Monday, April 7, 2014

{travel} a romantic getaway to granada, spain

{the view from our airbnb flat}

Granada, you captured my heart so effortlessly and quickly last year that I didn't even see it coming. You were rainy, cold, and full of people and Easter parades, but it didn't matter. I fell completely in love from the very first moment I laid eyes on the majestic Alhambra. I wandered through the gardens of the Generalife Palace in complete wonder and drank in the intricate carvings inscribed in all of the walls of the Nasrid Palace for what seemed like hours. I took photo after photo, each time exclaiming how disappointing it was that my camera couldn't fully capture the beauty of what I was seeing with my own two eyes. Our two days in Granada in 2013 went by all too quickly, and I vowed to come back again before my time in Spain was up. So when Alex and I were planning his spring break trip to come see me I knew that we had to sacrifice a few days in Madrid to get to know Granada's more romantic side together.

{sitting on the wall at the Mirador de San Nicolas}

I went to Granada in 2013 with three of my girlfriends during our spring break from work. We spent a lot of our time in the area directly around the cathedral and Plaza Nueva, only venturing up into the Albayzin for a view of the Alhambra from the Mirador de San Nicolas and a flamenco show. I knew that I wanted to get to know the barrio with a gypsy soul much better my second time around, so Alex & I booked an airbnb apartment in the area. Best. Decision. Ever. We absolutely loved our stay at the EcoConscious Moorish House & totally recommend it for anyone planning on traveling to Granada. The top picture in this post shows the view we had from our building's terrace. Enough said.

I'm going to try something new and break this post up into three sections - sights, eats, & ambiance. Let me know if you like the new format. Five years of blogging and still trying to get it right. ;)

Sights & Activities: Although I love an action packed vacation schedule as much as the next Type A vacation planner, I also enjoy going to a place and having few obligations. I love the knowledge that I can wake up when I want, ask locals for restaurant recommendations instead of solely relying on TripAdvisor, and wander through the city on a whim. Granada is the perfect city to do these things in because the historical center is quite small and easily navigated. Although the windy streets might seem overwhelming and confusing to a newcomer, you really just always have to look for the Alhambra and you will know exactly which direction you need to head in. Perfect.

Hammam Banos Arabes:

{no photos allowed inside the baths - credit

We started our first full day in Granada soaking in the tranquil Arab baths near Plaza Nueva. With only three other people choosing the same time slot as us, it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves. It was an absolutely wonderful way to wind down after a busy week of work and sightseeing in Madrid with Alex. I upgraded to the baths with massage option & it was an absolutely glorious decision. For only 45 euros the two of us were able to enjoy the baths for two hours, with a 15 minute massage with an essential oil of my choice for me.

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I wrote quite a bit about my love for La Alhambra in my post on Granada from last year's trip, but I can't help but to write about it again. La Alhambra is by far one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Knowing how much incredible history this fortress/palace has seen? Well, if only walls could talk... I'd love to hear all of the stories. It is only about 17 euros a person to enter the Alhambra grounds and is totally worth it! Make sure you buy your tickets in advance as they sell out quickly during the peak tourist season. I recommend spending at least 3 hours in the Alhambra, but you could easily spend many more. Just look at that view above. :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

{recipe} 3 minute oatmeal

There are soooo many things I need to blog about. For example, my trip to Prague (in November of last year!!!), an awesome food tour I went on in Madrid, my first solo trip to Zaragoza, Spain, a beautiful hike in the Spanish countryside, my travel plans for the rest of the year (I'm so excited), and of course my wonderful boyfriend's law school spring break trip to visit little ol' me in Madrid. But currently my laptop is sadly broken. The cooling fan has gone kaput, so it is now time to put some of these English teaching euros aside for a computer repair. Womp womp womppppp. Anyways, you didn't click on this link to read about my troubles in blogging paradise. Amirightttt? Alas, it is finally time for the most perfect oatmeal recipe around. And it only takes three minutes to make. (No really, it took me longer to make my cafe con leche than it did to churn out this delicious recipe.)

I have had a really hard time finding the chewy rolled oats I am used to eating at home in Madrid. The box I bought from the grocery store looked promising, but had an incredibly goopy, soupy texture. Ick. What can I say? I'm a texture girl through and through. I found these oats at a natural food store near my flat, called La Magdalena de Proust. I was like a middle aged man in a Ferrari showroom the first time I walked in there. It takes all of my willpower not to buy everything in sight. I have to keep reminding myself, "Do you want this bag of chia seeds or do you want to eat chocolate in Switzerland?" Priorities, obviously. When I saw a 500g bag of rolled oats for 2€ at this store though, all bets were off. I was so happy after leisurely waking up and rolling out of bed to be able to make a favorite breakfast item from home. So what makes this particular oatmeal so special? A very awesome addition of a mashed banana to the oats/milk mixture. It thickens the oatmeal and adds a natural sweetness. Usually I dump a bunch of brown sugar into my oatmeal, but I didn't need any additional sweetness with this recipe! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

{life} my unfiltered life abroad

If you were to take a look at my Instagram or Facebook you would think that I lived an incredibly charmed life filled with every day adventure, endless fun, and European glamour. While I know I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to live and work abroad, there are some moments when I severely miss my easy American life. This post is not meant to be filled with complaints, but I feel like it is good to let the "real" side of living abroad out. You will rarely meet an ex-pat who is not momentarily filled with homesickness, or completely exasperated with the new country he/she calls home. It's not all sunshine and rainbows over here in Europe, folks. Let's get to it.

Kitchen Space

My kitchen is cute. It's Euro. But it is freaking SMALL. Meet my kitchen table. AKA my cutting board station. AKA holder of random things. And everything in between. Did I mention that this table is smaller than a card table? If people are sitting at the table eating, you cannot open the fridge or the pantry. How I long for the days when I thought my college apartment's kitchen was small & not very well equipped. Puhleaasse. I dream of crock pots and blenders and food processors. But mainly I dream of space.

Friday, February 28, 2014

{fashion} chic pink & shea mcgrath photography

I'm so excited to blog about this fun photoshoot I did in Retiro Park last weekend with Shea from Shea McGrath Photography. I met Shea at a Madrid blogger meetup at the beginning of the month. While the rest of us talked about our (less than professional) blogging lives, Shea introduced herself not as a blogger, but as a photographer with a brand new company. She told us that she really wanted to expand her portraits portfolio, and we gladly agreed to help her out. After all, who doesn't like getting dolled up and spending a beautiful day outdoors taking pictures with friends? :)

I asked Shea to a few questions about herself and how she came to open up her very own photography business. Click through for more!