I mostly write about food, cooking, nutrition, health, and some about homeschooling… but in the future on this blog you'll be seeing a lot more posts about travel, and about making money and financial independence. I love food and health and homeschooling, but I also really love to travel (and it's going to be a big part of our homeschooling). I'm also passionate about making money and investing. You see, money gives you the freedom to homeschool, and to travel. Also, we know that (the lack of) money is the number one cause of stress for most people. And stress causes and contributes to health problems.
Hence this post… and you'll see more like this in the future…
Barcelona and Bitcoin
Before I tell you about our trip last month to Barcelona, I have to tell you how important this trip was to me personally. You see, it's been a while since I traveled. And it was not by choice.
Last month, my husband and I made a trip out of the country for the first time in 4 years. As you may have read in my previous post, after my daughter was born, I built a business (my former blog network) from zero to $1.3 million within 5 years. (Read that post here.)
And then I lost everything.
We had a few very bad years financially, which thankfully coincided with the birth of our baby boy, Oliver (it's not so easy to travel much with a new baby anyway).
And I learned firsthand how stressful it is not to have money. Oh, sure, I was poor in college… but it's one thing to not be able to buy a nice dinner at a restaurant. It's nothing like wondering if you will lose your house because you can't pay your mortgage — and end up homeless on the street with your 2 kids.
Needless to say, things are getting better now. Thanks to my husband who has been working his tail off to rebuild our finances. And thanks to God.
And one thing I've learned about entrepreneurship is that all great entrepreneurs have ups and downs. And the downs are how you learn. The downs are what teach you everything. We all have failures from time to time, and the most important thing is to pick yourself back up and get back in the game as soon as you possibly can.
Which is what I did last year by restarting this blog. You fall down, you get back up.
Passport, Airplane Ticket, Here We Come
Anyway, back to the point of this post… traveling… The last international trip we took was in 2013 to Brazil. Last month, when my husband asked me if I wanted to go to a Bitcoin (cryptocurrency) conference in Barcelona, I said absolutely.
It was all very sudden, and we were in the middle of moving to our new house, but for some reason I just knew I had to go with him. (Turned out I was 100% right, and that's a whole other blog post which I won't go into here. Just goes to show you that you have to trust your gut. Things don't always seem logical but you just know you have to do it.)
We were literally packing the house until the last second before we jumped in showers, got cleaned up and dressed, and headed to the airport. We left on a Wednesday afternoon and came back on a Tuesday. Very, very quick trip. But worth it.
The flight was relatively easy, food was OK on the plane, although the seats were cramped and awful. We booked our flight on Air Berlin at the last minute (it's cheap) but I can tell you I will never fly that airline again. On the flight back, my feet were swollen like fat sausages because they were stuffed under a rail under the seat in front of me.
Never again! (In fact, stay tuned — in future posts, I'll be writing more about how to accumulate credit card points to fly business class and first class.)
The first night, we walked to a local tapas place near our hotel.
I always use Trip Advisor on my phone when I travel and it almost always results in great experiences. In my experience, the difference between getting a great meal and a crappy meal (or hotel for that matter) is taking the time to read the Trip Advisor reviews before you book.
I chatted with the owners (husband and wife, and their friend, the chef, seated). They told me that they'd only been open about six months.
They went out of their way to accommodate my husband's gluten intolerance.
Xiloka just emanated love. You could tell that this was their dream, to open a restaurant. It's obvious that they put so much care into everything they do. If you go to Barcelona, you should stop in and pay them a visit.
Barcelona is a gorgeous city, one of my very favorites in the world. It reminds me a lot of Rio de Janeiro with its beachy urban feel, only prettier. Kind of like a cross between Rio and San Francisco.
I had only been to Barcelona once before, for a week during Christmastime a little over 10 years ago. My husband, Seth, had never been. But Spain is one of his very favorite countries. We had a great time in Sevilla in 2012 which you can read about in these posts: Sevilla Part 1, Sevilla Part 2 and Sevilla Part 3.
We only had one free day (Saturday) for sightseeing before the Bitcoin conference started. We had left on Wednesday, lost Thursday due to the time change, and arrived on Friday.
We woke up to this video from 2-year-old, Ollie.
Seth woke up feeling sick, so we didn't do as much as we wanted. The main thing we wanted to do was visit La Sagrada Familia. Alas, it was totally booked up. The first opening was later in the week (but we'd already be gone by then). We did get to see it and took photos, then we headed to the Picasso Museum, which was worth going to if you like Picasso (one of Seth's favorite artists).
That night we met up with our friends who run the Bitcoin conference (I say Bitcoin conference but it's actually a cryptocurrency conference — scroll down, I explain below) for drinks and dinner. Sorry, I don't remember the name of the restaurant. Too much cava (see below).
One thing about Spain is there are a lot of late nights… so you just have to get used to that. Dinner doesn't usually start until 9 or 10 pm… people take their siestas in the afternoon and stay out late.
We stayed up way too late chatting with cryptocurrency investors and entrepreneurs.
If you don't know what Bitcoin is, it's basically a new form of digital currency. Bitcoin is not the only kind of digital currency, it's just the biggest one. There are lots of other forms of cryptocurrency.
I haven't invested in cryptocurrency yet, because I don't have income yet (still rebuilding my business). Hopefully by next year, I'll be able to start. I also plan to invest in real estate, which I will be blogging about.
Our longtime friends Michael and Maxine (we knew them when we lived in Vegas), the conference organizers, have been investing in Bitcoin for a very long time, and they've done very well. In fact, they're in the process of renovating 2 properties in Puerto Rico — a condo in downtown San Juan and an 8,000 square-foot “country house” which is a 15-minute drive away.
I've been hearing a lot about Puerto Rico lately from my entrepreneur friends. A lot of Americans are moving there and relocating their businesses so they can take advantage of the incredible 4% tax rate.
You only have to live there about 6 months out of the year to qualify… I love that idea… I'd love for our kids to be able to learn Spanish. I am seriously looking into this as an option for our family.
Maxine was showing me iphone photos of the pools she's building on both properties, plus their 50 fruit trees at the country house — avocado, mango, banana… can you imagine? Sounds like heaven!
We also drank a whole lot of cava (the Spanish version of Champagne).
And the next thing we knew, it was after 2 am… no cabs… no Uber… sigh… it was a long walk home. But at least the weather had cooled down. And at least I could walk off some of that cava and all the tapas.
And thank goodness I was wearing flip flops and not high heels.
The next day we slept in and that afternoon headed to the docks to go on a boat ride with all the conference attendees.
As we were getting ready to leave the hotel room, we looked down to see this, a private party on the terrace with mariachis:
It was a little choppy at first… I was worried I was going to get seasick because I normally do. But luckily I held out.
Others were not so lucky, I saw one guy puking into a garbage can, and a number of others had to stay horizontal the whole time.
Of course there was more cava and cocktails, and food. And lots of great conversations and many new friendships forged.
We had an early start the next morning, so we headed back to the hotel… I think we hit the pillows by midnight, which we considered a victory.
Coin Agenda is basically a 3-day event that connects cryptocurrency investors with entrepreneurs. A lot of what is happening in this space right now is what's called ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings).
I lived through the IPO (Initial Public Offering) days of the 1990s in Silicon Valley. A lot of people made a whole lot of money back then. Not me, I was in my 20s, and just starting out. I knew about Google and EBay and Amazon when they just started out… but I didn't know anything about investing. I wish I had — I'd be rich now.
In fact, a number of the people at the Barcelona Coin Agenda event were old friends from the 1990s dot com days. Including my former boss from Razorfish and Schematic. We agreed — this felt exactly like the 90s all over again.
ICOs are the new IPOs and it's a great way to make money on crypto… a lot more than you could make just buy buying Bitcoin (you can still make a lot of money by buying crypto, but getting in when they are just getting off the ground is even better). The thing is, how do you know what to invest in? You have to know the start ups and the people behind them. Like any fledgling industry, there are a lot of things that don't pan out. But if you know who to invest in, there's a lot of money to be made.
Enter Coin Agenda. In just 3 days, you can meet almost everyone and see all the presentations, and learn everything you need to start investing.
If you are serious about learning about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, I highly recommend attending the next Coin Agenda which is happening October 24-26 in Las Vegas.
I'm not sure yet if I will be going (our nanny is due with her first born on October 15 — just depends on when the baby comes and how much she needs me).
If you can't make Vegas, they do these events around the world once per quarter (4 times a year). I'm looking forward to the next one in Puerto Rico!
Drinks at Gaudi Casa Batllo
That evening, we all headed uptown for drinks and appetizers at the historic Gaudi Casa Batllo.
Since we missed La Sagrada Familia, we were very happy to get a chance to see this. Really spectacular architecture.
And of course, more wine and cava, and more food.
Party at the W
We had one more days of the conference and then the last night, we hung out and drank and ate and talked more at the W.
Great views from the rooftop bar!
My husband had to get right back to LA for work, so we left the party at midnight on Monday, like Cinderella in her pumpkin coach, headed straight to the airport, and hung out until it was time to board our flight to Dusseldorf.
We could have gotten a hotel room for that night but why go to the trouble when we would only get a couple hours sleep at best?
That said, when you are sleep-deprived, seeing something like this at the airport is super creepy:
That said, next time, we will hopefully be able to take a few more days and plan ahead. Not regretting this, though, swollen feet and all.
Vacations are great, but when you can combine food, drinks, art and architecture, with really smart people who are making a lot of money, yeah, that's a lot more fun.
Looking forward to the next Coin Agenda!