Lake Garda Sirmione - our year end review for 2019

Countdown to a new decade means it’s time for our report card for the year 2019! Another year that passed by wicked quick. Sometimes I want to say “slow down world. I wanna get off”. On this last blog post- newsletter of the year, we  look back at how we did on our travels, other aspects of life and wishes for the coming year.

luxor valley of the kings with olld huge stone sculpture with head cut off

Getting up close and personal with past royalty in Luxor, Egypt, a truly one of a kind country that we both loved.

This year has been a bit calmer for us on the whole. In prior years, we traveled a lot more, always on the lookout for a place we could live in in case we decided to leave Spain. Eventually we discovered that we were already home. Not in the right city, but definitely in the right country of Spain.

Having been in Valencia for a while now, a place where we feel at home, there hasn’t been that intense urge to go searching anymore (something we barely noted on a conscious level at the time). Never say never of course, because you never know what might happen in the future, but for us, Valencia is home now. My family is shocked as they considered us “homeless” for the longest time :-).

Year End Review Report Card 2019

Travel: Grade B+

Travel is of course, the big one for us, since this is a travel and lifestyle blog. As l mentioned, we didn’t travel to so many countries this year. Definitely not as many as we had wished for on last year’s review. We did visit a new country, one that l had dreamed about visiting for so long. Egypt was an amazing experience and one we would both love to repeat.

We visited Italy three times during the year. His family wanted us to return again for Christmas! No, thanks, we are chilling right here in Valencia. I did a solo trip to England to hang with my siblings for a bit. The rest of the travels was within Spain, Some of you might have noticed that instead of writing new blog posts about the same old, I simply updated the past posts with additional information instead… Barcelona, Madrid etal.

You can read about the some of the Italy visits on these posts: 

Umbria’s gem, Perugia

Medieval city of Siena

Interestingly bland Milan

City of Verona

Rome, of course

I still have to catch up with blog posts on our week in Dubai and some other spots that escape my mind to be honest, including El Gouna and Lisbon, a place l feel might deserve another visit before l truly make up my mind. I wasn’t feeling it much when we visited. Porto is so much better in my mind, and l definitely want to go back there.

street scene in Luxor, with river and cement houses on the other side

We hope to return to Egypt and explore other parts, maybe a cruise down the Nile or back to Luxor and see some of the newer excavations and discoveries that seem to happen on a weekly basis.

Our adventures in Egypt can be found here on these posts:

Fascinating city of Luxor

Exotic Cairo

Health: Grade A-

I am shocked at this grade myself, but quite happy. In addition to the loads of walking that we do when we travel, we also walk a lot around the city here. It’s just so much more convenient. The poor car just gets no use at all and needs a jump start every so often, but it’s so cheap to maintain, we can’t even consider selling it. If l wasn’t such a horrible back seat driver, we would go for long trips, but l don’t need the stress, or the speeding tickets that he invariably gets in the mail :-). 

We go to the gym four to five times a week and l love it. The major reason why l wanted to stay in our old neighbourhood was because l really liked my classes and people at the old gym. It was literally a three minute walk from the flat. The closest branch to us is about a 20 minute walk and is just as gigantic as the previous one (there are about 12 of them spread out and owned by the city).

One of the best things about Valencia is not just the walkability, but the ease of bicycling. We joined the city bike scheme and pay 30€ each per year. It lets you pick up a bike from any of the numerous bike stations can be found just about every block or two and is free for the first half-hour (more than enough time to get anywhere in the city). Now we bike to the gym in about six to eight minutes depending on how many damn pigeons decide to gather in the lanes. It’s a straight shot using the dedicated bike lanes.

old red vintage bike chained to a post, 2019 review year how we keep healthy

My old second hand bike. Since they are so popular, they get stolen very often and it’s kind of useless to spend a lot of money on them. It is a pain to bring up and down since we store them on our balcony, so we augment with the city bikes for going to the gym.

I only do classes. Zumba, Body Combat and Latino Hop. Fede does the training with treadmills and stuff that l don’t care for anymore, and loves the olympic size pool and sauna. At a cost of €25.50 per person per month, it is quite a bargain. Hopefully, we can keep it up :-).

We have both been in good health, knock on wood. Let’s hope that stays the same or even gets better! I wish we ate better, but yeah… you gotta pick your poison :-). I choose plenty of good food, which means pasta, pasta and yep! more pasta. Wine and drink not so much. We finish a bottle of wine between us in about three to four days. We indulge when we go out or have guests over. I suspect l have to get cataract surgery from the symptoms l am displaying.

Language: Grade B+

My level of comprehension in Spanish is growing daily and that is making life a little easier when l go out. I still don’t speak Spanish well and still sound like a kid (like a two year old before, more like a five year old now :-)), but l’m out there doing it. I recently joined an adult Spanish class offered by the local university after being on the waiting list for a while. So far, it’s going very well.

I’ve caught up to the others despite missing the first four weeks of classes according to the teacher. We have three hours a week and it will end in June. Not a bad price either. €25 only for nine months of classes! I intend on signing on for the advanced beginner class next fall. It’s on a lottery basis though, so who knows!

Assisi from a distance in our year end review 2019

A side trip to Assisi to the the saint’s resting place.

Finances: Grade B+

Nothing much has changed with our finances. The proceeds from our single family residence rental went to the purchase of our flat here. It was an even wash. Our footprint continues to lighten in the states which is fine by me. Even though we had said we would remain renters for life, it made more sense to buy here.

Too many problems with getting your deposit back etc. etc., plus in the end, the prices are so reasonable here still. We had great tenants who had stayed on for years at the house, but when they went on to purchase a home of their own, it made sense to just do it. Thanks to taking my own wonderful advise, we had like four or five solid offers within a week! In Texas! With new builds. Tons of new builds. We did it all from here, same as before and it went smoothly.

I love that we no longer have to pay rent and that the running expenses for the flat are laughable compared to the states. I am however, also glad we didn’t do it sooner because we got to find the place we really wanted to stay in for a while. It would have sucked had we bought in Malaga for example. Life in Valencia is pretty good.

two men and a woman at piazza navona

Wonderful meeting up with an old friend visiting from L.A in Rome. He hails from Lake Como and was on his way to his sister’s wedding.

Travel Plans for 2020:

One of the countries l had been dying to visit was Bulgaria as mentioned on the wrap up last year . I am putting it on the list again for 2020. We’ll see how that pans out. African countries of Senegal, Namibia and Ghana and Uganda will also remain on the list. Our original mindset when we left America was to explore Europe, so we will revisit places we loved, or visit new places that interest us. We wouldn’t mind a return visit to Istanbul either. We also want to continue traveling within Europe.

We will start off the year by visiting Northern Spain (Santander, Bilbao and make our way down). We are kind of excited as we know it’ll be very cold, a nice change from Valencia right now where it’s been warm during the days then dipping in the evenings. If the weather sucks too badly in one place, we’ll just keep moving till we make our way back down to Valencia.  A cruise is also on the wish list for the year, as is a return home to Nigeria.

palau de arts valencia ad dusk

On our way to check out the Christmas market for the year.

Year end review report card wrap up:

2019 was a great year for us overall. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers that keep up with our next bite of life adventures. This blog has afforded us the opportunities to meet new people from all walks of life, especially those contemplating moving to Spain, including some who actually ended up moving here :-).

Life has treated us well this year. It was rough with the death of my uncle last year, along with some other family and friends. It definitely makes you appreciate the fact that people, not things are what we should hold dear. I try to keep that in mind always, so l can forgive and forget the little things (hard to do :-). Living well is the best revenge.

Happy New Year to everyone!

black woman and white man selfie. Year end review 2019

Somewhere in Italy.

 

dogs at christmas with bow

They wish you well too :-).

How was your 2019? Did you travel to far flung places or stick close to home? Any exciting plans for the new year? Did you also feel like the year went by really, really fast?