A Cinderella Traveler: Finding the Right Shoe

For the love of God, if I get back to the states and see another otherwise respectably dressed woman walk the streets of New York City wearing a fancy dress and bright white running sneakers, I may have to smack her.  There IS such a thing as comfortable flats people!

Proof #1: the fashionable women of Valencia

Proof #2: my current shoe wardrobe

The corporate version of Casey back in the states wears high heeled pumps, leopard print flats, gold glittery sandals, over the knee boots, green suede ballet flats, and more heels. Too snazzy for work, you say?  Never! is my reply.   (I am HR.  I make the rules.)  (Kidding.) (Not kidding.)

The version of Casey who lives out of a suitcase — the version of myself during Remote Year —  and the version I’m quite enjoying — has no such options.  One checked bag, weight limit 50 pounds.  One backpack, weight limit whatever I can physically lift and wear for hours at a time.  (Side note: I’m a baller in that backpack.)

A few things before we proceed.  I understand that some many men need no such variety in shoes, as many of my male colleagues have 2 pairs of shoes and that’s it.  I also understand that some women also have no such need for 7 pairs of shoes. But I do.  I’ve worn every pair so far and each has proven multi-purpose and comfortable.  I’ve prioritized footwear over packing other items because I’m on my feet all day and usually all night (hello parties til 5am.)   (Pro tip: Band Aid Blister Block.  Changed my life.)


Shoe #1: Running Sneaks.  I toyed with the idea of trail running shoes that could double for hiking, but decided as I work out several days a week and may only hike a handful of times on this trip, and so my Nikes would do the job. And they are.

Shoe #2: Black Toms.  My comfy casual walk-all-over-the-city shoes.

Shoe #3: Brown Sperrys. Comfy walk-all-over-the-city shoes that I think I can wear with a dress. Maybe. I’ll see if I can pull it off.

Shoe #4: Black Gladiator Sandals.  Admittedly these won’t last more than another month or two (a year old already) but I don’t mind replacing them. You can’t expect a girl to go a whole year without buying shoes, can you?

Shoe #5: Gold Sandals.  Dressier, match everything, leather and comfortable.

Shoe #6: Beach Flip Flops.  Not good for long periods of time but I can yuck em up pretty good at the beach or the hot springs or if I encounter a questionable shower situation.

Shoe #7: Nude Wedge Heel.  This was the challenge for me.  To bring a heel or not to bring a heel? Bring 2 heels?  I landed on a nude wedge with a 3 inch heel that I wore once and probably not again. These might go home.  No one is more shocked about this than me, but I need to be practical.  I wore the heels at a fancy welcome event where I could have easily worn my gold flat sandals.  I’ll probably pick up a strappy pair in South America for salsa dancing but til then, sayonara

Dear Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

You might remember a phone call back in 2013 when I was living and working in NYC.  I think I recall eating a waffle off a food truck, walking to work on a Saturday absolutely in love with my life.  And I had called to tell you just that.

Well, it was way too early in the morning in New Jersey for a call when I started thinking about this, (plus I think a call at this hour would scare you into thinking it was an emergency), but I wanted to let you know that, again:

I am SO happy.  And THANK YOU.

Thank you so much for your unending support.  Thank you for not dismissing this as a phase, or reacting to my acceptance into Remote Year with a dismissive scoff.  I know there’s a fear level when your oldest child is an ocean away, but thank you for not reacting with horror when she first called to say she would be traveling to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia and what do you guys think?  Thank you for supporting my efforts to find remote work, and thank you for believing that I could.  Thank you for letting me move home for a few months before leaving.  Thank you for letting me invade your wine closet.  Thank you for helping me unload the U-Haul and for storing all of my possessions for the year.  Thank you for the phone calls and visits before I knew about Remote Year, when I was feeling a bit lonely and purposeless. Thank you for bringing me up to be curious, confident, and captivated by what the world has to offer.  Thank you for encouraging my independence, always.  Thank you for valuing travel and coming to visit me this year.  And probably most of all: Thank you for not starting your kitchen reno project until after I left.

Love you so much.


Castles, Squirt Guns and Group Dynamics

This was our first ‘free’ weekend, meaning there weren’t any major Remote Year-scheduled activities.  Day trippin time!

After an American-style Friday night consisting of beer in red cups at a bar called Red Cup, I woke up Saturday with a bit of a headache to head to Castell de Xativa, which is about 45 minutes away from Valencia by train.  After getting my debit card eaten at an ATM, I boarded the train UH I’M SORRY EXCUSE ME WHAT?  My one lifeline to cash EATEN?  Yep.  I knew I needed 2 debit cards in case this exact scenario happened, but I opened my 2nd account too late and the card was mailed to NJ.  Luckily I have some nice sugar mommas who helped me throughout the weekend (another benefit to traveling companions).  Fast forward to Monday, when my friend Jose translated and helped me get my card back.  Spanish bank ‘Bankia’ = el sucko, Jose = mi mejor amigo.

Friends & Sugar Mommas

I’m not a castle buff yet, but give me time.  Castell de Xativa (pronounced cha-tea-vah) is absolutely gorgeous and built on a hill (a 40 minute uphill walk from the train stop before we started the stairs and ramps to reach the castle summit)    (I’m sore).  Unfortunately there’s not much info throughout the site, so a sign will just say something like “Soldiers Quarters,” or “Latrine.”  I made a wide path avoiding the Latrine.  Because gross.

Caley, Joelle, and I clamored into the room called “Prison” and they spooked me just enough to snap a pic and get the heck outta there.  See below Caley’s creepy possessed-child impression.

After the castle, I headed to a beer nerdz meetup – which broke the gender stereotype by being a group of only girls.  Way to go nerdz!  Drank some yummy brews and turned in early because the next morning, I headed to…..

The Montenajo hot springs!  Well, lukewarm springs.  Alrirght honestly they were quite cold, but it’s been 80 and sunny so the water was refreshing.  Here’s a frameworthy pic of me and the adventure squad.

So we have a group of ~70 people.  How do we get around?  How do we communicate? How do we organize unofficial RY activities and day trips and charter yachts in Greece?  ::SPOILER ALERT, might be going on a yacht in Greece::

Our main form of group communication is a tool called Slack.  I’ve never used it before but the majority of Remotes have (usually in a work environment).  Slack is a communication app on steroids – there are ‘channels’ aka groups based on a specific topic to help organize conversations.  We have professional channels like ones for Excel, Taxes, and Job Seekers, channels for activities like an Adventure channel and Day Trips channel, and ones for fun like Beer Nerdz and Foodies.

Here’s how it works: Someone throws out an idea in the appropriate channel, attempts to plan something, which typically results in 300 messages back and forth.  Plans are made, people join, people drop out, people join again, plans totally change, and somehow we end up at a ridiculously gorgeous spot in Spain.  It’s like herding cats.  Beautiful hilarious cats.

The exception is of course events organized by the Remote Year staff.  They have a good handle on cat wrangling: see below a surprise squirt gun game of capture the flag.


My family and friends back home probably expect me to be organizing many of these events.  I’ve earned myself quite the reputation as a planner; my friend Cat refers to me as the ‘Cruise Director,’ which is both a compliment and also a reminder for me to settle down.  And stop trying to stick to a timeline.  And grab a beer.  And stop pacing.  It’s not that unusual – in my previous job I organized and ran company-wide events and also large incentive trips for top performers.  For example, it was my job to make sure that everyone’s flight information to Bermuda was booked and correct, and that the catamaran was stocked with rum swizzle cocktails or else we’d have a mutiny.  True story.

So it may come as a surprise that I’m not the leader of the pack for trip planning.  Sure I helped organizee a day trip to the beach, but I’m really enjoying being a participant for these events.  Sometimes I think I plan things with the fear that if I don’t plan it, no one else will.  Or someone else may plan a party that sucks, so I might as well plan it and make it awesome.  However, with this cohort I can go more with the flow, and pick and choose events I’d like to help organize.  We’ve got some well-traveled Remotes here with great ideas on adventure, so it’s been nice to hang up my Cruise Director hat for the time being. But it’s still there on the wall in case I need it.

Tuna Pizza

I caught a little bit of crap from my sister for not trying rabbit the other day for lunch.  Be adventurous Casey!

Yeah.  Well.  I ate some sort of tuna salad pizza yesterday and you know what?  I didn’t hate it!  Might have had something to do with the bottles of vino that cost 6 euro, can’t say for sure.

This post is going to be as random as tuna pizza.  Ready for it?

  1. We are 4 miles from the beach.

    @ Playa Malvarrosa

  2. Said beach may or may not be topless.
  3. Apparently there is no age limit for opting for toplessness.  You go girl.
  4. I like people who like Game of Thrones.  We’ve got a crew.
  5. Bronn is back!  Hooray!  (that’s a GOT reference and I’m skipping the spoiler alert because if I watched it from Spain, you can watch it within 4 days)
  6. Flamenco is an art form native to Spain that involves singing, guitar playing, hand clapping, finger snapping, and dancing.
  7. Flamenco fucking rocks.
  8. New career path: become a Flamenco dancer.
  9. The key to lunch in Valencia is ordering the daily special, which is a 3 course meal plus a drink for under 10 euro.
  10. The other key to lunch is asking for the bill when dessert comes out.  Otherwise you sit and wait. And wait. And wait.
  11. There’s no need to spend $$ on a gym when you have workout buddies in the park.
  12. Through trying to speak Spanish I realized how much French I’ve retained from high school.  And how unhelpful that is.
  13. Ordering tapas with 30 people can be a challenge.

    Happy birthday Kiran!

  14. Ordering tapas with 30 people is great fun.
  15. Ordering tapas with 30 people doesn’t work if you don’t bring cash.
  16. It’s fun to have roomies again.

    Casey, Cassie, & Gianna pretending to be one of Drumpf’s many wives