My name is Dawn R. Starr. I am a psychologist by trade, but my real passions are music, dance, food and travel. My wanderlust and worldwide curiosity has taken me from hole-in-the-wall, locals-only spots to well-heeled locales in 36 countries.

My passion for travel has led me to take an early retirement from my demanding career as a forensic psychologist (evaluating and testifying on Sexually Violent Predators in California.) I sold everything, and moved to the picturesque Mediterranean town of Altea. I write about the positive experiences and challenges of my move to Spain,  including getting a Spanish visa, mail tribulations, dealing with the local Valenciana dialect, fun festivals, live music, multi-cultural social life, and travel adventures. I often feature photos of my experiences, although I admit I am still a photography neophyte.

I would love to receive comments about your related travel adventures or misadventures! And I always respond to any questions.

From Altea, I will be travelling and blogging about my travels in Spain, and later beyond. So far, some of my most memorable ventures include dancing with singing Zulu warriors while visiting Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, listening to samba and bossa nova music at the Venice Jazz Club in Italy, learning to tango to live music in the historic Confiteria Ideal in Buenos Aires, being personally welcomed by Paul Bocuse when dining at his eponymous Lyon restaurant, and attending local San Luis Obispo County music venues for world class entertainment.

You can view the cities and countries I have travelled on my Trip Advisor map and read my many reviews. . I also post photos on Pintrest of Altea, Spanish food, and Spanish Restaurants.

I have been published in International Living Magazine, SLO Journal Plus, Vivace, and slocoastjournal.com. You can also find me on http://www.expatexchange.com. ‎



My name is Pepper.  Like Madonna, Liberace, and other (in)famous celebrities, I don’t need a last name. Everyone thinks I am very cute with my dapple coat, and one blue and one brown eye.  When I am not burrowing under the covers, I like to go to restaurants, hoping for scraps of food my apparently uncoordinated owner may drop. I can play fetch longer than any human can continue to throw a ball. Don’t let my size fool you-I am fast and can jump super high. From time to time, I will weigh in on my experiences when out with my human.

20 Responses to “About”

  1. Pedro1312 July 24, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    hi Dawn, i have seen you thanks to you posting on Sunshine and Siestas blog…well let me tell you that i am reading your blogposts, even old ones and i am enjoying them fully…it is really a delight and a pleasure to read what you say about Altea, Valenciano language and more!

    • dawnrstarr July 25, 2015 at 6:37 am #

      Thanks for your positive feedback!

      • HY Malinek February 2, 2019 at 4:16 pm #

        Hi dawn from Hy in LA.. just learned about your move and blog.. wow, what a decision and what a move.. looks like you are enjoying every moment and hope you continue to do so.. will follow. Best ! Hy

      • dawnrstarr February 2, 2019 at 6:03 pm #

        Hello, Hy, nice to hear from you. Lovely for me to leave the Cali and US for a venue with with a lovely international group of friends here on the Mediterranean area of Spain. What are you up to?

      • HY Malinek February 2, 2019 at 6:10 pm #

        Still working.. I am new to this type of chat… is this exchange private or posted for all? regardless wish you luck and fun in this new phase!

  2. Stephanie January 8, 2017 at 4:32 am #

    Hi Dawn,

    I will soon finish my Master’s in Applied Linguistics at Columbia University in NYC. I previously taught English overseas in Korea, Czech Republic, and Spain. I would like to get back to Europe as a MA holder, but this time live there a little more legally since I am older and more qualified.
    As an American, do you have any advice for me on the visa-front, or have any leads on Universities which need native English speaking professors ?
    Any help is appreciated!!!
    Thank you!

    • dawnrstarr January 18, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

      As I am sure you are aware, unemployment is quite high in Spain, especially amongst young adults. I am a retired forensic psychologist living on a retirement/non-lucrative visa; I have no idea about the availability of work in the area of your degree. Sorry but I would be happy to answer any other logistical questions you may have. Buena suerte

  3. Narina Prokosch August 3, 2018 at 1:32 pm #

    Hi Dawn – I just came across your blog. Congratulations on making the move. My husband and I are planning on such a move, hopefully later this year. Altea or Calpe is our area of choice. Just working on paperwork with the Canadian govt right now. Hopefully will be able to apply for our visa soon. We are also coming over with two pug dogs. Would love to chat more with you.
    Narina P. Victoria BC Canada

  4. williott2003 August 30, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

    Hi, a new friend from San Diego , who shares my love of jazz, told me about Ella Ruth Piggee. I was blown away by her performances on YouTube ( thank God for YouTube!). I read your beautiful article about her and you mentioned a digital recording. Is it possible to get a recording? In a perfect world she would have recorded often. My email is: williott2003@yahoo.com

    Thank you for your article

  5. Latitude Adjustment: A Tale of Two Wanderers September 18, 2019 at 11:56 am #

    Hola Dawn,
    Great blog site you have here. We presently live in Medellin, Colombia after having lived in Panama for 3 years. We moved to Panama from Long Beach Ca. For our next life adventure chapter, we plan on moving to Spain or Portugal in a few years. We will follow your site.
    John and Susan

    • dawnrstarr September 28, 2019 at 4:11 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed my blog. Let me know if I can field any questions for you.

      • Latitude Adjustment: A Tale of Two Wanderers September 28, 2019 at 6:51 pm #

        Thanks. We are researching for a place that has mountains by the sea, easy access to an international airport, train station, and local culturaly experiences.
        Any suggestions on where we should look?


  6. dawnrstarr October 5, 2019 at 2:52 pm #

    I think it very much depends on the kind of weather you want. Northwest Spain in cooler, with more rain and wilder waters. Close to mountains, good international transportation and cultural experiences. Not many mountains where I live on the Costa Blanca, but there are lots of good size hills for biking and hiking. Just depends on what you want the mountains for. Obviously there is the Sierra Nevada in the south with snow on the mountains most of the years, and good transport. Also think about the type of people and atmosphere you want: locals, expats, quaint, cosmopolitan, and, importantly, the type of weather you want.

    • Latitude Adjustment: A Tale of Two Wanderers October 6, 2019 at 2:41 pm #

      Thank you for your reply.

      We don’t want a lot of rain or a windy area. Just nice weather year-round. Having good public transportation, international airport, nice swimmable beaches, culture events, cosmopolitan with not a heavy influence of tourist is most important. The mountains we can always drive to.

      John and Susan

      • dawnrstarr October 7, 2019 at 4:02 pm #

        Then the Costa Blanca may be for you. The provinces of Valencia and Alicante offer a variety of settings, from small villages, to large urban areas, and few overly-touristy spots, in my opinion. I recommend a few vacation days in towns you are considering and maybe a rental for a few weeks in an area you are considering. My street looked quite ok, until I realized it is a major truck delivery route in the mornings and the parade route for many festivals. But I have been here four years plus, and have adapted, plus many great perks of being here. Just check out pros and cons of locales.

      • Latitude Adjustment: A Tale of Two Wanderers October 7, 2019 at 7:27 pm #

        Thanks, Dawn,
        We will take a look at that area.

        Any suggestions on long term rental sites?


  7. dawnrstarr October 10, 2019 at 3:03 pm #

    I have been in my same apartment for over four years, so not up to date, but I think Kyero, Idealista, and maybe Eyeonspain, and Thinkspain.

  8. Elle April 9, 2021 at 7:19 am #

    Hi there from Chapel Hill, NC! Hope this means I’m following your terrific blog by signing up here!
    I so enjoy your writing style!

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