Mini Guide to Montserrat, Spain

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Hi all!

Life got busy (and how!! I’ll get into that as some point) and now we’re nearing the end of year. So, procrastination be damned, I present you with this “bonus” guide. It was a semi-impromptu day trip to Montserrat. While we did prior research, it was still confusing navigating the train schedule. I’ll do my best to help you out. Here are some helpful links: 1 // 2

HOW DID YOU GET HERE? I think it depends on what time of day you head out, but I suggest heading out early from Barcelona. We left kind of late at 11am; it was pouring that morning. Guides say that it takes about 1.5 hrs to get there by train, but I think it took us a slightly over 2 hours.

Tickets were roughly €11 for a single ride. Follow the R5 line at the Espanya station.

Here is a little video I made explaining the train schedule.

IS THIS OFF-BARCELONA EXCURSION WORTH A DAY TRIP? Yes! The monastery and the surrounding area are beautiful and a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona.

WHAT DID YOU EAT? The monastery has a restaurant, but we didn’t eat there. When we arrived, there was a farmer’s market where the “mountain folk” set up shop and were selling their homemade cheeses, pastries, and candies. WARNING: TMI! I tried some local mountain cheese and it was delicious! However, in less than 10 minutes, my stomach cried foul of foreign microbes and I KNEW I WAS GOING TO HAVE EXPLOSIVE SHITS. Thankfully, there is a large public restroom in the the plaza of the monastery and I took care of business. Just sayin’.

Anyway, picture time…

(P.S. The amazing panorama shots were taken by the husbeau.)

 

FINAL NOTES ON THE HONEYMOON SERIES: I miss Spain often and I hope to be back someday. I can’t thank Yobo enough for being my travel companion and for spoiling me with amazing eats, sights, and sounds. It was really an amazing trip! Traveling on a budget and in a slightly offbeat way affords a mindset that is illuminating: the world is vast and beautiful. We are all different. We are all the same. Be sure to go back in time with me and check out the other trip links. I hope you’ve enjoyed all the anecdotes and pictures. I really appreciate all the comments and likes, so thank you all very much too!

-j❤

Honeymoon links → Primer, Tarifa, Morocco (Chefchaouen), Granada, Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid.

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♥

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❤

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❤

 

The Airline Lost My Luggage! (How to Pack Just in Case This Happens to You)

Hi, everyone! Happy Friday!

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We’re here! But where’s our luggage???

I now interrupt the flow of Spain city guides to bring you a first-person account of what happened at the beginning of our trip: our luggage got lost!

It’s another long post, folks, but a helpful one.

Three things I want to achieve:

  1. Tell you about our experience so if it happens to you, you’re better equipped and less panicky.
  2. Tell you how to pack for an emergency like this.
  3. Tell you about the Gibraltar Airport (since this is where we tried to sort through the bullshit.)

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I had a day bag and a carry-on backpack, and Yobo also had a backpack. We took a flight to Paris for a layover, and from there, we were told in Paris that our check-in baggage was on its way by themselves to our final destination in Gibraltar. We know now that it is ILLEGAL for luggage to travel without its passenger(s). So, if you are told this, now you know the law. Track your luggage ASAP. Know where it is at all times. Make sure the employee you’re asking doesn’t just speculate or hurriedly assure you that everything is fine because your questions are annoying them. Make sure they check the system and your luggage tag receipt. Do whatever you can on your part to prevent problems from happening and prevent the airline from saying, “But why  you didn’t check to make sure where your luggage was?”

When we arrived in Gibraltar, our luggage did not arrive in the carousel. Since we had traveled with different airlines between our layover, one of them had obviously dropped the ball and gotten confused by the flight itinerary. They were unable to track it so we had to file a claim form and we spent an extra 2+ hours at the Gibraltar airport trying to call both airlines AND an additional 2+ hours looking for a store to buy 3 days worth of clothes, just in case. That’s a whole 5+ hours of Tarifa that we missed. It also delayed meeting up with our Airbnb host, who was kind and understanding enough to be patient.

(If this happens to you, and you are also landing in Gibraltar to get into Spain, there is a store called Carrefour, which is Spain’s equivalent of Target. There is a Carrefour about 20-25 minutes away from the Gibraltar airport. )

So, while in Tarifa, our luggage finally got located and shipped to Gibraltar airport two days later. We were later told that we had to DRIVE BACK to the Gibraltar airport to pick them up. Our original plan, had we our luggage in tow, was to leave Tarifa in the morning and drive to Ronda and spend a few hours there taking pictures, head to Granada, and return our rental to the Europcar office there by 7pm. Gibraltar airport then informed us that they were closed/on siesta until 3pm (!!) so our plans got set back by a few crucial hours. Because of this, we had to take Ronda out of our itinerary. !#!$@$@!%# (I mean, we were told it was smelly so that semi-justified its removal from our adventure, but STILL! That should have been our decision to make, not inadvertently because of a setback.)

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LEARN FROM OUR EXPERIENCE:

  1. If you have a layover with many stops until your final destination, make sure you check with your airline desk each time you touch down at the airport to stay on top of your luggage.
  2. Before your trip, write down or save on your phone the customer service numbers of your airline.
  3. Take a picture of the luggage you’re checking in or take note of the model and color and other defining features.
  4. In addition to keeping your check-in luggage tag receipt, take a picture of your luggage tag.
  5. Get the NAMES of everyone you talk to and mean business when you ask. It reminds the employee that that are accountable on behalf of their company and they will/should be on top of their level of professionalism.
  6. Fill out a missing luggage form IMMEDIATELY. Ask for a copy upon completion.
  7. SAVE ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS from any purchases made because of the inconvenience of having your luggage lost. You should file a claim form with your airline and get reimbursed for your expenses.
  8. Make a list of every inconvenience, financial or not, caused by this B.S. (For example, “Bec intl charger kit was in lost luggage, phone died. Because phone died, I was unable to take pictures of the first city in my itinerary. Because phone died, I was unable to contact my Airbnb host to let them know of my arrival. Wife had to buy allergy pills because box was in lost luggage.”)

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HOW TO PACK YOUR CARRY-ON BAGS:daybag-pack

In addition to what you’re wearing on your long flight, I believe these are the essentials:

  1. Your camera of choice PLUS its battery charger.
  2. Your passport. BONUS: Before you go on your trip, make a photocopy of the front and back of your ID and cards you’re bringing. Make sure the person(s) you’re traveling with do the same and also has a copy.
  3. Travel tissues. You might need this because, if you’re like me, flights make me sniffly. This is will also come in handy in lieu of toilet paper, etc.
  4. Travel hand sanitizer.
  5. A travel wallet. My everyday wallet has all my loyalty punch cards, etc. Things I don’t need when I travel. I stick the essential cards in a small wallet pouch.
  6. Hand/body lotion.
  7. Sunscreen. Always!
  8. Sunglasses. Protect those peepers. Spain was bright even though it could be freezing in the afternoon.
  9. Chapstick. A staple.
  10. Pen and paper. For notes, journaling, scribbling down info if your phone dies, etc…
  11. Travel toothbrush and toothpaste. I did not pack this in my day bag. We got lucky that our initial flight had these in an amenity kit so we were able to brush our teeth daily.
  12. Extra phone battery packs. I fully charged 2 before our flight (one for me and Yobo which I put in my backpack) bec I’m always planning for a zombiepocalypse. These saved our lives and helped us make it the almost 3 days without our luggage.
  13. Your phone charger plug-in piece (and the cord). Yes, I brought that in my carry-on as well. We didn’t bring our intl charging kit, so it rendered this bit of technology useless, but you never know when you come across the right outlet or adapter…
  14.  Your medication! Birth control, allergy pill, daily vitamin, aspirin, arthritis, medication, dramamine. Have those on your person! Losing your luggage, even if for a short time, disrupts the routine of your medication, etc. I’d also like to add, for the ladies, that you should have 3 pads or 3 tampons on you, just in case. It sounds extreme, but if your stuff gets lost, you’ll be glad you did this. You can always unload when you’re finally reunited with your luggage so you can travel lighter as you continue your trip.
  15. Do you still have room? How about a book or magazine? Ashamedly, this is the first time I did not bring a physical book on a trip with me. I simply did not have the space. Tangent: What if I end up putting my library on a Kindle? GAH! I “packed” an e-book to read on my phone: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Really great read!

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So, whatever you didn’t fit in your day bag can go in your backpack or carry-on luggage. Or, if you’re a dude and don’t do the murse thing, you can merge both lists.

  1. INTL CHARGER KIT. This is what we needed the most. Lesson learned. If you’re going somewhere international, have the adapter with you and not in your check-in bag! It’s sad for me to admit, but our smartphones are extensions of us. When the phone dies, you lose your camera, your bearings (if you’re reliant on Maps), your ability to reach someone who can help in an emergency, your ability to search the web for help, etc.
  2. Scarf. A scarf is a very versatile piece of clothing. A big enough one can change your outfit or be a mini blanket.
  3. and 4. Underwear and an extra shirt. Even having an extra day’s worth of clothing can help you transition
  4. I forgot to include this in my photo, but I did have this on me: travel deodorant. Stay fresh for as long as you can!
  5. Don’t let this stupid mishap deter you from trekking along as you wait for your luggage to get returned to you (or found). Have an extra pair or socks and alternate them so you can let your feet breathe and keep stinky foot bacteria at bay longer.
  6. This is another lesson learned. Bronner’s Castile soap is now available in travel sizes, but you can always fill a travel bottle from a larger one. In a pinch, you can wash your face, hands, body with this soap and it’s all-natural. I will be putting this in my carry-on from now on.
  7. Also, any tickets or printed confirmations for ferry trips, train rides or events should also be on your person. I’m still patting myself on the back for remembering to do this. =) We had our luggage returned to us after 3 days, but in case your luggage does NOT get recovered, if you’ve prepared properly, the only setback will be that your clothes are missing because everything else you needed is on you or can be easily replaced or purchased along the way.

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ABOUT THE GIBRALTAR AIRPORT:

  • They have terrible Wi-Fi. It’s spotty and non-existent in the main waiting area. Employees will point you in the direction of their small dining area which is crammed with people waiting for rides. Be patient or turn on your intl data if you’re having an emergency.
  • It’s small, and closes early (by 6pm most days!) because it’s not a huge internationally networked airport. I found Wi-Fi when we landed. We were on the last arriving flight, and as soon as all the other passengers received their luggages and headed out, the small convenience store closed and, I swear, someone turned off that Wi-Fi network too.
  • Crossing over to the border in Spain is a 3 minute walk from the airport. It’s great. It’s easy and clean.
  • If you’ve done some research, you’ll see that the Gibraltar airport is unique…and dangerous! You are landing on a STRIP of land and the plane has to taxi down and make a U-turn back into the territory of Gibraltar. As a result, traffic around the border has to stop when there is an incoming airplane arrival. It’s crazy.
  • The Rock of Gibraltar greets you and it’s a sight to behold.
  • The airport has Hertz and Budget rental cars.

bottomline

Pack everything you might need for the next 48 hours in your carry-on baggage because shit happens sometimes.

Anyway, I know that was a lot of information. I hope it helps anyone who finds this and needs it.

Even though recounting this reminds me of how frustrating the ordeal was, I miss Spain. I’m still heady with wanderlust.

Have a great weekend!

-j❤

Tarifa, Spain [Mini Guide]

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Hey, everyone!!

Tarifa was the first stop on our honeymoon and we were only here for a quick visit. We would have loved to have stayed here longer because we just fell in love with this town. It’s on the southernmost tip of Spain. We stayed here because we had planned a day trip to Morocco and the ferry was about an 8 min walk from our Airbnb.

Because I’m promoting The Realness with Jed™ instead of just photos, here’s some FAQ in case you were wondering:

HOW DID YOU GET THERE? We arrived in Gibraltar and had to cross the border into Spain. This is literally the easiest and safest border crossing ever. If you’re American, skip the passport kiosks. You have to get in the rightmost line and see a desk guard who will examine your passport. You have to go through an initial bag check/scan. Once through,  we rented a car with Europcar, which is about a block away from the border crossing. Europcar’s theme is an emerald green color, and the employees are also dressed that way, so if you choose that rental company, you can’t miss their office.

Address: Av. Gesto Por la Paz, s/n, 11207 Algeciras, Cádiz, Spain

Phone: +34 902 10 50 55

WHAT’S THE PARKING LIKE? These instructions are for the downtown area near Calle de los Azogues and the church. You can find street parking, which is free and limited, but there is also a nearby lot where you can park according to the time your car is in the lot (it’s not paved so expect some minor turbulence and mud during the rain). At the time of this post (for April 2016), it was 12€ for 24 hours.

HOW ARE THE LOCALS? This is a chill beach town so there are pockets of expats and young tourists trawling really late night bars (and smoking…a lot). Don’t expect every local or proprietor to speak English, but they are all super friendly and accommodating. Everyone we encountered had a good sense of humor and big smiles.

WHAT SHOULD I DO THERE? Besides eat and drink and take the ferry to Morocco? Go to the beach! The beach was a less than 15 min walk from our Airbnb. The best part is that we reached the southernmost peninsula and we were able to see Africa (Morocco) in the distance. You can also see from the picture below that you can dip your feet in two very important bodies of water very easily: the Mediterranean on the left, and the Atlantic Ocean on the right! There is a man-made walkable strip between them and at the end, you can explore a really old fortress structure.

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WHERE DID YOU EAT? We didn’t get to stay here long, but here’s where we spent our money. We got lucky with our choices because everything was amazing! Seriously!!

El Feo – I had my first plate of Spain’s infamous jamón ibérico de pellota here and it did not disappoint. Tummy super happy! We also ordered pulpo gallego, croquetas, and patatas bravas. Eat outside on repurposed barrels. P.S. We ate here past midnight, so there’s a bit of that infamous Spanish nightlife culture for you. P.P.S. We ordered 4 dishes plus two water bottles and a glass of wine each and it came up to be around 30€!

Cafe 10 – Best breakfast crepes I’ve ever had. Super comfy location with strong coffee. Juices served in cute bottles. Lots of different kinds of tourists in here so you get to hear a smattering of different languages. Pricewise, crepes are about 8-10€.

An Ca Curro – You know that scene in Kill Bill 1 where Hattori Hanzo (in the guise of a sushi chef) berates his sous chef and they have hilarious and semi-awkward Old Man Banter? That’s the treat we got at this place (grab the stools inside). Curro is the nickname/diminutive of the owner, whose real name is Francisco. We had seasonal (and phenomenal!) tomato salad with Roquefort cheese and their “secret” pork dish. Really rustic interior with jamón hanging everywhere. Highly recommended.

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Taco Way – Hidden in an alley with two other bars (and a random burrito place), we found this by following the growing sound of the late night chatter of a Nightlife Crowd. Or was it the trail of secondhand smoke? Either way, Taco Way was crammed with tons of college-aged tourists and locals alike enjoying their evening with cocktails and beer and good conversation. We followed suit and that’s how we ended a late night.

WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY? We would have stayed here longer if we knew how magical this place was. Also, Tarifa is known for being a windy beach town, so kite surfing is a big deal. We would have liked to have seen that.

ETC. We were big on sending out postcards at every city in our itinerary. In Spain, stamps are called sellos (“say-yos”) and they are sold in tobacco shops. Make sure you purchase stamps bound for other countries (“para los estados unidos, por favor”) if you are sending it outside of Europe. Mailboxes are cylindrical and bright yellow (ignore the green ones) with the word CORREOS on the side.

Okay. Enough of my yapping. You came here for pictures, right?

Ciao!

-j❤

[In case you missed it, here’s a link for the intro/primer of the honeymoon. And a link for What To Do When Your Luggage Gets Lost and How to Pack For That.]

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