Tripper of the Week: Expat and Food Lover Cami Edwards
A food entrepreneur and avid traveler from San Francisco, Cami Edwards is currently living the life of an expat in Barcelona. She is our Tripper of the Week.....
Tell us a little about your background.
I'm originally from North Carolina. I started flying alone when I was seven years old to see my grandparents in Michigan every summer. I thought that solo trip was really exciting. I had my first real taste of traveling during my junior of college. I had been taking German for five years and decided to study abroad in Vienna, Austria. I was the only student who went from my school so I knew no one and realized I didn't really speak Viennese German! (A very distinct dialect.) So, it was a big challenge and adventure. I met the greatest people there though. My roommate and I are still friends. Vienna is one of the cleanest most beautiful cities. I traveled almost every weekend. The American dollar was strong then which was great for me, a student on a budget. Vienna is perfectly situation among Germany, France, Italy, Czech Republic and Hungary. And we went everywhere. That was when I got the traveling bug and never wanted to stop.
After University, I moved to Miami for a year and then San Francisco. San Francisco is probably the coolest American city. (Yes, of course I'm biased!) There is a never ending supply of art, music, fashion and food! It is a city that has managed to hold my attention for over a decade. Of course, I did a lot of traveling during that time too.
I own my own business in San Francisco and do all of my work online. So, working while traveling is fairly easy for me.
You are currently an expat in Barcelona. What led you to Barcelona and what do you most enjoy about living there?
My boyfriend and I decided to try working remotely earlier this year. We had heard Costa Rica was an easy, affordable and beautiful place to do so. We gave up our San Francisco apartments, put our stuff in storage, got a travel bag for our dog Lulu and left last summer. Being only one hour ahead of San Francisco, working was an easy transition. It was work during the week and full-time tropical paradise for three months.
My boyfriend was then asked if he could manage and meet with his European clients/team in person in the fall. Since we already had everything packed up, we decided to keep the momentum going and go straight there. After a brief trip back to the US to visit friends, drop Lulu with family and get winter clothes, we arrived in London in November. We adored London but Barcelona was the main attraction for us. We had both visited, loved it and wanted the opportunity to spend more time here. So, after six weeks in London, we are now working, living here and loving it.
Things I love about Barcelona… I had a great time writing these things down because I realized how much I have experienced here and how much more I have fallen in love with it since my first visit. The scenery is incredible. There are mountains, the sea, parks and tree everywhere. And of course, it's easy to get lost in all the small, winding cobblestone streets. I love all the lush plants hanging down from the balconies even in the dark alleys.
The Menu del Dia is my favorite time of day! Pretty much every restaurant has it. This is the main meal and it's usually around 10 Euros. That gets you an appetizer, entrée, drink, coffee and dessert. That food, to me, is better than tapas. This meal is the chef's true pride I think.
At night, you can get a copa de vino (glass of wine) pretty much anywhere for $1.25. Crazy! There are neighborhood parades (complete with fireworks) at random and regular intervals. These people love to have a reason to celebrate.
You can't beat the public transit. It's less than a Euro to get anywhere in the city. The trains run pretty much all the time. 24 hours on the weekend. You don't have to walk more than 10 minutes to find a station.
You've done a fair amount of travel. What is the most beautiful place you've visited?
One of the most beautiful places I have been recently is Costa Rica. Monteverde and the surrounding cloud forests are gorgeous. I'm such an animal lover so, for me, one of the most magical places we experienced was the hummingbird garden. There were hundreds of these little guys flying all around us, their little wings fluttering just inches from us. They had dozens of feeders and several different species including larger ones with dark blue feathers that I've never seen before. It was so peaceful to be in their presence.
There is another place I went in Thailand that I still have trouble describing, It's so stunning. It's called the Emerald Cave, off Koh Muk. You have to swim through a cave, which is really scary because the water and suction creates this loud roaring sound. And it's so deep, you can't see anything below your feet. But you end up in this hole in the middle of a huge rock with an opening to the sky. It's emerald green water, white sand beach and no entrance except through the tunnel you swam.
In addition to Spain, you've also lived abroad in the UK, Austria and Costa Rica. Which country was your favorite place to live?
I have to say that I have lived in some really cool cities. I had so much fun in San Francisco, Miami, Vienna and London. But I felt most at peace in Costa Rica. Your body changes and gets on the rhythm of the sun, which goes down around 6 and comes up around 6. I slept the deepest, most relaxing sleep. And did art projects I wouldn't otherwise have done. Time slowed down there. I saw my dog get really brave as she had to fend for herself for the first time. I had lots of time to bond and get to know my boyfriend REALLY well. We had a phenomenal view from our apartment and our own infinity pool. Pretty awesome. The people are really friendly and happy- the expats and the locals. There's a lot of swimming and surfing and chilling and hiking. You hear 'Pura Vida' everywhere you go. It's a greeting as well as a reminder that you are living a good life there.
During your travels and living abroad, what has thus far been the most memorable interaction with locals?
Before we went to London, we knew there was a huge Indian community and food presence there. London food, by the way, is phenomenal. Don't believe the old stereotypes. Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine there is so mouth watering, way better than I've had in the states. We really lucked out while we were there. A friend of a friend invited us over for dinner. She is an up and coming food show personality, her specialty being Indian. She has a state of the art kitchen used to film that was installed by her TV producers. We watched her cook her family recipes in the amazing kitchen. There were six of us having dinner, four locals and my boyfriend and I. And we had the best chef prepared meal, great conversation and a ton of fun. Talking about world politics, business and something that brings everyone together- FOOD.
Back in your hometown of San Francisco, where do you most enjoy taking visitors?
I love taking visitors into the Mission. You can walk down one street and it's boutiques, galleries, restaurants and cafes. And literally one block over, it's like you are in Latin America. I love it! This is how SF is, from one block to the next, it's a different world. You can get delicious lattes, ice cream, tacos, pizza, pastries, ANY cuisine all within walking or biking distance. There are murals everywhere, like fantastic, impressive murals. And Dolores Park is still my favorite where you can see the whole city, hang out in the palm trees and have a picnic. For a short daytrip, I think it's also a lot of fun to take friends to Sonoma and do some winery tours. We're lucky to have that so close to the city.
Where are you headed on your next trip?
Amsterdam! I've spent a couple of weeks there several years ago but my boyfriend hasn't been yet. I have a couple of friends there still. Looking forward to seeing them again.
Cami, Happy Travels in Europe! Come to one of our Happy Hours when you're back in San Francisco. ;)
If you're in Barcelona now or visiting San Francisco this summer - or just for tips about the places she's been - connect with Cami via her Tripping profile.