Cauliflower Burgers Anyone?

Happy October 1st to everyone. One of my favorite seasons is upon us. The end of September was very eventful for me. I began my internship with Mad4Madrid which is a site dedicated to all things Madrid. I am learning so much about the ins and outs of running a successful blog and site. Also, through them I have already done some amazing things.

I did my first menu tasting event for Hard Rock Café. Can I say what an amazing experience! I visited a Hard Rock Café location about 11 years ago when I was visiting Australia and from what I can remember I had a great time but I have never been back until this menu tasting. And boy let me tell you, I might have to start making Hard Rock Café a stop on any trip I do. Yes, it was that good. The food was absolutely amazing and can you believe my two favorite meals of the day were vegetarian. The cauliflower burger was my absolute favorite (hence the title).

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Yall, this is the Cauliflower Burger. It was the bomb.com

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This salad was also pretty darn good. The meat on it is tuna.

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The new cocktail they are adding. A gin based drink. 

In my time here I never thought about taking a paella class. I do love the dish but it never crossed my mind that it might be a simple dish to make. For those of you who don’t know, paella is a typical Spanish dish that originated in Valencia, Spain. The main ingredient is rice and you can either have meat, seafood or both added.

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This is what paella looks like. 

I was able to participate in Ruta de La Paella’s master class with a Valencian chef Ramon Pallmo. I was shocked how easy it was to make. It’s a one-pot dish literally.

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The chefs and I. 

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My partner for the day.

Housing update:

I finally found a room and was able to move in right away. I actually love the room and location. Its not city center like I first wanted but everything is literally a 30 minute metro ride or less. And I am also next to a huge park, Casa de Campo. Fun fact about Casa de Campo apparently its about 10x bigger than Central Park in New York.

How was your September? Have any questions or suggestions? Let me know them by leaving a message in the comment box.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

Oh Summer where art thou?

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Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island Bahamas. It just happens to be the deepest in the world, plunging to a depth of 663 feet (202 meters)

Dean’s Blue Hole

 


I have been back in Madrid for about 3 weeks and when I say it has been rough, boy oh boy has it been rough.

First and for most, the weather has been doing the most since I got here. I got back the last week of August. Mind you I thought that it would still be hot when I got here and why wouldn’t it. It was 103 degrees the last couple of days before I left in June. You definitely read correctly, I did say 103. So naturally I thought I would get more of the same in August(one of the hottest months of the year). Welp, that was a bust, it hasn’t been higher than about 85 degrees since I got here. With a few days of low 70’s and pouring rain. Fall has officially arrived.

Do you see these ridiculous temperatures?


Second problem; Housing or betting yet Finding Housing. Looking for an apartment in Madrid is like looking for a leprechaun with a pot of gold and a unicorn at the same time, which I am still looking for. Surprise, surprise. Seriously, you make contact with a potential landlord or flatmate and while setting up a meeting to see the place it becomes unavailable. Literally, that’s how quick apartments go here. I thought I would already be settled in my new place and getting to know my surroundings, womp womp unfortunately that’s not the case.

On a brighter note, coming back to Madrid after being gone for 2.5 months made me realize how much fun I actually have when I am here. I am getting back into the grove of things, walking everywhere and taking the stairs (most times out of necessity not want). I am also excited about the things I have in the works. But don’t let me keep you, I just wanted to say Hi and give an update.

Hasta luego!

P.S: Shoot me a comment down below if you want to know my trails and errors of looking for a place or if you have any suggestions for me.

Travical Summer 2017

I made it to 12 countries this summer! I know, it sounds crazy and unbelievable to my ears as well. July and August were busy months for me. In July I solo traveled to Guatemala, Panama, and Costa Rica. August I took the Golden Girls (My mom and aunt) to The Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Israel, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, The Vatican, and Madrid. This summer brought my total count to 31 countries visited.

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In the native shoe in Amsterdam. 

Man sometimes I wonder how I planned everything. Central America was easy because it was just me and solo traveling is the easiest way to travel. Traveling with the Golden Girls now that was a different story. Don’t get me wrong I had a great experience but it was challenging sometimes. From trying to decide which countries to go visit, how long to stay, where to stay, what to do, what’s the budget for each country, how are we traveling (student budget or nay), modes of transportation; these are questions you have to ask when traveling with a group.

Coordinating with a group can be difficult but I find that the best way to plan is for one person to take the lead. What does taking the lead mean, being responsible for researching everything, from the best routes to hotels to transportation etc. Another way to go about being the lead is to delegate different tasks for each person in the group to do, collect the information found and compile one document. As in any occasion working in a group you must always be prepared for one or two slackers.

Working with the Golden Girls was fairly easy because they pretty much left everything to me. From choosing which countries to visit to where to stay to basically anything you can think of. So for me it worked out great. Well except that one time I spent 3 hours planning tickets and hotels for a set itinerary to only have to do it all over again because one of the Golden Girls remembered that she always wanted to go to the Holy Lands. Mind you we had finalized the list of countries a few days ago but hey I made it happen.

The itinerary was 3 days in Amsterdam, 3 days in Vienna, 3 days in Budapest, 7 days in Jerusalem, 4 days in Athens, 3 days in Sofia, 2 days in Rome, and 5 days in Madrid. Honestly, I still can’t believe that we pulled off that itinerary in 30 days.

~A few pictures from a few cities~

To research prices I used different search engines to get the best deal. The ones I most frequent was Kayak, Google Flights, Expedia, and One Travel, Hotels.com, AirBnB, and Booking. Travel Hack 1: make sure you look the airlines baggage rules when determining what flight is cheapest. For example, if Airline A is $150 for a flight but charges a $40 for 1 checked bag and Airline B is $170 with no charges for 1 checked bag then by going with Airline B will save you $20. Travel Hack 2: make sure you check if the airline requires you to check in or pay for checked baggage online to avoid astronomical fees. For example, if Airline A charges $15 for pre-checked luggage done online vs. $40 to check in luggage at the airport, which is a savings of $25.

Overall, an amazing experience and worth all the airport hours I accumulated. Any questions on how you can book your own travical experience write a comment below.

 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The truth about Guatemala. Before starting this adventure I did some research on what to expect in Guatemala as well as some things to do and what do I find, a bunch of posts about how amazing Guatemala is. How people went for a week and ended up spending a month. Hmmmmm, let me honestly break down what Guatemala truly is.

For starters $1 = 7.14 Quetzals (Q)

Food

I was shocked when I first got to Guatemala about how things where so expensive. My first meal in Guatemala was believe it or not chicken wings (4 of them cut in half) and you wouldn’t believe the price, 40Q, which is about $5.75. Mind you these wings didn’t come with fries, shucks it barely came with ketchup. An order of French fries was 20Q.

Now, of course the street food was super cheap but I didn’t like the taste. Guatemala has a heavy corn influence so all their tortillas and all of their street food was of corn base. Mind you, I love love love corn on the cob and lose corn but I can’t get down with corn tortillas. 5 tacquitos was 15Q or if you are good at battering (not beating up the old lady but talking the price down) you can get it down to 10Q. A big piece of tamale with chicken in it was 10Q. If you like corn tortillas then the street food is for you. Therefore, you can eat for cheap with the street foods but if you are like me, your base is 35Q and upwards. In San Pedro I didn’t really find any street food but I did find a local restaurant that charged 35Q for tortillas, ‘soup’, and rice.

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Local dish call Pepin

Now the bread is a different story. The bakeries in Guatemala are delicious and super cheap. My favorite from the bakery was ‘the stones’. Stones are a very dense bread/muffin/loaf made with banana and chocolate chips throughout. One stone was 2-2.50Q. A big slice of ‘pizza’ which is really a big piece of bread with sauce and veggies was 3Q. So you definitely can eat for cheap by getting meals from the bakery but that would be a whole lot of bread. Then again, all the walking and hiking you do in Guatemala you wouldn’t have to worry about putting any weight.

In terms of food, my budget was about 50Q a day. I would have one good meal and then food from the bakery. One downside I found was that most hostels in Guatemala had no kitchens so I wasn’t able to cut down cost by cooking my own meals.

Excursions

 Hiking is the main thing to do in Guatemala. If you are not into nature, walking, or getting bite up then Guatemala might not be for you. But if you are into that then there is an excursion and a difficulty level for everyone.

Antigua

There are two main volcanoes you can climb Pacaya(easy) and Acatenango(hard) for hiking.

Acatenango, I would never be doing that lol because just to get up the volcano is 6+ hours depending on your level. Plus when you get to the top you can climb for another 3 hours to get to the top of Fuego(an active volcano). Acatenango is a 2 day excursion. You spend the night on top of the Acatenango and you best believe it is freezing up there once the sun goes down. You must make sure pack a wool hat, warm clothes, wool socks, and a blanket. Also if you are a light sleeper between the howling monkeys and snoring hikers don’t expect to sleep that night. But according to fellow travelers I met along the way said that the hike was worth it and beautiful. Chile, its just not for me.

Pacaya, now this is the hike I did. Super easy, well as easy as its going to get cause you know your girl was huffing and puffing while climbing. To climb up the volcano takes 45+ mins depending on how slow you walk. On the plus side the whole time climbing you are followed by locals offering ‘taxis’ in case you want to stop climbing. Now I use the word taxi very loosely because it’s really just a horse, yup you read right a horse. Once on the top, if it is a clear day you can see the other volcanoes in the horizon. You also get to roast marshmallows in lava (if there is) or in a steam hole. I paid 80Q for transport and a guide.

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super foggy at about 10am

San Pedro, Lake Atitlan

Here, you have kayaking, zip lining, and hiking. For hiking, you can climb San Pedro Volcano(hard) or Indian Nose Mountain(easy). Of course, I didn’t climb San Pedro but based on my research it is a 4+ hour hike up. Indian Nose was super easy to climb and by far the prettiest. It is a 30+ mins hike up the mountain with views of farms, cornfields, forest, and the city. The views were beautiful and picturesque. You can go for a sunrise tour, which I would recommend. Simply gorgeous. Depending on how many is in your group depicts the price. If it is just 1 person it is 150Q for transport and guide. The more people you have the more the price drops. Luckily for me I met a group of fellow travelers and joined in with them. One of the guys stays with a host family every time he visits Guatemala so the son was our tour guide and driver. Therefore the trip was based on donation.

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more views

You can go zip lining as well in Santa Clara. In the park there are only two lines, one regular the other you have the option of riding superman style. It is 20Q to enter the park and 80Q zip line. In the park there are other activities you can do like free falling. Parque Ecologico Chuiraxamolo is the name of the park. For the money you spend it is worth visiting the park. What you would pay for one excursion in Costa Rica you can do about 3-4 at the park in Guatemala.

Flores

I am not sure if visiting Tikal is an excursion but there isn’t much else to do there. Well actually, I was approached by a local to take a 40min boat ride to the other side of the lake where there is clear water to do some snorkeling. There is also kayaking and other water activities to do at the lake. But anyways back to Tikal, the price to enter the park is 150Q and 250Q for sunset or sunrise. I was able to get transport to Tikal cause of course it was an hour and a half away from Flores for 50Q. There is no need to pay for a guide because it is quite easy to get around the park but if you are bad at directions or reading a map pay for the guide.

Transport

There are two ways to travel around Guatemala, by chicken buses or by shuttles (whether it you spring for private/nice shuttles or regular ones).

Chicken Buses

 For me I didn’t feel secure enough in my Spanish to ride the chicken buses. It is the cheapest way to travel but also the most dangerous. The chicken buses get stopped and robbed often enough. As a solo female traveler I chose to not chance it. Now if I wasn’t traveling alone I would have chanced riding the chicken bus.

Shuttles

When booking shuttles don’t be afraid to shop around and haggle the price down. The cost to go to Volcano Pacaya for me was 80Q but some people in my shuttle only paid 60Q. My shuttle from Antigua to Lanquin to Flores and back to Guatamala City was 650Q. Of course by chicken bus can be much cheaper. For example some fellow travelers I met only paid 25Q each to go from Antigua to Pacaya by chicken bus but then again they were two males (big/fit ones at that).

So it is possible to travel cheaply around Guatemala but safety must come first.

Conclusion

Guatemala is a beautiful country full of adventure and things to do but it is not as cheap as other travelers make it out to be. In my opinion, Nicaragua is by far the cheapest of the countries in Central America (maybe certain parts of Mexico as well). It is definitely a must see country and if you are into nature and hiking then you definitely should check out Guatemala.

Semuc Champey, my favorite experience of the trip

Caves+Swing Rope+Views….

Semuc Champey… Need I say more?

By far my best experience in Guatemala. From the views to the group I was with to my amazing tour guide, I couldn’t ask for a better day and experience. My whole experience in the small town of Lanquin was great.

Let’s start from the beginning, I stayed in a legit treehouse y’all where I had to sleep under a mosquito net. It was a stay of many firsts. Vista Verde is an amazing hostel with great people and vibes.


Back to Semuc, we are on first name basis y’all lol. The morning started with a 30-40 minute drive standing on the back of a pickup truck. Mind you it was about 20 of us crammed onto a small bed. Did I mention how “amazing” the roads are in Guatemala? The one good thing about these drives is that you are surrounded by nature and crazy views.

Once in the park, exploring the caves was the first thing on the agenda. Y’all I didn’t bring my phone in because Carlos (the guide) said that it would be an hour and a half in the dark with only a candle and that we would be walking, swimming, and climbing. Mind you majority of the time in the cave I was swimming because the cave isn’t meant for short people. The whole experience was amazing though, I climbed up a rope against the waterfall, jumped off the highest peak in the cave, and went through a tunnel where I bumped my left big toe.  So now both my big toes are swollen and are still killing me.

Once we got done with the cave, we walked to one end of the lake/park and saw a beautiful waterfall. Carlos wanted us to jump from the top of the waterfall but the currents were so strong he couldn’t make it to the other side of the lake. Now you know your girl only know how to stay above water. I was not getting in that water lol.  Since that was a bust we headed back towards the entrance and stopped for all the folks who wanted to do the rope swing. Now that was a lot of fun and the current wasn’t to bad there even though Carlos jumped in thinking he needed to save me lol.


Next up was the ridiculouus hike (cause of course nothing in Guatemala is simple). Carlos appointed himself to my boyfriend and tried to convince me the whole hike up how I needed to move to Lanquin and live with him and how he had his own house. The climb was definitely worth it for the views. I even got to taste the fruit cacao comes from, it was pretty darn good.

The purple stuff is what you use to make chocolate

The tasty fruit but your not suppose to swallow it


The last stop was the actual lakes. The water is a pretty turquoise blue and clear.


What a epic day and hopefully my pictures made you want to visit someday.

Hippie Town Anyone?

My next stop on my journey was Lake Atitlan, San Pedro to be specific. Honestly after 2 days in Antigua I was more than ready to head to water. It seems that the trend is to stop for a ‘bathroom break’ even if the drove from one city to the next is 2hrs.  After being on a bus for 2.5 instead of the 1.5 hours promised I made it to Lake Atitlan. I consuls have taken a bus ride to San Pedro but that would have added another hour onto my bus ride. Instead of a longer bus ride I decided to go to Panajachel and take a ferry over to San Pedro. As soon as I saw the lake I knew I would enjoy my time more here than in Antigua. Just seeing and hearing the water was so calming. 

My view for the whole time I was there


One of the best things about traveling is the people you meet. I met amazing people here in San Pedro starting from the long bus ride to the island. I met two older ladies from Malaysia who were actually staying at the same hostal as me. We had good convo and I was fully entertained by all the folks on the bus with me. Once I got to my hostal and dropped my bags off I went exploring.

First stop was to finally get some authentic Guatemalan food. Hmmmm, that was a mistake. I ordered one of their typical dishes called Pepián. It was a lot of food, a spoonful of rice with carrot shreds, corn tortillas, and a big bowl of broth/soup which included chicken, potatoes, and carrots. No bueno para yo. After leaving that place I decided to go and chill at a place with a view of the lake and do some work.  While walking to the new spot I met this couple from the states who are living in Canada but was visiting San Pedro because they were thinking of moving there. We exchanged numbers and said we would meet up later to chill.

Pepián

Lucky me, I came to the island when they were finishing up their celebrations of the Saint San Pedro. So of course there were quite a bit of festivities going on so I wanted to explore some. The people are super nice here on the lake and when it looked like I was lost a guy who spoke perfect English stopped and asked if I needed help. I told him I needed help finding Jarku (the restaurant I started at earlier that day). He told me how to get there then he proceeded to invite me to hop on his bike and that he would take me.  After much persuasion I got on the bike and he took me to the restaurant when I got off, I was reminded that I wanted to check out the festival and started wondering around again.  The same guy helped me again and took me to the c center to hear the live music and check out the locals…

Next day, woke up got some coffee and took in the amazing views. It was another work day for me as I needed to plan my upcoming trip with my mummy and aunt. Later that day while skyping my mum and aunt I easedropped on two couples talking about what they were doing the next day and one of the, was like they were catching the sunrise on Indian Nose. You know your girl went over their and invited myself on their hike because I really wanted to do it but the tour guide told me no since it would just be me (the life of a solo traveler isn’t always glamorous). So luckily they were able to add me and they turned out to be a cool couple. We ended up going out that night and meeting up with the rest of the group. I will be writing a separate post soon about my trek up Indian Nose and ziplining in the jungle. 

But the two pics below are a sneak pic of my day. 


Let’s talk food

So after my disappointing experience with Pepián, I decided to just order regular food. The highlight of my stay there was brunch at El Barrio on my last day. The food was delicious and there was a lot of it. For 40Q you got a four course brunch, all you can drink coffee, and a glass of orange juice. The order was a bowl of fruit, granola, and yogurt, next was a bowl of soup (didn’t have that but my neighbors told me it was good), then the choice of a omelette, frittata, or breakfast sandwich with a side of hash browns or seasoned fries and sausage or bacon(I got both), lastly was two fluffed pancakes with a fruit compote on top. Yes that much food and yes I ate it all but it was over the course of about 3-4 hours. I got there at 10 when it opened and ordered my frittata writhing the first 5mins of being there and got it at 10:50. Ordered my pancakes at 11:20 and got it at 11:55. I don’t remember when I ordered my fruit but I didn’t leave until about 1:30. Needless to say don’t go there if you are in a hurry. Don’t be put off by the long wait because the owner (at least I think so, definitely part owner) comes and check on you and talks to you and the atmosphere of the place is warm and welcoming. It’s definitely worth the trip.  I also tried their chili fries, regular fries, and wings, all of which was really good. 




Honestly I can go on and on about my experience here in San Pedro. It was a great time where I met amazing people and had epic experiences.  Up next is Lanquin for Semuc Champey. I’m super excited about exploring there 

Back to Central America I went 

I made it to Antigua, Guatemala. Super excited to explore the country and take in the culture. 

So I originally planned to spend 4 days and 3 nights in Antigua but ended up only spending 2 days and nights and leaving at 7am on the third day. Don’t get me wrong there is plenty to do here but it just all depends on what you want to do. 

Now let’s talk about the good…

I arrived to Guatemala City early Tuesday morning after traveling all night. Getting out of the airport was super easy and the stand for the shuttles where in plain site. From Guatemala City to Antigua was about an hour (mind you that’s at 10am). I stayed at Hotel Colonial Antigua and it was quiet and clean (very much family oriented).  Once I put my stuff down, I went exploring and walking the city. Antigua is a very small town and you can walk it in about 30 mins. There is a lot to offer from hiking excursions to cooking and Spanish classes to chocolate and coffee tours. It really all depends on what your looking for. 

Pacaya Volcano  
I chose this volcano because it was the easiest one to climb and your able to roast marshmallows at the top. To hike up and down the volcano is a total of 6km ( which is 3.7 miles for all my folks who are like me and have no idea what the conversion is). Sad fact, it took me about  2 hours to go up (3km) the volcano. I know extremely sad, mind you that’s the easy hike. For experienced hikers, Acatenango takes 7+ hours to climb up (to put in perspective Pacaya for experienced hikers should only take about an hour if that to get to the top). Y’all if I had gone on the Acatenango hike I probably wouldn’t have survived. 

Overall though I enjoyed the experience even though there wasn’t any lava to roast my marshmallows. 

​Antigua has a very colonial feel to it through its architecture. Because the city is so small, you can see practically see everything in a day (but the type of traveler you are depicts the length of time it will take you to explore). For me, two days was sufficient since I am not a hiker nor did I go there to learn Spanish. 


Now unto the not so good things…

My first meal in Guatemala was chicken wings. I was so disappointed because I was expecting amazing food for cheap (of course all based on my time in Nicaragua).  I basically had wings one day and fries the next day but I did finally try some street food. Unfortunately that was a bust for me because of what I ordered and then when I tried again I just didn’t like it. So before going into this I knew I didn’t like tamales (or for that matter corn tortillas) but I gave it try and nope I still don’t like.  The second time around I was like “order something you like,” so I ordered an empanada and that was still a no for me. For me so far the local food is not to my liking at all BUT the pasteries and bread are phenomenal. 

When traveling you must be flexible. But in being flexible you must not be foolish and you must be prepared to lose sometimes. As a traveler you can be a meticulous planner, someone with no plans, or like me-a person with a general idea of what you want. Because I changed up my plans/schedule I lost a little money but was able to recuperate it in other ways. 

Other than these few negatives I am thoroughly enjoying myself and meeting new people along the way. 

P.S: Just a little IG video from my hike. Disregard the heavy breathing lol. 

Well goodbye weekend and hello New York

This past weekend was my last weekend in Madrid for about two months and one of the funnest weekends I have had here so far. I am heading back to New York to see my family and I am extremely excited to see my babies.

Anyways, back to this weekend. This weekend was ridiculously crazy and not in a partying way but just in all that I did. Lets begin with the bad and end with the good. June is the last month for one of my friends living in Madrid before she moves to Malta. She wanted to have a little get together and go out to celebrate her time here in Madrid and of course I was like that’s a great idea. After spending the afternoon and early evening with my Spanish classmates talking and hanging out I headed home to get ready to hang with her.

Honestly, I should have known better than to trust her club picking skills lol but the club she chose for us on Friday night by far was the worst. The club she chose was called MediasPuri and it started off ok. When you enter you are greeted by this ‘vampire’, well not really greeted but a ‘vampire’ is hanging off the railing and stuck to the wall. I saw it and thought ok just a little weird but you know when in Madrid. So I fully enter the club and come to the realization that it is a gay bar. Now I have nothing against gay bars I just personally cannot listen to the music (particularly the beat) for very long. Besides it being a gay bar, what struck me as weird were ‘the performers’. There were people dressed up as…. *blows out a deep breath* honestly I really don’t even know. They were wearing all red samauri looking robes or bottoms with pasties on their nipples (the women) and the men were just wearing pants. I saw about three shows. The first two were ok, interesting but not really my cup of tea. I was already telling my friend that I wanted to leave and that I wasn’t really feeling the place. But before I could leave the third show happened and as soon as it started I got a very weird vibe. To me that show felt demonic and even my friend said to me that she felt it was satanic so what I thought was a vampire when I came in was really a person portraying hell. I mean the performance was so weird that it had a mask of satan’s head with horns and a bigger sculpture on the floor. What really was the last straw was the fact that at the end of the performance the lead lady was handing out communion bread to everyone. Honestly, the night wasn’t bad because MediasPuri is a gay club, it was bad because of the lack of respect MediasPuri had for religion.

*honestly, I took a few videos but I must have deleted them*

Saturday was a new day and I was ready to put Friday night behind me. Saturday I literally did nothing until about 7pm. It is so hot in Madrid right now, over the weekend the temperature during the day was in the 90s and only dropped about 10 degrees once evening hit. On facebook I saw an article about things you can do in Madrid and one particular monument caught my attention. I decided I wanted to see the monument and catch the sunset. If you ever want to see some Egyptian architecture while visiting Madrid check out Templo de Debod. Since I was staying in the La Latina area for a bit, I was able to walk to the monument and what a beautiful walk it is. I passed the Royal Palace, my favorite bridge, and so much more. The area where the monument is is known for their sunsets. Afterwards, my friends and I checked out some bars and stumbled upon a bar that had just opened up. It was a great evening full of laughs and fun.

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Templo de Debod. It was beautiful to see the lights change as the sunset occurred.

Sunday I went on my first hike ever. So my girl Arianna convinced me that the hike would be easy and that we would be swimming most of the time. What a lie that was, the hike was not easy. Yes, the ground was even but we ended up walking in the heat of the day for almost 4 hours before making it to the first swimming spot. Overall, I hiked a total of 17km for my first hike ever. Insane, right? As much as I yelled at Arianna I must say in the end I did enjoy myself I just wouldn’t hike again during the summer months. I swam in a lake y’all for the first time as well. Normally, I only swim in the ocean or in a pool but because it was scorching hot I didn’t have a chance to be bougie about the water I swim in. The only way to cool off and to stay hydrated was to swim in the freezing water. I must say the day was full of adventures and unexpected things.

That weekend was one of the highlights of my stay in Madrid (of course not including the traveling I do outside of Madrid) since I got here. I must say that living in the city instead of the outskirts has allowed me to travel around the city and explore new places without having a time constraint.

The simple things in life

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The arch in Puerta de Toledo

I cannot believe that at the end of June will make 5 months in Madrid. Honestly, time stops for no one and nothing. It truly amazes me when I think of all I have accomplished and done so far. I am steadily learning and practicing Spanish, adapting to the Spanish culture more and more, exploring the world, and learning more and more about myself.

My weekend was pretty uneventful; did a little work and moved out. Moving sucks no matter what country you live in but I think Spain takes the cake. Or better yet moving your things with the use of public transportation sucks. I was planning to move closer to the city after the summer and move out of my place at the end of the June, but since I am going back to the states to visit earlier than I thought, I decided to move out now.

On another note, for the first time I am actually looking forward to going home to see my family. Now, don’t get me wrong I do miss my family but I talk to them at least once a week for hours. But my nieces and nephew, now that’s a different story, I am so excited and ready to actually hold and hug them.

In the 5 months I have been living here I never really explored La Latina area. The short time I have been in this area thus far has been great. From the different bars/restaurants, the statues, and the cultural things offered you are never lacking in things to do. One of the famous things to do in La Latina is go to the flea market that happens every Sunday.

So far, my time here has been enjoyable. When I look back on all the convincing and explaining I had to do to get here it has definitely been worth it. As individuals we must learn to follow our dreams and listen to our gut more and more. It has been engrained in us to go along with what society has portrayed as an acceptable lifestyle even when we are miserable playing that role that it can be difficult to step out an go against the grain. Granted, I am not saying that stepping out of the norm to pursue your dream will be smooth sailing but as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We should never be afraid to follow our passions. Granted we must be responsible in what we do, for example if you have a family to feed and take care of now might not be the best time to step out and pursue a far fetched idea. Simple put, when you have family depending on you and responsibilities, you must be wise in what opportunities you take and decline.

Life is a journey not a race so enjoy the different turns and paths you take because ultimately you are responsible for your happiness.

Alicante or should I say Levante

 

Looking for a beach in Spain can be a difficult task especially depending on what constitutes a beach for you.  This weekend, my friends and I decided to head to the beach and chose to go to Alicante which is in the south of Spain.

Getting to Alicante was a journey within itself. At first, we wanted to drive there but couldn’t because none of us have international drivers license.  The process of looking for a rental company that would rent to us was annoying and we gave up and decided to go by bus instead.  The bus ride to Alicante from Madrid is 5 hrs.

Alicante is a cute little beach town. At first glance it seemed quiet due to the fact that its not beach season yet here in Spain but for me I appreciated the quieter side of things. We stayed at this awesome airbnb that was less than a 5-minute walk from San Juan beach with great views of the water, town, and mountains.

Now lets talk about the most important thing, the water.  The water really surprised me, from its color to its cleanliness.  The water had some blue hues in it and was really pretty from afar.  You know ya girl went in the water. It was cold at first touch but once you are in it feels great.  It was really windy this weekend so the water and waves were rough so I couldn’t really spend as much time in the water as I wanted to. According to one of my students the wind has a specific name here, Levante. Levante was definitely acting up this weekend.

 

One thing I didn’t understand is the fact that there were no stars in the sky.  I love to star gaze and hearing the waves of the ocean while seeing the stars play and flash on the water is one of the best things but I was sad that there were no stars in site.

Nightlife, you would think it would be dead because the town was empty but boy were we wrong.  Friday night started with us going to the Thai Corner to eat you guessed it thai food.  Calle Labradores is the street the restaurant is on and it was so busy and had a great feel and atmosphere. While walking to the restaurant we saw a big box with a bunch of post-it notes people wrote, a woman doing someone’s make-up, and a host of bars and tapa places.

We made it to the restaurant and boy were we pleasantly surprised. There was a distinct New Orleans atmosphere, from the playing of jazz music to people swing dancing.  While eating our food we got to watch some live performances. Overall I would say the dinner experience was great.

If you are looking to get away from the city for the weekend, Alicante is the place to go. There you will find a little of everything, nightlife, the beach, and great food and atmosphere. Another city of Spain down, a million more to go.