This has really been an emotional roller-coaster. 

We all thought that the world was upside-down when COVID hit in 2020 and 2021, then Putin came in 2022 to let us know that he could shake things even harder. He has decided to start WWIII on his own. I guess he didn´t expect that the entire world would be against him. Of course, northern Europe depends on Russian oil, but come on Vladimir, you are not the only supplier… 

What about the weather? Unfortunately, 2022 has been a record year regarding worlds temperature. In fact, 2022 has been the year with the highest ever recorded temperatures in Spain. Early summer we had terrible fires all around Europe and the USA. There were fires in California, Washington state, in France, Italy and of course in Spain. When fall arrived, there has been terrible floods in Asia. If that was not enough, a freezing front called Elliot, has decided to cancel Christmas for many Canadian and American families. 

We have ended the year with earthquakes in Mexico and northern California and even a volcano has erupted in Hawaii.

As I said at the beginning, WHAT A YEAR!

Home sweet home

On a more personal subject, this year has not been such as chaotic as 2020 and 2021. We all have passed COVID at home. Thank God or the vaccines, it was just a cold that in four days it was just a memory. 

Our two older kids are already in college, so we are suffering a little bit of the empty-nest syndrome. We still have one kid with us but two out of three out of home makes the house very quiet. I fear the end of 20223, when the little one will be gone too. The good thing now that COVID traveling restrictions are history, is that we have been able to finally visit the kids and see how they are living on their own. I must say that I am very proud with them, not just for their grades, but also, I am impressed on how well they have organized their lives.

Tourism is back!

On a professional way, this 2022 has been a great year. Finally, tourism has re-emerged from its ashes like the Phoenix in the Greek mythology, and after two long years of forced hibernation we have seen the rebirth of tourism.

Unfortunately, not all our suppliers (many times also friends) have survived COVID`s long tail. We have seen many hotels and restaurants closed, and many local guides have changed their working paths. On the other hand, it has been joyful to reconnect with the ones who have survived. By now, you probably know that I am a big cry baby, well, this year I have cried of joy half of the guiding season. 

Working this year started with some local guiding, that was a great warmup for the season. Then my so loved Rick Steves tours of the Basque country came, and I enjoyed every second of them. I had the pleasure of joining Rick in one of his Monday night Specials in 2021. Although talking with Rick was a moment I will always treasure, I must confess that it has been much more exciting being back leading some of his tours. 

To top all of this, I have created and guided my first tours. SO EXCITED! I have done three different itineraries. 

In May I organized a PRIVATE TOUR starting in Madrid ending in Pamplona. We discovered central Spain and part of the Basque Country.  This was a very well-travelled group of friends who didn´t want to visit just the top touristic sites in Spain, they wanted to understand the different cultures of Spain.  For example, in Madrid we went to a flamenco class. It was not just a show where you have no clue what they are doing, I organized a class before the show to learn about what we were going to see. This way we could appreciate much more the show.

We visited Avila with its amazing XI century walls, Segovia with its breath-taking roman aqueduct, Burgos and its impressive XIII century gothic cathedral, and many more things.

It was great!

At the end of the summer, I did a BASQUE STAYCATION with the most amazing couple from Washington. I must confess that before this week, I was super stressed. It was going to be a week just the three of us 24/7.

What if they would have been weird?

What if they hated me?

What if….?

Well, it turned out that they were the nicest people in the world.

We stayed in our home in the Pyrenees, where every morning, I prepared breakfast and by 9.00 am we were out of the house. Before the tour started, we had a couple of zoom calls to get to know each other and to see what they were interested on. I had a draft of the tour designed for them, but as it was just us, we decided where to go the night before. Yes, it required me to be ready for anything, but it really was an amazing experience.

We walked, we ate, we discovered the real Basque culture and we had SO MUCH FUN!

Last but not least I did the CAMINO TOUR!

This tour was ready for 2020, but it kept on being postponed. Unfortunately, not everyone who signed for the tour at the very beginning was able to come, we even had a last-minute cancelation.

This nine-day tour started with an amazing dinner by the port in Saint Jean de Luz (France). The next morning, we headed to Spain and walked part of the Camino del Norte, by the coast and among vineyards. We also walked part of the Camino the morning of day 2, it was about 3 hours of easy hiking, this time surrounded by fields of grain and small stone villages.

We deserved a day of rest, so we stopped in Laguardia, one of my favorite villages in La Rioja wine region. We did some interesting wine tastings, and we had a top of the notch lunch.

The next days we entered Castilla, land of El Cid Campeador, one of Spain´s national heroes. We stopped in Burgos and in Leon, where we stayed in two magnificent hotels. One was a former convent and the other a palace.

After this “Castilian splurge” I wanted to rough it up a bit, so our next hotel (already in Galicia) was a very nice pilgrims’ hostel in a mega small village called Ocebreiro. When we arrived to Galicia the gods of traveling wanted to prove us, and they sent towards us rain and wind. It was not drizzle and breeze, it was heavy rain and high-speed winds. We should have walked another part of the Camino, but it was impossible.

I had to proof that plan B was as good as plan A.

When I was a kid, I walked the Camino with my high school, I remembered about a very cool Benedictine Monastery where we stayed one night. It is called Abadia de Samos. Before this tour started, I called them to see if they could host us, but they said that they don´t do that anymore. As I had their phone, I called them that rainy morning and asked them if they could show us the monastery. They said yes, it was a total success.

Our next day we conquered SANTIAGO, we entered the city and we arrived at the Cathedral on foot. I tried to refrain my tears, but I couldn´t, suddenly a strange overwhelming feeling took over me.

It was really an incredible tour.

As you can see this 2022 has been a roller-coaster and it is time to first thank all of you for following my adventures. ♥️ Second, I want to thank my wife and kids for keeping up with my stress, I love you.♥️ Finally, I want to thank three special friends who have been my emotional support not just this year, but these long COVID years.♥️

Liz, William, and Jorge you are the best, I cannot thank you enough, I love you.

Now it is time to start preparing for all the adventures that will come in 2023.


PS: There is one more thing, I have found out that I love all the internet connections. My E-friends from YouTube and FaceBook I hope one day our paths get to cross and finally meet you in person. ♥️