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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

 

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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Museo Nacional Del Prado
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Plaza Mayor
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Plaza Mayor

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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.

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Catedral de la Almudena
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Catedral de la Almudena
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Catedral de la Almudena
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Royal Palace of Madrid
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Royal Palace of Madrid
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Royal Palace of Madrid
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Basilica of San Francisco el Grande
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San Jerónimo el Real

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Buen Retiro Park

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

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Buen Retiro Park
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Buen Retiro Park
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Buen Retiro Park
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Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
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Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
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Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
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Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
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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.

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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.

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Tartan Roof on top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes
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Tartan Roof on top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes
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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.

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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.