For the last several years, the thought of an extended weekend trip never crossed my mind. I was hyperfocused on exploring as slowly as possible. Thanks to my new-ish freelance lifestyle, it was possible for me to work and play for two weeks in Colombia, or most recently, to stretch the limits of the Schengen visa to spend a summer in Europe.

While there, I sampled digital nomad life in a loosely structured environment in Barcelona with Unsettled and learned a lot about myself. Like, how it’s simultaneously distracting and rewarding to live and work from a new place with people who are just as interested and curious about people, pursuing passionate endeavors and new experiences as I am. To be completely transparent, this same experience ate away at my productivity, no thanks (but really thanks) to the cool people I met in the program and all of the horchata, vermut, tapas, sunset strolls, beach days and more.

 

Reflecting on that month-long experiment nearly eight months later (crap, time really flies), I’m not sure that kind of framework is for me, but I’m glad I did it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have met the wide network of people (now friends) from around the world, like Parv, an interior architect from the UK who recently spent the holidays in SoCal, or Lindsay, a fellow American now in South Korea working on a new Korean beauty company (thanks for the samples! Those Puriface sheet masks left my skin soft and smooth).

*And, for anyone who wants to try some Puriface sheet masks, she sent me a promo code for $3 off your order (valid till 2/28 though so don’t delay): CURIOUSP

For a snapshot of my time in Barcelona, check out these posts from the blog:

I also uncovered a self-revealing epiphany and found my work groove when I went to Portugal after the Unsettled program. I stayed for two months; I worked from my Lisbon Airbnb rental and cute cafes (see Hello, Kristoff on Instagram), surfed a little bit (and learned I really need to up my upper body strength game), road-tripped to the Algarve to kayak sea caves, had heavily wine-induced life talks with visiting friends in Azeitao, popped up to Porto for our first portotonico and one of the most memorable nature walks ever, and almost cried on the way to the airport at the end of my visa because Portugal is my favorite and I can’t wait to return. I’d love to do some food and outdoor recreation-focused writing from there now that the freelance writing is picking up.

 

Speaking of which, here’s an essay I wrote for Brit+Co about that epiphany I had. And, for Food52, I wrote about Portuguese petiscos – like Spanish tapas, but not really.

Being back in San Diego has been equally eventful and nourishing. I’m actually looking forward to sticking around for more than three months at a time for once, and other than the long weekend I spent in Mammoth (my first in years – there were snowy hikes in the Inyo National Forest, nature walks near Bishop, muscle melting hot spring and organic self-serve yogurt!) stillness has its benefits.

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Convict Lake, Bishop, CA

For one, I got to be in an REI photoshoot where we hiked around Palm Springs at sunrise. I’ve also partnered with DeskHub in Little Italy, who has been gracious with lending me workspace these last few months. Their location is perfect; lots of lunch (and beer/wine options, like Herb & Eatery, where I can find all three), waterfront views within walking distance and is close to free parking areas.

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Fun day outdoors with REI for an upcoming campaign

Looking ahead, I’m keen to uncover more ‘backyard’ adventures, spend time in the kitchen with all of Bon Appetit’s new sister site Healthyish’s recipes, pay off my Prius (I’m soooo close, I can taste the plane tickets!), deepen relationships I’ve made in the intermittent months I’ve been home, because I’ll be home. For now.

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