An architectural love affair with Madrid

Ah, what a crazy love affair I’ve found myself in the midst of.  There’s so many things I love about this place, but I’m especially smitten with the age-old architecture in Madrid. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the ultimate suburbia, where every new-ish brick house looked strikingly similar to the next. Where there really isn’t much diversity or history or little details to gawk over.

But I love wandering these streets.

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And I love photographing these buildings.

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I love seeking out new routes full of new surprises as I walk to my routine destinations.

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I love how the light and time of day can completely change an establishment’s exterior.

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I love when I remember to look behind me or walk on the other side of the street and I am rewarded with a new perspective.

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I love how everyday I have a new favorite building.

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I love how most apartment buildings display the year in which they were established and how most of them are more than 100 years old.

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I love standing directly under balconies and looking up, as each complex has its own elaborate and colorful tiles decorating the floors.

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I love the classy, thoughtful details that make me stop and stare.

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I love when the seasons change the trees, which in turn completely changes a facade.

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I love when I look up to find the trees perfectly framing the building, ultimately begging for a photograph.

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I love the variations in the exteriors and that no matter how different they may be, they are effortlessly and beautifully pieced together.

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I love the unexpected and sometimes quirky displays I stumble across.

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I love the element of the unknown on the other side of a metro exit.

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And I really love how something so mundane can bring me so much joy.

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I’m always wandering and looking for something to “gram,” so if you want to see more photos like these, join me on Instagram at @theonewithwanderlust!

A warm escape to Tenerife

Drinking Spanish beer on a sailboat listening to Coldplay, surrounded by a pack of pilot whales on the coast of the Canary Islands. I have a lot of happy places, and this moment is definitely one of them.

As it’s been a bitterly cold February, I’ve caught myself daydreaming of warmer days, specifically a warm week spent in Tenerife almost exactly a year ago.

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And as it turned out, a trip to Tenerife in February was the ideal escape. The water was a bit too cold for swimming–okay, very much too cold for swimming–but the sun never left the sky and although the temperatures were forecasted for the high 60s, we comfortably laid out on the beach and even managed to take home some gnarly sunburns.

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Tenerife, one of seven of the islands that form the Canaries, has a great volcano and a rugged mixture of landscapes. We stayed in a fabulous Airbnb, from which we could see the ocean.

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Sometimes, I think the best vacations are the ones with little to no plans at all. Our only plans were to wander up and down the coast, soak up the radiant sunshine while drinking some brewskis, and…

Tenerife_in_February

…WHALE WATCH!

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We signed up for a day-long sailing adventure with Tenerife Sailing Charters. We were a small group of about ten, which I so prefer in these situations. The boat was stocked with beer and sandwiches and we had a knowledgable guide that knew exactly where to take us. Not to mention, we cruised along while listening to Coldplay on repeat. It wasn’t long before we saw dolphins playing around a fishery, and shortly after we spotted what we were after! Pilot whales. A huge pod of pilot whales. If this isn’t nice, then I don’t know what is.

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Pilot whales are small and tend to resemble dolphins to the untrained eye. They have a melon-shaped head and due to the reliably warm waters, they stick around Tenerife fishing for squid year round.

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it time and time again. Nothing in the whole entire world can bring me more happiness than watching these majestic creatures live a free, natural and healthy life in boundless turquoise waters. Witnessing creatures like these in their natural habitat, exactly where they’re supposed to be, can literally bring tears to my eyes. (I’m glaring at you, Sea World and company.)

We turned the boat off and listened to them breath in the salty ocean for about an hour.

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Once the whales (and the Portuguese man o’ wars) moved on, we sailed over to some coves to snorkel and eat lunch. With the understanding of the potential to swim with sea turtles, I decided to give snorkeling a go. I knew the water was chilly, but it was actually an ice bath. I jumped right in, flippers first, and hastily swam right back to the boat as my lips turned blue and my teeth chattered together uncontrollably. I’d save the sea turtles for someday in Hawaii.

Tenerife_in_February

Tenerife_in_February

After several hours of relaxing and sunbathing in the cove, it was time to head back to the harbor. But not so fast! Our sailboat had other ideas. After a dramatic, life-saving rescue from our malfunctioning boat, we were soon on the competition’s sailboat, comfortably eating more free food and downing more beers, listening to our new captain chuckle about returning us to his ex-boss that recently fired him! Scandalous.

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Tenerife was such a stunning island and I only wish I had time to explore more of the chain. If in doubt about traveling there during the winter months, have no fear. February is a terrific time to visit, especially since it’s still warm and it’s the off-season! That means empty beaches, lower prices, and a continued promise of pilot whale sightings.