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❤

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❤

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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Honeymoon in Spain + 1 Day in Morocco

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Hey, everyone!!

We’re back from our honeymoon. I missed you all too. Hehe. We got back on Tuesday night and my father was right: it takes about a week to recover from jet lag. In the days following our return, we would get sleepy around 6-8pm, and then be wide awake around 4-4:30am. IT SUCKED. I think we’re finally up to speed. Yobo has returned to his semi-night owl tendencies and I’m slowly getting back to my old people body clock. Sleeping early together for about a week was nice while it lasted…

I hope to be able to follow up on all my “shit talk” about my gripes with travel posts about each city we visited and add a dose of The Realness with Jed™. 😉 This is going to be a long post, so I hope you’re in a wanderlust-y mood with a mug of tea/coffee/spiked drink next to you.

If you’ve been to Spain/Paris/Europe before (or live there), feel free to refute/add/agree with me. If you haven’t, you’re in for a super detailed treat from a first-time visitor to Spain/Europe. Questions welcomed.

I am writing this post because I have terrible memory and I want to look back on this adventure with every detail I can still remember. I’m also writing it in case someone is thinking about going to Spain without an official guidebook. I really hope this helps you! I know it’s a lot to read, but I’m writing the kind of post I would have liked to have found when I initially started my research for our Spain trip.

Continue reading

Travel Links/Research

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As a Virgo, I feel like I am excitedly and anxiously planning the hell out of this upcoming honeymoon. (We are going to Spain, but first we’re making pit stops in France and Morocco.) I am not the type of traveler (two close friends immediately come to mind) who just wings it and goes where the wind blows. Even if it was a short weekend trip, I must. know. what. we. can. do. there. that. is. fun. and. what. will. we. eat?!

I currently have more than 50 tabs open in my laptop browser and approximately 61 tabs open on my phone browser. I cannot see what I am doing. It’s visual clutter and it’s…GAH!!

In an effort to organize them and save my CPU, here is a list of the important links (and some notes) I am looking at. It’s mostly for me to look back on later…when my attention span and giddiness subside to allow me to read each post for all of its wisdom. But, if you, dear internet friends, find my organized culling helpful, then I am glad. The internet is too heavy and full and confusing and wonderful. As The Circle of Life song goes, “There’s far too much to take in here/ More to find than can ever be found…” No truer words were ever spoken about the internet…er…life.

Also, I just wanted to rant for a second about something that has no phrase or name, but is prevalent to me about our society. Too often we see the same picture or series of pictures and vids of food (maybe from different angles) or a very picturesque landscape. Some lovely reader recently pointed out to me that she appreciates that my food pics show that, in the background, my kitchen is kinda messy. Isn’t that how normal people cook? The kitchen gets messy with dishes and spills and if you have a small kitchen, then you have a crowded countertop. I love behind-the-scenes stories and pictures. I love Instagram, but I often see the finished product of something, but I also want to see how you got there. I want an explanation of the final destination, product, the route and way.

Yobo and I recently watched an episode on Morocco from a show called departures (purposely uncapitalized) and we see a shot of our TV travelers riding in a rental car to get to the ferry to Tangier. I think the guys actually said, “So we got in a car and drove to Gibraltar.” HOW DID YOU GET THE RENTAL CAR? WHERE DO YOU GET THE RENTAL CAR? The next shot is of them on the ferry ride. I want practical advice. No one really talks about the practical tedious shit because it’s not sexy. The final product is the travel photo (or food pic or fashion shot) and we ohh and ahh and say, “I want to go there!” because that’s the sexy stuff. But I need the answers to those questions because those are what we deal with in real life.

One last example: so many blogs out there show pictures of the beauty of a city. (Don’t get me wrong: very grateful for these bloggers!) They talk about what they bought. Questions: Can you please tell me if so-and-so place in the romantic remote part of the world that you just were takes cash or plastic? How did you get there? How much was it? How long did that bus/train/taxi ride take? How did you lug the stuff back to where you were staying? Was there a tax or restriction/customs fee?

If I get my fat cyber butt moving to do a travel guide based on our trip, I promise to focus on said details. That way you won’t have to do Google searches picking tidbits from too many sources.

End of rant. Thank you. (Hope you still love me, Internet.)

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Barthelona – Photo Courtesy of Artelista

Paris 

  • Lauree (shop that invented the macaron)
  • Berthillon (ice cream)
  • area: Quartier Latin??
  • Eiffel Tower // Notre Dame

design*sponge Paris: one // two

 

Morocco // Chefchaouen

More About Morocco

Marrakesh Excursion (shopping perspective from the Glamorai)

A Day in Chefchaouen (from a fashionable American woman’s perspective)

Argan Oil Shopping in Chefchaouen (La Botica de la Abuela Aladdin) (another note from this blog:

  • The best place to get a good photo of the entire blue town from outside is near the Ras el Maa entrance. Preferably just before sunset or early morning are the best times for this.)

Trekking Tim (on shopping) Jon Is Traveling

Linguist on the Move

2011 post – Shopping in Morocco

Anthropologie Blog – What Other People Bought

Inside a Riad/Hostel in Chaouen

 

SPAIN

Taking the AVE train

Trains in Spain

Taxis in Spain

Crash Course in Spanish (not really, just some resources)

Sample Itinerary from Leave Your Daily Hell

Really Risa – Spain Trip

Beautiful Travel Photos from the Free People blog

Expat Blogs

What to Pack in Spain(and Morocco in early May) (also from that blog (Ciutat Vella, Barcelona)

Epic Guide to Train Travel in Spain

Granada

Sacromonte – Gypsy Caves + Flamenco // Trip Advisor Sacromonte Review

More on the gypsy caves…

Granada Itinerary from Expert Vagabond

Tips on Flamenco Show in Granada (suggestion: Rocio) (suggestion: Jardines Zoraya)

Granada – convent sweets

Bodegas – Castaneda

 

Madrid or Barcelona?!?!?!

Leave Your Daily Hell (from 2011)

Travel Love Story

About.com / Travel

Madrid/Flamenco It’s One World Travel

design*sponge Madrid

 

Barcelona

The Neighborhoods of Barcelona

Barcelona Two Day Guide (from Driftwood Journals)

Why You Should Visit Barcelona

Hiking near Barcelona: one // two // three // four

Designlovefest Barcelona tips (very informative comments) and the actual trip

Barcelona is the Pickpocket Capital of the World(!)

Bilingual Barcelona Blog

Orange County expat in Barcelona

Churches of Montserrat

Getting Around in Barcelona

Barcelona in the Spring (Piccavey – Expat)

Dreamy photos of Barcelona (Weaver House)

Something fun. Not going here, but it’s Game of Thrones related!

Madrid

How to Spend 4 Days in Madrid (2013, Nomadic Matt)

 

TRAVEL – in general

Travel Journal

Packing Advice (from this American Girl)

Being Safety Conscious about Taxi Drivers

Quick Travel Workout

How to Keep Your Money Safe

Bonus Funnies: How to Track Your Stolen Laptop While Traveling

TRIP INSPIRED SHOPPING TO DO

(tall) colorful pillar candles

(short) colorful pillar candles

NOT HONEYMOON RELATED LINKS:

Save the DC movie franchise!

This might happen if we vote for Trump.

Conversations with Asian Americans on race. Might do a future post on just this.

Might try this when I get back because I could use every hair on my head.

Translated from Spanish, but Le Cool’s Guide to self-discipline