9 Questions with Gillian Burgess

I’ve been following Gillian for a few years on Instagram, where she’s known as @travelingtotaste, , and she’s always posting interesting content about travel, wine, food and more. Gillian is a self-employed writer and editor, working with businesses, nonprofits and independent authors on marketing, advertising and thought leadership content (for years she helped run a marketing firm that she co-founded, and now does similar work as a sole proprietor).

Gillian is always working on multiple projects, but “Semi-Together” is the one she is excited about right now! It’s a podcast with her sister that discusses a variety of subjects in a pretty entertaining way. You can check it out here: Website: https://semitogether.com/ and the podcasts are available on multiple platforms including iTunes, plus their Instagram: @semitogether  Here’s my 9 questions with Gillian:

You’re originally from the United States. How and why did you end up in Barcelona? I grew up in Sonoma, California, which is a lovely small town in the wine country. I was eager to escape it as a teenager – and now I absolutely love going back. My husband, Brian, and I met in college in New Orleans, and our shared love of travel brought us together from the beginning. I had lived in France, and he had lived in Mexico and Spain, and we always knew we wanted to live outside the U.S. together. Brian was in the U.S. Navy for eight years, so we moved often and got to live in some awesome places: San Diego, California; Kailua, Hawaii; Naples, Italy. When he got out of the Navy, we moved to Barcelona for his grad school program. It was supposed to be just for a year, but we fell in love with Barcelona and Catalunya. We’re now in our fifth year, and Brian is starting a business here – a craft distillery (https://corpenbarcelona.com/).

Personal development and growth is your latest pursuit, with your sister. Tell us about your podcast, “Semi-Together! My sister, Melia, and I are very close, but we live far apart (she’s in Jackson, Mississippi). We started the podcast as a way to stay connected despite the distance and to help each other – and we hope, our listeners – work toward our goals. We’ve both always been interested in personal development. Between the two of us, we’ve learned a ton from outside sources about how to live happy, creative, fulfilling lives. But we’ve found there’s a big disconnect between knowing what’s good for us and then actually doing those things.

In every episode of Semi-Together, we focus on a different theme and test out strategies related to building healthy habits and boosting everyday happiness. And we share tips, successes and failures that we think will be helpful for others. We say it’s a podcast about having some of your life together, all of the time. We want people to give themselves credit for even the smallest victories and bits of progress.

What has been your most memorable experience here in Barcelona? A few months after we moved here, Brian and I went on an organized excursion to a huge calçotada outside the city, in Gallecs. I had never seen anything like it – thousands of calçots and sausages cooking on open flames, big barrels of wine you could serve yourself from, long tables set up in the middle of a field where we all squeezed in to eat. It was a magical day. We ended up meeting several of our closest friends in Barcelona that day. Good food and good wine bring good people together!

What’s your favourite wine – red, white or rose and why? Red is my favorite (though I do crave a nice crisp white in summer). I love the full-bodied richness of a good red wine, especially with a great meal. I drink a lot of zinfandel when I’m in Sonoma, and I’m always discovering new Catalan reds I enjoy.

If you could share a bottle of wine with anyone famous (dead or alive) who would it be and why? Anthony Bourdain. I admired him so much as a storyteller and a traveler – and just as a human being. I’d love to go to his favorite family-run restaurant (in any city – maybe somewhere in Southern Italy or Sardinia), drink the local wine, eat the house specialties and have an hours-long, profanity-laced conversation about life.

Adjusting to a new country and new customs is always a challenge. Advice for anyone moving to Spain? I think a balance of patience and perseverance will serve you well in the beginning. There are certain tasks – like dealing with bureaucracy or getting repairs done in your apartment – that are frustrating in your hometown and your native language. So those challenges can be magnified in a new country where you’re figuring things out as you go. But all of the new discoveries and joys are also enhanced. Appreciate everything this place has to offer. Be open, be curious, be gracious.

What has been your favourite Catalan wine you have tried so far? There are so many! When Brian and I lived in Italy, we loved going to wineries in every region we visited, especially the smaller producers. That’s something we are trying to do here in Catalunya as well. So far, I’ve loved touring and tasting at wineries in Alella, Penedès, Terra Alta and Empordà. I also really want to explore Conca de Barberà, Montsant and Priorat. I always have a few bottles of DO Cava and garnatxa blanca in the house – and at least one cava chilled and ready in the fridge (you never know when you’ll need to celebrate something).

Where is the wine region in the world you love to go for wine, that you have not experienced yet?New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina are all very high on my list.

Where is your favourite place to enjoy a glass of wine? I love going out to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, just 45 minutes outside Barcelona by train. The winery Jaume Giro i Giro has a beautiful garden and barbecue area where I love to spend the day with friends. We bring food to grill and drink bottles of their brut nature all afternoon.

All photos are taken by Gillian Burgess