Settling in to Life in Australia

G’Day Mates! Kidding, I am pretty sure I can’t get away with saying that anytime soon. It is now exactly a month since I’ve been here in Australia and I am loving it so far! I know, total shocker right. The weather has been fantastic since I arrived, our house is a five minute drive from multiple beaches (hopefully getting a bike soon) and it’s been really nice for Stephen and I to reconnect and spend quality time together after being apart for 2.5 months. And I mean a LOT of quality time together, we barely know anyone around here…

Moving usually comes with its ups and downs and moving countries definitely is no different. Living in a different country puts you more out of your comfort zone because your norms are totally flipped around, sometimes literally flipped like driving on the other side of the car, AND the road. I am lucky to be in an English speaking country so it’s not as big of a transition as moving elsewhere in the world, but it still comes with plenty of new experiences. Today I am sharing some of what I’ve experienced in my first month of living down under. And since I prefer to end of a happy note- let’s begin with the not-so-easy stuff.

Shopping- Where do I go?

O how I miss you Amazon, Target and TJ Maxx- you have no idea! We do have a version of Target and TJ Maxx here but it is just not the same. You can’t compare to the amazingness that is our Target in the US or the absolute ecstasy that is Amazon Prime. I read Amazon is coming to Australia in 2018 so if that happens I may cry out of pure happiness. Shopping has been an adjustment for me for sure- I am having to relearn where to go for what I need. We are also living in a small coastal town, not very close to a major city, so when you’re trying to buy EVERYTHING for a house and don’t have many store options around (and you’re super picky) it can be frustrating. We’ve taken a few trips up to the Gold Coast which has 1000x the places to choose from. It’s come in handy when I can’t find what I am looking for around here, but it’s an hour away. For example, I looked everywhere for the perfect sectional couch- I had this idea in my mind for what I wanted but I could not find it. If we were going to shell out some decent cash for this piece of furniture I wanted it to be right. We ended up finding it, in the Gold Coast, and since they don’t deliver down here we have to make the trek all the way up even further to their warehouse in Brisbane to get it. Not convenient, but in the end it’ll be worth it. We actually pick it up tomorrow, AHHHHHH, so goodbye camping chairs finally. I realize this might be completely petty of me to be frustrated by shopping choices, but after living in Atlanta for so many years, with almost anything I could need/want easily accessible, it’s been an adjustment for sure!

Starting Completely from Scratch

Usually when you move your belongings might be unorganized in your new place for a while, but at least you HAVE stuff. You know, things to eat off of, places to sit, a bed. This past month we’d bought everything from appliances to plates, to a bed and clothes hangers- all the way down to the salt and pepper. I will say I feel extremely fortunate because of Stephen we are in a position where it hasn’t been a financial strain, but you’d be surprised how fast the home budget disappears. After all the shopping we’ve done the house still feels empty to me, and for someone who is extremely visual it’s not so easy. My surroundings really affect me- I am distracted by the blank walls, the empty rooms, and have ideas swirling around in my head constantly I can’t do anything about yet. If you saw my last apartment you know I like stuff around me, knick knacks and art makes me feel at home. But I am learning to be more patient and let them come together over time. I think the addition of the couch tomorrow will make a huge impact and let me settle down a bit. Also our shipment from the US containing artwork and more personal things for house arrived in Sydney by boat and should be coming to us next month- yay!

BEACH BEACH BEACH!

Some people are mountain people, some are city people, some are beach people. I’m probably a little combination, but coastal living is so ingrained in my being and who I am. Living near the ocean is something I’ve been wanting and dreaming of for as long as I can remember, and now it’s a reality. And not those beaches where it’s literally just sand and then condo, condo, condo- yea they’re nice sometimes but that’s not the environment I wanted (sorry Destin and PCB). Goodbye annoying spring breakers, frat guys and too many families crowding up the beach! No offense to the families but spring breakers and frat guys, get your shit together and act right.

Here in Australia and in particular our area, the beaches are private, expansive, clean, natural and peaceful. I’m usually at the beach a few times a week- either for a midday run/break from work or for a walk with Stephen when he comes from work. Last week after a busy day of errands we packed 2 beers, left the shoes at home and just sat on the beach for a drink, admiring the water and thinking how thankful we are to have this so close to home.

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and bring eternal joy to the soul.”
— Robert Wyland, marine life artist

Working 100% Remotely at Last

Back in Atlanta many mornings consisted of dreading the alarm, rushing around getting ready for the day, sitting in my car for 45 minutes, office for 8 hours, car for another 45 minutes, then cramming in errands and more work at home just to hopefully enjoy a little bit of down time before doing it all over again. Even though I was working remotely while traveling around Europe, when I returned it was back to the in-office grind on a regular basis. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted, I had taken strategic steps away from it but then circled back in order to make larger dents in my debt payoff. It was worth it, but I was so ready for the lifestyle change.

These days I am typically up by 6:30am for a coffee, then open my laptop to begin work around 7am. The morning is prime time to talk to my US clients because of the time difference so often I have a call or two first thing in the morning, then the day’s schedule is up to me. Despite the distractions of our empty house just waiting for a makeover I’ve found I am much more productive working outside of the office. No more people popping in for little things and interrupting my thought process- I feel I can actually FINISH things faster and be more efficient. Depending on my mood I’ll work from the dining table, my office or sit out on the front balcony like I am doing right now. I love having the freedom to work when and where I want, to take breaks when needed, and to be able to do errands during the day to places that are only open until 5pm. It feels great, and is definitely the type of lifestyle I have been after for a while now. My office, like much of the house, is still pretty sparse, but I have plans for a big collage inspiration wall and my prized Apple monitor should be arriving from the US next month.

New Beginnings and More to Come

The other day my mom cracked me up on the phone- she said “so what else is new besides, you know, your entire life”. Shes right, it’s literally like stepping into a new life (one that includes no dryer and me hanging all of our laundry on the clothes line outside, but that’s another story). I hope you’ve enjoyed a little look into this new life in Australia, and I can’t wait to share so much more! A few things I have planned coming up are a home tour, DIY projects around the house, a little closer look into relationships, and how you can ditch the “norms” of society and go after what you really want in life too.

Stay tuned, stay positive, and for God’s sake have a glass of wine, you deserve it.

For a more regular, behind the scenes look make sure to follow Sauvignon Blue on Instagram!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Final Thoughts About Moving to Australia

It’s hard for me to believe I am officially moving out of the United States TOMORROW! Earlier today I made it to California for a little rest and relaxation before my big flight out. These past few weeks in particular have been a whirlwind of doing my best to keep up with work and getting things in order for the move- things like selling my car, cancelling insurances, getting new global health insurance, plus so many others things I never even thought about. At times it’s felt extremely hectic… I don’t remember the last time I just had one day or even an evening to myself to relax, then add on some unexpected doctor visits and let’s just say stress levels have been a bit high. Lately I’ve been able to enjoy a few wonderful quality-time trips and many dinners with close friends and family which has made me feel so very special and loved. Overall I am feeling surprisingly prepared and very excited… EXTREMELY excited!!!

A lot of people have been asking me a few of the same questions so I thought I’d share those along with my final thoughts- good and bad- about the fact that I am leaving this hemisphere and moving to Australia.

Where will you be living?

We have a house!!! We will be living in East Ballina, right near the border of New South Wales and Queensland… about 2 hours south of Brisbane near the Gold Coast. I can’t even explain how lucky and grateful I feel to have a beautiful home waiting for me. Stephen did a great job finding our new home- going to all the open houses on his own and keeping me updated along the way about the properties. Even though HE is the actual homeowner he’s made me feel so involved and he truly values my opinions and what I wanted in a home. In addition to an open floor plan, outdoor living and 2 bathrooms, it was really important to me to have 3 bedrooms. Since I will be working from home 100% and when people visit it will be for extended time (2 weeks) and not just for a weekend, the separation of home office and guest bedroom was key in my mind.  I am pretty sure he nailed it, plus it’s only a 6 minute drive to the beach!

What will you miss the most about the America?

Obviously I will be missing my family and friends very much, so let’s just get that no-brainer out of the way! Lately I’ve people have asked me, what food will you miss? I really can’t think of one… Australia has amazing seafood, sushi, burgers, Indian/Chinese food and honestly the cuisine is not that different there. The only one I could really think of is Mexican food since apparently they just haven’t gotten it right down there. When it really comes down to it the thing I am going to miss the most about America is Amazon Prime, and no I am not joking! The past few months I’ve become quite addicted and it’s saved my ass while being so busy and having no time to drive around to stores. I’ll actually have to go to a store to buy stuff now?! #firstworldproblems

Are you going to look for work there?

The type of visa I have to live in Australia right now is a 1 year Work/Holiday visa. Under this visa I am allowed to be employed by a company for up to 6 months and then would need to switch companies, but I am not allowed to have Australian clients under this visa. Given the nature of my work and how I’ve purposefully set myself up to have clients and not to be someone’s employee, I will not be looking for work there during this next year. I am fortunate enough to have gained my U.S. client’s trust to continue working for them abroad, plus I may have a few ideas up my sleeve for the future so stay tuned ;). If you’re interested in traveling to and living in Australia yourself, you will need a visa (yes you will need a visa for a 2 week visit but it’s easy and like $50) and can find more information HERE. After this first year Stephen and I will then apply for a partner visa, and once approved I will then be able to open my business up to potential Australian clients!

How does your family feel about you moving?

I am pretty sure no parent would choose for their daughter to move across the world. Although I know my parents and siblings are excited for me I know it is not an easy thing to grasp, especially for my mother. Unlike if I was living anywhere else in the United States they now won’t be able to easily jump on a plane to see me and visa versa. Despite the sad feelings everyone has been incredibly supportive and proud of me for putting myself out there to take this risk. They definitely see the wonderful opportunity to experience the other side of the world, and I know I couldn’t have made the decision to go full hearted without them behind me. Deep down it kills me to know I am choosing to do something that is turning my mom’s world around, but I know she also wouldn’t want to stand in the way of this huge life change. No matter what change in life is hard, but only amazing things come from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

What are you most excited about?

Of course first thing is seeing Stephen DUHHH. But second is for sure coastal living. Throughout the years I’ve kept a list of life goals, both short and long term, and moving to the beach has been on my list for as long as I can remember. I was determined it would happen at some point but I wasn’t sure exactly when or how. Well now I am about to live not only 6 minutes from the beach but in a country that has over 10,500 different beaches! Insane. It is not only the beach itself that attracts me to the coast but it’s the entire lifestyle, vibe and mentality. Honestly I am not one to lie there and bake in the sun all day (hello skin cancer!) but instead I just simply love being by the water.

Then I must say I cannot wait to decorate our new place. We are literally starting from scratch so this will be the first time in my life so far I will be able to actually design a space, instead of just finding a way to make a bunch of random crap I’ve had for years work together. I am definitely not someone who wants to go blow money on all new things- I love finding cool second hand pieces to give new life to. I’ve seen my mother on so many occasions find the most amazing deals for under $50 that easily looks like it came from Pottery Barn or wherever everyone is shopping these days. We definitely want to invest most in the staple pieces like the couch, dining and outdoor living- but all the other pieces will be fun DIY projects I can’t wait to share on the blog!

Final thoughts?

Part of me is still in awe this is all actually happening. Right now as I sit in my friend’s kitchen overlooking their beautiful backyard and views of Anaheim Hills, it feels like I am back on another vacation to southern California. Except this time I have way more luggage and no return ticket. I’ve made HUGE changes in my life during the past two years and none of them have happened out of luck or by chance. I know they’ve happened because I’ve refused to limit myself to the normalities and pressures of others. I’ve been told I am unrealistic, that I should be getting a normal job with benefits, that it’s crazy to move so far because for THEM it’s scary. I’ve talked to friends about the fear behind taking certain risks in life and I think so many can’t get past that fear. I will tell you, it gets easier and easier to jump in and go for it.

The last thing I want to share is how incredibly touched and lucky I am to have such amazing friends and family in my life. The out pour of support and excitement I’ve received from everyone the last few months has been indescribable. Next blog post will be written from down under so stay tuned!

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”
Winnie the Pooh

 

Packing up the Past and Beginning New

Time is flying by- the apartment is almost all packed and our things leave on a sea shipment to Australia tomorrow. It’s hard to believe Stephen only has a few days left in America and I only have a couple of months! If I didn’t get rid of enough stuff before Europe last year I’ve really paired down now. A big move like this makes you reevaluate what really matters to you- instead of toting around a bunch of crap you don’t really care about. Around 80% of my belongings are gone since the beginning of last year and I’ve given away half my clothes. But moving out of this apartment is more than just getting rid of more stuff. I am not a very outwardly emotional person I tend to be very chill and even tempered, but I am definitely very sentimental.  Every move is almost a mini end to a life chapter, as it’s ending and the space starts clearing out I can’t help but reflect back on all the many things that happened during that time.

My last apartment was my first place all to myself and I loved it. It was the place where I became single again– even though it wasn’t the greatest moment at the time it is something I am SO thankful for now. I started traveling a lot and discovered new and exciting things about the world and myself. I grew my career, explored new ideas and made the decision against many people’s advice to leave the comforts and safety of a 9-5 to pursue something more than just working for someone else’s goals. It was where I was living when I met Stephen which led me down this crazy road to now moving across the world.

Fast forward a year and I am letting go of another sentimental place. Even though it’s not technically mine, I just kind of nudged my way in here after traveling for 3 months ;), it still holds a lot of memories just like the last one. I remember the first time I came to Stephen’s apartment, he made me the most delicious dinner that is still my favorite to this day and gave me books about Australian culture and traveling in Southeast Asia for Valentine’s Day. Funny how those two books will be quite useful now. Over the past year and a half we’ve laughed a lot in that apartment, made countless meals together (tapas night is one of our favorites!) and we’ve had many packing parties the night before a trip (by packing party I mean just us two packing our suitcases with a bottle of wine). Traveling in the Basque coast of France and surfing in Costa Rica may have been amazing and fun,  but it’s the everyday, tiny things that really connect us. We would talk about our dreams and aspirations for the future in that apartment- essentially it’s the place we fell in love.

He had a big map of the world covering one of his walls, and although now it’s been taken down for the move I used to stand in front of it often. Before Europe I would stare at all the countries I was about to see- places I honestly never thought I would have been going to any time soon because I thought I couldn’t afford it or would never be able to take enough time off work to go.

Then I learned anything is possible, you just have to get a little creative and push yourself beyond your comfort zone to get what you want.

After Europe I would stand in front of the map, reflect back on all my memories and dream about all of the other places around the world I would love to see next. Stephen had pins stuck in across the map for all the places he’s been- everywhere from Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa, the U.S. and Central America. I couldn’t wait to add more to my list but I was so happy to have made a dent in my world traveling goals. I would look at how big the world is compared to our little corner of the United States, but at the same time how small it is thanks to today’s world and technology.

The past few month I’ve been standing in front of the map, but staring at one particular place- Australia. I would get butterflies in my stomach thinking about how much of it I have left to experience, and how finally I will be living close to the ocean- something I’ve wanted my entire life since we left California. I looked at all the surrounding countries– Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and New Zealand- and how I can’t wait to explore that entire part of the world. I am definitely sad to be leaving the apartment, but I am so ready for this next adventure.

Whether it’s a particular person, job or home- we have to let go of certain phases of our lives so better ones can begin.

 

Save

Save

Save

Decor Inspiration for Our Home in Australia

This post we are taking a break from the personal stories and travel to get inspired by interior design. I have not had my own place since giving up my apartment in March 2016 and I miss decorating so much! I can’t even tell you how excited I am to settle into a new home in Australia and really create a space that feels inspiring and fits my style again. Granted this will be mine AND Stephen’s place so I can’t go too girly, but I am so thankful he is all in for letting me handle the decorating. His only requirements- bright, light and beachy. I am pretty sure I can accomplish that!

In my old apartment I had accumulated SO many things over the years that I just kept moving from place to place. Before leaving for Europe I went through a major purge and got rid of about 70% of my belongings. At first it was difficult, but now I am so glad I only kept those important pieces that really mean something to me and got rid of the junk. With the exception of a few knick knacks and artwork pieces we will basically be starting from scratch with our home in Australia. I can’t wait to really design a space for the first time instead of just making what I have at the time work. Below are some inspirational ideas I’d love to incorporate into our home down under.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Shutting Out the Noise and Trusting Your Gut

Anytime you make a big life decision you are bound to encounter the “gray area”. Not all decisions are black and white, and usually you will have to take the leap in one direction knowing there are pros and cons to both sides. You wonder if you’re making the right choice- what if it doesn’t turn out how you thought? What will others think? Will you have regrets? There is constantly so much noise happening inside our heads about decisions we make and which way we should take our lives. How do you turn down the noise and know what’s ultimately right for you? I dealt with this noise a lot when making the decision to move with my boyfriend across the world to Australia. I am so happy to say I am past the confusion and into the “all-in, never looking back, don’t give a damn what you think phase”. I must say, it’s the best place to be. So what was my noise all about with this decision? Where do I start…

NOISE #1- Where is this relationship going?

Stephen and I had to start having more discussions about how we saw our future, our expectations, timelines and what we want for ourselves. It is so important to know what you want for YOU before completely compromising everything for someone else. We both come from divorced families so a happy ending is a goal we take very seriously (not THAT kind of happy ending you perv). I already knew our relationship was wonderful and he makes me smile and laugh on a daily basis, but we couldn’t be naive to deeper topics. I won’t go into every little personal detail, but before I was able to consider this move we had to check our boxes and know our foundation and goals were solid.

NOISE #2- Wow that’s like, really far away and a really long flight.

This was pretty much the reaction from 75% of people when I began talking about moving. I understand it’s a normal and valid reaction! But oftentimes people react to the idea of something by thinking about themselves first- not you. They start to think “how would I feel doing that, would I ever choose to do such a thing”. I had to remind myself that we are all different- we have different interests, goals, priorities, and ultimately a different idea of what life should be. Don’t get stuck on the opinions of others without remembering that what works or doesn’t work for them won’t be the same for you, and that’s okay. Many of my friends or family members would never consider moving so far- but that doesn’t mean I can’t.

Other people’s opinions are not your own. The worst thing you could do is to make an important life decision based on the consensus of those around you, only to look back later and never have followed your heart.

For me, this whole distance thing is all about perspective. Okay I know it is a long flight from Atlanta to Australia – so I’ll figure out a flying routine to make it easier and deal with it on that one day instead of making that small fact my focus. Also those flights can be pretty pricey too. Well that’s just more motivation to keep building my business and increasing my revenue. **cough** business expense to come see clients **cough **. Thank you tax write offs! Stephen has always told me “you can be anywhere in the world within a day”, and he’s right. Why would I let one day stop me from experiencing the other side of the world and being with someone who has become such an important part of my life? I asked Stephen recently if he was nervous- it could get complicated in the future with our families being on opposite sides of the world. He said it’s not scary- it’s exciting! It’s all about perspective and that is just one of the things I love about him. It’s so refreshing to be with someone with an open mind to possibilities without limits.

NOISE #3- You’re moving that far without a ring on your finger?

Wouldn’t it just be such a lovely little story to share on facebook- we get engaged and then run off to Australia together. Well life is not about fairy tale endings or a facebook reveal (even though they’re fun sometimes). This topic was one where I felt the most pressure from others, and one I had to really sift through the noise to find out how I really felt. I felt that I SHOULD be saying I couldn’t make that big of a move without that commitment and it would look bad if I didn’t. Stephen and I had very open talks about this and neither of us believe in taking that leap just because of a situation if we weren’t ready. He felt it was really important I go and experience what I would be committing to first… I just felt confused.

For a while I couldn’t quiet the noise in my head. I knew how a lot of people would react, and I knew I would have to defend my reasoning if I chose to go. Then I realized- why should I ever have to defend this serious of a decision to anyone? Marriage is a huge decision- its bigger than Australia, its bigger than the judgement from others. I also started to realize a lot of the people who did really feel I should be engaged first haven’t first-hand experienced divorce in their life. I would never wish that on anyone, and especially wouldn’t want that for my future (WAY future) children. When you’ve dealt with divorce it can leave you extra cautious and slightly jaded. Friends of mine who have experienced divorce first-hand were all on board with me making sure this is what I really want for myself first. Once I let go of that external pressure and noise from others a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Go for it. Make moves and take risks. You have to at least try.

I think I knew immediately deep down I would end up moving with Stephen when he told me he had to move back, but I still remember the moment I officially let myself say YES, I am 100% in. Most days Stephen and I chat on the phone on our way home from work. That particular day while we were talking I remember saying “I have to at least try, how could I not even try?”. From that moment on the noise was gone and I was all in. This reaction can apply to so many decisions in our lives. Earning a degree, finding a more fulfilling job, going for that promotion, starting to date again, telling someone how you feel, traveling more, turning your dreams into reality… you have to at least try.

You know how the saying goes- with great risk comes great reward. My great reward just happens to come with kangaroos and a sexy surfer.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Details on My Move to Australia

Since this is the first time I’m announcing it on the blog… I am moving to Australia!! This week my visa was approved so the fact that it is official-official is still crazy to me. All that is left now is to book my one-way plane ticket!

Some people might be wondering, why Australia? If I haven’t been been able to catch up with you this past year and a half the first thing to know is my boyfriend is Australian. He is on an expatriate program with his job for 2 years in America and we met last January after he’d been living in Atlanta for about 6 months. And yes… he has an accent. People always ask me this but to be honest I stopped noticing it after a few months- it just becomes normal! It has been fun to get used to some Aussie slang- something that will come in handy in a few months.

Since we  started dating I’ve known moving to Australia at some point would be a possibility for me if our relationship continued to move forward, but it’s almost surreal now that it’s actually happening. We found out in February they needed him back there in a few months for work and after some conversations and soul searching I knew I had to go too. I definitely will be expanding on this whole decision making process in the next blog post because I went through an emotional journey to get to where I am now. I think some of you will find it relatable and helpful if you’ve been faced with your own tough life choices. For me it was a decision that was both difficult and so easy all at once. I had to shut out the world noise and trust MY judgement- not everyone else’s. More on this coming soon 🙂

Anyways, back to the official moving plans! Stephen will head home in June and I plan to make the big move sometime in August. Our location is determined by where he was placed for work so we will be about an hour south of the Gold Coast, about two hours south of Brisbane near Lennox Head and Ballina in NSW. We will have to wait until Stephen gets out there in June and starts house hunting to know exactly where we will end up in that area, another exciting process to share later!

The country is extremely beautiful in this area- I remember being mesmerized by the lush landscape and beautiful beaches when we were there last September. I have been a beach bum at heart my entire life, I’m sure it’s due to my southern California roots. Those who know me know I have been on a mission to move to the beach for FOREVER, but over the years there have been different factors that stopped this from happening. Looking back I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I never picked up and moved back to California, or over to Florida or Charleston. If I hadn’t trusted my gut to be patient and stay put in Atlanta just a little bit longer I would never have met Stephen and most likely wouldn’t be about to move to one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Not only am I excited about living in Australia, but the traveling we will be able to do in that side of the world is a huge bonus in my mind. New Zealand, Japan and Indonesia are just a few on my list 😉

Are we going to live in Australia forever? I have no idea. This was another big factor in my decision to move in the first place- I needed to know that if later down the road I wanted to move back to the U.S. Stephen would be open to that. Thankfully he is 🙂 but for now I am only focusing on this next step and am allowing myself to be open to whatever comes next over the upcoming years. I think when you try to plan too much ahead you end up being closed off and ignore potential amazing opportunities that come your way. You end up feeling like you’ve let yourself and others down if you change your mind. Well, I want to be able to change my mind, go with the flow and allow the universe to take me where I am meant to go. To be honest the idea of a “forever home” kind of freaks me out- I am a big dreamer and don’t like to put limits on myself and future possibilities. Luckily I found someone who feels the same.

I can’t believe I only have four months to go before the big move!! I know it is going to fly by and I’ll need to get in as much family and friends time as I can. I will 100% be coming back to Atlanta regularly, I am pretty sure my family would kill me if I didn’t come back minimum once a year.

This won’t be a “goodbye” to everyone, but more of a “catch ya later mate”!

Save

Save

Save

Save

What Living in a Van Taught Me About My Relationship

This month my boyfriend and I flew across the country to San Francisco, rented a camper van and set out to explore the area for 10 days from Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Big Sur and Yosemite National Park. By camper van I don’t mean a camper. I mean a van… that you live in. It’s funny how friends of mine had such different reactions to the idea. Some were like “OMG I could never!”, the concept of the van or even camping for that long was incomprehensible. Other friends reacted completely opposite and thought it was such a fun, economical and cool idea. I’m glad I happen to be in the group whose up for an adventure. I grew up taking camping trips across the country with my family in our pop up camper, so when Stephen threw the idea out there I was in.

SauvignonBlue-CaliCampervan-1

Now let’s get into the relationship part. Traveling is a great way to learn a lot about the person you’re dating- you’re both in an unfamiliar place and at some point are bound to be faced with unexpected situations. This brings out the good, the bad and all the in between sides of your partner, and I find it actually to be very helpful in seeing if the relationship is a strong one. What better way to test your relationship than living in a van, just the two of you, for 10 days. Not that I went into this testing ours! We had traveled many times before this in the US and out of the country. But the van aspect definitely added an extra quirky twist to this trip, and along the way some observations and thoughts crossed my mind.

#HIGHFIVE FOR PROBLEM SOLVING

The first night of our trip we were rearranging the inside of the van to make our bed after dark. The camper van is set up so the main seat bench and table reconfigure to make a surprisingly comfortable queen size bed. We had left Atlanta at 5:30am to catch our flight so needless to say after a long day of traveling we were exhausted. During the bed making process we were both outside and shut the doors… and were locked out. Somehow we locked the van with the keys… and our phones… inside.

We both just looked at each other for a second- damnit. We were in the woods with no keys, no phones and no way to get to any of our things. Immediately we both went into problem solving mode. I walked over to the campers next to us who were hanging out at their site, asked to borrow one of their phones, and began looking up the roadside assistance number I remember the camper van rental company mentioning. Stephen right away asked one of them for a tent stake to try to basically break into the van. Less than 5 minutes later I hear “we’re in!”. Somehow they managed to get into the van with the tent stake and save the night.

What was important to me about this was neither of us blamed the other, was mad or upset… by nature we both immediately thought of the best ways to fix the problem, stress-free. #Highfive for problem solving.

SauvignonBlue-CaliCampervan-6

WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY, AND THAT’S OKAY

Everyone has their own way of going about their day and everyday tasks. The first day we stopped at the grocery store to stock up before going to our first campsite. After loading up the cart we got to the van to unload the bags. Seems like a completely normal thing, what could go wrong right? Well… we had an issue. Stephen wanted to completely unload and organize all the groceries where they belonged in the van, right there in the parking lot. His very efficient stance on the situation was “why do things twice, let’s put it all where it goes the first time”.  My view was “why spend any more time in the grocery store parking lot than we have to? Let’s throw the bags in, get to the campsite and take our time organizing there”. There was a small, *calm* disagreement that afternoon in the parking lot of the SaveWay in Aptos, California.

Was one of us right? No… we simply just go about certain things differently. It doesn’t make sense trying to argue who is right and who is wrong when in the end it doesn’t even matter. We compromised, put away the cold things in the fridge, and organized the rest later at the campsite.

PATIENCE NEVER FAILS

If you’re spending 10 days straight together there are times you are bound to annoy the other person. We had the most amazing time and are extremely compatible, but our trip wasn’t without its moments on both sides. I remember Stephen trying to park the van on this very particular angle I wanted so it would be the most ideal setup with one of our campsites. Since the backside of the van opens up with the whole cooking area its important it’s placed so it flows with the site layout (at least to me that stuff is important!). I know I can be very picky, so there was a lot of moving the van this way, then that way, and then back this way. I could tell I was getting on his nerves, but he really remained patient with me and we got it set up perfect. I was happy with our space, and he was happy it was over so he could build a fire and relax with a beer.

SauvignonBlue-CaliCampervan-5

SauvignonBlue-CaliCampervan-2

Another time he wanted to stop and take pictures at this well known surf spot in Santa Cruz called Steamer Lane. That day is was extra chilly and windy, and I didn’t have a warm jacket on. I wasn’t in the mood to walk up and down cliff’s edge taking pictures of waves and surfers, and more waves and surfers… and waiting for the next set of waves hoping a surfer would catch an epic one. But I sucked it up, put on a happy face and paced along the water’s edge with him as he snapped away. He was excited about it, it made him happy, so I remained patient until he was ready to go.

Being patient with the other person is extremely important to a happy relationship. You won’t always want to do the same things, and you will get frustrated with each other at times. Don’t let those emotions boil over and ruin the moment.

No relationship is flawless. There will always be things you don’t agree and everything won’t always be picture perfect- even if you do end up with some pretty perfect pictures. I would do our whole 10 days in a van all over again anytime, Stephen jokes with me that it was just a warm up for a MUCH longer trip in the future. We will see if that ever comes to fruition, but I am confident we will be able to tackle whatever comes our way.

Have you ever experienced similar situations while traveling with your partner? Share your stories in the comments below!

 

 

Save

Save

Save

A Peaceful Getaway in La Cala del Moral

I loved living in Barcelona, Spain for a month. The city is vibrant, active, eclectic and fun. There are things happening at all hours… I distinctly remember a group of people walking down my street at 5am drunk shouting songs while the sun was coming up. But I am not going to lie, after a few weeks I was ready for a little peaceful break from the busy activity of the city.  Before meeting Stephen in France I had a week break to go wherever I wanted, and after researching what would work logistically while still being affordable, I decided to stay in southern Spain, just outside of Málaga in a place called La Cala del Moral.

The picture below is the view from my bedroom, and is the reason why I chose this location. I knew I was going to be working a lot to get ready for taking a week off with my boyfriend, and what better way to buckle down and get to work than with this gorgeous view on top of the hill.

SauvignonBlue-Malaga-1 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-2 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-7 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-8 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-9 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-11 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-12

SauvignonBlue-Malaga-19

After settling into my airbnb in La Cala del Moral I took a walk down to explore the beach. This was no ordinary beach, what I discovered were these beautiful cliffside walking paths that almost made you feel like you were on the edge of the world. Where all you could see at certain points was bright blue crystal clear ocean water.SauvignonBlue-Malaga-15 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-16 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-18 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-20 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-21

Something really unique about La Cala del Moral is this path that goes not only along the edge of the cliffs but through the land into tunnels. These tunnels used to be a railroad where the train would pass through the city. Now it’s a walking path where you can find people running, biking, or just strolling along with their friends and dogs. The tunnels take you from one beach to the other, with many opportunities to detour and enjoy those breathtaking ocean views.

SauvignonBlue-Malaga-39 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-24 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-25 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-26 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-36 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-42 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-43 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-45 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-47 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-48 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-49 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-50 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-53

It was such a wonderful break from a busy city. I would work for hours at home enjoying the view, then take breaks to walk down to the water and take in some vitamin D. I will say staying on top of the hill overlooking the town did come with a price– the steep walk back home from the water! It was definitely a workout just getting home each day from the beach, but I welcomed the exercise to help me stay in shape.

During this week I made sure to also get into the main city of Málaga. Check back for the next post where I’ll share with you beautiful sights of Málaga, street art discoveries, and the best view in the city.

Save

Top 3 Pros and Cons of Returning to the U.S.

In only two days I’ll be back in the U.S. after three months of traveling around Europe. I realize I have so much more to share from my trip on the blog. There are so many more locations to show, so much more advice to offer and stories to tell.  But given that I’ll be leaving this amazing place shortly I wanted to share some things that have been heavy on my mind with the timing. Part of me is sad to be leaving Europe, although legally I have to. Remember, only 90 days Americans are allowed to be out here! But the other part of me is looking forward to returning home.

TOP 3 Things I Will Miss About Europe

1. The Rich History & Culture

I think this is an obvious one, but it’s an inevitable one. There is so much history and depth all around you here. I love how old the buildings are and how stories of each place I’ve visited go so far back in time. The fact that I stood in on a hill where Rome as a whole began, and was inside a building that was built around 125 AD is nuts. People in Europe also are on a different time table with how they carry out their day. It feels so much more relaxed, and like people are fully enjoying each day. But I mean, how could you not with a little afternoon siesta, or drinks every night with friends in the piazza. But overall it made me feel like a lot of people in the U.S. (not all!) are ALL about work. Working long hours to buy more things they don’t really need, and to pay for bigger things they almost never fully enjoy because they’re tired from working. Personally, I’ll take quality of life over fancy things.

rome

cinqueterre

london

2. Public Transportation & Walking

I seriously don’t want to go back to driving. I love taking public transportation everywhere! Between the metro, the bus, the train, an uber or a taxi, I’ve had no problems getting around this continent. Not to mention all the walking has made me feel more in shape, and I’m sure I’ve lost a little weight too. Overall I just feel healthier, and although there are cities in the U.S. that also operate this way (think NYC, Chicago, etc), unfortunately I do not currently live in one. Plus its more than just maneuvering easily around a city in itself, but country-to-country its been pretty easy overall. Yes there have been times where I’ve been exhausted and don’t feel like walking anymore, I’ve been pissed off at the local bus for being late and making me wait for a while, and I’ve been crammed in a hot metro train. But overall I would choose to live in a city where the public transportation was commonly used by all than in a driving city any day. Unless it’s the beach… I’ll drive everywhere if I get to live near the beach for sure 🙂 Most important of all of this, is how easy it is to get around from one culture to another. I am in love with how connected and easily accessible all these incredible places are.

walking

3. Food, Coffee and Wine

It’s a no brainer the food is fantastic out here. From tapas in Spain, to fresh pasta in Italy it’s a foodie’s dream (as long as you stay away from the tourist trap places!). But more than it being delicious, it seems much healthier overall. I will say, Atlanta is not short on some amazing restaurants and pretty much any cuisine you might be in the mood for. But there is just something special about enjoying food where it originated from. Also even the regular produce you’ll find at say little markets around town seems fresher and better than in the US… not to mention cheaper. I remember being in Barcelona with only 5 euros left and I was determined to make two healthy and delicious meals out of it. Walked across the street from my flat to this little market and boom- ingredients for not two but three yummy, healthy and filling salads. In addition to the food, the coffee is WAY better. Stephen always has said this and part of me thought he was being slightly stuck up about it. No… he’s totally right. And last but not least- its so affordable to drink wine out here. I paid 2 euros for a glass on wine on the beach in Malaga, and in most places dining out a good glass of wine is between 3-6 euros tops. Score all around.

IMG_9649

salad

Screenshot 2016-08-25 23.51.07

Screenshot 2016-08-25 23.50.00

TOP 3 Things I am Looking Forward to in the U.S.

1. Spending Time with Loved Ones

This is another obvious one! I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen a few treasured friends out in Europe along the way, had my boyfriend visit for a week in France, and have met some amazing people these past few months (shout out to my favorite Aussie and Toronto girls!). But there is nothing like sharing jokes and uncontrollable laughs with good friends and family who have been there for you through ups and downs in life. I am also SO ready to spend some quality time with my boyfriend. Only 5 months into our relationship I said ‘see ya!’ and left the country… poor guy haha. I can’t tell you how excited I am to simply cook dinner and relax on the couch with him, and to continue to build on the foundation I feel was only strengthened by surviving months apart from each other. Plus we’re heading off to Australia for 2 weeks shortly after I get back so of course I can’t wait for that!

family

stephen

2. Working on the Biz #Girlboss

I know, have I lost my mind?! WHO looks forward to working??? Apparently this girl. Only a short time before leaving for Europe I officially started my own company, which combined with some amazing clients of mine allowed me to travel internationally while working along the way. I am so thankful for the ability to do so, but I am mentally ready to buckle down and really build my business. This may seem slightly contradictory to what I mentioned earlier about Americans being workaholics. There really must be a balance, and the main difference I feel is I am not simply working my ass off to pay for expensive, pretty things. I am truly passionate about creating a business that’s uniquely me, and exploring other parts of the world has only inspired me in ways staying in a comfortable and familiar bubble can’t. Plus when you’re your own boss no one can tell you that you can’t have a glass of wine with lunch or that you’re out of vacation days. Apparently I’ve never quite liked being told what to do, and no mom… I am not an alcoholic. I could go on and on about this topic… but for now, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

Screenshot 2016-08-25 19.55.59

3. Reliable Wifi and Using My Phone Like a Normal Person

Before coming to Europe I assumed I would be getting a SIM card in each place I went so I can just prepay data for it. After a few days in Spain I decided forget it… I’m going off the grid. Well, obviously not off the grid, but I have been wifi only these past three months with my phone. At times it was challenging, but I will say I’ve perfected screen-shotting directions before leaving the house, and learned if you preload the maps in Google Maps it will still follow you around town after leaving wifi. Some tips I can share later 🙂 But there were definitely difficult moments having no phone access, and almost more than that was when the wifi connection I did have wasn’t good quality. For someone who is working remotely this whole time on my computer, you can imaging the frustration this led to. Yes Italy…. I am referring to you. You and your unreliable internet. Needless to say, I am going to feel like I won the lottery being able to use my phone in the U.S. without hunting down networks and buying a drink/coffee only so I can bum their wifi to look up how to get home.

Screenshot 2016-08-25 23.48.57

Most Importantly, this Isn’t Over

I honestly don’t see me coming back to the U.S. this weekend as an end to an incredible experience, it’s more like taking a little break. I’ve heard a lot of people say “at least you were able to get this out of your system”. For me traveling isn’t a vacation I take once or twice a year, or something to get out of my system. It’s one of my biggest passions in life, and is a huge part of why I wanted to work for myself/remotely in the first place. The ability to work across the ocean, from another state, or even just from my bed with a cup of coffee and pjs if I choose is a huge benefit in my mind. With Australia happening in September, a few small U.S. trips later this year, and 2017 wide open, who knows what other adventures I’ll get myself into.

Have any of you felt some of these same feelings coming back to the U.S. after being abroad for a while? Leave a comment below and share!

Also, stay tuned for all the rest of my Europe stories and travel suggestions coming to the blog soon!

 

Spanish Day Trip- Girona, Pals & Costa Brava

After being in Barcelona, Spain for a few weeks I was anxious to explore some surrounding areas outside the city. A friend suggested Girona, a medieval town about an hour from Barcelona, and I also came across Costa Brava and its beautiful beaches. During more research I landed on a small group tour company who actually takes you to BOTH in one day! Plus a tiny medieval town in between the two called Pals. I signed up right away and was so excited to spend the day exploring these new places. And best of all… I didn’t have to plan a THING!

SauvignonBlue-Girona-2

GIRONA

The first stop in Girona was a city rich in history with influences from multiple cultures. Our guide gave us a introduction to the city’s history while walking through the streets, and we were then given alone time to explore on our own. I made sure to hike up to the gardens on top of the hill where there were multiple towers looking over the beautiful city and green hills in the distance.

SauvignonBlue-Girona-38

SauvignonBlue-Girona-39 SauvignonBlue-Girona-7 SauvignonBlue-Girona-9 SauvignonBlue-Girona-11 SauvignonBlue-Girona-12 SauvignonBlue-Girona-13 SauvignonBlue-Girona-16

SauvignonBlue-Girona-43 SauvignonBlue-Girona-24 SauvignonBlue-Girona-27 SauvignonBlue-Girona-29 SauvignonBlue-Girona-31

PALS

Next up was a tiny town called Pals. It is known for the rice it produces there, and most of the dishes with rice in the surrounding areas have rice from this town. We strolled around the streets and admired the countryside that was very reminiscent of Tuscany, Italy.

SauvignonBlue-Pals-2 SauvignonBlue-Pals-3 SauvignonBlue-Pals-4 SauvignonBlue-Pals-5 SauvignonBlue-Pals-6 SauvignonBlue-Pals-10

Playa Calella De Palafrugell, Costa Brava

My favorite was definitely saved for last! Playa Calella De Palafrugell is a part of Costa Brava, and the views were stunning. The water was crystal clear, and the blue sea was a gorgeous contrast against the bright white city. Our group divided off for lunch where we enjoyed a few drinks with a perfect view. I was set on getting in the water, had been wearing my bikini all day under my clothes. So despite the fact that it was freezing water, I dove right in.

SauvignonBlue-CostaBrava-1 SauvignonBlue-CostaBrava-2 SauvignonBlue-CostaBrava-3 SauvignonBlue-CostaBrava-5 SauvignonBlue-CostaBrava-7 SauvignonBlue-CostaBrava-8 SauvignonBlue-CostaBrava-9 SauvignonBlue-Pals-11

My Barcelona adventure is almost over on the blog! Next up is the wine and tapas tour to wrap up my first month abroad in such an artsy and vibrant city.

 

The Best View of Barcelona- Mount Tibidabo

I’m a good view addict. I think it’s fair to say my traveling pattern is constantly searching for the best view, and Barcelona was no exception. Over the 3 weeks in Barcelona leading up to this point I was always eyeing this huge church on top of the mountain behind the city. While strolling around the streets I would keep getting glimpses of it and told myself I had to get up there before I left.

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona197

The church is called the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (or the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor) and it sits on top of Mount Tibidabo. There is an amusement park at the base of the church, and everywhere you go has breathtaking views. I was surprised more people I talked to hadn’t been there or even knew about it. Maybe people think it’s out of the way, but it’s actually very easy to get to and completely worth the time to get there.

Easiest way to get to the top of Mount Tibidabo and to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from Barcelona: Take the T2A bus from Plaça de Catalunya. It takes you directly there in about 30 minutes and costs 2.95 euros each way. *Very Important- the T2 bus only operates during the summer months when the amusement park is open. If you’re traveling outside of the summer months here are some other options to get to the top.

From where the bus drops you off it’s about a 10 minute walk up the hill to the church. You can then choose to see the view from the first 2 levels of the church, or pay 3 euros to ride the elevator to it’s highest points. Obviously I chose the best views 🙂 What’s even better is you get a 360 degree view of the entire area of Barcelona- from the ocean, to the inner city and then out to the rolling green hills of Spain.

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona198 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona199 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona200 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona204SauvignonBlue-Barcelona214

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona206 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona210 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona208 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona207

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona211

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona212

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona213

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona205

After you’re finished soaking in the views from the church you can walk down and enjoy more views from the amusement park! If you have kids they’ll have fun playing on the rides, but the park it’s just for families. I got myself a refreshing glass of Cava and enjoyed every last view from the mountain.

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona218 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona219

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona224

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona223 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona222 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona226 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona225

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona230 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona228 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona227

This day was one of my last spent in Barcelona and I am so glad I fit in this trip to Mount Tibidabo before leaving. Later that night I went on a wine and tapas tour in the city, another thing I HIGHLY recommend! I’ll have all the details coming in the next post along with pictures and links so you can sign-up for this tour on your next visit.

Visit to Gaudí’s Park Güell in Barcelona

First off I have something to own up to… I have been totally MIA from my blog during my travels! The reality is these past few weeks have been filled with keeping up with my clients, exploring these amazing places, actually GETTING to and from these amazing places, and spending some quality time with people I care about. I have been so lucky to meet up with friends along the way, and to have my boyfriend come visit for a week with me in France. With only limited time in each location I’ve visited I wanted to make sure I was soaking up as much of the culture as I could instead of being locked to a computer 24/7. Hence, the little break I took from the blog 🙂 But I have so many pictures and stories to share with you so let’s get back to it!

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona179

Last we left off was in Barcelona (O how I miss Barcelona already!), about 3 weeks into my stay there. It was my friend’s last day visiting me so after gasping at the amazing sight of the Sagrada Família it was time to get over to another one of the city’s most famous must-sees- Park Güell also by Gaudí. The park was walking distance from my flat in Gracia so we hiked up the hill and lots of stairs to what we thought was the entrance. Turns out we entered into another section nearby which led us to these beautiful spot looking over the city. We probably wouldn’t have ended up here if we went to the main entrance of the park first, one of the things I love about getting a little lost sometimes.

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona118

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona119

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona160

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona159

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona161

Once we finally found the actual Gaudí park we learned that there was about an hour wait until the next entrance time to get in. Be sure to grab your tickets ahead of time online, unless you don’t mind waiting a bit! For us it was no problem, there is plenty to see in the park outside the famous Gaudí sculpture area that it’s so known for.

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona148SauvignonBlue-Barcelona162

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona155 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona163 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona164 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona165

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona149 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona150

After some leisurely strolls and a few photo opps, it was time to go check out a view I had been waiting for months to see. This view of the park, Gaudí’s sculptures and architecture and the city behind, was one I had on my computer desktop and phone background for months leading up to my trip. It was finally right in front of me and I got to take those pictures for myself. We made our way through the park the lower levels, examining the massive columns, mosaic sculptures and tiles along the way.SauvignonBlue-Barcelona151 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona152

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona109 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona153

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona112 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona113SauvignonBlue-Barcelona154

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona114 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona116

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona117

Another thing checked off my Barcelona to-do list! Which did you like better, Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia or Park Guell?

Next up is a day trip I took into three other cities of Spain close to Barcelona- Girona, Pals and Costa Brava. You won’t believe the views from the park in Girona and the crystal blue waters of Costa Brava!

 

Sagrada Família & Sailing Away

One of Barcelona’s most famous must-sees is the Basilica of the Sagrada Família, the largest church in the city designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. Although the construction of the church began in 1882 it is still unfinished… and it is insane. Your trip to Barcelona cannot be complete without seeing this amazing place– the details, combination of different architectural styles, and overall grand size of it is an amazing site. I was surprised my weeks in the city leading up to that point I never caught a glimpse of it, but after a quick 20 minute walk from my place my friend and I arrived. Be sure to purchase tickets ahead of time (only 15,00€)  because you are assigned specific entrance times into the cathedral- purchasing ahead will let you skip a big wait time to get in!

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona139 copySauvignonBlue-Barcelona94

If the outside of the Sagrada Família isn’t enough to make your jaw drop just wait until you get inside. It was so interesting to me that despite the fact the church is over 100 years old since its construction began, the inside felt extremely futuristic to me. I could probably lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling for hours, and the way the stained glass was arranged it gave the inside a complete spectrum flood of light.

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona97

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona96 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona100 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona102

Later that day we decided to experience another amazing site in the city and were determined to find a great rooftop bar nearby. We ended up deciding on the Skybar on the rooftop of the Grand Hotel Central and it was the perfect place to relax with a glass (or two!) of Spanish wine and enjoy the sunset.
SauvignonBlue-Barcelona132 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona134 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona135

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona136

The next day we had reserved a spot for a brunch sailing trip with Sailing Experience Barcelona. After browsing a lot of sailing options available in Barcelona we decided on this one because #1 the price was right, #2 it came with free drinks, and #3 it wasn’t a total booze cruise. You know you’re inching toward 30 when the idea of a booze cruise sounds like a crowded boat with a group of young people getting too drunk and being super annoying. I mean we wanted to do some nice day drinking like everyone does, but we also wanted it to be a relaxing experience. After a few croissants, cheese and cured meats, we set off out of the marina with glasses of white wine in hand. Our skipper was wonderful, not only was she very attentive (even provided us with fleece jackets when it got chilly out in the water) but she was extremely knowledgable about Barcelona’s history which we learned about while gazing back at the city from the water.

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona142

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona143

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona144SauvignonBlue-Barcelona196

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona145When we returned safely to shore we took a short walk over to Barceloneta Beach, ordered  a bottle of Cava, and enjoyed some bubbles with more ocean views. For me it was so nice to actually take an entire day off from work, no laptop was opened that day. After an afternoon nap (much needed after a lot of sun and a little day buzz!) we ended the night with some delicious sushi.

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona147 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona125 SauvignonBlue-Barcelona140

SauvignonBlue-Barcelona141

What did you think of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família? Pretty cool right?! The next day we went to another one of his famous places in Barcelona (another must-see of course). Check back at the next post to see our experience at the beautiful Park Güell.

Madrid Weekend Getaway

Last weekend I said goodbye to my new home in Barcelona for a few days to experience another city in Spain, Madrid! A friend of mine who I hadn’t seen since she moved from the U.S. to Amsterdam 2 years ago was there for work and invited me over to visit. Because that’s just what we do now… hangout in other countries… no big deal. I was excited to see another city and spend some time catching up over tapas and wine.

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-7SauvignonBlue-Madrid-1

She suggested we go to the Rooftop Bar of the ME Madrid Reina Victoria hotel, and it was the best place we could have started the weekend. The views were so beautiful, overlooking the plaza as the sun came down over the rooftops. We enjoyed a few glasses of cava with her coworkers and because we are girls and this is what we do, got a few pictures taken with the picturesque scenery. The night ended with plenty of laughs, countless tapa dishes and a few bottles of wine at Max Madrid, just on the other side of the plaza below.
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-2 SauvignonBlue-Madrid-3 SauvignonBlue-Madrid-4

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-6 SauvignonBlue-Madrid-5

The next day while my friend was busy being an adult and working, I set out on my own to explore the city. Before leaving the U.S. and for the first few days of being in Spain I planned on getting a SIM card for my iPhone so I could use it like normal while away from wifi. WELL, I ended up saying forget it and did the unthinkable… I can only use my phone on wifi out here. I know right, unplugging from technology, am I insane?! First of all it has been nice to be forced to disconnect while I’m out and about seeing these gorgeous places, but there are times when it would come in handy, like when trying to navigate new places. So to solve this I used my tech skills, screen-shotted a map of Madrid focusing on the main area I would be in, added stars to a few specific places I wanted to see, and saved the image to my phone. Gotta be resourceful in times of need.

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-39

I spent the day visiting all the places on my list plus stumbling across so much more. That is one of my favorite things about traveling– finding unexpected places. I tend to pin point a few key things but the rest is fun to encounter while you’re getting slightly lost in a whole new place. I will never be one of those travelers with a regimented, timed-out schedule, and I never want to be. Living fully in the moment is a key aspect of traveling for me, and too much planning sucks the fun and spontaneity out of that. There aren’t too many times in everyday life you can be so open and carefree so it’s important to cherish those times.

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-8
Museo Nacional Del Prado
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-11
Plaza Mayor
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-40
Plaza Mayor
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-43
Plaza Mayor

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-9 SauvignonBlue-Madrid-10

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-12
Catedral de la Almudena

On my way to the Royal Palace Madrid I came across the Catedral de la Almudena, one that was not starred on my makeshift navigation map. It was my favorite place I saw in all of Madrid. I am a sucker for old churches anyway, they are so beautiful and detailed. But this one stood out to me because of the brightly patterned ceiling. Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with patterns so it was like this church was made for me. The soaring arches and ceiling took my breath away.

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-13
Catedral de la Almudena
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-14
Catedral de la Almudena
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-15
Catedral de la Almudena
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-16
Royal Palace of Madrid
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-17
Royal Palace of Madrid
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-18
Royal Palace of Madrid
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-19
Basilica of San Francisco el Grande
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-22
San Jerónimo el Real

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-20 SauvignonBlue-Madrid-21

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-23
Buen Retiro Park

These trees. were. ridiculous. I would love to meet the person who grooms these trees just so perfectly.

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-24
Buen Retiro Park
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-25
Buen Retiro Park
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-26
Buen Retiro Park
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-27
Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-28
Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-29
Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-42
Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-41
Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora

After my friend and I enjoyed a delicious and refreshing sushi dinner (which I am now craving just by typing the word sushi), we turned the corner from the restaurant and stumbled across this freaking BEAUTIFUL place. Its like the time of day and lighting perfectly aligned for this picture to be taken. I can’t get over the architecture and the complimentary orange and blue colors happening here.

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-30

The next day we were determined to enjoy yet another rooftop. But come on, you can never enjoy TOO many rooftop views. This specific place made it to pretty much every list for best views of the city, The Tartan Roof on top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes. I will say it’s very touristy up there. You have to wait in line to go up in the elevator, wait in a long line for drinks, wait in a line to leave. Lots of waiting. But the waits are totally worth these amazing views of Madrid. I never knew how vast the city was until that rooftop.

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-31
Tartan Roof on top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-32
Tartan Roof on top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes
SauvignonBlue-Madrid-33
Tartan Roof on top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes

And because we are girls and this is what we do, we had to snap a few pictures to document the moment. Plus the light was absolutely perfect for some sunset snapshots, can’t pass up some good sunlight.

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-34 SauvignonBlue-Madrid-35 SauvignonBlue-Madrid-36

SauvignonBlue-Madrid-37
Tartan Roof on top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes

The next day I returned to Barcelona where I’ll be until June 30th! A day after Madrid my friend came to stay with me for the rest of the week and we saw some amazing sights around the city. Be sure to check back for the next post to see our time at the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, two iconic parts of Barcelona.