Sunday, April 27, 2014

{travel} a roman holiday: the classics

I flew to Rome on the evening of my last day of work before Semana Santa - aka Holy Week - aka Spring Break 2014. Spring breaks for the rest of my life = definite teaching perk. After an awkward encounter in the airport with a *way too full of himself* Italian man, I was finally able to settle into my tiny little Iberia airplane seat. I had to attempt to contain my excitement during the entire flight because I was finally just hours away from seeing my parents, the absolute best travel companions! My friends always make fun of me for my crazy travel planning tendencies, but once you see my mom in trip planning action, you realize that I get that trait veryyy honestly.

I am beginning my #italyspam posts the same way that my vacation started - with a big touristy bang. We not only toured the Colosseum on day one, but also the Vatican & the Pantheon. It was a crazy hectic & completely awesome way to start our Roman holiday, but man oh mannnn were we tired at the end of it! On the second day, we spent just about half a day exploring the Roman Forum and then stopped for a few scoops of gelato before heading home to relax a while. We had to rest up for our wine & food tour after all. Are you ready for this party to begin? You might want to pour yourself a glass of Italian wine - it's going to be a long one.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

{recipe} mediterranean edamame salad

Dear friends, meet your next lunch. Hi, lunch!


I made this salad just before I left for carb, gelato, and cannoli heaven in Italy for my big kid version of spring break -- I love teaching! (Lots of Italy spam to come on the blog. Get exciiiited!) I had a bunch of random ingredients I wanted to use up before I left, and a huge block of feta cheese sitting in my refrigerator that my roommate brought back from Greece. She is so kind for sharing it, isn't she?! I know that edamame typically only goes in Asian dishes, but trust me on this one. They add a sweet little crunch to the salad, but even better -- lots of protein. Did you know that just 1/2 a cup of shelled edamame has 11 grams of protein in it? Solid.

This salad is extremely quick and easy to whip together and travels really well. We don't have a refrigerator at my school for teacher use, so I have to bring snacks to work that won't go bad. In my opinion, the flavors actually get better if you let the salad warm up to room temperature a bit. I threw it over some arugula I needed to use up, but you could also top a grilled chicken breast with it as well! That actually sounds super delicious now that I think of it.... 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

{travel} tasting port in porto, portugal

Northern Portugal is often overlooked by tourists who favor the capital city of Lisbon in the south, or Portugal's neighboring country & my current homeland, Spain. To be honest, Portugal was never really on my radar of places I really wanted to visit during my time living abroad in Spain. But if there is one thing I've learned while living in Europe, it's that sometimes the most unexpected cities and countries are the most beautiful. We all know that Paris, London, and Barcelona are incredible, but some of my fondest traveling memories are from my trips to Prague, Salamanca, and Granada. It's always nice to get off of the beaten tourist track and get swept away by the beauty of a new language, cuisine, and culture. 

{vino break at Bolhao Wine House in the Bolhao Market}

I ended up in Porto with three of my girlfriends because we discovered a 60 euro round-trip RyanAir flight from Madrid - way too good of a deal to pass up for a quick and easy weekend trip! We only spent one hour in the air before we were deplaning on the Porto airport's tarmac. Before leaving for our trip, the four of us girls got together for coffee and to discuss our travel personalities, as we had never traveled together before. We quickly came to realize that we were going to be a group created by the travel gods, seeing as we all had three very important goals for the trip in common: we wanted to wander around aimlessly and take a million pictures, stop often for food & wine breaks, and not enter a single museum. Bingo! I think we were meant to be travel companions. 

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 filled with people and Easter procesiones, 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. ;)