Tag Archives: beaches

NEU en Barcelona

When Jackie’s cousin Caroline and her boyfriend Brian were here visiting they had the opportunity to see Madrid, Sevilla and Barcelona all in one fellow swoop across the country.  Upon their return to Madrid after visiting both of the cities I loved hearing all of their thoughts about the two very different Spanish cultures they had seen.  Since I lived in Sevilla for a month (over two years ago now!) and had already been to Barcelona during the fall semester, it was really fun with all of us already being familiar with the cities themselves.

But when we got to the topic of La Sagrada Familia, Caroline and Brian stared at us with shock and awe when we told them we had rented bikes, and thus not wanted to spend time waiting in the long line to go inside.  We had been contemplating the idea of heading back to Barcelona during the summer to experience La Barceloneta and the beach anyway, so when they told us it was the most beautiful thing that had seen in their entire life, we were sold on going back again.

I bought tickets online to enter inside the Sagrada Familia and we completely avoided waiting in any lines at all, definitely worth it.  I highly recommend purchasing tickets online here, since you have a one hour window in which you can enter, with unlimited time inside.  I thought the outside was impressive, but since it’s still under construction you can’t take in all of its beauty just yet.  On the other hand, the inside of the cathedral is absolutely incredible.  From the stained glass to the intricate ceilings and beautiful stone work, not one detail was left out.

Other than that reservation, we had no other plans for the weekend.  Since we had already had the opportunity to explore la Boqueria, las Ramblas, Camp Nou, Parque Guelle and the Guadi houses during our previous visit to Barcelona in October, we had a lot more freedom this time around.  We spent two long days at the beach and two long nights out experiencing the wonderful nightlife of the city.

    

We spent the first night at Shoko, a typical club of la Barceloneta neighborhood, located right on the beach with a terrace and the option to escape from the club to relax on the beach, which I of course took advantage of.  Since it closed early for our Madrid standards (3:30am), we slowly made it back to our hostel by walking along the beach and going for a late night swim.  We spent Saturday night at a huge festival/party/I’m not even sure what to call it at El Poble Espanyol.  El Poble is a village built during the Barcelona Olympics to showcase the unique cultures, architectures and foods of the different regions of Spain.  We didn’t get to explore the whole village, but we did see the huge Plaza Mayor and the Andalucian neighbourhood, which really did remind me so much of the small winding streets of Sevilla.

We ate amazing seafood, like garlic shrimp and seafood & chicken paella, vinegar mussels and fresh calamari, only fitting as we were finally near the ocean.  Before getting on our train back to Madrid on Sunday night we also enjoyed sandwiches from Bo d B, recommended by a friend of a friend who had previously studied in Barcelona.  For American tourists the sandwiches are nothing special, but I assure you that after a year without access to anything remotely resembling a deli, Panera, bagel shop, etc. it was the best sandwich I’ve had in a while.  Study-abroad students in Barcelona, I highly suggest visiting this place!

We returned to Madrid sunburned and exhausted, but so content with the wonderful weekend we had just had.  What made it even better is that we met up with friends from Northeastern, some that we hadn’t seen since we left Boston last year.  It was great to see you guys and I hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration, Bridget!  Hope you all enjoyed your weekend.  Ciao, amores:)

{buenos días, barcelona}

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lisboa con las chicas

Let me just start off by saying that this was one of the best weekend trips I’ve taken since I got to Spain. The combination of the beautiful city, friends I was with and lots & lots of laughs all came together perfectly. This trip was the last few days we would be spending with Jackie’s two best friends, Sally and Meg, who had been visiting from the US since the weekend before.  Although it was short, the two-hour long flight really made all the difference.  We had nearly the whole afternoon on Friday, plus all day Saturday and Sunday to explore.

After a few minor mishaps at the beginning concerning the apartment we were staying in, we were all a little on edge.  Jackie, Meg and Gabby went out to buy some snacks, wine and breakfast for the next morning while Sally, Lauren and I stayed back and started getting ready.  Worried they would return with even more woes, I was delighted when they came back in wonderful spirits and very excited to get our first night in the city started.  Between Friday and Saturday night, we managed to explore a large part of the Portuguese nightlife here in Lisbon.  We started out in Barrio Alto, one of the many hills of the city, lined with bars and filled with just as many locals as tourists.  We also got to see a Fado show, Portuguese flamenco, which was really beautiful.  Lastly, we went to two different clubs in the city, Urban Beach and Luxe that were both really fun.

  

Scenes from the trolley car.

We spent Saturday doing a little bit of shopping, taking the local trolley up through the Alfama neighborhood and strolling back down, taking in breath-taking views of the riverside and the city-side of the city.  Sunday was a little more relaxed (if that seems possible); we headed over to Belem, for the Pastéis de Belem, a very famous egg custard pastry.  It was really good, although I don’t know if I would say it merits being as well-known as it is.  Then we headed over to the beach town of Cascais.  There we relaxed on the beach and enjoyed the best gelato in Portugal.  I chose chocolate chip and lemon raspberry in a cup, which was so yummy.

Besides the wonderful sweets, we also tried many traditional Portuguese dishes.  Friday night we tried a tasting menu with Portuguese chorizo & blood sausage, baked cod in a thick cream sauce, kale soup, roasted potatoes and pork with a variety of seasonings.  If we thought the service in Spain was bad we had no idea what we were in for in Portugal though.  We had been to the southern beach towns of Albuferia and Lagos two years ago, but had completely forgotten the services issues we had there (we ordered four English breakfasts for four people, and for some reason the waiter had only written down an order for three).  Here, we got lucky though with a free sampling of chocolate and fruit mousses for dessert to compensate.

 

Saturday for lunch we had the funniest waiter I have ever had.  His broken English and radical change in mannerisms through out the course of the meal had me crying and falling on the table laughing.  Jackie and I shared a huge piece of fresh sole fish (although we had ordered swordfish… oh, language barriers) and roasted chicken.  Lisbon was such a beautiful city, and, just like with every other city I’ve been to, I really hope I have the chance to go back someday.  A lot of parts of the city reminded us of Prague; the style of the buildings and architecture was just very similar.  Every trip I go on, I hope to cross somewhere off the list, but unfortunately, that list is just getting longer and longer!  I hope you guys enjoyed your weekend just as much as I did!  Ciao, amores:)

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semana santa en marbella

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent last Thursday through Monday in beach city of Marbella in the south of Spain.  Although it was only in the 70s while we were there, the trip was everything I could have imagined.  We spent the first two days staying in a hostal in the Old Town of Marbella, a five minute walk from the beach and the last three days at the Marriott Marbella Vacation Club with Jackie and her family!

  

Scenes from the Old Town and the girls out at a club, after a few free glasses of Moet Chandon and Dom Perignon!

Taking the overnight bus there proved to be a great choice, although we spent the morning hours between 6 and 9 checking things off the to-do list at the 24 hour pharmacy, enjoying a leisurely 2-hour breakfast feast and taking a very cold nap on the beach.  Besides that minor hiccup, we spent the rest of our two days in the Old Town of Marbella lying on the beach, enjoying great restaurants on the boardwalk and going out at night in Puerto Banus.  Puerto Banus is about 7km from the main center of the old town and is just filled with shopping, bars & restaurants.  It was really fun, and we even ate at a delicious American restaurant with the boys over there!

   

On Saturday afternoon we met Jackie, her boyfriend James and ten members of her extended family (from Boston & Ireland) at the Marriott Marbella.  After checking in, we explored the resort a little bit and then went over to the Irish relatives’ villa for a delicious Irish lunch (they brought 10 kilos of food with them on the plane!!)  That night we sat around with the whole family.  It was great to sing and play games with Jackie’s relatives; they were so fun and I’m so happy that I got to spend a few days over Easter with them.  It did make me miss my family, but I’m very glad I got to Skype with them and a few of my aunts & uncles on Saturday!

    

Sunday we went to a typical Andalucian church in the Old Town for Easter mass and then devoured a delicious brunch at the beach-side restaurant back at the resort.  Holy Week is such a huge celebration through out Spain, but especially in Andalucía, and it was really great to hear the Priest’s sermon on such an important day!  Other than that, we spent most of our free time relaxing between the beach and the multiple pools and hot tubs all around the resort.  Thank you so much, Donal, Claire & Jackie, for inviting us to celebrate the Holy Week with your family!

This trip to Marbella was a lot of fun, and I’m definitely glad that we took advantage of the very long weekend to get out of the city for a bit.  Unfortunately, I’ve spent the past few days since we returned from Marbella sick in bed, but with an antibiotic I picked up yesterday, I am already starting to feel a lot better.  The plus side is that I’m half way through the first season of the HBO series Game of Thrones.  If you never saw it, I seriously suggest downloading it; it’s amazing!

Hope you all enjoyed your Easter weekend as much as I did!  Ciao, amores:)

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paella con bea

  

Feliz Semana Santa!

Last night my roommate Bea showed me and a friend of her’s from class how to make paella.  She explained that everyone has their own ways of going about it, what vegetables to add, what order to add things in, etc, but she sticks to the way her dad has been making it her whole life and it was absolutely amazing!  She even called him in the midst of cooking to check if the chorizo sausage being spicy would change the flavor (it would, so we skipped on putting it).

After dinner we enjoyed homemade torrijas, which are basically slices of french toast toasted in cinnamon & sugar made out of a special type of bread.  They’re so common during semana santa (holy week), so Bea decided to make those too.  We talked about all sorts of things from our different cultures to music festivals.  I always like hearing people’s thoughts and opinions about different things, since we all have grown up in such different environments.

It was the perfect beginning to holy week, and I’m heading to Marbella tonight for the long weekend.  Thursday & Friday are both official holidays here in Madrid, so nearly everything will be closed.  We’re spending the first two days in a hostal by the beach in the old part of Marbella and then Saturday, Sunday & Monday with Jackie’s family.  I’m so excited to meet all of them and relax by the pool & beach all weekend.  It’s going to be weird not being at my house with my family for Easter, which makes me even more appreciative that Jackie’s parents have taken us in to celebrate the holiday with them!  A post with plenty of photos to come on Tuesday.  Enjoy your weekend & Happy Easter, amores:)

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vacación familiar en las islas canarias

If you speak Spanish, you’ll know that the title of this post translates to a family vacation in the canary islands.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I moved to Madrid with about 12 of my very best friends.  It’s fun, totally crazy and comforting, even if it means I speak a little bit too much English sometimes.  A lot of the time it’s also pretty dysfunctional.  We’re just like a big huge family of twenty-somethings high on the lives we’re living here.  In short, it’s absolutely awesome.

The second to last week of class was jam-packed with homework, papers and study guides.  We were slaving away to the ICADE-beast with the end coming closer and closer into sight.

Two days later, shoot to the most deserved beach weekend of my life.  We took a late flight from Madrid to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria on Thursday night and spent all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the beach.  We napped in the sun a lot, but also went for a swim, explored a sandbar full of tidal pools, little waterfalls & all sorts of sea creatures, and played beach paddleball.  We also walked around the Garden City of Las Palmas – a neighborhood of old, beautiful homes with even more beautiful gardens.  At night we made family dinners and sat around playing some drinking games in the apartment we had rented.  Dan found an awesome 9-person apartment online that worked out perfectly.  There was a huge new kitchen that even had a washer and dryer!!  We’ve missed dryers so much that we did all of our laundry before coming back to Madrid on Tuesday morning (#studyabroadproblems).

  

It was so relaxing to just be at the beach for the long weekend with a bunch of my American friends; the perfect rejuvenation needed for the last week of class and a week of finals (which I’m in the home stretch of right now!).  Hope you’ve all been getting some r&r mixed in with the hard work you’ve been up to.  Ciao, amores:)

  

P.S. In case this post didn’t answer the question, here’s an interesting article about why being in your 20s is awesome? (Via SP&A)  Enjoy!

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vacaciones en ibiza

Bienvenidos a la isla de Ibiza

After submursing ourselves in a truly Spanish cultural experience at La Tomatina, we decided it was time for a little bit of fun… as if having a food fight of only tomatoes in the streets isn’t fun (but that’s besides the point!).  We took the ferry from the port of Valencia to the port of San Antonio on the island of Ibiza.  We had a fairly uneventful three and a half hour ferry, which was, however, succeeded by the craziest 48 hours of my entire life.

    

Fortunately for you, the weekend in Ibiza can be summed up in a few shorts lines.  So, in no particular order, this is how it went:

  • Beautiful beaches
  • Waking up at 10:50am realizing we have to check out at 11
  • Seeing Chuckie and Avicii DJ from 2am – 6am at Pacha Ibiza, arguably the greatest club in the world
  • Celebrating Trent’s twenty first birthday at Privledge, which claims to be the largest club in the world based on area
  • Chocolate almond croissants and freshly squeezed kiwi juice at The Croissant Show
  • An hour long search for kebabs, which were then found merely a four minute walk from the beach
  • Pretending I can afford 16 euro mojitos (oops)
  • EasyJet hour long flight home turns into two hours after sitting on the runway for an hour (of course, I slept through this part)
  • Photoshoots on balconies
  • Accidently nearly stumbling into the ghetto of Ibiza

And that is really about it… all jammed into a short 48 hours on the party island of the world!!  So far, coming to Spain was by far the best decision I ever made in my entire life.

Ciao, amores:)

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