Let’s Surf the Web Together

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Hi, everyone!

As you know, I love link lists. I also have have a digital hoarder problem: too many tabs!! This is what’s been on my reading list these past few days. (I swear, this digital age is changing my synapses.)

In the news lately:

On Life:

On Mental Health:

On Music, Books, TV, and Pop Culture:

  • TV Shows and their counterparts (I’ll never be able to watch all of these. Or will I?)
  • A wiki rabbit hole journey took me to this link, and I’d like to check out their album! (Blunderbuss –> Jack White –> Ruby Amanfu)
  • This song makes me happy. Nellie McKay – The Dog Song

 

Guide to Barcelona, Spain

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Hidey ho, everyone!

Sorry it took so long to get here, and I know y’all have been waiting, so drumroll please!

BARCELONAAAA!

HOW DID YOU GET HERE? We took a train from Valencia, which took about 3.5 hours.

WHERE DID YOU STAY? From Barcelona-Sants (the main train station), we took a taxi to get to the neighborhood where we were staying called Barri Gotic. We used Airbnb again and did not regret it. I highly recommend this neighborhood! Hipsters like El Born, which is right next to Barri Gotic if you want your dose of trendiness. If you likelove Game of Thrones, Barri Gotic and Girona are where they filmed a few scenes of GOT, mainly for the Braavos and Dorne scenes. Walking around this neighborhood is like a medieval maze; everything is so tall and old-ish. You feel the history here and it reminded me that I was not just in another country, but it felt like a different time as well.

WHAT DID YOU EAT? Oh man. Like Spain, Barcelona is full of amazing eats. We hit up some of the tourist-famous joints. There’s a lot of hype for Boqueria and Quimet y Quimet but the hype is there for a reason! Here are the notable places where we dined:

Cerverceria/El Vaso de Oro A crowded and narrow bar with old steins as decoration. We had a seasoned old bartender and he made the night for us with his quips. P.S. The neighborhood is called L’Eixample, which is pronounced “le shem pleh.”

Tapeo Holy skuzballs… Located in Born, the food was amazing! And it didn’t break the bank. We each had a caña, then shared the following: mackerel, eggplant w/ honey, croquetas (only two, and they look like boobies, but sooooooooo good), and fideo paella a sepia (tiny noodle paella with squid and ink). With the fideo paella, I may have licked the plate and scraped every bit off the pan. I still think of that dish sometimes… NOTE: make an RSVP here if you have a party of more than two, otherwise you’ll be waiting for a while.

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La Pubilla A Catalan restaurant located in the Gracia neighborhood, it’s right off the Gracia exit on the metro. The menu is in Catalan, and while they speak Spanish here, they are stalwart speakers of the Catalan language. Don’t worry, you can still point and ask. We had brunch here so we missed all of the foie related dinner entrees, but it was still worth the trip. The menu here changes regularly so if I was living in the area, I’d come often. I had the pork cheek and it was superb: creamy and unctuous on the inside and crispy and salty on the outside. It was served with a vegetable confit and reduced consomme.

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Quimet y Quimet Bourdain may have made this place famous to the U.S., but I don’t think he weaseled his way through the throngs and wrote 10 items on a piece of paper and passed it to the proprietor like I did so we wouldn’t miss a thing. Ha! I think she thought it was impressive because I got a wink and a smirk from her before she started screaming orders over the din. Because of his height, Yobo was able to act as a serving fulcrum above peoples’ heads and grab our plates from bar to our standing table, back and forth until we received our order. Yay, tall husbands! Everything tasted — you guessed it — amazing! And fresh and light. NOTE: No chairs here, everything is standing room.

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La Boqueria Market The famous institution that is one of the greatest food markets ever. I passed by the stall where Phil from I’ll Have What Phil’s Having has a monster foie and egg creation, but it was packed to the gills. Maybe next time I’ll have to bring a fake camera crew to clear some seats. We ended up having a cone of jamon (AMAZING), oysters, and fried anchovies. And gambas a la plancha. What a great morning that was. Yes, there is a lot of overpriced hype, but you don’t have to go in there for a full blown meal. You can eat at any of the side restaurants hoping for spillover from market visitors or take pics and grab one of the many zumos (juice). They are only 1 or 2€!

NOTE: If you go in there and expect to order a coffee to go for your wanderings, you will be chastised with raised eyebrows. If you want to do the Starbucks thing like they do in America, you will have to do it in America. The Spanish like to enjoy and savor, so if you want a coffee, which will always be through a press, you will have to enjoy it cafe style sitting down.

WHAT DID YOU DO?

  • Sagrada Familia – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The inside and outside take your breath away. It was the one touristy thing that rendered me speechless and somehow got under my skin. A marvel and a feat. That’s all I’m going to say about it. The overpriced ticket to take the elevator all the way to top and walk down was worth it. If you are looking to step out of your comfort zone, this cathedral has that in spades for all your senses (except taste unless you want to lick the building which I do not advise).
  • La Pedrera aka Casa Mila – It’s an apartment building still in use that was commissioned by wealthy Barcelonians to Antoni Gaudi, the architect primarily responsible for making Barcelona (and the aforementioned Sagrada Familia) such a wonder for the architecture. The roof of this place is the attraction and it is intense. Chimneys disguised as stone sentinels stand atop a terra cotta scene that undulates under your feet. It is unnerving and crowded to be up there, but unforgettable.
  • Montserrat Monastery. There will be a separate post for this!

ETC

  • While planning for Barcelona, it is important to be reminded that Barcelona is the pickpocket capital of the world (!). Ladies, you should always wear your bag in front of you. Dudes, put your wallets in an inner jacket pocket or your front pocket. Fortunately we didn’t get mugged or ever feel that we were in direct danger, but we did see someone on Las Ramblas scoping out a potential mark. 😦
  • Barcelona and Spain used to be considered an old people destination! Now, it’s a place where younger tourists are getting their fill of a hipper Europe.
  • Barcelona is a city with its own identity. A lot of the locals here speak Catalan and identify as Catalonians before identifying as Spanish. Catalan sounds like if Spanish, French, Portuguese and a little Arabic had a baby! A lot of menus and signs in Barcelona are written in Catalan, Spanish, and English (in that order).
  • Because we spent the majority of a day trekking out to the Montserrat Monastery, we didn’t have time to go to Park Guell, which I am doing to the the next time we go back. I’m touching that lizard dammit!
  • During my initial research, I really liked the layout of this one expat blogger so I followed a lot of his Barcelona recommendations. We went to the Montjuic Fountains on his suggestion, but I failed to double check the schedule of when the fountain was on. He just said, “Check out Montjuic Fountain.” We went on a Monday night which is a night that they DON’T play. Ugh. Okay. That’s why I’m trying to do The Realness here. If you want to see the Montjuic Fountain, here is the schedule. Check first so you don’t waste time if you’re planned a jam-packed trip. We got to the see the entire city at night from the adjacent majestic steps of the Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
  • Entrance fees to a lot of the sites can get expensive so budget accordingly! (i.e. over 40€ each! Ouch!)
  • Now that we know the layout, I would suggest staying in Barcelona for at least 4-5 days. Three days is not enough.
  • If you’ve been to Barce before, here’s a fun link for all the filming sites within Barcelona in the movie Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona.
  • Barcelona is CROWDED! Even if you beat the rush to sites as an early bird, places fill up quickly. Be patient. Here is a before and after picture of an impressive door in Barri Gotic. I had to take a few snaps before the perfect one because people were constantly walking into my shot.

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Okay, ready for the photo roll? ^___^

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Be sure to check out our Spain Primer, Tarifa, Morocco, Granada, Valencia, and What to Do if You Lose Your Luggage!

-j♥

oh…hello =/

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THIS IS WHAT I WROTE LAST WEEK (SAVED AS A DRAFT):

I’m so sorry, internet friends! I haven’t been around and I didn’t post a city guide last week because I have been running around. My brother moved out of my parents’ house and my sister is in the middle of converting his room into her new study. I’ve been helping with both abodes. It’s hard to fight the interior decorator/organizer Virgo who salivates at this sort of thing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Also, to my credit and detriment, I’m the go-to Helpful Family Member.)

THIS IS WHAT I’M WRITING TODAY:

Another week has passed and still no city guide! It’s coming soon…I think!

Internet friends, my heart is breaking for all the shit that’s been happening lately. It seems bleak and insane. I woke up Sunday morning thinking that NPR was talking about the Grimmie shooting again (also in Florida), and it was worse than I could’ve imagined. I don’t want to repeat the words, soundbites, headlines and hashtags of everyone else that has been grieving and analyzing. They are out there. People are really feeling this and they’re hurting.

A week before the Orlando shootings, I was driving on the freeway when patrol cars came screeching by. A few minutes later, more were racing down freeway ramps to get to the west side. A slew of CHP again after few more minutes, and I could feel the panicked frenzy that this rush was causing. It took 30 min for me to find out, but apparently someone went to the UCLA campus and shot his former teacher before shooting himself.

In my junior year in high school, I stayed after-school for play production and someone connected to my rival high school shot a few bullets at the school entrance. We immediately went into lockdown for almost 2 hours. At the time, my sister was in another building and this was pre-cellphone era so I had no idea what the !#@%#& was going on and if she was safe (she was). My boyfriend at the time had to calm me down because I was panicking.

Gun control! We fucking need it. Yes, gun rights are in the Constitution, but the Second Amendment is there because we were at a time of war…with another (invading) country! Right now, we are using the Second Amendment to go to war against each other. Of course we have the right to protect ourselves, but if you skew that to bear arms to hurt others, you (should) get that privilege taken away. When I was in elementary school, we went on a field trip and know-it-all me answered a question correctly. My prize was a huge cattail. Everyone looked at me enviously. On the bus ride home, I decided it would be a fun idea to take the cattail and gently poke the back of a classmate’s head with the reed end. Even though he was asking for it, my teacher pursed her lips at me and took it away, and I went home empty-handed. Ms. Silliman, you should be president. With great power comes great responsibility.

 

Why are we walking around with the swagger of power when we can’t be responsible for our own actions? How are people on no-fly lists still able to buy a gun?! With all this talk of recession and no jobs, why aren’t we implementing job training and programs so sane people can train to be analysts to screen people who want to buy guns? Boom. A burgeoning industry!

Here, Michael Che from SNL puts it succinctly:

You can’t have whatever you want, all right? I know the Forefathers said you had a right to own a gun, but they also said you could own people!…Look, the Constitution is a lot like our grandfather. He’s wise, we love him, and he means well. But, he’s getting really, really old and every once in a while he says something crazy and we gotta go to the other room and discuss what we’re gonna do about him!

With the pace of technology in all sectors whizzing by, we are marveling at our ingeniousness. Look at how many bullets this automatic weapon can dispense! If we’re still in accordance with the Second Amendment, do we really need a semi-automatic rifle with 30 rounds to protect our castles and/or prove a point? The things we are making and inventing are evolving…and we are forgetting to evolve. Kindness and tolerance are NOT evolving.

I almost feel a palpable shift to fever pitch here in America. This is supposed to be a paradise country where dreams come true. Did we market that wrong? You can come and study here from another country and get information on arts and sciences that your country might not allow you to learn about! You should be able to escape persecution here and make a better life without tyranny from your government. Those are the principles America was founded on. Did we market that wrong? This was supposed to be the country different from aaaaall the other countries. And now we are, but for the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong. Do I want to go back to the Philippines where poverty is apparent the minute you get out of the airport? No. I’m beyond grateful for the blessings I have, the roof over my head, the extra padding of fat that tells my family back home that I can afford to sit on my ass and not run after jeepneys. No, I want to stay here and be a productive member of my society. But you are making it really hard for me to be productive and enjoy it, you mostly (old) white men at the top.

 

We shouldn’t have a gender pay gap. People all over the world should be able to point and say, “Well, at least in America, women are getting the same pay!” We shouldn’t have issues with the LGBT community because why?! They are people just like we breeders, capable of love and responsibility. We shouldn’t impose anything on abortion rights. I thought we settled that years ago, people! (?!) I read an excellent op-ed blurb this morning that we should make a man that buys a gun do the same things that we make women do to get an abortion: drive hundreds of miles to the few or one place(s) in the state that have them, walk through picketing protesters telling them they are doing something wrong, have a 48 day waiting period, and sign multiple forms asking them if they know the repercussions of what they are doing, etc. We should be able to talk about race without one side constantly ranting about the past as a wall to prevent communication and progress, and the other side ranting about wanting inflated communication and progress without acknowledging the past. We are at an impasse then, right? How do we move FORWARD? Because that is the only realistic direction in which to move!

I am disappointed that in my blog roll of design and lifestyle blogs, only THREE mentioned Orlando. In fact, I’m calling them out for kudos: Design*Sponge, Apartment 34, and Design Mom. Everyone else? We must keep appearances, shan’t we? Everything must still be floral, dreamy, and creamy, must be about minimalist interior decorating, makeup, and “effortless personal style.” As a lazy person, I defer to you ladies to be socio-responsible entrepreneurs. In other words, what I aspire to be. I’m taking a break from a few of those blogs. Not that you care, but whatever. My small stand.

To paraphrase the live action Cinderella movie: We MUST have courage. We MUST be kind.

And lastly, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

If any wants to leave their opinion in the comments section, please feel free to. If you don’t agree with me, let’s be civil. If not, have a beautiful life. 🙂

 

Saturday Link Update

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Hey, everyone!

I had a really busy week so I’m finally getting downtime today. I will post my next city guide (BARCELONA!!!) next week yakusoku. Maybe I’ll throw in a recipe too. Hope you enjoy your long weekend!

In the meantime, I’ve been saving links/tabs for things that have piqued my interest to share with you all just in case anyone needs reading material. (Doing this now so I can finally clear my tabs!)

Food

I baked this recently into a bundt cake, and while it came out looking beautiful, I was not a fan of the tahini glaze. And it all needed a little more sugar for me. Damn, I didn’t realize my sweet tooth was that ferocious.

I think I’m going to attempt to make these malasadas this weekend, but with guava and pistachio filling.

This custard cornbread is on my To Bake list.

New baking blog to follow: Style Sweet CA

Self Improvement

Where Does Confidence Come From?

Practice, Practice, Practice (Or, how to prevent Alzheimer’s)

Since coming back from Spain, I’ve had some time to gain some weight back! Gah. I wish I could remember this whenever I feel motivated to do something about it.

Reminders to check out the following podcasts…from female podcasters!

Change your career in your 30’s!

Putting Yourself First. I need to learn this.

On Money: A sobering look at 4 women with 4 very different incomes.

Random

A Tumblr for all the forgotten coupling of celebrities. The blurbs are funny.

Preserved Shit in England

This is interesting: a case to teach writing in cursive first. I remember reading that there was witness in the Trayvon Martin case that was dismissed because she couldn’t read in cursive. Is this another system that will become obsolete because of technology?

As someone who was a victim of intense bullying growing up, it breaks my heart to read about kids who couldn’t see a better way out. Humans suck and kids are assholes. If you are a parent with a young child reading this, please help to ensure that your child grows up to a be a considerate citizen of the world whether they are headed towards being bullied or being the bully. This story about a mom who nipped her daughter’s bullying tendencies gives me hope!

A humorous take on the way I feel about my life. Love live FOMO vs Flight.

This is what they put in the Oscars gift bag!

I didn’t know a lake could look like this. It’s very surreal. I’m a city girl through and through and when I think of lakes, I think of serene places where geese fly over. Haha.

Whoa. I kinda want this! It would have been helpful during our Honeymoon Luggage Debacle.

Before we left for the honeymoon, Yobo and I saw Lissie at the El Rey. Two songs I can’t get out of my head: When I’m Alone With You and Shroud.

Leftover Spain fever here (a pair and a spare), here (heels in prague), and here (The Guardian). Plus, a sardonic travel blog that Yobo likes.

Spanish Language: swearing

Links that I appreciate for their REALNESS: Trying to Get Pregnant, How a Blog Post Gets Made, Do Not Make this Pinterest DIY, What It’s Like to Film Marvel Stunts.

The first Chinese citizen to give a Harvard graduation speech. It’s a really good one that touches on the proliferation (or lack thereof) of knowledge. Bonus: he talks about why his mom lit his hand on fire!

No Sound, No Fury, No Marriage. I don’t love arguing, but I truly realize the importance and necessity of having spats constructively.

I saw The Reader recently and I was reminded of how beautiful the prose is for Homer’s Odyssey.

This Wonder Woman promo pic!

Home

This tasseled pillow is on my Project To Do list for my desk chair.

Wish we had a bigger backyard to throw a dinner party for upcoming summer nights.

 

(Image above of Santa Monica Pier from Boquiang Liao)

Guide to Valencia, Spain

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Hi, everyone!

We’re moving along from Granada to Valencia. Here are some answers to questions you might have:

HOW DID YOU GET HERE? We took a BlaBlaCar to get from Granada to Valencia. If flying or renting a car is not an option, this is a great and affordable way to get around. The service is based around long distances and you ride with people who are already on their way to your next destination. It was about a 5 hour drive. Our driver’s name was David and he and his girlfriend met us at a designated location (a bit of confusion with that bec of parking). Though I mostly slept on the ride (I took allergy meds which knocked me out), David and his gf were very kind and friendly.

HOW DOES VALENCIA COMPARE TO BARCELONA AND MADRID? Still hazy from Granada’s fairy tale charm, my first impression of Valencia was one of minor disappointment. It looked like a typical downtown at first. I was still excited though: the further we drove in, we could see that Valencia is a hybrid of old/historic + new/cosmopolitan. Initially, I felt that Valencia was my least favorite stop, but scroll further and I’ll explain why. (I had some drama that sucked away a lot from our short stay.) In retrospect, I guess I did like Valencia…A LOT! It has its own charm and it blends the old/new very well while maintaining its urban vibe. There is a lot of wonderful and colorful street art!

WHAT DID YOU EAT? ¡Míralo! The picture below is from Arrocería la Valenciana. We got ALL of that for less than 40€ (and that’s two plates of dessert AND two bowls of gazpacho with bread)!!! We couldn’t even finish it. And it was all very delicious. Best mussels I’ve ever had!

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Mercat Central – Valencia’s historic market is the cute non-fussy version of Barcelona’s La Boqueria.
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ETC/NOTES/PERSONAL:

  • Valencia is a VERY bikeable city. Even though it’s the 3rd largest city in Spain in terms of population, you wouldn’t know it. It’s nowhere nearly as crowded as Madrid and Barcelona making it a PERFECT city to bike. I pretty much learned how to bike in the real world in Valencia. I’m glad I didn’t learn how to do it in Barcelona or Madrid. Those cities might be considered bikeable, but all those pedestrians would have freaked me out. I was already screaming in fear at the errant pedestrians in Valencia!
  • The bike ride from Mercat Central to the beach is about 6 miles. Along the way, you will see the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences Museum). That’s the futuristic building in my intro pic to this post. We didn’t have time to go in, but biking around the outside is beautiful and fun.
  • There is a local Valencian dialect in Valencia, so be prepared for some language/culture shock with a different accent.
  • I debated whether or not to share this, but what the heck: I temporarily lost my beloved Lumix LX-5 camera in Valencia. Before I realized it was missing, I was learning how to ride a bicycle on public streets. I fell down a few times. I also banged up my left leg really painfully which caused me so much frustration! I knew we were going to go the beach that morning so I wore my one-piece swimsuit underneath all my clothes. We found a craft beer place that morning and had a beer (or two for Yobo) and I was feeling pretty buzzed. Along the way to the bike rental shop, I ducked into a tourist-y restaurant bathroom and I realized that I had to take off all of my clothes to pee. Annoying! I had my camera strap around my neck so I put it on a hook. That’s where I thought I’d left it when I realized a few hours later at the beach (after having already shed tears for my bike riding frustrations) that I no longer had my camera. I really felt like shit, and I was so mad at myself. I sobbed for almost an hour at the beach, which sucks because the beach is my favorite place in the world. That night I was so exhausted from biking almost 12 miles, being in pain and being banged up, and thinking about my stupidity that I was too depressed to eat. If you know me, not eating dinner is an indication that something is wrong. Sometimes when Yobo is immersed in a project, he forgets to eat, but I never do that…so I hope that emphasizes that point. Anyway, fast forward to the next day and a happy ending, but I did NOT leave my camera in that bathroom after all. I just couldn’t remember because I was semi-drunk. I actually left it at the bike shop…and the owner returned it to me!! He said that he noticed the camera right away, and we even came back 5 minutes later (bec I wanted a smaller bike) and he figured that it wasn’t ours because we didn’t claim the camera. He later looked through the pictures and realized it was mine and was waiting to return it to me the next day! I leapt into his arms misty-eyed and grateful and all of a sudden, I loved Valencia again! Hehe.

If you read through all that, I hope it was amusing. Lesson: wear a two-piece, not a one-piece! 😉 At last, here come the pictures!

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Be sure to check out our Spain Primer, Tarifa, Chefchaouen, Granada, and What To Do If You Lose Your Luggage!

-j❤

Guide to Granada, Spain

Happy Friday, everyone!!

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the next city guide, so here we go…

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[The above photo is a picture of a building within the Alhambra in Granada. I highly recommend that you visit.]

Here are some answers to some questions you may have:

HOW DID YOU GET THERE? We drove to Granada from Tarifa. Originally, we were supposed to go from Tarifa to Ronda to Granada (a whole day trip), but we had a change of plans. We rented a car from Europcar and we drove from the Gibraltar airport to our Granada Airbnb; the ride was roughly 3 hours. I’ve outlined some of the Driving in Spain Tips and Facts here.

The Europcar office in Granada is located at the train station, which about a 12 minute drive to where we were staying (right next to the Alhambra!). For this location you have to drop your car off in the same dirt lot that Hertz has their drop off cars and then head to office back at the train station to fill out paperwork. Don’t worry, they are right next to each other. P.S. The Europcar employee looked like Peter Serafinowicz in a green suit.

P.P.S. Driving in Granada is no joke. The one way streets are NARROW. When there are no cars present, pedestrians walk the road. When a car passes through, everyone literally squeezes off to the sides of walls and buildings to make room for the car. No one gets upset. It’s the way of life there!

SLEEP. We were crazy lucky that all of the locations/neighborhoods during our trip where we chose our Airbnb’s were within walking distance to amazing sights, sounds, and eats. Granada’s Airbnb spot was no exception. I highly recommend staying as close as possible to the Alhambra. Not only will it be walking distance, but you can easily walk to the Albaycin and the caves. You’re also closer to the historic core of the city so you get more of an Arabic flavor. The downtown area of Granada has plazas which are a bit more modern and cosmopolitan, if that’s your flavor.

This was the view RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR WINDOW.

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EAT.

GELATO!! Heladeria de Los Italianos

Crowded, but good seafood tapas. Los Diamantes

An old-school tapas place. Gran Taberna

Our last meal in Granada with the traditional pan con tomate breakfast. Cafe 4 Gatos

DO. If you have the time, explore the Albaycin and get lost. You’re going to get lost! Seriously. The streets are windy and some streets are stair streets. Oh boy. You’ll figure it out! =)

Go visit the Alhambra. Because of the high demand of tickets, annoyingly, you have to really plan out your visit here. There are several types of tickets which allow different access to the grounds. They also have two different times which you can visit (morning/afternoon and afternoon/evening). You have to buy tickets through Ticketmaster Spain.

Watch live music and impromptu flamenco performances.

WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY? Yes! We would have stayed here longer. This was our favorite city stop in our honeymoon. That’s not to say that we didn’t love exploring the other cities because they were all great, but Granada wasn’t just charming; it was magical. It was truly like being in another country and being far removed from home. It was seeing the long history of Europe, and in particular, the way Spain has been influenced by Arab and African culture because of its physical proximity to Africa. The next time we go to Spain, we will definitely be staying in Andalucia. And we will stay in Granada for at least 4 days. We wanted to (but didn’t have the time) to go all the way up to the Sacramonte caves, explore the Albaycin a bit more, and watch a flamenco show up and close and personal in a cave (flamenco was born in Granada). This is one of the learning lessons from our trip. Since this was our first taste of Europe, we didn’t know what to expect, but now we know what we’d do if when we go back. No regrets, though!

ETC. Granada has a special place in my heart, so this is somewhat of a more personal post. Not only did we fall in love with this city (one of the LAST cities in Spain to get free tapas, amazing live music, fairy tale cobbled streets, super friendly locals), but we also met up with my friend Aeri from my trip to Korea in 2009. We met through a mutual friend who was an exchange student that lived down the hall from me in college, and when he went back to Seoul, I visited him (and a few other Korean friends) a few years later. He introduced me to Aeri and we became fast friends. Though we kept in touch through Facebook, I didn’t know when I’d ever see her again, but she recently moved to Granada to complete some PhD research. What amazing timing! She was our unofficial host and it was really good for the soul to reconnect with an honest-to-goodness Friend. After going through some recent Friend shakeups, it was exactly what I needed.

Anyway, you didn’t come here for the TMI, so here come the pictures!

 

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Be sure to check out our Spain Intro, Tarifa, and Morocco post! Plus, What To Do When Your Luggage Gets Lost.

-j❤

Chefchaouen, Morocco (and Tangier)

 

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Next stop: We went to Chefchaouen, Morocco on a day trip with a super-quick visit to Tangier before heading back to Spain.

Here are some answers to some questions you might have:

HOW DID YOU GET THERE? We took the ferry from Tarifa. As of this post for April 2016, it was roughly 50€ per person, more if you take your car over as well. The ferry boat is really a huge two story barge with a large basement area that transports a lot of cars! We walked from our Airbnb in downtown Tarifa which took less than 10 minutes. You have to walk into the port office to purchase tickets. I’ve heard that the timetable isn’t consistently punctual, so they have a cafe at the office to grab a bite while you wait. You then go through a security check for your belongings, and show them your passport. You also have to fill out customs forms. Don’t forget to do this! There’s two of them, and they need to be filled out and submitted to a clerk on the boat before you disembark.

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As soon as the ferry arrives to Morocco/outskirts of Tangier (take a deep breath for a second to marvel that you’re in Africa!), your guide or group tour guide (or friend) should be waiting for you at the dock. From there, you have to go through Morocco’s passport and security check, which is fairly painless. Then your adventure begins!

WARNING: If you are prone to motion sickness, I highly recommend taking dramamine. The waters are choppy. I was starting to feel sick and I didn’t have my pills on me because of our luggage debacle. My tip, if you’re sans medicine, is to tilt your head to the side and try to nap or look at a fixed object.

HOW LONG DID THE DRIVE TAKE? From the outskirts of Tangier to the highway getting to Chefchaouen, the drive was roughly 2 hours. People in Morocco drive like the people in Manila, which means they don’t give a shit about lanes or paint on the road. They’re getting to where they need to go and it’s every man for himself. The drivers are used to the chaos and stress, and you’ll acclimate shortly. Once we got on the highway though, it was a nice ride. Sometimes we had to slow down or slightly pull over because the windy areas around the mountains are narrow. Not included in that time was a cafe break midway to soak in the landscape and savor some Moroccan tea. It’s not a joke. That stuff is SWEET!

Morocco is a beautiful country whose landscape is what CA would like without congested highways and drought. The picture below is part of the sights you’ll see.

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Top: bus stop in Morocco // Middle: slash and burn farming // Bottom: 3rd largest reservoir in Morocco

 

HOW DO I FIND A GUIDE? If you’ve never been Morocco and you want to shop safely and learn about the country, it’s best to book a guide. We went with this guy as our guide: Moghit. We highly recommend him. (Again, I have to give props to my awesome husband for finding and booking him.) Tripadvisor has tons of personal guides and also commercial ones to choose from, so find the one that’s right for you in terms of your budget and travel preferences. Some guides will also do camel rides, etc. Moghit was very kind and professional. He was also very knowledgeable, not just about Morocco (a country he was very proud of being a citizen) but of the current state of the world. His English was excellent so there aren’t any language barriers. Another bonus was that he was able to communicate with Yobo via email so he actually customized the day trip for us to go Chefchaouen and then see a bit of Tangier for shopping. We booked him for the day with the last return ferry from Tangier at 9:30pm. Also, Morocco has a one hour time difference from Spain, so keep that into account when planning!

WHAT WAS THE WEATHER LIKE? It was bright and sunny, but still light sweater weather. At night it was chilly, but manageable, especially if you’re walking a lot.

WHAT DID YOU EAT/DRINK? I have to write this next part in all caps, sorry. I HAD THE BEST FUCKING COUSCOUS EVER in Chefchaouen (!!!). My order was tagine meatballs with a poached egg and Yobo ordered the tagine with beef and couscous. While my tagine was delicious, after trying a bite of his dish, I pretty much ate half of it. Every grain of couscous was pillowy and flavorful. The beef was tender and tasted intensely like beef. I daydream about this couscous often now that I’m back. Sigh. (P.S. The two chefs were local girls. Moghit said that Chefchaouen women were excellent cooks and he wasn’t kidding!)

We also had the traditional Moroccan tea. Definitely try it even if you’re not into sweet drinks. There is a tradition with pouring 3 cups from your pot.

Le premier verre est aussi doux que la vie,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l’amour,
le troisième est aussi amer que la mort.
The first glass is as gentle as life,
the second is as strong as love,
the third is as bitter as death.

I HEARD CHEFCHAOUEN HAS A “SECRET” BUT SOLID MARIJUANA INDUSTRY. DID YOU ENCOUNTER ANY OF THIS? On the way out of Chefchaouen, some teens asked us if we wanted to buy “chocolate,” but Moghit firmly waved them off. So yes, it’s there!

ETC. Before our actual trip, Yobo and I had Googled pictures of Chefchaouen and we saw pictures like these. I’m not going to call anyone out, but what a load of crock!! Here, on the Realness with Jed™, the REAL Chefchaouen looks like the splash photo above that I used to preface this post. It is only the medina that is all blue.While I totally respect creative license to doctor your own photos however you like, those photos are completely misleading for traveling n00bs. So, I just want to say, with all due respect for Photoshopped art, that above picture is what Chefchaouen really looks like. It’s a bit of a letdown when you get there (if you have those other photos in mind), but only for a millisecond. Wandering around Chefchaouen is as magical as you think it will be.

[If you decide that you want to stay in Chefchaouen overnight so you can stretch out your exploring, shopping and dining, I’ve read (and agree) that two nights is enough unless you want an extended quiet stay of tranquility.]

RANDOM FACTOIDS:

  • Stray cats are everywhere!
  • Do NOT take pictures of the locals. They do not like you being a paparazzo. I accidentally took a photo of a path to a door at the exact moment that a local woman was getting out of her house and she shrieked a little and jogged off. Our guide had to patiently remind me to be careful where I point and shoot (I had no idea she was coming out, I swear).
  • An exception I made, however, is this delightful youth whom was earnestly digging for gold (picking his nose) with such intensity for quite a while that I was transfixed by his fervor. When it finally occurred to me that I wanted to snap a picture of this (bec I figured he’d still be at it), he removed his finger and wiped the evidence on his pants. This is story behind this picture.chef-last

Okay, enough yap. Picture time!

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Last, but not least, a few fleeting pictures of Tangier!

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I hope you enjoyed this post!

Check out: Honeymoon Intro // Tarifa // What To Do If You Lose Your Luggage

-j❤