Interview by Nancy Todd
Liz Carlson’s life motto, ‘Wander’, which also appears as her tattoo, comes from Tolkien: “Not all those who wander are lost.” Her blog, Young Adventuress, covers Spain and beyond.
Please describe your role with your site.
I write about traveling and expat life in Europe. Four years ago, I said goodbye to the freezing cold New England winters and hola to sunny warm Spain for the first time, and I haven’t looked back since. Unsatisfied living in the same place for too long, I have called several cities in Spain home, from Salamanca to Madrid, Córdoba and Málaga, and now Logroño, in the north.
1. What is the most satisfying part of your work?
I think the most satisfying part of my blog has to be the positive feedback I get from my readers. I love when I receive emails or messages from people asking for my advice on traveling to certain places, sharing their own travel stories with me, or even just leaving little comments. But the best part has to be when people tell me that my blog inspires them. Whether it inspires them to dream of bigger things and stepping out of their comfort zones in search of adventure, or to travel to new places they’ve never been, or even to start a blog and write, that is one of the best feelings: to inspire someone else.
2. Why did you decide to start your blog?
I decided to start my blog, Memoirs of a Young Adventuress, before I went on a two week trip to Peru my senior year of college. At this point I had already lived abroad and had been traveling pretty extensively for several years. I really wanted to share all my thoughts, tips, travel secrets, and destinations with my friends and family in one place, and since I was planning to move back to Spain a few months later, I decided that that was the perfect opportunity to begin publicly chronicling all my adventures. It was only the beginning…
3. What are overlooked gems in your area you think people should see?
I feel that La Rioja, the region where I live in Spain is itself an overlooked gem. Very few people think to come here, and if people have heard of it, it’s usually only because of the wine. However, La Rioja has to be one of the prettiest, diverse regions in Spain with so much to offer! I would recommend eating pinchos along the calle Laurel in Logroño on a Saturday night, exploring the narrow winding streets of Laguardia, hiking in the Sierra de la Cebollera mountains, walking along the vineyards in Haro when the leaves are changing in the fall, and visiting the mother of all bodegas, Marqués de Riscal in Elciego. From the variety of great food to incredible wine, to varying landscapes peppered with beautiful castles, monasteries and medieval villages, not to mention some of the kindest and friendliest people around without the boatloads of tourists. La Rioja has a lot to offer people who like to travel off the beaten track.
4. What are challenges you have faced in living in Spain?
Living abroad in and of itself is extraordinarily challenging. Until you do it yourself, most people can’t understand just how difficult it can be. From going to the bank, to buying food, to making friends and trying to integrate into a completely new society. Even the littlest things can be a struggle, not to mention have to do it all in a language that is not your own. However, if I had to pick my biggest obstacle in Spain, it has to be the lack of customer service. Growing up in the States, I have definitely been spoiled when it comes to incredible customer service. I’ve been here for almost three years now, and I still cannot come to terms with this. Waiting in line somewhere for 20 minutes while the worker is talking on a cell phone or having to ask a waiter three times for the check.
5. What are your favorite foods?
My favorite foods? How do I even begin to answer that?! Even narrowing it down just to Spanish food is challenging. I am a huge fan of the traditional food in Spain like olives, Spanish cured ham, chorizo, Manchego cheese, and tortilla de patata paired with a nice glass of Rioja red, of course. Though if anything, I love the variety of food that Spain has to offer. Each region and city has its own specialty. Now that I am living in La Rioja, I have definitely come to love pinchos, a variation of tapas, small portions of different foods; there are so many delicious ones, it’s hard to choose a favorite! Right now my favorite pincho in Logroño has to be el champi, three sauteed mushrooms covered in a buttery garlic sauce, skewered on a slice of baguette topped with a shrimp. Superb.