I first met Molly during the press trip to Barcelona with Opera Samfaina. She currently lives in Granada but spent so long in Barça that she was like our tour guide; it was surprising how much she knew about the smallest of details! It’s been a while since we got back from Barcelona, but I wanted to share her interesting story with all of you.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m Molly and I’m based in Granada, Spain. Since 1998 I have been living in Spain permanently and now call Spain home. Initially, I lived in Barcelona for 8 years then moved south to Andalusia. My travels all around Spain take me to different villages and festivals. I still haven’t seen the whole of Andalusia yet; it’s so vast.
What inspired you to travel?
At a young age, I became fascinated with languages. Although I learnt just basic French and Spanish at school that was enough to spark interest in other cultures. And even though the UK has had a love affair with Spain since the 60s, it often seems familiar, however, we only scratch the surface on short holidays.
Getting to know the culture, customs and food are taking me some time. Especially with the infinite list of regional and seasonal variations.
Tell us about your blog
My blog focuses on Food Travel and Culture in Spain. I love to collect UNESCO World Heritage Sites on my travels. History, Architecture and Cultural festivals are some of my other favourite topics.
My idea was to give more in depth coverage of places in Spain which are less known or perhaps misunderstood even. I want to be the (wo)man on the ground for people visiting Spain; sharing tips like a local about destinations around Spain that may not first spring to mind.
How do you afford to travel? Do you blog full-time?
I am now blogging full time, Tourism is now my career. Before trying to balance my day job with Social Media events and Blog conferences was increasingly more complicated. Now I arrange my travel and work each month as I please. Often travelling in the week and working over the weekend works best.
Travelling around Spain is finely balanced between collaborations with hotels and brands and self-funded trips. I am keen to recommend only experiences and destinations I truly see the value in.
How do you like to travel?
Despite all the different accommodation options these days like Airbnb, glamping, couch surfing and house swapping — I love hotels. I love service and appreciate being comfortable while travelling as when I am at home. Hotels also tend to have amazing locations; right in the city centre or with special views over historic sites.
Saying that, I have been to many hotels from 3* to 5*GL and know that the experience isn’t ever based on the star rating. It’s always the staff that make things tick. Two of the best hotel experiences I had were 3-star hotels in Spain. What made those experiences special… the staff of course and their attention to detail.
I am highly focused on the local culture when I travel. I am the pesky kid constantly asking “why?”. I need to know what’s behind the customs and society in a particular place. Culture and history are inextricably linked. For me learning about the culture often opens up information about a destination, making the articles flow when I come to write them.
What has been your favourite destination, and why?
In Spain, I love Cadiz mainly for the people. They have such a positive & friendly attitude towards tourists and visitors. I remember ordering an item from the menu in a typical Fish restaurant. I asked for Russian salad (typical in Spain over summer) the waiter told me that it wasn’t advisable and to choose again as they had better things. I should pick something else.
Right there, pride in his product and his work. Can’t ask for more than that. Makes me want to send all the waiters for training in Cadiz.
Cadiz is a little tricky to get to as the nearest airports are far away but this ensures that it retains its Spanish charm. It’s the oldest city in Spain and possibly Europe.
What are the top 3 destinations on your bucket list?
In Spain, I want to visit Extremadura to see UNESCO sites there and I need to explore Northern Spain too.
In the world, I want to visit Japan.
Tell us about your best and worst travel experiences!
Best travel experience
I have so many but probably one of the best was Boston, USA. I felt so at home there. It’s one of the few places that I didn’t actually want to leave when the last day came around. The vibrant city and friendly people really made the experience.
It seemed to have most of the things a large USA city has, but it has a certain elegance and charm that I´d not seen before on my travels around America.
Worst travel experience
Again I have a few that are right up there. A dodgy NYC hotel stay was pretty grim… however the worst experience in Morocco. The plan was to have a camel ride at sunset and spend the night under the stars at a luxury desert camp. The problem was that it was low season, August. Temperatures were extreme 45C-50C and there were barely any people about.
On the day we headed to the desert our driver didn’t get to the meeting point in time for the sunset. So our camel ride was in the dark. It started off with the last rays of Sunset but soon became pitch black.
Before getting on the camel I actually wanted to cancel the ride, our accommodation was at the desert camp. That half an hour journey seemed endless. A sandstorm hit us half way through and it even rained for a short while. Yes… in the Sahara desert!
I wasn’t given the typical scarf to cover my face either. So I got an impromptu exfoliation with the sand blasting my face in the strong wind. The camel driver didn’t speak English, French or Spanish. So I couldn’t even ask “are we there yet?”
That journey to the camp was pretty scary and ruined the desert camp experience for me.