Links I Love and Happy Birthday Momma!

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

Today is my wonderful Mom’s Birthday – SO lucky to have her and spend the day with her!

Now onto the links…

What can 1,500 a month get you around the world?

This house is gorgeous and only 11ft wide… WOW!

Cleaning advice from the Shakers.

I am seriously cleaning out my closet and hoping to build a capsule wardrobe.

Look at this list before booking your trip to Europe!

Have a great weekend!

The Majestic city of Madrid

There is so much to do and see in Madrid!

Madrid is the capital of the diverse country of Spain. While the royal family no longer lives in Spain – the royal palace is located here.

The streets are winding which you will eventually get accustomed to ( after a day or so) and even after a day of drinking canas you will be able to find your way home.

A must stop is San Gines which opened in 1894 and is world famous for their Churros con Chocolate.

They are open 24 hours so after a night of enjoying Madrids’ night life you can grub down.

IMG_2929 IMG_2924

A great little tapas bar we found. Anchovies or Sardines ( !?) on top of potato chips – with a cold beer – ohhh yah!IMG_2922 IMG_2921 IMG_2919 IMG_2918 IMG_2917 IMG_2913 IMG_2914 IMG_2915

A beautiful night stroll!IMG_2438 IMG_2436 IMG_2435

80 cent beers with free tapas! Get outta here or rather hang out there all afternoon! IMG_2433 IMG_2431 IMG_2429

Comida tipica y deliciso. IMG_2426

Coolest bathroom.IMG_2424 IMG_2421 IMG_2420 IMG_2419 IMG_2418 IMG_2417 IMG_2412 IMG_2413

Secret Garden.IMG_2415 IMG_2416 IMG_2411 IMG_2409 IMG_2408 IMG_2407 IMG_2405

Rooftop bar moon views.IMG_2404 IMG_2401 IMG_2389 IMG_2388

Pool time and tinto de verano. ( what the locals drink) 

While there is no beach near Madrid you can go to one of the many public pools. The pool cost 6 euros and is a great way to siesta. Purchase a glass of tinto de verano and relax.
IMG_2387

bottomless mimosas and amazing burgers!IMG_2385 IMG_2384 IMG_2383

We stayed at Way Hostel C/Relatores 17 Madrid Spain http://www.wayhostel.com/

Our hostel provided churros every morning for breakfast it was so amazing with some dark, hair on your chest, coffee.

If you like to meet people and interact with your fellow travelers then this is a great place for you!

I wouldn’t recommend going in July unless you enjoy hot hot heat, other than that GO and enjoy Madrid it is a remarkable city.

Lisboa is Love

I was especially excited to visit Lisbon. I had been to Lisbon previously right after high school and was enamored by the tile streets, the picturesque beaches and the cute gift shops and pastries.

We took an overnight bus from Seville to Lisbon.  We left Seville at 11:30/12 pm and arrived to Lisbon at about 4:30 in the morning.  We thought we were supposed to arrive at 7 but low and be hold we were out of the bus at 4:30 and had no idea what we were going to do.  We emailed the hostel and let them know of our situation – they got back to us extremely quickly and let us know that our room wasn’t available but we could come and sleep in the tv room. We were beyond THANKFUL.

Our hostel was Good Morning Hostel and without a doubt I recommend it. 

Really nice staff, tasty free breakfast, and centrally located. 

The metro in Lisbon was easy to use, but everything – even the airport is close so a taxi to the airport was under 7 euro. 

The sun is no joke in Lisbon – I got a bit burnt but that burn faded into a tan that I still have three/four weeks later. It was glorious – not the burn but the tan.

Getting to the beach from the main city center of Lisbon is pretty easy and convenient using the metro and a bus. 

The metro is 1.40 each way and the bus round trip was 3.50.  We took the metro from right outside of our hostel to Lisbon (Pca de Espanha) Terminal from there we got on the bus to the beach named Costa Caparica ( Torre Argolas).

One way was only 30 minutes.

It was foggy at the beach but this did not prevent us from getting a bit burnt. It was still hotter than hot despite the fog and the water was cold since we were in the atlantic ocean. 

We never made it on a walking tour of the city – my fellow travelers were very tired of walking by the time we got to Lisbon but we did end up doing one of those open top, double decker buses. It actually was a cool way to get around and get off at varying points of interest. 

With the tour bus purchase you also get to ride on buses and the trolley included in the price. We enjoyed this feature and I recommend taking advantage of this. 

Like everyone will tell you, taking the trolley is a must. It is fun and will take you towards the cathedral on one end and the massive flea market and on the other a beautiful church and park where folks like to gather on Sundays for live music and picnics with friends.

We found an amazing restaurant called Restaurante Flor Da Estrela. The most amazing fish and only for 8 euro.  We also got a liter of wine for 10 euro.  It was a successful meal and one that I will not quickly forget. I would recommend this restaurant and wish I could go back. 

Also in this same area we went to another amazing restaurant, same price point and really amazing fish again. It was an unassuming hole in the wall but it was such a great deal. I don’t have the name for this one but its a block or so from the last stop of the 28 trolley and on the same street that the trolley goes on.

A great day trip from Lisbon is Sintra.  Sintra is beautiful small town where you can visit a moorish castle and the park and palace of Pena.

We rented these little golf carts right across the train station in Sintra so that we wouldn’t have to walk to the moorish castle and Palace of Pena. We were told it would take an hour to get up there. 

The golf carts ended up being 25 a person for the day and to enter the Parques de Sintra it was 20 ( cheaper if you buy the entrance fees together).

Note: It was cold and windy in Sintra.  The first time on this trip that I was cold, really cold and almost bought a random sweatshirt just to ward off the chill. However, as soon as we were back in Lisbon it was warm again.

Whatever you do try the Pastel de Nata.  They have variations of this pastry and everywhere I went it was delicious and very rich.

These pastries are amazing and this is the only country I saw them in. 

We didn’t go out in Lisbon at all, but oddly enough we did go to the Hard Rock Cafe ( my first time at a Hard Rock actually).  They had a fun cover band playing and we all danced and sang our hearts out – it was a great time but the beers at Hard Rock were much more expansive than drinks found at normal bars in the area. 

I loved spending time in Lisbon and feel that I could have spent more time in this region. There are many other places in Portugal I would like to go to.

If you are planning a trip to Portugal I would without a doubt recommend learning some Portuguese.  

For the most part I could only communicate in English other than Hello, Thank you etc. and I think its much more fun when you can communicate in the countries native tongue.

Another note, I would also suggest not going in August – this is the hottest time of the year – and a time when a lot of city dwellers head to the country or the ocean to get outta the heat. We should follow suite and go there a cooler time of year.  It makes it really hard to see the sights when its over 90 degrees outside.

IMG_2575 IMG_2586 IMG_2573 IMG_2565 IMG_2567 IMG_2568

Foggy but hot day at the beach.IMG_2569 IMG_2571

My dream camp, surf, live mobile.IMG_2572 IMG_2574 IMG_2576 IMG_2577

We got lost and at this moment were not sure if we would make it through the night alive. Now its silly – but this alley right? creepy.IMG_2584 IMG_2582 IMG_2581 IMG_2580 IMG_2579

Tile work, done by hand.IMG_2587 IMG_2588 IMG_2589 IMG_2590

Our rented golf carts in Sintra.
IMG_2596 IMG_2594 IMG_2593 IMG_2592 IMG_2597 IMG_2599 IMG_2600 IMG_2602 IMG_2603 IMG_2604 IMG_2605 IMG_2611 IMG_2616 IMG_2615 IMG_2610 IMG_2609 IMG_2613 IMG_2608 IMG_2607 IMG_2612 IMG_2617 IMG_2618 IMG_2619 IMG_2620 IMG_2625 IMG_2624 IMG_2623 IMG_2622 IMG_2621 IMG_2627 IMG_2628 IMG_2629 IMG_2630 IMG_2635 IMG_2640 IMG_2639 IMG_2634 IMG_2638 IMG_2633 IMG_2632 IMG_2637 IMG_2636 IMG_2631 IMG_2642 IMG_2643 IMG_2644 IMG_2645 IMG_2651 IMG_2650 IMG_2649 IMG_2646 IMG_2653 IMG_2655

Don’t quote me –  but I think this is one of the first palaces with indoor plumbing and it is spectacular.IMG_2656 IMG_2661 IMG_2659 IMG_2657 IMG_2662 IMG_2663 IMG_2664 IMG_2666 IMG_2671 IMG_2670 IMG_2669 IMG_2668 IMG_2667 IMG_2672 IMG_2673 IMG_2674 IMG_2675 IMG_2676IMG_2679 IMG_2678 IMG_2677

Finally, pastries after a day of exploring.IMG_2682 IMG_2685 IMG_2686 IMG_2689 IMG_2692 IMG_2693 IMG_2698 IMG_2697 IMG_2696 IMG_2694 IMG_2699 IMG_2700 IMG_2701 IMG_2648 IMG_2725 IMG_2710 IMG_2709 IMG_2708 IMG_2707 IMG_2711 IMG_2712 IMG_2713 IMG_2714 IMG_2715 IMG_2717 IMG_2716IMG_2718 IMG_2719 IMG_2721 IMG_2728 IMG_2727 IMG_2724 IMG_2723 IMG_2722IMG_2733 IMG_2737 IMG_2731 IMG_2729 IMG_2734 IMG_2740 IMG_2748 IMG_2868 IMG_2795 IMG_2769 IMG_2749 IMG_2752 IMG_2757 IMG_2756 IMG_2754 IMG_2762 IMG_2777 IMG_2774 IMG_2773 IMG_2768 IMG_2770 IMG_2767 IMG_2766 IMG_2765 IMG_2764 IMG_2763IMG_2782 IMG_2781 IMG_2780 IMG_2779 IMG_2778 IMG_2784 IMG_2787 IMG_2791 IMG_2796 IMG_2795 IMG_2790 IMG_2789 IMG_2794 IMG_2788 IMG_2792 IMG_2797 IMG_2798 IMG_2801 IMG_2803 IMG_2805 IMG_2808

Our train to Madrid. First time in a sleeper car!
IMG_2809 IMG_2811 IMG_2812

On to the next adventure!

The lovely city of Seville

When you go to Seville you are bound to fall in love and most likely get lost.  The winding streets and colorful doorways implore you to explore. Be prepared for every meal to take hours, even getting a coffee is a lengthy processes.

Seville is very proud of their historical importance and festivals. I felt a great sense of pride from all who lived there, even if they were not native born. They have strong ties to the past and their architecture is very emblematic of that.

The architecture is amazing, street art is fun and funky, tapas and drinks were a poor travelers dream. Mojitos are very popular here, we went to a bar ( the name I don’t remember) and they had buckets of mojito for 6 euro… it was awesome.

I honestly don’t know the best city to see Flamenco but seeing it in Seville was  a great choice. The passion, the raw emotion and talent of the guitarist, the singer and the dancers is extremely moving and I strongly suggest it. It is worth the money to go experience this.

Amazing garlic shrimp and octopus. Octopus looks scary and I would never have ever ordered it normally, but in the sense of adventure I tried it and it was delicious. Try it, don’t let the look scare you!

IMG_2556 IMG_2554

I think this is something like.. Turn off the TV turn on your mind.IMG_2553 IMG_2552 IMG_2551 IMG_2550

Flamenco show! So moving and magical – it was worth the 20 euro and included a beverage of choice.

IMG_2549

The Crazy Gypsy restaurant was good and SOOO affordable. Really close to the flamenco museum. IMG_2547 IMG_2546 IMG_2545 IMG_2542 IMG_2540 IMG_2539 IMG_2538

Plaza de Espana IMG_2537 IMG_2536 IMG_2532

University Building.IMG_2533 IMG_2534 IMG_2535

Sunset on the biggest wooden structure in the WORLD.IMG_2530 IMG_2529 IMG_2528 IMG_2527 IMG_2526 IMG_2511 IMG_2509 IMG_2505 IMG_2506 IMG_2507 IMG_2508 IMG_2503 IMG_2502

Boba in Spain. Talk about Globalization.  It was sooo amazing though – thinking about opening a Wowble franchise.IMG_2498 IMG_2497

Oh yah, I got the kiwi slush with strawberry boba – life changing.IMG_2496 IMG_2495 IMG_2494

Loved this! IMG_2493 IMG_2492 IMG_2491 IMG_2487 IMG_2488 IMG_2489 IMG_2490 IMG_2485 IMG_2481 IMG_2476 IMG_2477 IMG_2478 IMG_2479 IMG_2480 IMG_2475 IMG_2474 IMG_2472 IMG_2470 IMG_2465 IMG_2466

Dali created this logo!IMG_2467 IMG_2468 IMG_2469 IMG_2464 IMG_2462 IMG_2461 IMG_2458 IMG_2459 IMG_2457 IMG_2456 IMG_2455 IMG_2453 IMG_2452 IMG_2445 IMG_2446 IMG_2449 IMG_2450 IMG_2451 IMG_2444

Great Tapas and affordable Cava.IMG_2442 IMG_2441 IMG_2440

Burger Sushi = funny. Didn’t actually try it!IMG_2439

Barna Barna Barna

IMG_2225Barcelona is an amazing city with different neighborhoods to explore and experience. We were staying in the newer part of the city which was further away from the gothic neighborhood, but closer to Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. 

This was the view from our room.IMG_2226

We enjoyed going to Verdaguer Cafe across the street from our hostel and the metro it was a convenient cafe. Good food and nice staff.

IMG_2228

Small cafes are everywhere. We tried pastries and ‘iced’ espresso.IMG_2229 IMG_2230 IMG_2231

I don’t like Ham, there I said it.  However, I do love Jamon.

The Ham in Spain is out of this world. The pigs are well cared for and the pigs get to roam the country side and stuff themselves on hazelnuts.

We went to the Jamon Experience. It is located on Rambla de les Flors 88-94.

They have cava for 12 a bottle and you can try the different jamons and then order one to eat. It was honestly a mind blowing experience. That was the night that I fell in love with jamon. 

IMG_2237 IMG_2239 IMG_2241IMG_2242

The friend that I traveled with is a huge FC Barca fan, because of this we went to the Camp Nou Experience. It was really fun and I encourage all to go who have the time. Like with most attractions you should get there early as possible, the later it gets the more people arrive.

IMG_2247I drank so many shandy’s in Spain.  They have a different name in Spain obviously but I can not remember it. Sometimes I would ask for beer and lemonade and that would work as well when ordering.
IMG_2256

Night time trekking in the Gothic District.IMG_2257 IMG_2258

Mercat La Bouqeria. A must see for travelers. Come prepare to buy and eat!IMG_2260 IMG_2261 IMG_2262 IMG_2264 IMG_2267 IMG_2268 IMG_2269 IMG_2270 IMG_2271 IMG_2272 IMG_2273 IMG_2274

Gaudi’s first work once he graduated. IMG_2275 IMG_2276 IMG_2277 IMG_2279 IMG_2287 IMG_2288

Tile work by Miro.IMG_2289 IMG_2290 IMG_2291 IMG_2292 IMG_2293 IMG_2294 IMG_2296 IMG_2297 IMG_2298 IMG_2299 IMG_2300 IMG_2301 IMG_2302 IMG_2304 IMG_2308 IMG_2309 IMG_2312 IMG_2319

We also took a day trip to Girona, it is a pretty town with great architecture.  Give yourself time to explore.  From Girona you can hit a nice beach after a 40 min bus ride. 

IMG_2321 IMG_2322 IMG_2323 IMG_2324 IMG_2325 IMG_2326 IMG_2327

Park Guell is worth the 7 euros to go inside. My recommendation is go as soon as it opens, the crowds are so few this early that you can obtain great photos and really see everything. When we were leaving there were tour buses of people entering and it was getting crowded. 

IMG_2330 IMG_2331 IMG_2332 IMG_2333 IMG_2334 IMG_2335 IMG_2336 IMG_2337 IMG_2338 IMG_2339 IMG_2342 IMG_2345 IMG_2346 IMG_2347 IMG_2348 IMG_2349 IMG_2351 IMG_2353 IMG_2354 IMG_2355 IMG_2356 IMG_2357 IMG_2358

Sagrada Familia is beautifully fascinating . The fact that they are still working on it decades later is very interesting. The stained glass windows are probably the most beautiful I have ever seen. 

Near Sagrada Familia on Avinguda Diagonal ( #303)  is a really great Colombian restaurant called Restaurante Mi Rincon.

The story of Gaudi is fascinating I highly recommend learning about his life. We went on a ‘bohemian’ walking tour (donation based) where our guide discussed the artists and writers that made Barcelona their home and left their mark on the city and country. It was a couple hours well spent.

IMG_2359 IMG_2361 IMG_2363 IMG_2365 IMG_2366 IMG_2367 IMG_2368 IMG_2369 IMG_2372 IMG_2373 IMG_2375 IMG_2376 IMG_2377 IMG_2378The metro in Barcelona was easy to use and we solely used the metro except for after 2 am it shut down so we had to use  a taxi but it was under 10 euro to get from the gothic neighborhood to where our hostel was.

Primavera Hostel

Mallorca 330, 

Barcelona,Spain

Near our hostel there was a restaurant and bar called Loria. The address is Roger de LLuria 35 – they have amazing cocktails. I would recommend going there. It was a fun atmosphere with beautiful decor. 

I mentioned previously about the donation based walking tour and I want to give you a bit more information on it. They meet everyday at the Travel Bar C/de la Boqueria 27 in the Gothic Neighborhood.  The tours were informative on history and current day events. It is a fun way to learn about the city you are visiting. We found these in most cities we visited. 

The gothic neighborhood is full of crooked alley ways and it is easy to get lost. We found a favorite bar while we were there. Nevermind 2.  Its a great divey bar where they give you free popcorn or you can purchased 2 euro hamburgers – talk about a deal. The drinks are delicious and the beer flows easy. This was a fun place to go and if you are in Barna you have to check it out.

A day in Marseille

IMG_2220Not much to say for Marseille except it was good lesson in planning and why it can be important for any trip. 

We had big hopes and dreams for Marselle. 

We had spent the last week in cities, walking and seeing sights. A rest on a beach was just what we needed and were very much looking forward to.

Our first impression was beautiful. Once you leave the train station right in the city center you are faced with a beautiful view.

We were so excited and ready to set our belongings down at our airbnb and head to the beach.

While our airbnb of choice was supposed to be an 8 min walk from the train station we couldn’t seem to locate the street. We tried hailing a taxi but they said it was too close and we should walk.. Normally, that would be fine but it was HOT and we had our belongings on our backs.

Finally, while we were examine a map a local man came up and asked what we were looking for… he then proceeded to lead us all the way there.

We were half part unsure what his motives were and just had no clue what was going on BUT he did lead us to the apartment where we were staying – he told us to be careful in this area, it was unsafe and not a place where young girls should be walking.  

Needless to say this experience was not off to a great start.

Once we set our belongings down we decided we wanted to get something to eat so we began to look for a cafe etc where we could purchase something. At all the cafes we only saw men no women anywhere. It was alarming and made us feel uncomfortable. 

We had also realized that we were not near the beach at all. Even if we were ‘walking distance’ the area seemed really unsafe and not a place we should be walking. 

We felt our decision was simple – stay the current night at our place and find a place near the beach for the next night. 

Easier said then done – everything about 3 stars was over 200 euro a night, we could not afford this so we decided to go to Barcelona a day early.

It was a hard decision to make because I felt that I was giving up, but ultimately I did not feel that we would have an enjoyable time in Marseille because of our lack of proximity to anything that was of interest to us.  

With our plan created we decided to make the best of the night and take a taxi to the beach.

Also, a side note on this – I think our stay could have been better had we researched more – additionally, had we been staying at a hostel or hotel the staff perhaps could have directed us or given us more information but without that we felt lost and uncomfortable.

Anyways, we headed to the beach and boy was it packed.  You could scarcely see the sand or water for that matter do to all the people present. It was pretty wild. This was not the relaxing beach scape either of us had envisioned when we thought of South of France.

Regardless, we enjoyed a nice dinner on the beach with our toes in the sand and cheers’ed to our last night in France. After our meal we tried to find a taxi to take us back – we kept walking and walking but to no avail did we find a taxi finally after the day turned to night we found a taxi number and texted them our location and if they could pick us up about thirty minutes later we were headed back to our airbnb.  

Don’t get my wrong Marseille had beautiful elements and I think with better planning and maybe some more money 😉 our stay there would have been better.  

I think we made the right decision for how we felt at that time, I HOPE that I have learned from this situation and in the future make sure to research more about a destination and specifically where I am staying in regards to where I want to go at that destination but only time will tell. 

View from train station.

IMG_2202They are famous for their soaps. IMG_2206 IMG_2203

A great place to stop for pastries.
IMG_2207

Beautiful architecture. IMG_2209

We found the beach.IMG_2211 IMG_2212

Dinner is served. IMG_2213 IMG_2214 IMG_2215

Bouldering playground.IMG_2219 IMG_2218 IMG_2217

Co-working space in Marseille.IMG_2221

Airport Pastry.IMG_2223

An American in Paris

Oh Paris, the city of lights and love… and sixth floor apartments with doors that you have to ‘push and pull’.

In Paris, we decided to stay at an airbnb which was a great choice.  The apartment was amazing and after a struggle leaving the airport we needed a place with ac and an area we could relax in.

We could NOT get into the apartment for over an hour possibly more or possibly less its hard to tell time when you are sweaty and smelly after traveling.  It was a struggle and finally our airbnb hosts were able to get a neighbor to let us in and at 2 am we were comfortable and able to relax inside our wonderful airbnb.

Things about Paris…

  • It is expensive ( duh!)
  • They use a lot of goat cheese and its heavenly and the portions are generous – it was dreamy.
  • They love frites (fries) – breakfast, lunch and dinner ( so get used to it, this seems to be the case in Spain as well.)
  • Get sweets here – they are the best.
  • Go to Printemps for an amazing view of the city. It is a huge mall and on the eight floor. They have a cafe and panoramic views of the city. Free and cool.
  • The 5th (Latin Quarter) and 6th (St Germain) the Cafe des Deux Magots is fashionable and historic. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoire met up with other literary types here.
  • Next to this is the church of St Germain, the oldest in Paris.
  • We stayed in the 11th quarter which is extremely close to most tourist attractions so that was convenient for us. The neighborhood seemed really safe, ( we were walking at 12/1 am with our packs and were totally fine.) THEN we stayed in the 18th / 20th quarter as well and this seemed a little more down to earth. What I heard is that it is the ‘hipster’ area, but it was awesome and A LOT less touristy than the 11th quarter.

Paris is a touristy city at least when you are trying to see the touristy sites.

I think its difficult to feel that a city is not touristy when you are attempting to see all that you can and our in extreme tourist trap central (Eiffel, Lourve, Arc etc…).

My goal when I am traveling is not to be a ‘tourist’ but a traveler, a seeker and an adventurer. I like to be in as authentic of situations as possible. Go to restaurants where locals go, hang out where the locals hang out and really see what their culture is.

I don’t feel that I got this ‘authentic feel’ in Paris, maybe bits and pieces but I did not feel that I fell in LOVE with Paris like SO many others. I like you Paris but I don’t love you.

Our first breakfast in Paris.

IMG_2034 IMG_2035

I see you!IMG_2037 IMG_2039 IMG_2040 IMG_2041 IMG_2043 IMG_2048 IMG_2053 IMG_2057 IMG_2058 IMG_2059 IMG_2061 IMG_2062 IMG_2064 IMG_2065 IMG_2066 IMG_2069

Notre DameIMG_2071 IMG_2074 IMG_2075 IMG_2077 IMG_2079 IMG_2082

Stumbled upon a free music festival in the city. IMG_2083

Three course crepe meal with in house made cider. AMAZING.IMG_2084

IMG_2087 IMG_2088 IMG_2090

Cafe sitting and people watching is a must. IMG_2095 IMG_2097

Thick slices of goat cheese are best washed down with an ice cold beer. IMG_2107

Sweets, sweets and more sweets!IMG_2108

View from Printemps.IMG_2109 IMG_2112 IMG_2113 IMG_2116 IMG_2117 IMG_2118

We chose to partake in a river cruise which was equal parts crazy tourist-ness but also beautiful and if possible I recommend it your first night so you get a good lay of the land. IMG_2129 IMG_2134 IMG_2138 IMG_2142 IMG_2144 IMG_2145 IMG_2146 IMG_2147 IMG_2148 IMG_2149

View of Notre Dame at night. Along with the kids hanging at the rivers edge.IMG_2150 IMG_2153 IMG_2158 IMG_2163

This is when it started hailing like crazy… IMG_2168 IMG_2169 IMG_2173 IMG_2179

Goodnight – Au revoir beautiful city.