved Cesky Krumlov when we did a day trip from Prague. Now, there’s a place that l feel lives up to the hype. It is a postcard city, compact and just perfect. I would absolutely like to visit more cities in Czechia. Here is the changing of the guard at Prague Castle.

Greece: (Athens and Crete)

We both enjoyed our visit to Athens as well as to the Heraklion in the lovely island of Crete. I wouldn’t rule out return visits to other islands either, just maybe not to the most popular places like Santorini :-).

Related Reading: Heraklion Holiday

Germany: (Dresden)

Dresden center Germany with tourists

I can’t wait to revisit Dresden as we both loved the place. One day is just too little to fully appreciate it.

I almost didn’t count this as we were only in Dresden for one very long day, having done a day trip from Prague. We absolutely loved this city and even though everything is rebuilt, it still rocks and we definitely would like to go back for a few more days to fully enjoy all it has to offer.

Austria: (Vienna)

eissalon schwedenpatz ice cream vienna

This is close to the first neighborhood we stayed at in Vienna. You know we had to try the ice cream and send a picture to his mother. It was pretty good.

Now here was a pleasant surprise. After hearing how cold and sterile Vienna was, it was great to find the opposite. I do admit the very center seems a little standoffish, but we found the slightly off center neighborhoods to be quite nice and friendly and very international. We definitely want to go back. It was a very enjoyable week for us.

Related ReadingGrinzing in Vienna

On the whole, I upped the grade for the travel bit because we did venture to a couple of places that had being on our list from last year, namely Czech Republic and Greece. Here’s hoping we get to Slovakia and Bulgaria in 2019. Nothing will beat the pace of our 2016 where l think it was more than 11 countries. I think l am quite content at 7 for the year. It gives us enough time to see places as well as enjoy our great city of Valencia. I am happy to nest more :-).

Health in 2018: A –

health heart

A nice uptick in grade for the year!

I am happy to say we did much better health wise for the year. The dental problems are fixed..yeah! We haven’t had to use our insurance at all and l hate paying for it :-). Our premium increased about 17€ a month. There was a recent change to the laws regarding residency. Prior to a few months ago, after being a resident for one year, you could buy into the federal health plan at a cost of €60/month each. It was recently changed to free! The rub is that each province is allowed to start it when they choose.. you gotta love the Spanish. So far, Andalusia has started this. If we were still living in Seville, our health care premiums would be zero! I hope Valencia starts it soon.

We have also joined our local neighborhood gym which is so close, there’s no excuse for not going, plus l enjoy the classes. If you haven’t already, consider signing up for the newsletter where l give updates on our Valencia life. We also walk a lot, often clocking 2-4 miles a day, which is always good for the health. Imagine that we have friends that put us to shame and clock in excess of 5 miles daily. The city is great for walking.

Finances: B+

Thumbs up and down button

Not bad at all!

This is slightly lower than last year due to the volatility of the stock market. After years of upward movement, I believe we are in for a down shift. I’m not too worried as l don’t watch the markets daily. After all, what goes up must come down!  Our retirement funds still made a big jump forward from last year end. That surprised me and shows me that my fund allocations were good choices. I contemplated changing, thanks to the constant reminders from the plan reminding me that l am getting older (cheeky bastards! :-) )and should shift to stagnant funds :-). Since l make my own informed decisions, I will ride these same funds for the next year. I will take a look at our Vanguard funds at some point to make sure all is well there too.

Language Learning: B

habla espanol on laptop and cup of coffee

Poco un poco. It’s a bit better, but l have a long way to go.

This only counts for me as Federico’s Spanish is good. My three months of Spanish survival classes definitely helped my confidence. I still suck for the most part, but l feel better tackling things by myself. I run errands solo and find myself asking questions at the market etc. A lot of people at the gym also correct my Spanish and try to help, so l am loving it. It makes me feel more settled.

Ugly Part of 2018:

2018 was not a perfect year, but it didn’t suck like the year before where we had damage to our properties due to the hurricane and costing some major bucks. I did lose my uncle recently. He and his sister (my mom) were so close, none of us were surprised that he didn’t last too long after she passed. Now they can continue their conversations. He lived a long life too (86 to her 90). I used to love hearing them talk to each other even though l had no clue what was being said. Same language, but the dialect of the village they hailed from and it might as well have been Chinese :-). He was also another enthusiastic traveler, working for the embassy and living 4 years at a time in places like Kenya, Rome, Mexico etc. Travel is definitely a thing in our family.

Travel Plans for 2019:

Bangkok river view from Chatrium Hotel Riverside

A return to Bangkok might happen. Not fussed either way.

In addition to other Eastern European countries (hopefully Sofia Bulgaria will be one of them), we hope to visit at least a couple of countries in Africa. Ghana and Rwanda would be great and we might combine it with a visit to Nigeria. My brother wants to visit Thailand and l promised we would go with him, so that is also on the table. Other than that, I’ll just be on the lookout for cheap tickets. I’m thankful that 2018 is ending on a good note for us.

Thank you:

A big thank you to all who have followed our journey. It’s been almost five years since we started documenting our travels and migrant life on this little blog. It’s been wonderful having you along for the ride and l hope we inspire you to get out there and travel if you can. If you can’t, we welcome armchair travelers as well :-). I hope 2019 turns out to be a marvelous one for all of us.

                                         Happy Holidays to all, and “see” you in 2019!!!!

 

How was your 2018? Hope it wasn’t too bad overall. What grade would you give it?