Best of the Blog 2017: The Top 10 Faves

“Time is a sort of river of passing events,
and strong is its current.”
-—Marcus Aurelius

Our seventh year of blogging has zoomed by, and we’re scratching our heads and wondering where it went. This is the time of year when we go down the hall to the Gallivance Statistical Analysis Department and get the report on our most popular posts for the year. As usual, some we predicted and others were a total surprise. So here goes: your top 10 favorite posts for 2017.

1. Something’s Cookin’ in this Old Spanish Kitchen. It’s always nice when one of our favorite posts turns up on the top of our readers’ list as well. In addition to being an excellent example of tile art, this beautiful and unique kitchen is a humorous and illuminating look into 18th Century life in Spain.

2. Stumbling into a Roman Villa: In Plovdiv, Truth is Stranger than Fiction. Plovdiv, Bulgaria was a delightful surprise and its Roman ruins were a big part of its appeal. But unlike many typical ruins, the Trakart Museum and its well preserved villa provided a glimpse into the personal life of well-to-do Romans.

3. Chasing Summer: Off the Beaten Path in America. When summer arrives, our first thoughts turn to camping. We love to wander across the USA, stopping wherever our whims take us, discovering the weird and wonderful.

4. Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca: A Stunning Symbol of Religious Cooperation.  Breathtaking isn’t a word that we use lightly, but in the case of this Toledo synagogue it was the perfect description. The simple colors and harmonious elements of this building had a visceral appeal that, while difficult to explain, was undeniable.

5. Refugees Welcome: A Most Uncommon Phrase. Our time in Serbia, witnessing firsthand the real human impact of the refugee crisis, is a painful, heartbreaking memory that will never leave us. And while the global news media has moved on to other issues, Madrid’s attitude and their project to help the refugees was a reminder that, at least in some corners of the world, there are kind people willing to help others in need.

6.The Aqueduct of Segovia: An Amazing Legacy of Ancient Rome.  A visit to just about any Roman ruin shows that their engineers built structures to last. But the astounding Segovia Aqueduct proves that, even after 2000 years, the Romans built things to function.

7. A Bevy of Brides Across Europe. Much to our delight, we always seem to stumble into weddings as we explore new cities. This year was no different. From Ireland and Belgium to Spain and Bulgaria, there’s nothing more smile-inducing than a bride.

8. Ajvar: Making the Real McCoy Right at Home. We fell in love with ajvar on our trip to the Balkans. Since we became so enamored with the delicious spread, we vowed to make our own when we got home. Here’s how it went! (Hint: it’s a labor of love.)

9. Salamanca Cathedral and a New Kind of Easter Egg. If you’re a tech wizard you know all about “easter eggs” – those hidden gems programmers hide in their software. It turns out that the stone carvers of Salamanca’s cathedral have the same wry sense of humor. This fun post exposes their secrets.

10. If You Build It Will They Come?: The Guggenheim and the Bilbao Effect. Although it was a late-in-the-year entry, this post focusing on an architectural marvel roared onto our list of top posts. It appeals to lovers of Spain, admirers of modern art and architecture, and those curious about the cultural and political ramifications of this bold venture.

So another great year comes to a close at Gallivance, and it’s put a few more miles and a few more posts on the meter. We cherish and never take for granted our ability to travel, nor the readers that have faithfully followed along all these years. It’s been a great ride, and we wish you all a fun, healthy 2018, and most of all – Happy Trails.

Happy New Year,
James & Terri


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

34 thoughts

    1. Thanks Laura. I see you guys are on the move. Your time in Texas looked like a great experience. Have you arrived FL yet? All the best in 2018, no matter where you settle. ~James

  1. Another year of enjoying your blog and wonderful photos! I especially loved your photos of the Spanish kitchen from ‘the year that was’ and exploring Madrid and the northern part of Spain is on our list for 2018. Here’s to a 2018 filled with many more travels – Happy New Year’s and Happy Trails to both of you! Anita and Richard

    1. Thanks Anita. Spain never disappoints, and as always, we enjoyed our recent trip there. The differences between regions of Spain have always been amazing to me. Of course, most countries in Europe are probably like this, but somehow in Spain, the differences are more obvious in daily life. All the best to you and Richard for a happy, healthy, and fun 2108, and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  2. I love all your posts — always interesting content with a twist of humor. And extremely well written. In looking over your top 10, I have to say I loved #10 best simply because I’d love to see the Guggenheim.
    Best wishes to both of you for a wonderful 2018. Hope you’ve got some great places all lined up to visit as well as some serendipitous urges to come your way. All the best to you for a healthy, happy 2018!

    1. Rusha, thanks very much for your kind words. It’s feedback like this that keeps us motivated. And I’m with you, the Guggenheim post is one of my favorites as well. In addition to being a fantastic building, the project is a real success story that lots of cities should emulate. As for travel in 2018, we’re beginning to knock around a few ideas which will probably come to fruition in the early spring. All the best to you and Bert in the coming year and thanks for continuing to follow along. And BTW, Happy 50th Aniversary. ~James

  3. Great post James and Terri! Here’s to a new year of joy, laughter, new discoveries, and many opportunities to create beautiful memories. Happy New Year and Happy Trails!

    1. LuAnn, we’ve had a nice holiday, but some family health problems have reminded us that every day counts, and this will set the tone for the upcoming year. We wish both you and Terry a happy, healthy, and fun 2018. ~James

    1. Thanks Pam. It’s a bracing 7° here and I’m wishing I was sitting on your deck watching the sunset. Have a wonderful New Year, and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

    1. Thanks Joyce. I hope that you guys are staying warm and doing well. I guess you know by now that John went home and seems to be doing well. Take care have a Happy New Year. Love, JH

    1. Thanks Alison and we wish you and Don all the best for 2018 as well. We’re glad that Vancouver is treating you well. We love to travel, but we can relate to having a comfortable place to come home to. ~James

  4. I love all your posts so would not be able to pick a favourite. I was pleased to see a number of Spain posts are included in the list. Happy New Year to both of you and happy travels for 2018!

    1. Thanks Darlene. We’ve spent a good deal of time in Spain, and it never disappoints. As I said to someone else, the variety of in Spain is amazing, and if we were going to spend an extended period in Europe, it would be somewhere in Spain. We hope that you have a fun, healthy and happy 2108, and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

    1. Thanks Lexie. I don’t know how you plan, but this holiday downtime is when we start thinking about travel for the coming year. As you know, that’s the “One Foot Out the Door” part. Here’s to letting your itchy feet move, and thanks again for continuing to follow along. ~James

  5. A very varied and, to me, quite inspiring selection. I am still in awe of the aqueduct, and remember most of the posts that made the list. As far as brides go, whenever I explore San Diego during the weekend, I come across (winter) weddings. Must be the climate. And, the locations favoring a view of the city or the bay. Happy Trails for 2018 as well! I hope to meet you guys on the road one day!

    1. Thanks Liesbet. The number of weddings that we stumble into is really getting into the “freaky” category. But, in addition to being heartwarming to see, it’s people watching at its best. We wish you and Mark all the best for the remainder of your stay in San Diego, and lots of interesting house sits for 2018. And most of all, thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

    1. Thanks for the comment Agness and for dropping by the blog. These end-of-year posts are always enlightening and there are usually a few surprises. We wish both you and Cez a happy, healthy, and fun New Year. ~James

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