After 2.5 years, I don’t have a return ticket to Valencia, Spain and it is bitter sweet. I’m so grateful for my time there, all the wonderful people I met and the beautiful places I’ve seen. As one chapter ends another begins. The best is yet to come in 2019!
My goals for the New Year:
Continue to grow my business and brand
48 hours in Dubai? That's crazy! Okay, I'll go...
Obviously, it takes a lot to convince me anything is a good idea.
Really, I did think about it and my hands were sweating profusely after I bought my ticket!
Not my cheapest flight but I did not want to miss this opportunity to visit my first Middle Eastern country.
Plus, I wound't be going alone but joining Roxana on a "work-trip" for Tesoro 1949.
My first meeting was with the sand dunes.
I booked a last minute, all-inclusive desert excursion on Airbnb Experiences for $40 just before leaving Valencia!
After settling in Rox and I went our separate ways; her to work and me to play! I am so excited for the sand dunes and just to be in Dubai, nothing could get me down.
The excursion company picked me up and I got in the car with the tour guide and 2 couples aka STRANGERS. As we are leaving the city and entering the desert, my mind started spinning "what am I doing here, ALONE?"..."The first rule of self-defense: Don't get in the car (Advice from Scandal's Jake Ballard)" and "Great, I'm in the backseat and won't be able to fully enjoy sand dunning".
All that negativity needed to go somewhere else.
We pulled into a campsite where we would wait for the other groups to arrive. United Arab Emirates flags blowing in the wind, men in their white dress and...four-wheelers? Whaaat?
I started to remember all the fun times as a kid, four-wheeling with my dad. The deal was, you stay in line and follow the guide. Well, he was going too slow and was more or less, in my way. In my dad's voice, "Children need to be free, live their own lives". Once the guide realized it wasn't my first rodeo, we had some real fun!
After about half an hour of four-wheeling and screaming/laughing through the sand dunes it was time to pile up back into the jeep for our caravan excursion.
The ride was fun but I wanted to be in the front seat! I asked the guy if we could switch and sure enough he said okay. I think Veronica two years ago would have just kept quiet and been upset I didn't get the full experience. But, if it is one thing i've learned is YOU GOTTA STICK UP FOR YOURSELF and IF YOU DON'T ASK, THE ANSWER IS NO.
We stopped for photo-ops and sand-boarding. I have never done anything like this in my life! For sure, I was bound to hurt myself but I was determined to try it. To my surprise, I MADE IT, then reality hit and we got caught in a sandstorm!
We frantically ran back to the Jeep and I claimed my rightful place in "shotgun". Head held high and a smile from ear to ear, a perfect time for a selfie.
The next experience was camel riding through the desert with the wonderful, Jameela. Jameela is Arabic for "beautiful; lovely" and that she was. I also held a hawk and hoped for no sudden movements. Here was also my first time trying dates. They were so delicious!
The final stop was at a campsite for dinner, henna, and a wonderful show. As I sat at my table, I began to look around and see all the couples and family/friend groups together. Getting that "alone" feeling at the pit of my stomach, I started wishing I had my family there to enjoy this amazing day with me. Just before I get too low, I remind myself how amazing it is that I came here by myself. Trusting myself fully to seek out adventure is such an accomplishment for me. Here, I enjoyed a great dinner, front row to amazing dancers, and met another Jameela. She was is black dress and gave me a beautiful henna hand design. My tour guide off in the distance reminding me to put in a good word for him with her. I did and she laughed. I had looked back at him and he was melting. So cute!
What an amazing excursion and wonderful experience to make some of my favorite memories. The main thing I took away from this was that the view is better in the front and when you are there take in all in and enjoy it.
Cuenca is the capital of the Castilla La Mancha Province in Central Spain. 3 hours from the city of Valencia it has two main features: Ciudad Encantada and Hanging Houses.
Ciudad Encantada (The Enchanted City) could almost have been named the City of Stones. A walk through this park and you'll stand amazed at the different massive rock formations. On June 11, 1929 it was declared a Natural Site of National Interest. Use your imagination and see rock formations in the shape of ships, bears, bridges, a croc vs elephant, the list goes on. It took about 3.5 hours to complete one of the routes provided. Packed a sandwich and had a picnic with my friends in the park before making our way to the city of Cuenca to see the hanging houses.
On our way to the city, we stopped at was is called Ventano del Diablo (The Devil's Window). Our tour guide said it got its name because this is where the Devil himself practiced witchcraft and threw anyone who looked through the window to their death. He tells us this after the fact!!!! NEXT STOP, PLEASE!
Finally, we made it to the Hanging Houses. The houses are literally hanging off a cliff with views of the Jucar River. Alexa, play Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer". Some of the houses were built up 13 stories high. Possibly the world's first skyscrapers, before NYC. After our city tour we made our way down the mountain to have a glass of wine at Grotte. It is a bar built into the rock. It was a great idea until we had to hike back up the mountain to our bus! Over half an hour of straight uphill madness.
Traveling alone has been the scariest, most liberating, and life-changing experience of my life, so I thought I would document it. My blog is named Table For 1 to inspire others to lose the fear of being alone and to get rid of any self-doubt. You deserve anything and everything you work hard for.