April Wrap-Up

May is officially here! Anyone else feel like April lasted for a long time? Or just me?

Now that April is over, I thought I’d do a little wrap-up of what I’ve been up to this past month, as well as what’s coming up in the future. I’m going to try and do this at the end of every month, but we’ll see how it goes.

Enjoy!

Where I went

Near the start of April I returned from Spain. As of this posting it will be exactly a month since I got back. How is this possible?? It somehow feels like it’s been both a really long time and not that long at all.

This was my first solo trip (!!!) and I was there for about three weeks. I went to Madrid, Segovia, Granada, Nerja, Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera, Sevilla, and Córdoba.

the Mezquita
The Mezquita, in Córdoba

I loved Spain. I mean, maybe you can’t tell from my previous posts, but I really did. I’ve already talked about it a bit on here, like in this post about the amazing food tour I took and this one about some important lessons that I learned along the way.

I’ve also been posting pictures of my trip here, as well as on my Instagram and my Tumblr, if you’d like to see more. I have SO MANY photos so I’m sure I will be posting more in the future.

What I did

Besides recovering from my trip, I’ve been working a lot. I’m a freelancer and I have been looking for more clients, which has taken up a good portion of my time. I’ve also been trying to stick to a posting schedule for this blog, since I’m a notorious procrastinator. So far, so good! (I think)

Baths of Lady María de Padilla at the Alcázar of Sevilla
Baths of Lady María de Padilla at the Alcázar of Sevilla

On a more personal note, I got to see one of my best friends who I don’t get to see very often as she lives out of state. She’s actually about to have a baby and I probably won’t see her again until after the birth so it was nice to spend some time with her.

I also started a women’s self-defense class this month. I decided to take it so I would feel more confident in general and also while traveling alone. It’s been really fun and empowering and I’m learning a lot. If you’ve ever thought about taking a self-defense class, it’s definitely something I’d recommend!

What I read

I’ve said before that I love to read. But for some reason so far this year I’ve been finding it really hard to get into any books. But I FINALLY managed to finish a book this month: How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh.

This is the first book I’ve finished since December, and I really liked it!

How to be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

I’ve been watching Lilly’s (aka Superwoman) YouTube videos for a while and I think she is so funny and talented. Her book is full of tons of no-nonsense advice and life lessons from the years of hard work she’s put in to become the success that she is now. Her passion for her work as well as for helping others comes across brilliantly on the page, and I really appreciate how genuine she is.

How to Be a Bawse is a book I would definitely recommend to people who are fans of Lilly’s videos, and even to those who have never heard of her. Her advice is still practical whether or not you are a fan of her YouTube channel (but seriously, if you have never watched her videos, you really need to fix that now). If you’ve been looking for a kick-in-the-pants to get started on some goals you’ve been putting off, How to Be a Bawse will definitely do the trick.

What’s next

Right now, I don’t have any specific big trips planned, though I’m working on figuring that out. I will probably take a road trip to Idaho in July to visit my friend after she has her baby, which I am really excited about. My family is also planning a short trip to Ocean Shores, Washington this summer, probably in June.

I’m also wanting to explore more of Washington. Even though I’ve lived here my whole life, there is still so much I haven’t seen and that’s a shame, really, because it’s a beautiful state. Since I don’t have the time/money to jet off on another three-week adventure, I thought I would focus on doing some day trips here and there to explore places in Washington that I haven’t been to yet.

That’s about it for April! As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, tumblr, and Pinterest. If you are interested in working with me, you can view my business information here.

What did you get up to in April? Go on any amazing trips? Read a book you want to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

5 Lessons Learned From My First Trip to Spain

Before leaving for Spain I didn’t know quite what to expect. What would a big solo trip like this actually be like? Would it be an absolute disaster and turn me off of the idea of traveling forever? Would it be a life-changing experience that I could one day turn into a best-selling memoir?

I assumed, and I was right, that my actual experience would lie somewhere in the middle. It didn’t turn me off traveling (exactly the opposite), and I don’t think I came back a completely new person. Still, I did learn some important lessons while traveling by myself, so I thought I’d share them today.

The five lessons I learned while traveling solo for the first time

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My Favorite Views From Spain

Spain is full of amazing scenery and views. It felt like every day I would come across something that would leave me going wow wow wow and I don’t ever have to leave, right? 

I have SO MANY pictures from Spain but I feel like they barely do the place justice! Still, I wanted to share some of my favorite scenery from my trip. Hopefully these photos inspire you to add some of these places to your travel wish list!

The view overlooking Segovia

Segovia is a delightful town about an hour northwest of Madrid. As you walk along the main street leading from the Aqueduct to Plaza Mayor, there’s this little area where you can look out over the tops of all the buildings and see the mountains and hills off in the distance.

The mountains over Segovia

What I liked about this was that I wasn’t even looking for a scenic place to take a picture. I just rounded a bend in the road and there it was.

Segovia

Unfortunately, I got sick while I was in Segovia and spent a lot of time in bed. I’m hoping that I will be able to go back there someday so I can really explore the town more and see all that it has to offer.

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In Which I Introduce Myself

So guess who’s four posts in and hasn’t even given a proper introduction yet?

Oh yeah it’s me.

My first post was going to be an introduction post, I swear…then my second….then my third…. you get the idea.

The thing is, I really, really, really, really hate introducing myself. Icebreaker games in new classes were always a nightmare, and don’t even get me started on “about me” sections on social media. I’d rather do just about anything else besides try to answer the question of who I am. In fact, as I try and write this post I keep finding other things to do to procrastinate. Just one more YouTube video…

I don’t know why I hate introductions so much. Maybe it’s because I think I’m not very interesting, or because I’m so anxious that I worry too much about what I’m going to say.

But I figure if I’m going to keep up this blogging thing, y’all might want to know who I am.

So. Hi. I’m Gracie.

The only somewhat decent picture of myself from Spain.

I started this blog because I love to write. I’m a freelancer and I’m always coming up with story ideas.(Which I usually start and then abandon halfway through. I have some commitment issues.) I’ve also always wanted to travel. Earlier this month I got back from a three-week trip to Spain, and I am already looking ahead to where I might go next.

Another hobby of mine is photography. I recently took a photography class and got excited about photography again after not really being into it since high school. I’m interested in travel photography and improving my skills in that area, and I’ll be sharing my pictures here as well as on my Instagram.

From the Alhambra in Granada, Spain

I also plan to use this space to sometimes talk about how mental health affects travel, as I’ve dealt with anxiety and other mental health issues over the years and I think it’s really important to talk about. My anxiety is one of the big reasons why I haven’t done much traveling before now, and I want to talk about these struggles so that other people who may be dealing with a mental illness and who feel like they can’t do things like travel will know that are not alone.

Segovia, Spain

So why am I calling my blog “The Traveling Book Lady”? I’ve always really loved books and reading. A lot of the places I want to travel to come from reading about them in a book somewhere, and I like visiting bookstores and other literary sites.

I’d originally planned to focus some of my travels specifically on seeking out different literary sites, interesting bookstores, and the like. I sort of dropped the ball on this one in Spain, though, as I got a major case of Biting Off More Than I Can Chew and ended up not fitting in a lot of what I had planned. Still, I like the idea of “literary tourism” and I’ll probably seek out those experiences in the future.

I hope you’ll choose to follow along as I talk about my past and future trips, take photos, and have a lot of anxiety about the whole thing. You can subscribe to updates by putting your e-mail in over on the right. You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and tumblr.

If you made it through this whole thing, great! Introduce yourself in the comments below (unless introductions also make you anxious, in which case I understand). I’d love to know how you came upon my blog, too. Thanks!

What it’s Like to Take a Tapas Tour with Devour Madrid

Recently, I got back from my first solo trip, a 3-week backpacking excursion around Spain. And, guys? It. Was. AWESOME. I definitely have the travel bug now, and I’m already dreaming about when I can get back to Spain.

Luckily, I made sure to rub my feet on point zero, which is supposed to guarantee a safe return to Madrid.

My trip began in Madrid, and, if I had to pick, it was probably my favorite city (But please don’t make me pick). So I thought today I’d talk about one of my favorite things that I did while I was in Spain: going on Devour Madrid’s Tapas, Taverns, and History Tour.

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I’m going to Spain: Some thoughts on my first solo trip

I’m going to Spain.

I have to keep telling myself that because it still doesn’t seem real. But it is. I’ve booked my flight. I’ve booked accommodations. I’m reading my guidebook (shout out to Rick Steves, heyyy). I’m going to Spain!

I’ve also been brushing up on some important Spanish phrases.

This is going to be my first international trip (Well, besides Canada. But Canada is my next door neighbor, so that hardly counts, right?) And my first solo trip. And the longest flight I’ve ever been on.

So many firsts, y’all. I’m kind of freaking out.

So, why Spain? Why now?

Great question. For one thing, I’m going to be 25 next month, which is when I’m leaving. This is like a big birthday present to myself. And Spain is a place I’ve been wanting to go for a while. Like I talked about before, I’ve thought about teaching abroad there, and I thought it was finally time I actually see this place I’ve been dreaming about.

Plus, Spain is pretty affordable this time of year, as far as Europe goes (or so I’ve been told), and I’m nothing if not… well, I was going to say cheap, but let’s go with “economical.”

I’ll be gone for almost three weeks, and I’ve decided to focus my time on Madrid and southern Spain, which are the areas I’ve wanted to visit the most. After flying into Madrid and spending a few days there, I’ll be visiting Segovia, Toledo, Granada, Nerja, Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera, Sevilla, and Córdoba, before flying out of Madrid.

At this point, I have only a little over two weeks until I leave. Queue internal freak-out. I’m excited but I won’t lie, my anxiety has definitely been acting up over this trip. I’m trying to focus on the positives and excitement I am feeling, but that can be pretty difficult when you’re a person with anxiety.

If you have any recommendations on things to see/do in any of the places I’ve mentioned, feel free to let me know in the comments! I’m especially interested in any cheap/free activities, since I’m trying to do this a budget.

If you want to keep up with me while I’m on the road, check out my Twitter and Instagram. I probably won’t be making any blog posts about my trip until after I get back.

How to Cope with Anxiety while Traveling

Anxiety is something I have dealt with for most of my life, and I’ve written about it before. As I’m sure others who suffer from anxiety will understand, going on a trip can bring up a lot of opportunities for anxiety to rear its ugly head.

Just don’t think about how far up you are and it’s totally fine (photo courtesy of my friend in the window seat.)

Last year, I went on a few short trips with family and friends, and there were several times when anxiety cropped up and made things unpleasant. Since one of my goals for 2017 is to travel more, I’m going to have to work on finding more ways to deal with my anxiety. Luckily, I have already figured out a few things that help me deal with anxiety while traveling. Hopefully, if you deal with travel-related anxiety some of these methods will work for you as well.

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How to Teach English in Spain Legally

About a year ago, I earned my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate through the International TEFL Academy (ITA). I took the online course, and it was a great experience. While Life Stuff (and, let’s be honest, a big ol’ dose of fear) has gotten in the way of my going abroad to teach so far, it’s still something I think I would like to pursue someday.

When I was first considering the idea of teaching abroad, one place that I really wanted to go to was (and still is) Spain. Spain is actually a fairly popular destination for teaching abroad, but it can be tricky to go about doing so legally, especially as a US citizen.

The United States doesn’t have a working holiday agreement with Spain the way Canada does, and it’s just about impossible for someone from the US to get a work visa in Spain for teaching English. (Side note: if you HAVE managed to get a work visa for this and are a US citizen, I would love to hear your story. You can contact me here)

There are some people who choose to just go over on a tourist visa, overstay it, and teach under the table. And while this isn’t uncommon, it’s not something I would want to do. Knowing my luck I’d be the one sorry soul to be banned from the EU forever.

I’ve listed here some of the ways in which US citizens can teach English in Spain legally. These aren’t the only ways to teach legally in Spain, but they are some of the more popular ones, and they are all legitimate. 

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