Destination guides, travel stories & personal musings
Looking for some travel inspiration? Here, you’ll find travel stories and destination guides designed to stoke your wanderlust, along with a little insight into my life as a travel writer and traveller, now with a home base in Portugal.
Psst… The locals won’t like me mentioning this because they like to keep it a closely guarded secret, but I was recently introduced to a delightful green oasis in the heart of Gran Canaria.
I’m a sucker for clear, fresh mountain air and a day surrounded by lush, verdant countryside, so when friends suggested a trip to the Finca de Osorio, close to the historical town of Teror, I didn’t need asking twice.
For the first time in my digital nomad life, I had a visit from my parents. It was wonderful to be able to show them around my home town of Las Palmas and explore the rest of Gran Canaria with them. However, while Las Palmas is a proper working Spanish city, I was unprepared for the south of the island. Of course, I knew it was going to be very touristy, but I didn’t realise I had to watch for unscrupulous people out to scam tourists. And we got caught up in a typical Canary Islands scam.
Northern Gran Canaria is a leafy, mountainous landscape of craggy coastline, fertile valleys, deep gorges, and terraced hillsides planted with avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, figs and delicious little Canarian bananas. There are picturesque villages dotted around, their streets lined by colourful, colonial-style houses with traditional wooden balconies. Woven amongst this misty landscape, you can find evidence of pre-colonial Canarians, a cave-dwelling race of people known as the Guanches.
Gran Canaria is divided into a number of touring routes that visitors can take to explore the main sites on the island. Shortly after my arrival, I met up with a group of locals who were exploring Gran Canaria to see some of the Guanche sites on the Northern Route running between Agaete and Las Palmas. So I set off to see what I could discover about Gran Canaria’s aboriginal history and explore some of the archaeological sites in the north of the island.
Last year, 2015, was my first year as a digital nomad. It was a huge adventure, and a steep learning curve. While there’s little I would change about last year – because I learnt some valuable lessons – there are plenty of things I want to do better this time around.
So here are my goals for 2016. (Yes, I know it’s rather late for setting goals. I actually spent New Year’s Eve planning these, but I want to put them out there so I can hold myself accountable.)
I intended to start this blog a year ago when I set off as a nomad, but life and work got in the way, so I’m starting on my year’s anniversary (or thereabouts). And what better way to begin than with a look back to my first year on the road. I realise it’s a little silly to post a review of 2015 at the start of February. But what the hell… I started my nomad journey on 27 January 2015, so it covers my first year on the road.
2015 was my third year in business and my first year as a digital nomad, and it was all about me learning how to run a successful business while travelling. I choose to stay in Europe, dividing my time between six countries (plus the UK). I had visited most of the countries before, with the exception of Croatia – a place I’ll definitely be returning to – although most of the cities I lived in were new to me.
In numbers, I slept in 24 different beds in 16 cities across 7 countries, and I took 13 flights and 5 train rides. That’s fairly modest by many people’s standards, but I learned that I prefer to spend at least a month in each location, partly because it makes things cheaper on Airbnb, my preferred method of accommodation, and partly because I was working full-time. By the end of the year, I realised that a month was too little because I didn’t really spend much time growing my business or working on this blog, something I plan to change this year.
Highlights of my year include celebrating Fallas in Valencia, dancing on the beach and in the magical Théâtre de la Mer at the Worldwide Festival in Sète, skydiving in Berlin, attending DNX Global with my tribe – 450 digital nomads – also in Berlin, and the magnificent view from my loft apartment in Split.
There were also some tough times. An ill-advised fling turned into a stalker and left me feeling very vulnerable in my first few days in Seville, and I didn’t research my accommodation in Catania, Sicily, properly, which left me living in the middle of a rundown mafia district where I was repeatedly warned by locals not to wander around unaccompanied. Thankfully, neither situation had a serious outcome, but I learned a couple of valuable lessons there!