The story of how I ended up in Spain is a rather serendipitous one – let’s just say that a 15 minute conversation in a bar in Spain changed my life. Over five years later, I no longer live in San Francisco, but in Madrid with that same Spaniard with whom I had that brief conversation. And I am living the adventure of a lifetime. We travel nearly every weekend, whether it be a short drive to somewhere near Madrid, or some place much farther.

My blogs, which started as somewhat of a diary for myself (my excuse for some ultra-poor writing in the early days), and an effort to keep my family up to speed on the latest, have become more of a chronicle of all the amazing adventures to be had in Spain and beyond. With so many friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, visiting Spain, I’ve found myself delighting in the opportunity to share everything I know about Spain so that future visitors may have the same enchanting experience that I’ve been fortunate enough to have myself. So that’s why I started this site – to share my journey and also to gather the restaurant recommendations, the recipes, the secret spots, and so on, making them available for everyone who wants to know. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful, knowledgeable and proud host – my husband – who has eagerly introduced me to a million new places, traditions, foods, wines, and more – I thank him, and look forward to passing on these experiences to you.

And if you’re curious about the name “la tortuga viajera” – tortuga, or turtle, is a nick name I inherited from my husband.  Basically, because I have rods in my back from a corrective surgery, I can’t always get up easily when I’m on my back.  Yeah, ha ha.  Anyway, since turtles travel carrying their homes on their backs, “the traveling turtle” somehow seemed fitting.  So there you have it!

If you would like to read more about how my story came to be, below (and on the following pages) you will find a collection of my more personal blog posts.

October 14, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Uncategorized

Wow, the last week has been a bit surreal! This last weekend was my birthday – Jacob wouldn’t let me in on pretty much any of the details regarding what had been planned…and I had a feeling that my pleas for a puppy would go unanswered (and rightfully so). But little did I know what he had in store for me.

On Thursday of last week, Jacobo told me that he would like to meet me at my work for lunch. I headed down all seven floors to meet him outside. When I approached him he seemed really nervous, telling me that he had to show me something, that even though it wasn’t my birthday, bla bla bla (it’s really all a blur)…then he turned my around, and my dear friend Kenny was standing there!!! Oh my gosh, I screamed and cried, and cried some more, all on this busy street in the middle of Madrid. I spent the entire lunch and the rest of the day nearly sick from the shock of the surprise. Apparently Jacobo had been planning it for months, intricately coordinating to have Kenny fly out and blindside me completely! I have never been so pleasantly surprised in my life!

As if that weren’t enough, really! The weekend rolls around and I am expecting nothing special expect for dinner on Saturday night…I did start to suspect something was in the works, but couldn’t quite figure it out. I decided that it must just be a dinner with more people than I expected, and that that would be it. There was something fishy about it all though. We ended up driving by Jacobo’s sister’s house, and somehow we just had to go inside. I was onto them at that point – not really knowing what to expect, but knowing that something was up. We got into the house and his sister gave me a healthy shove into the living room at which time a group of probably 25 people screamed “sorpresa!!!”

Nope, that wasn’t on my radar at all. A dinner with the family and a couple friends, sure, but all of these wonderful, generous people came just to wish me a happy birthday and make me feel at home because they knew it would be my first birthday here and away from the States. Jacobo’s sister, with the help of others, so generously coordinated and hosted the whole thing – his family continues to make me feel like this is my home away from home.

On top of everything else, here I am an ocean away and so many of my friends and family have called and/or sent emails, cards and packages, all making me feel so close even though I am so far away. What could have been a very lonely day was really one of the most special days ever. Oh, and they even threw a parade for me here in Madrid!! Ummm, ok, it wasn’t actually for me, but you know that guy, what’s his name – Christopher Columbus, that’s right, he made his little discovery a few years back and as a result the 12th of October is Spain Day. Lucky ol’ me gets my exact birthday off every year, no matter the day of the week ;). Not too shabby!

My friend Kenny will be here until this Friday, and then that same day, Jacob and I fly to Rome. I know, my life is way, way too rough, it’s quite ridiculous actually. Jacobo has to work in Rome next week, so we are flying out early to enjoy the city. So, until next week, ciao!!!

June 8, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine

Another week without a big adventure, and yet, as usual, so full of adventures! The first important news is that it FINALLY stopped raining!!! The bad news, however, is that it is cloudy again today and may rain for the next three days….one step forward, two steps back I guess. The other good news? The light at the end of the tunnel? They finally got my name right at Starbucks!!! A big “muchas gracias” to the creators of the movie “Erin Brokovich” who must have really pushed hard with the publicity here in Spain. I’ve learned that if I say “como Erin Brokovich” then everyone knows my name! Small victories people!!! Although, I am still trying to decide if I should be concerned that I am being associated with a women who dressed like a prostitute….

So what could have been the disaster of my week pretty much turned out to be the highlight. Cooking/baking here has continually been a challenge for me, so I thought cinnamon rolls seemed like an easy enough item to bake in a foreign country, right? I’ve nearly given up on exotic Asian foods, but everyone has butter, flower, sugar and so on, don’t they??!!! It never seems to quite sink in for me that it is actually impossible to make anything here without a massive struggle to find ingredients (much less cooking equipment like rolling pins!). The smallest things can pose the biggest challenges – like the butter (there are no marks on the outside to measure the quantity! It’s just a big brick!), vanilla (no extract!!! only powder!!!), or powdered sugar (it comes in a container that is the equivalent of a spice jar – yes, I have to either crack the thing open or sprinkle it into a bowl for several hours until it measures two cups). But, all’s well that ends well – last night, after being completely certain that my cinnamon rolls would turn out to be a disaster (I actually had Jacob go to the store and buy ice cream because I was just that convinced!), I ended up making the most insanely delicious rolls on the planet – frosting and all!!! It was no small feat, but in the end it was worth it!

Poco a poco, little by little, it’s feeling more like home here. I really look forward to seeing everyone when I visit my other home, in CA, this summer though!

April 8, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Uncategorized

A week left in San Francisco. A week left of having my own Victorian apartment, painted by me, decorated by me, furnished by me, and wow, really loved by me. A week left of driving my own car, or driving at all for that matter. A week left of doing the job I’ve loved for the last four years. A week left of English. A week left of the Bay Area and all the things I love about it – the food, the people, the weather, the water, the list goes on. A week left of having my friends, family and puppy close by.

This isn’t excruciating at all, is it?

I have to remind myself that I’m about to begin the adventure of a lifetime. Actually, I suppose the adventure has already begun – meeting a random Spaniard in a Madrid bar while on a chance three-day trip to Spain, talking to him for only 15 minutes, barely remembering the guy, and then forming a relationship purely over email and just hoping that he wasn’t a total creep. That first trip to Spain three months after we met was a huge gamble, and surely my biggest adventure to date. And the best gamble that I ever made.

Now I’m taking another gamble, moving my life a continent away to give a shot at love. So cheesy, but I guess these things really do happen in reality.

A week until Madrid. A week until my world won’t revolve around a nine-hour time difference. A week until endless supplies of jamón and tortilla española are at my fingertips. A week until I cram my life into someone else’s small apartment. A week until I get to be with the guy that I love. A week until the real adventure begins!