07.30.2014

What I’ve learned from my travels

Sunset - Granada

Sunset – Granada

I haven’t really traveled a lot, especially lately, but in the little experience I wanted to share with you a few things that I’ve learned from my travels:

1. Pack light. I think I’ve only packed light once in my entire life, and I’m very proud of it. We went back home to Madrid with a side trip to Prague. Both my husband and I brought just a carry on each and I managed to go shopping. Very very proud of myself on that trip. But in general, I am one of those people who feels the need to pack everything in the closet “just in case”, even if I go to a place with a washer and dryer. Oh, and that dress that I bought years ago and never worn? Yup, I’ll pack it “just in case”, even though I hardly wear dresses. Needless to say, I wear the same clothes over and over. I’m a jeans and cute top person. Why would I change that when I travel? Hitha wouldn’t be proud of me.

2. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just a bit. I am NOT adventurous whatsoever. No way am I going to try anything that could be called an adventure, but sometimes I’m naive and I trust people. We went to Cabo to see the whales and instead of getting into one of those big (read safe) boats, we rented this itty bitty boat to chase whales. I kept thinking, why am I in the open ocean in this tiny boat? Why didn’t I stay at the beach? I have a kid, I should be more responsible, right? No. That was fun, and very cold (freezing) too, but I wouldn’t change that experience. Not sure I’d do it again though.

Whale watching - Cabo

Whale watching – Cabo (way too close)

3. Do your research. I don’t know how many times I’ve told myself, or my husband, to do so. I never do it, but my husband tries. Problem is that sometimes we just decide to play it by ear. Well, that’s fine for a bit, but when you show up in a different country, with no knowledge of the language and no idea of where to go, you are going to need a travel guide. If you don’t do it, you’ll end up looking like a lost tourist in the middle of Wenceslas Square not even knowing where you are. Do some research but also, don’t be glued to your guidebook. Get lost every here and there.

4. Food. I don’t really need to explain this one. Just try new things. It doesn’t need to be crazy stuff but try new things. Do you know how much weight I gained in my last trip to Lima? I had to taste new things after all.

Prague- Food

Food – Prague

5. Change of clothes in your carry on. If you travel by air and need to check your luggage, please, please, please, pack a change of undies and some toiletries in your handbag. Better yet, if you have the space, make it a full change of clothes and pj’s too. I never did this because I never had a problem until a couple of years ago my suitcase didn’t make my connection and came in the next flight. Good thing they delivered it the next day at 8 am. Since then, the bare minimum needs to come with moi.

6. Talk to the locals. People LOVE to share (that’s why I’m here right?). People like to tell you about their environment, their cities, their parks, restaurants, any tips. Take advantage of that. Remember point 3? If you didn’t do your research, your locals are your guidebook.

7. Travelling is expensive. Driving up and down the California coast is not that bad, but when you have to pay for three plane tickets to Europe, that’s another story. But, here’s my thought. I’m not saying that you have to go into incredible amounts of debt, but to me travelling is like knowledge, it’s an experience; nobody can ever take that away from you. You can lose your car, your house, your job, your boyfriend, anything material, but that experience? That’s priceless to me.

Top of Vernal Falls - Yosemite

Top of Vernal Falls – Yosemite

8. Travel with your kids. I know this one is tricky but I am not going to stop travelling because I have a kid. She’s been taking planes since she was 3 months old, and she loves it. I also need to add that she’s behaved better than me on planes, no joke here. Give her an iPad and she’s golden. I love to see her exposed to other places, people, food, the same as us. She loves it so much that she keeps asking when we are going back on a plane. Then again, I’m pretty lucky with her and I only have one. Not sure if I had 2 or 3…

9. Relax. You don’t need to see it all.

What about you? I would love to hear about your experiences.

07.28.2014

Loving this summer

Golden Gate Bridge Hi everybody! Today I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been loving this summer. As you may know, it is usually COLD here in the summer, and no, I’m not exaggerating. Think sweaters in the morning and down jackets at night. There’s no “I’m putting away my jackets for the summer” or “Let’s go to some warm location, I just need to pack my sundresses. (Ha! What’s that? Some people don’t even have any and if they do, they’re probably hidden in some box on the back of the closet)” This summer has been different. It’s been the warmest summer I’ve ever experience since I moved here. I hope it stays all the way through August because I love to go out at 8 am in short sleeves and not freeze…

WHAT I’M LOVING THIS SUMMER

Going from a wet and foggy morning, where you can’t even see the bridge, to a glorious day.

San Francisco Bay

Getting home after work and staring at the thermostat in awe (it’s usually in the mid or low 60s). We are saving on heat this summer. Time to go shopping!

Thermostat

Enjoying the sweetest berries I’ve ever had. Berries

Random mornings where I wake up to this instead of fog, which makes me as happy as a clam.

San Francisco Sunrise

Pool time with the family.

Pool

Victoria’s Secret Pink Fresh & Clean Luminous Body Butter and Body Mist. A friend gave me a gift certificate and I used it for this yummy scent.

Victoriass-Secret-Pink

 Enjoying a Real Madrid soccer (football) game in town. I’m not a soccer fan, but my husband is and dragged me to it. It was a blast.

Real Madrid

Plus me enjoying the game and getting some skin cancer sun at it. It was HOT!

Real-Madrid-Soccer-Game

What are you guys enjoying so far this summer?

Eva

07.23.2014

Walking around Madrid – part 1

Madrid-Aerial View

Madrid Aerial View – via FALCO

What can I say about my city but that I miss it? Madrid is beautiful, it has lots of history, the FOOD (I’m drooling right now), and the people… You can’t go wrong with Madrileños, they are the best (wink wink). As with most big European cities, Madrid is best discovered by foot.
You can just start walking, and walking, and walking, and once you get tired, just take the subway or a cab back home. It’s a very vibrant city where there’s always people around, no matter the time of the day, you are always going to be surrounded by people. I grew up about 20 minutes south of the city, so I would catch two busses to go back home at 4, 5, or 6 am, by myself. This is common; nothing weird about it. It’s a pretty safe city but you still have to keep an eye out for the random pickpockets.

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite walks, and please excuse the fact that I only have old photos and some of them aren’t mine. Hopefully I’ll go back soon and I’ll bring you brand new pictures.

Atocha Railway Station - Estacion de Atocha

Atocha Railway Station

I like to start in Atocha train station, mainly because my husband and I used to live south of it. This is one of the two main railway stations in the Madrid metropolitan area; the other one is Chamartín. Just a note here; if you are catching a train from Madrid, no matter where you buy the ticket, please make sure you check to see what station you are departing from. I know someone (right hubby?) who waited and waited for his train in the wrong station- In the Atocha station you can find the subway, commuter trains, long distance trains, and bullet trains. The station has some stores (I used to get my scarves and earrings in these kinds of shops), a greenhouse, and a great restaurant, Samarkanda, where I celebrated my bridal shower. From there, head northwest on calle de Atocha (Atocha street). This street will take you to through part of the heart of the city. This is the downtown area and, if I were you, I would wander around the side streets and get lost there. There’s nothing better than that. You can end up in La Latina, which is a fantastic neighborhood to spend a Sunday having tapas, all day long. Calle de Atocha will take you towards Plaza de Santa Ana, with restaurants and terraces, and the Mé hotel, which is a great modern hotel that belongs to the Meliá group. Across the square from the hotel you’ll find the Teatro Español (Spanish Theater), which was founded in 1583.

Mé Hotel

Mé Hotel via Evelynmart

From here, you must go to Puerta del Sol. It’s the geographical center of Spain, and in fact, there is a plaque that tells you the exact spot where the center is and where the six main national highways start. This is the equivalent of Union Square in NYC. It’s always crowded, no matter the time of the day. In this spot you can find the clock (think Big Ben) that every Spaniard watches during New Year’s Eve when we wait for the 12 strokes and eat our grapes (more on that tradition later). You’ll find the Oso y el Madroño (Bear and Strawberry Tree or Arbutus) statue, which is the emblem of the city. Best part, there’s a ton of shopping in this area, plus my favorite pastry shop is right there (La Mallorquina).

Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol – via Santi Díaz

Puerta del Sol Madrid 1857

Puerta del Sol Madrid 1857 via Recuerdos de Pandora

Oso-y-el-Madroño Madrid

Oso y el Madroño via Malditofriki

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more…

07.19.2014

Marin Country Mart – Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Smelling flowers

As we are getting closer to the end of July I realized that I haven’t been to a farmer’s market in a while. It’s probably a combination of being very busy and the weather. It’s not cold, but it is foggy, so it doesn’t feel like summer until you go 15 minutes out of the city and all of the sudden you start to sweat. Do you know how hot it gets when you are fully dressed in dark jeans, dark top and carrying a sweater “just in case”?  I always forget that there is sun at the end of the bridge. Anyways, I digress.

Farmers Market - Marin Country Mart This morning I decided to take our little one to the Marin Country Mart. Check it out if you are in the area. It is located in Larkspur right across from Larkspur Landing, which is the ferry terminal. After running some errands up in Marin, we went to the farmer’s market. If you thought parking in the city was a pain, try to go to this market at around 10. There’s a huge parking lot but it was packed, I almost gave up until I saw this nice girl leaving right when I drove by her, phew.

Farmers-Market-Bread-and-Cheese

Bread and cheese – Do I need to say more?

Anyways, I love to go these markets and see all those colors, in-season vegetables and fruits, and any other yummy food they may have. I like to see how the farmers are the ones selling you their products, and the pride they have in them. This market is tiny, just a few stands. If you want a bigger one then you can check out the one at the Ferry Building in San Francisco on Saturdays, that’s a big farmer’s market plus it has tons of food stands for breakfast or lunch.

Farmers-Market What makes the farmer’s market in Larkspur worth the visit is that it is geared towards kids, but not only for them. By the time we got there they were having a Thai cooking class for kids, and I believe they had just had music and storytelling.

Farmers-Market

Kids Thai cooking class

They have also redone the whole mall area and they have stores such as Intermix, Calypso, a couple of kids stores, a bookstore, 24-Hour Fitness, SoulCycle, Marin Brewing Company, and way more. Here is their website for more info – Marin Country Mart.

The outside area is great. My sister-in-law told me about it but I didn’t know it was this nice. I hadn’t been there in years and I was pleasantly surprised. They have different restaurants with nice outdoor areas, plus extra picnic areas with umbrellas (thank you very much).

Farmers-Market Farmers-Market There’s also a little pond with fish and turtles that kids, and adults, love.

Farmers-Market

Turtles’ house

Farmers Market

More turtles

Little play area.

Farmers Market

Play area for kids, and some adults…

It is a very serene and calm place to spend a Saturday morning.

07.16.2014

Half Year Resolutions

Venice Beach
No, today we are not going to talk about beach vacations, which I hope you are enjoying or will be enjoying pretty soon, but about something else. Today I’m sharing my half year resolutions. Do you remember how you create one of these lists sometime in January and you check them at the end of the year to see how it went? Well, I have never been the kind of person who sits down and does this.
But I guess I am getting older and for some reason I wrote my New Year’s Resolutions in 2013 and in 2014. I clearly remember because when I wrote one this past January I found the one from 2013 and got very excited. Truth is, I have no recollection of what I wrote, seriously, no idea. For that reason, the other day I decided to look for those resolutions in my computer. Guess what I found? Nothing. I have no idea of what happened to the lists. They just vanished!

Now what? Let’s not panic.In line with me getting older and more a little bit mature, I decided to come up with my half year resolutions and see what happens (you should do it too). I know it is summer and we should just be thinking about the resolution of making it to the beach as often as possible. Unfortunately for me, in San Francisco, summer, beach and warm weather don’t go together.

  1. Start a blog. Fine, that’s cheating, but I’m sure I wrote this down because I’ve always been intrigued by the whole blogging thing. How about, keeping the blog for at least a year? I hear blogging is hard, but it is fun too.
  2. Improve my photography. Well, let’s start by saying that I’m awful at taking photos. I understand the basics aperture, shutter speed, etc. but the problem is that I don’t take my camera out, and when I do, I don’t take pictures.
  3. Shop less. Just because it is on sale it doesn’t mean that I have to have it. When am I going to learn that? Mind you, I’m in marketing and I’ve worked in retail for a while. I should know better by now.
  4. Exercise regularly. Sometimes I’m lazy but when I workout I feel so much better after a workout…
  5. Get out of town at least once every two months, even if it is to our regular spot, but preferably to other places.
  6. Cook more. I LOVE to cook but after a long day at work, I just don’t feel like it.
  7. Have more time for hubby and I without our little pumpkin. We love her, but it is nice to have a conversation where random princesses or imaginary friends don’t come up.
  8. Be more organized. I have several notebooks to write things down and several calendars. I don’t know why I can’t just use one. I should be able to have everything in one place. For some reason, I don’t like to use the phone for this.

How about you? Do you follow up on your list?