Ibiza’s Colorful Old Town

Oh, the ways in which Ibiza surprised me! I had pretty low expectations for this party place. To be honest, all I really knew about it was that Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian seem to frequent the island.  I was ready for some sun, but I thought the beaches would be average beaches with some nudity sprinkled here and there. I expected the old town to be dirty, rundown, and taken over by Jersey Shore-like storefronts and restaurants. But… WRONG AND WRONGER. The beaches were the best my toes have ever had the pleasure of being stuck in and the Old Town was cute and colorful and totally worth exploring. I’m not big into the wild party and clubbing scene (okay, not at all), which I naturally associated with the island, but it’s totally possible to enjoy this paradise in the absence of that business. We arrived the week before the crowds did in early May and in my opinion, the timing couldn’t have been better. We found the best of Ibiza–ideal weather, cheap prices, few crowds, and plenty of beer and wine.

Ibiza’s Old Town sits up on a hill overlooking the rest of the island. Its ancient streets are lined with worn cobblestones and whitewashed casas that wear splashes of color or floral arrangements. It has a cool, chic aura and I really could have stayed for quite a while admiring just about everything. It may be one of the most photogenic little towns I’ve ever had the opportunity to shoot around!

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If my adoration for the Old Town hasn’t convinced you to visit Ibiza… stay tuned for a follow up post about the dreamy beaches. I promise you’ll be sold.

Tea Time 05.26.2015

Just in Time

Spending an afternoon locked in a room with your family might sound like your worst nightmare, right? But when the occasion isn’t something from a horror movie, but rather for entertainment, being locked in a room with your family for an hour is actually quite fun. I did my first escape room in Budapest, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever done before.  So when my family came to visit last week (!!!), I thought trying out Madrid’s The X-Door escape room would be a nice break from wandering the city and make for some good family bonding. We had 60 minutes to find clues, keys, and codes to unlock our way through several doors. In these games, anything can mean something, so you really have you to be aware of every little detail. It was a bit challenging with six people, but we beat the clock with eight minutes to spare! This is an awesome team building experience and something I highly recommend if you want to get off the beaten path a bit! The best part is, the price here is 50 euros flat for your team no matter the size!

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Rooftop Vibes

Oh, how I love Madrid’s abundance of rooftop bars! Last week we checked out El Jardín Secreto, which is a beautiful garden on the roof of a three-story luggage store off Gran Via. I loved this place because there were so many little details to adore. We sat on vintage-inspired furniture among fragrant flowers sipping on passionfruit kiwi mojitos that were served with an electric, neon-light ice cube and an endearing straw tag! Although we went for cocktails, it would be the perfect spot for an afternoon merienda because their pastries looked divine and their tea list was extensive. Just one more thing to love: this place was rather affordable for a rooftop. Only six euros for a mojito! I’ve definitely paid more for a mojito in a smelly, grungy, sticky bar.

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Brewskies

Amongst the standard Mahou and San Miguel that reign in Madrid, it’s really hard to come across a tasty craft brew. So when dad was here two weeks ago and we heard about Madriz brewery’s recent opening, well… we knew where we would be spending the evening. Not only do they make their own craft brews named after neighborhoods in Madrid, they also sell artisan beer from all around the world, including  Mikkeller with which I fell in love in Stockholm and Copenhagen!

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‘Grammers

When I think about @alexstrohl’s photos, I think about outdoorsy adventures and lake reflections and A-frame cabins in the Pacific North West. He has a style that’s easily recognizable and as soon as his photos appear in my feed, I know they’re his without even seeing the name. Follow him for some serious outdoorsy inspiration.

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On my radar

Speaking of the PCN… Spencer recently introduced me to the Hoh Rainforest located in Washington’s Olympic National Park. It looks like something straight from a story book where fairies and gnomes and bunnies roam. I think it’s a great reminder of the diversity that is so often overlooked in the United States–the diversity that makes me feel excited to move back home and explore my own country. This mossy goodness will be high on my list this year.

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What’s going on this week? I am looking forward to a visit this weekend from some of my very best friends!

Sending positive vibes and possibly rafts to all of my Texas folk that are trying to stay afloat right now.

 

A walk around Madrid’s La Latina neighborhood

New mission for the time I have left: spend more time in La Latina. This quirky, international barrio has so much to offer and I feel very ashamed that I’ve obliviously favored so many other neighborhoods throughout the last two years.  It’s vibrant and lively and it’s brimming with interesting architecture and typically Spanish streets. You’ll find a melting pot of cultures and dishes and plenty of foreign men that want to coax you into their restaurants. Around every corner and blanketing every wall you’ll find its signature eccentric street art– there’s even a secret community garden full of it!  I explored a small corner of this sprawling barrio this week with my camera in tow. Here’s a look at what I found!

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La Latina Madrid

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La Latina Madrid community garden

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La Latina Madrid community garden

La Latina Madrid community garden

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To explore this colorful neighborhood of Madrid, get off at metros Lavapiés, La Latina, or Tirso de Molina!

Tea Time 05.12.2015

LOOKING

After a rough Tuesday at school and a cancelled private class, I decided to take advantage of my free afternoon and explore a little part of Madrid I’ve always wanted to see. In Parque del Oeste, a budding rose garden pops up every May. Gardening enthusiasts from all over the world plant their best roses in the park’s huge “Rosaleda” garden in an effort to win the title of the most beautiful rose. I have never seen such an assortment of roses–literally every shape, color, and size you can imagine. I’m not typically a fan of this particular flower, but this many in such a small space really wooed me. Taking some time to, well, stop and smell the roses,  was just what my Tuesday needed.

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Flat Stanley

I read Flat Stanley in elementary school and I remember coloring my own and sending him off to some family somewhere in the USA. He went on an adventure and returned to me with photos and stories to share and I was fascinated by the concept. I wasn’t sure Flat Stanley still existed until my cousin asked if she could send me hers from Utah about a month ago! I eagerly accepted the offer, excited that I was interesting enough to host some one like Flat, and took him on an adventure with me to Ibiza last weekend. He spent hours hanging out on the beach, drinking… koolaid… or something like that, eating seafood, and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. And you know what? Flat loved Ibiza so much that he decided to stay forever… I can’t blame him, really. (AKA I’m incredibly irresponsible and in typical Erica fashion, I left him on that aforementioned Airbnb’s kitchen table.) SO, Flat Stanley got a makeover (AKA I thank god the templates are online so I could print and color a look alike) and is heading back to Salt Lake City this week with an added sunburn, a new beachy shirt, and some epic stories to tell.

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Airbnbs I <3

Speaking of Ibiza… In case the island wasn’t paradise enough, we ended up renting one of the most beautiful Airbnbs I’ve stayed in yet. I love how every Airbnb oozes with personality and Claudia’s place was no different. With a white and greenery color scheme, the classy apartment was full of flourishing succulents and ivy. It had a glass-window wall with a blooming balcony and a view to DIE for. Since we were sharing the place with our friends (shoutout to those McReyonlds!), we took the sofa couch, which was no problem at all because I woke up to a glorious view of the Mediterranean sea every morning. If you’re heading to Ibiza any time soon, do consider staying here!

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On My Radar

I have such sweet memories of watching hot air balloons float above our house in Kentucky as a little girl. It was so enthralling to walk outside onto our sea shell driveway and spot a color or shape drifting by that we had never seen before. But there in Louisville, Kentucky, it was always a loan balloon that brought about so much joy, so I love to try and imagine my child-like adult reaction to witnessing the thousands of balloons that fly at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta every October. This has been a bucket list item for years and one of these days you’ll find my camera and me at sunrise, snapping away at the colorful balloons preparing for take off.

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‘Grammers

Love breakfast? Love symmetry? Then you’ll love following @SymmetryBreakfast on Instagram. Every morning, they whet my appetite with a scrumptious and tastefully symmetrical breakfast layout. It’s definitely the best part of waking up.

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Stockholm’s Underground Art Installation

What do you do on a cold freezing spring afternoon in Stockholm, Sweden? You ride the underground for entertainment. Seriously.

(You should also do this if it isn’t a freezing spring afternoon in Stockholm, Sweden.)

Stockholm is a city that’s a bit difficult to navigate without public transport, but luckily, it has some of the best public transportation I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.  I’ve ridden on a lot of metros in my time, but I’ve never seen anything like those in this Scandinavian city. In fact, we spent a whole afternoon simply riding around on the metro system exploring each unique station and it might have been one of my favorite days!

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Ninety of 110 stations feature amazing artwork by some 150 different artists. But this isn’t like any art display I’ve ever seen before. These huge underground tunnels are covered head to toe with surprising, nearly neon colors and astounding graphic designs and each stop was far different than the one before. I loved the element of surprise as the metro quickly pulled into each station–it was like landing on a eccentric foreign planet every single time.

I didn’t jump off at all 90 stops, but I did explore quite a few. The following were my favorite stations:

T-centralen
Blue Line

Stockholm underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Solna Centrum
Blue Line

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Kungsträdgården
Blue Line

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Tekniska Högskolan
Red Line

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stadion
Red Line

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Stockholm's underground art installation

Thorildsplan
Green Line

Stockholm's underground art installation

If you want more information about Stockholm’s metro prices and ticket options, you can find it here!

Which is your favorite? It’s nearly impossible for me to choose, but I had a blast  photographing the Solna Centrum stop with the fiery red burning around the escalators.

Tea Time 04.28.15

Rooftop Vibes

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This weekend we had a blast returning the favor and hosting some of my high school friends that are currently stationed in Germany. Although it wasn’t a typical blue-sky, cloudless Madrid day, the weather somewhat permitted us to enjoy a terrace. I had recently heard of a trendy hostel with a rooftop bar near Plaza Mayor called The Hat. What a spot! It is a small dive, but it’s green and it’s affordable and it’s surrounded by Spanish rooftops. We kicked back and enjoyed some tinto de verano while soaking up the sun every time it decided to peer out from behind the clouds.  With the added company, we were in for a great afternoon.IMG_5183

Luscious Products

I have a new obsession and I’ve quite enjoyed feeding it recently. LUSH has officially won over all of my cosmetic desires and I somewhat splurged on some new products this weekend. I’ve been a fan of the facial exfoliator for a while now, but when I coincidentally ran out of shampoo and body wash in the same week, I couldn’t veer away from taking a looksie in LUSH. I bought the Cynthia Sylvia Stout shampoo–which is actually made with beer–and I love it! It makes my oily-at-the-roots-dry-on-the-tips hair very manageable. I also bought the Yummy Mummy Limited Edition body wash, which I’m obsessed with, too. Something about the smell brings me back to my childhood. And finally, I decided to really go big and give dry shampoo a go for the first time. I’m still not convinced about this yet, but I’ll let ya know after a couple of uses when I’ve made up my mind.

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Breakfast Digs

Because when I have a breakfast/brunch like this, it deserves its own place on Tea Time. Strawberries from the man selling them across the street, fresh cheese, ham, and olives from the market down the road, coffee and free churros from the cafe on the corner, and melt-in-your-mouth croissants from the bakery downstairs. Nope, I don’t think I need to say anything more. This fresh luxury is something I’m going to miss terribly next year.

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On My Radar

Some of my favorite beach memories involve wandering up and down the shores foraging for unique seashells with my mom. Turns out, there’s a place in Florida that’s ideal for just this–Sanibel Island. This island is literally completely covered with sand dollars, starfish, conch shells–all of the shells I always wanted to stumble upon as a child but never did. I could probably spend hours scavenging for shells here. Plus, I heard it’s quite common to see dolphins playing about off the shore, so obviously I’m sold.

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‘Grammers

Theron Humphrey grams at the appropriately titled This Wild Idea. He travels around the world with his Coonhound, Maddie, in tow. Every time I see a new photo of Maddie, I catch myself spending way too much time pondering how on Earth one dog could be so well-trained and patient. He poses her across different settings in unique positions with beautiful backgrounds, and Maddie simply does as she’s told, holding the pose for as long as it takes to get the shot–that’s what I like to think anyway. Just glancing at the photos, the love Theron has for his furry pal radiates through my iPhone screen and it makes my soul feel so very warm and happy.

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Tomorrow I’m heading to Spain’s Costa Brava for TBEX, one of the biggest travel blogging conferences in the world! I’m one big ball of terrified and excited emotions. Wish me luck! What are you up to this week?

Also, a big congratulations to Joseph from Allophile for winning my Hide in Plain Sight giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered!

A cold day in Cuenca, Spain

Oh, how I love finding great day trips from Madrid that don’t involve the words Toledo or Segovia! When my dad had an extra day to spend in Madrid in November, I insisted that we do something out of the ordinary.

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Queue Cuenca, home of the hanging houses! We took a train east from Madrid’s Atocha station and arrived in Cuenca about an hour later.

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To be honest, it isn’t very easy to reach the center of the city walking… we thought about trying it, but we were frozen and the lure of the taxis successfully tempted us.

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Once we got to the center, we wandered around the hilly, windy streets admiring the pastel-colored buildings wondering where exactly those hanging house were hiding.

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And after a left turn, a hike up a hill, a coincidental run in with some other flight attendants from my dad’s crew, we finally found the “casas colgadas.”  And they’re just as captivating as everyone says.

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This UNESCO World Heritage site was constructed on the edge of the canyon’s cliff overlooking a little ravine below. Believe it or not, some of the houses hang with up to ten stories!

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As we continued to freeze, we continued to wander. We hiked as far as we could, wind whipping us around and our teeth chattering. But we were soon rewarded with yet another fabulous view of the whole city below us.

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Cuenca is an ideal day trip to take from Madrid. Its stunning landscape is far different than anything I’ve ever seen before. And unlike my experiences in Toledo and Segovia, really the only other tourists we saw were the flight attendants we were so surprised to run into! However, you should keep in mind that we visited on a frigid November day in the offseason…

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Oh, and did I mention it was also Thanksgiving? Although this color pallet was the closest thing I had to Thanksgiving food that Thursday, it was a day well spent with one of my favorite travel partners.