My first Instagram meet up

It can be challenging meeting new people on your own. Before I moved to Spain I hesitated to go somewhere alone. ¨What will they think¨ I always thought. But you know what? No one actually cares what you´re doing because they are so wrapped up in their own thoughts. It definitely took me a while to figure this one out but moving almost half way across the globe by yourself being forced to meet new people because you´re alone helps out with this.

 

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We made it through that insane workout! Photo cred: Ben Spector

 

When I moved back home I made the sudden realization that people are busy. A lot of my friends are either married, have significant others, children, or a demanding job and don´t always have time to do anything or are with the people in their own lives. So, it is up to you to go out and find other young single professionals to talk about your desired career path, how it is seemingly impossible to find a date in this cold state, or say try a new gym.

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10 Best Things I Ate in 2016

Well hello there amigos! I have been seriously MIA for the last month enjoying the holidays with my adoptive Spanish family in Borio and then got hit with some personal issues that ended up with me moving back home to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. So the last month has been a little hectic.

Nevertheless, I am still determined to write about awesome travels that I have had in the past and great experiences that I will have while I am here in the USA. Since we are well into 2017 already I thought that I should FINALLY post my 10 best things I ate in 2016. I went to a lot of exciting places in 2016 and I am so happy to share the best bites I had while making my way around a few countries in Europe. Enjoy!!

1. Authentic currywurst in Berlin, Germany

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I mean come on, if you´re in Germany you are bound to try this local specialty and you´ll be able to find it everywhere. It´s a pork sausage that has been deep fried after spending a few minutes in a steamer and then topped with a curry ketchup. It´s usually served with fries and it is the perfect munchie for when you´ve had too many biers. 

Good place to pick one up: Curry 61 near the Anne Frank Museum

2. Morcilla de Burgos

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I have written about Morcilla de Burgos already in the past so I´ll spare you the technical details but if you are reading this and you live in Burgos feel free to send me one……or twelve of this delicious treat.

Good place to chow down on this special sausage: Cerveceria Morito, Burgos, Spain

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Treats to try in Spain during the holiday season

¨It´s beginning to look a lot like Christmaaassss.¨

Actually, in 12 degree weather (60 degrees F) it´s not and it´s making me feel a little bah hum bug (obviously read in a Scrooge voice). Even though it´s sunny and I live right by the beach that hasn´t stopped me from decorating my apartment to get me ready for this years´ holiday season. I did plenty of DIY projects, bought festive lights, and picked up a ridiculous amount of candles to cozy up my home. In addition to getting my apartment ready for the season I also bought some Spanish holiday treats to stuff my face with. I mean it´s the holidays..I´m supposed to eat as much chocolate and pastries as I want right??

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Dreaming of a white Christmas

Well without further ado I´ll introduce you to some of the typical holiday goodies you´ll find here on the Spanish side of the Iberian Peninsula.

Turrón

Maybe it´s the most popular treat during this time of year because I don´t typically see it any other time of year. It comes in a few different varieties like chocolate with crunchy rice bits, almond, and nougat which is softened by olive oil. Turrón originates from when the Moors dominated Spain and you can find it every town. I actually just tried this yesterday and it´s pretty decent. I tried the chocolate one and it tasted like…..well a peice of chocolate.

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Malaga: The city of poets on the Costa del Sol

Imagine yourself sitting on a beach chair overlooking the Mediterranean, sipping on some sangria while listening to the latest Enrique Iglesias song. That’s how I felt in Malaga, a small coast town in the region of Andalucia. It’s the city of Picasso, famous poets, grilled sardines on the beach, and 320 days of pure sunshine. Why wouldn’t you travel here? It’s less touristy than Valencia and its glitzy neighbor Marbella and from Malaga you can take a day trip across a little stretch of the Mediteranean to Africa. It’s population surprisingly is the second largest in Andalucia and one of the world’s oldest cities coming in at about 2,800 years. Founded by Phoenicians and inhabited by the Carthaginians, Romans, Muslims, and Christians there is much history in the architecture of this city. This year it is being nominated as a candidate for the 2016 European City of Culture.

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The climate of Malaga is..well you guessed it, sub-tropical Mediterranean. With mild winters and hot summers this makes it the perfect city for vacationing, that is if you can stand the Andalucian heat, and it’s one of the few cities in Europe that is a “green city” Winters are mostly for rain but for a girl coming from the blistering chill of Minnesota I’ll take the rain. Average humidity is about 65% which again, is nothing compared to the 90% we get in the summers of Minnesota. The days of sunshine add up to a little over 300 which in Minnesota…never mind we are going to stop talking about the weather. It’s amazing, trust me.

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A lesson in cheese in Galicia

Those of you who know me will understand just how much I love cheese. Seriously when I was a kid I snuck cheese in literally every meal. Cheesecakes were always my birthday cake of choice (ice cream cake sucks anyway) and I would get blocks of the stuff for my birthday.

I knew I´d be hitting the queso jackpot when I moved to Europe and I´m pretty pumped to share with you the different types of cheese produced here in Galicia, Spain which is where I get to call home for the next seven months. I went to one of the best cheese shops in Santiago de Compostela to ask questions, learn more information, and even taste some of this exceptional cheeses from this area! Time to get cheesy…

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Cebreiro 

Aged: 1-5 days

This cheese coming from Lugo, Galicia is just as hard to say as it is to keep a straight face when you try it. It has a REALLY strong and acidic characteristic that might be too strong for some people. The shape of Cebreiro is an unforgetable mushroom/chef hat shape with a yellowish white exterior. It is produced using cows milk but has the intensity of goats milk. Some manufacturers actually include goat´s milk in the product which makes the cheese even more flavorful. Cebreiro is soft and creamy with just a little bit of grittiness but goes perfect with some honey and walnuts on crackers. Expect to pay around 6,50 euros for 500 grams of the stuff.

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Moving from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela

Well hello there! I know that it has been MONTHS since I´ve posted anything but fear not. I am still alive and still in Spain. Greece was amazing!! I hope you´re following me on Instagram because I posted many times during my two month stay in Lagonissi/Athens and it was such an incredible experience. I´ll make sure to create a post about my time there because I am seriously debating on writing a story about it. (If you´re one of my close friends you already know about this craziness that I went through).

Anyway as you´re maybe wondering I am now back in Spain, well I have been back since the end of September, but I am in a brand new region and city. You probably remember that I was in Burgos, Castilla y Leon last year. The land of El Cid, morcilla, and “freezing” temperatures. Well now I am living in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia. Which happens to be the land of devoted pilgrims, pulpo, and never ending rain.

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Santiago: “donde la lluvia es arte”

I am LOVING Galicia. Seriously why don´t more people know about this incredible region of Spain. I mean I guess I am happy that it´s not so exploited but come on. Galicia has so much to offer. First of all it´s B-E-A-utiful. It´s the greenest place I´ve ever seen. Everything is covered in moss, there are plants growing from the stone buildings, and these said stone buildings are everywhere and with the greenery they make wonderful contrasting colors.

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Food of Greece

Yay!!! Another food post. I’m making the biggest mistake in writing this hungry….let’s see how long I last writing this without breaking for an early dinner. I’m here in Greece for the next month and a half and if you haven’t been here yet LET ME TELL YOU that the food is incredible. Whether you’re a vegetarian or full out meat eater you’ll definitely find something absolutely delicious here in this picturesque country. One main characteristic of the cuisine here in Greece is that it’s so healthy! Every plate seems to pile on the fresh veggies, minimal sauces, and the meat is usually always grilled not fried. That’s good news for us vacationers who plan on donning swimwear touring the Greek islands. Without further ado let me introduce you to some of my favorite Greek treats!

Greek salad (4-7 euros)

Starting off with some veggies I don’t think you can get much fresher than a Greek salad. These salads usually only consist of tomatoes, cucumber, white onion, kalamata olives, oregano, and feta. It’s so refreshing on a hot summer day when you don’t feel like having anything cooked. Pair it with some fresh baked pita bread and you’ve got yourself a perfect balanced meal.

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Souvlaki and Gyros (1,50-3 euros)

These two dishes are probably the most popular and well-known here in Greece. They are grilled meat usually chicken, pork or lamb served with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, french fries, and some type of sauce. I’ve had one with tzitizki; a cucumber/dill based yogurt sauce, and an alioli; a garlicky mayo sauce. Restaurants will either serve these up in pitas as sandwiches or straight on the stick with the accompaniments on the side. So far (even though I am trying to cut meat from my diet) these two are my favorite dishes here and I’m sure you’ll try them.

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Expat Files: Ashley Best in Burgos, Castilla y Leon

Burgos is the city that I was so fortunate to call home for the past nine months. I honestly didn’t know what to expect since it’s not really a city that most people take the time to go to visit let alone blog about it. One awesome blogger Ashley fills us all in on life in Burgos and I’m honestly so grateful to call her a great friend. She has a ton of valuable information on her blog like where to score the best vegetarian food in Spain, a Spanish word of the day from her adorable fiancee, and tips for auxiliares de conversación. I am so excited to feature this girl and I hope you all take the time to check out her blog and social media for some sweet content about Spain!

1. Why did you choose Spain?

Well, I don’t think I necessarily chose Spain, it sort of fell into my lap. A lot of foreigners who come to Spain story of how they dreamt of living here after a holiday, studying Spanish or from an interest in the culture/literature/history, etc. I’m a French major from university, so my path was leaning more toward France or French Canada, that is until I met my Spanish partner in London in 2011. After years of long-distance, dealing with the stress of expiring visas and too many overseas moves we made the decision to leave Canada two years ago and move to Spain. I haven’t regretted the decision once. It’s not always easy living in another country, but we work through the hard stuff and always come out the other side winning. I adore Spain, Spanish food and the Spanish culture, and am proud to call it my home.

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The queen of finding killer street art

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Barcelona in Three Days: Medium Budget Edition

FINALLY after 10 months of being in Spain I made it to Barcelona. The city of my favorite fútbol team (yes I call it fútbol now), were nightlife thrives, and breathtaking architecture dominates the city. I currently live in a city called Vilafranca del Penedes which is about 60 kilometers west of Barcelona and I’ve been lucky to be able to travel so easily to Barcelona by train. I have a few friends in Barcelona and they were so kind to show me around. I really felt like a local going to the regular spots around the city. I wanted to put together a couple guides for you fellow travelers so you can enjoy Barcelona like the barcelonéses. I’m basing this trip on the guess that you won’t have a huge bag since it’s just a weekend but if you do happen to be carrying a massive suitcase go ahead and drop it off at your hotel/airbnb/hostel/couchsurfing/whatever and take out one spot of interest on the first day and just move it over to the next one! This is just what I would do if I arrived in the evening after work!

I’m going to start on a Friday evening since not all of us will arrive in the morning! If you’re here earlier then great!! You have a little more time to walk around and get lost among the streets of Barcelona. Ready to explore? Let’s get started.

Friday:

I arrived from Burgos, Castilla y Leon at the Sants station. Turns out it’s the biggest in Barcelona so it’s a good chance that you will arrive there too. From there you’ll want to grab a 10 pass metro card for only 10 euros. This metro card also works for the bus and tram in Barcelona and a one way ticket will set you back 1,60 euros so it makes sense to get a longer pass. With this metro card you’re going to want to take Line 5 which is the blue line to the Sagrada Familia. Take this line four stops going in the direction of Vall d’Hebron and hop off when you arrive at the stop.

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The most Instagrammed monument in Europe in 2015

A ticket to go inside La Sagrada Familia is just 15 euros for a regular un-guided visit. I HIGHLY, STRONGLY, FIERCELY recommend buying your ticket in advance so you can skip the seemingly never ending line.

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Caltagirone, Sicily

Here is another collaboration post that I am doing for Wine Pleasures this one is for their International Wine Tourism Conference which they are holding in March of 2017 in Sicily! Enjoy!

Being only a little over an hour away from the island’s second largest city Catania, the city of Caltagirone is the perfect city to spend on a day excursion. The city is nicknamed for being the “city of brightly painted ceramics” and you are sure to see them everywhere. There are many shops and stores to buy some fine crafted pottery or you can walk over to the ceramic steps to truly admire this form of art.

Caltagirone steps

The city’s main attraction is the Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte which means stairway of Saint Mary of the Mountain.This stairway which has 142 steps connects the old part of the town to the newer directly to the church which is also called Santa Maria of the Mountain. The tiles have both religious and natural designs and has also been decorated by the locals with flowers and candles.

Ceramic steps

In May during the third weekend the city holds a festival of flowers called Infiorata where citizens lay beds of flowers in intricate designs along the streets and the ceramic steps. Then again, in July the steps are once again lined with beautiful and vibrant flowers and luminous candles to honor the patron saint of the town, St. Peter.

Infiorata

The area of Caltagirone is also well known for the production of peaches, olive oil, and of course grapes. Grab a glass of wine and come admire the city of alluring pottery.